After many years of service, first as the features editor and editor-in-chief of Deadspin and later as the head of GMG’s Special Projects Desk, Tim Marchman has left us. We come now to send him off in the only way we know how: by roasting his ass.
One of the first things Marchman did when he got hired at Deadspin was convince our former editor-in-chief, Tommy Craggs, to send him to Panama for a week to report what was promised to be a brilliant piece of journalism. I don’t even remember what the fucking story was supposed to be about anymore. Mariano Rivera, I think? Roberto Duran?
Anyway, after spending a week abroad and blowing through what I assume was thousands of the company’s dollars, Marchman returned and just... never wrote the story. He never wrote it! Like not even a little bit! He just fucked off to Panama for a week and then came back and basically said, “My bad.”
Despite being a guy capable of such spectacular and costly failure, this company will be much worse off without Marchman around. He has deeply held opinions about basically any topic you can possibly think of. Put him in a room with the right mix of people and you’ll hear him holding forth on The Mekons, ‘90s Knicks basketball, The Witcher 3, Evelyn Waugh, any number of conspiracy theories, bike customization, that weekend’s UFC fight, Japanese street gangs of the 1960s, some 700-page fantasy novel, and Carlos Rodon’s arm slot. He does this not because he’s pretentious, but because he’s got a lot of shit rattling around in his brain and he likes to talk to people.
This all feeds into his unrivaled talents as a writer and editor. There isn’t a story you can think of that Marchman isn’t perfectly suited to write or edit, because there is very little in this world that he’s not interested in and deeply knowledgeable about. Except for learning how to live as a functional adult who understands, say, the value of a wallet. I once saw this man drop his passport, a wad of cash, and all of his credit cards onto the floor of a bar because they were all floating around in the loose pocket of his hoodie.
As a recent addition to the Deadspin team, my personal interactions with the vile Marchman were, unfortunately, limited. (My favorite was him juuling during an all-hands meeting in plain sight, leading to someone in Slack asking him to stop. My least favorite was him condemning me to the deepest hells during a Deadcast recording because I support the vile New England Patriots.) Aside from that, I’ve always admired Marchman’s writing from afar, and even during my brief tenure here, he pumped out a wonderfully biting piece of media criticism in that classic Marchman style. I’ll miss his horrendous Game of Thrones takes in Slack almost as much as I’ll miss seeing his writing on the site.
My first meeting with Tim Marchman was long ago, when he worked at the New York Press, and I interviewed for a job there and didn’t get it. This, which he doesn’t even recall, was the seed of my lifelong grudge against him, and is the reason I have been slipping small amounts of arsenic into his weekly “office free lunch” for a number of years.
Later he redeemed himself by welcoming me and Alex Pareene onto the staff of Deadspin after our former website, Gawker, was shut down due to crimes that we were directly responsible for. Deadspin is a popular sports and “culture” site, and after we joined it became it a popular sports and culture site that also featured posts about electoral politics and labor unions that every single Deadspin reader hated with a passion, as they would remind us in the comments of everything we ever wrote on Deadspin. Nevertheless, Tim Marchman never fired us from Deadspin—he accepted us and supported us in the face of great factual evidence that he should do the opposite. It is this profound lack of judgment that makes Tim Marchman such a beloved figure to many writers.
I highly recommend having an editor like Tim if you are ever able to get one. I also highly recommend running up to him on the street in a large group and making a big scene out of it, because that makes him very uncomfortable. Email me and we will gather outside his house late one night. See you soon, Tim.
As anyone who listened to a single Deadcast during his reign of terror could attest to, Tim Marchman is wrong about so many things.
Or, more precisely, his opinions exist in the liminal space between simple wrongheadedness and pure trolling. He loves the bad Fallout games, the University of Michigan, weird Swedish snus bags, NBA games that end 78-71, Milk and Honey Original Café Mix, the first build of Overwatch’s Bastion, an unholy combination of sardines and kimchi (he swears by this as a hangover cure), England, using his outside voice while inside, Stannis Baratheon, looking like the last living Civil War-era general, cooking with 18th-century looking-ass cookware, and, of course, the Chicago White Sox. Marchman’s ability to consider the two poles of an argument and triangulate the most omnidirectionally infuriating position is unparalleled. I love him dearly and I already miss working with him.
Here is something I hope he was right about—and this might sound more like a condemnation than a compliment given the events of this week in the media industry, and last week, and every week before that one, and probably next week, and the week after that too, but here goes: Without the patience and faith of Tim Marchman, I never would have been able to write for a living. He took a shot on me four summers ago when I was all but prepared to pack it in and go get a real job after freelancing here and there for the first year out of college, then he coached me through a year of NFL Sundays as I misspelled every word, learned how to use punctuation in real time, and only once got us threatened with a lawsuit for misidentifying which DIII college football player punched out an opponent.
Somehow, Marchman kept giving me more responsibility despite the numerous fuckups, which was perhaps an indictment on his judgment, but whatever. I will always cherish the time he and I made a PR person for a major sports team cry, the time he told some pud reporter from Sacramento that he didn’t give “two tugs of a dead dog’s dick” what he thought, and the time he schooled me on how to properly execute a leverage play after I drunkenly botched my half-assed plan to use an offer I had elsewhere to get a raise. He deserves better than death by private equity, though I suppose one of the lessons Marchman imparted through all the various crises endemic to working at whatever this company is now called is that sometimes you have to Blog Through It.
Despite his habit of publicly yawping about whatever opus he was putting off at the time (he talked about this shit for so long and this shit for somehow even longer before he blogged them, you have no idea) and his staunch refusal to wear a shirt with buttons to the first Deadspin Awards or appear on stage or let us even say his name on stage or even take his fucking Chrome messenger bag off during the show, Tim Marchman had some pages after all.
For a man known for swaggering around as the boss of a sexist sports website about dongs and dingers, Marchman sure gossips like a lady when he thinks nobody can see him. I wish him the best and the continued confidence to keep starting fights and giving terrible unsolicited advice when he’s drunk.
My wife was always more fond of Tim Marchman than I ever was. One time we flew up to Chicago to go to a Rays game at Wrigley and the three of us sat out in the left field bleachers where my wife ignored me the entire game, talking to Marchman about the Mekons or some dumb shit.
Tim Marchman’s gastronomic tendencies are well-discussed and will likely turn our stomachs yet again in other entries here, so I’ll note that Marchman’s bizarre tastes extend beyond the epicurean and indeed to every realm. This is the man who rises early in the morning to watch Russian tag-team armed martial arts of questionable legitimacy, who consumes audiovisual content dredged up from collections so lacking in noteworthiness that the Library of Congress said “Thanks, but no thanks,” and who cheers for the Chicago White Sox. Also, because I started work at Deadspin years before he arrived, I had the coveted “email@example.com” email address, and regularly received his mail; I of course responded in the most inflammatory and and career-threatening manners possible. Yet despite these oddball inclinations he by all accounts is a completely conventional and terrific husband and father who also edited many of this company’s most important and interesting pieces, and nearly all of mine, and his departure is a great loss.
That Tim Marchman, a brilliant editor and better person, is no longer an employee of the entity formerly known as Gawker Media is a grave injustice. I can only take solace in the fact that Arsenal will be playing against Silesian farmers in the Europa League while Tottenham Hotspur, the best football club in London, is feted among the continent’s elite.
Most good bosses are bad at editing stories; most good editors are nightmarishly bad at editing people. This isn’t a commentary on anyone or anything as much as it is a fact that the two skills are separate, unrelated, and basically never reside in the same person. Combining those two skills into the one role of editor-in-chief is one of the biggest drivers of dysfunction in media.
Tim Marchman, somehow, was about the best editor you could have, and a better boss. Writing kind of sucks generally, but writing or reporting a story for Marchman is fun. He permanently resides in the fourth or fifth panel of the galaxy brain meme, which pushes you to take a take to the outer bounds of its logical conclusions, and chase down reporting possibilities that you probably wouldn’t have thought of on your own. Of course, this is is the easy part of editing; Marchman’s equally good at the hard part, which is being exceedingly careful.
The details of being a good boss are a little more mystical and boring, but Marchman was really great at those too, pushing people in the different ways that worked for them individually and gently working a locker room of—to put it charitably—galactic egos and neuroses.
Firing him from your company is a bright flashing sign that you’re tanking, and if there are enough media companies left trying to win, the one that signs him will start doing so immediately.
Marchman claims to hate praise, so if I wanted to antagonize him I could thank him for making the Deadspin that made sportswriting a life I wanted to live, making my stories much better than they should have been, repeatedly betting on me when I was a total uncredentialed nobody living thousands of miles away, and just generally being a very good friend, but those warm fuzzies won’t actually get under his skin. Everyone is going to be saying these things, and he knows they’re true.
No, I think what would really piss him off is putting this fact in a post that his wife and kids might read: he loves smoking cigarettes in bars and has a special talent for finding bars that allow smoking, even in cities that have seemingly banned the practice.
There is probably a larger cosmic irony I need to better unpack with a therapist about having worked with Tim on a complex investigative story about corporate buffoonery and strident greed and then those very machinations being the reason I have to write this at all.
Tim is contrary as fuck, but pricklier.
Tim’s been that way for the quarter-century I’ve know him. He’s who told me that the best editing comes before a piece gets filed. Also, that America is too big to be one country, long before that seemed obvious to me. (Rather, it seemed like more of his contrarian bullshit.)
Tim is my one friend in journalism who was a friend before journalism and is a friend outside of journalism; who can still tell between the map and the territory.
Tim’s written voice and Tim’s spoken voice match as closely as anyone I’ve ever heard speak who makes a living from words .
And Tim says—we’ll see—that he won’t read this performative blog about him, and would prefer that I didn’t contribute to it, and would really prefer that if I must contribute I don’t share my favorite stories about him.
Damn it, Tim.
Marchman and I were and are super-longtimers at Gawker Media/GMG/G/O Media/Blogwire Hungary/Nick Denton’s Cayman Islands Holding Company. In that time, and in the face of the perpetual chaos up top that is endemic to this storied network of publications, he produced a body of work that any journalist should aspire toward. His track record of shining a needed light on the powerful—big tech, career grifters, racist billionaires, sexual abusers, bad sports people, even the dipshits who ran his own company—is admirable beyond words. I became a better journalist the times we got to work together, and I’m proud to call him my friend.
It is sad, however, that those achievements are erased by the fact that Marchman is the person who showed us all what dishwasher chicken looks like. Though he is likely beyond forgiveness, I continue to pray for his immortal soul every night.
Tim Marchman is the only person I know who is not currently in federal prison who’s read the entirety of Behold a Pale Horse, a truly wild conspiracy book written by a guy who later died in a shootout with sheriff’s deputies in Arizona. That might not sound weird to you, but it’s a pretty weird factoid. Weird thing to have done. I’m sorry Tim’s left whatever company we work at now to move to the desert and spend every waking moment harassing George RR Martin into showing him some pages, but it’s also kind of a fitting end.
I can’t think of a bad or even funny thing to say about Tim. Only good and earnest things. I admire him, adore him, and wish everyone in every newsroom was a little more like him. It’s hard to imagine someone deciding that their newsroom should NOT employ Tim Marchman, but their loss is some other newsroom’s gain. Tim: Call me.
However bad you think Tim Marchman’s takes are, know that they are so much worse when he just fires them off in a text to you at the most random time of day humanly possible. “Hey, what if Zack Snyder did gritty Jar Jar Binks?” “I LIKED Man of Steel” “Batman and Robin rules” — all takes I have received, usually at what is around 11:47 pm in Philadelphia, a city that Marchman once missed getting home to by falling asleep on a train after a Gawker/Gizmodo/whatever it is you all are called now party. I am eternally grateful he was never my actual boss at io9, where presumably the logo would have been replaced with a counter of how many pages he thought George R.R. Martin had, all comics stories would be about the silver age, and all team meals would consist of dishwasher chicken, double bread bowls, and “Milk and Honey Original Café Mix.”
That cereal is, I think, the first time I became aware of Marchman’s existence and that is appropriate. Milk and Honey Original Cafe Mix is not, no matter what he says, a foodstuff. It’s a euphemism for the kind of bewildering disappointment that only one of Marchman’s bad takes can produce. It’s so much sweeter than any kid’s cereal.
Now that Marchman’s dead, killed by a mob who just couldn’t bear to hear any more about the White Sox, I can also be heartfelt for a moment. He’ll hate it. No one has ever taught me more about how to be a mentor and how to support other people as Tim has. During one of the four billion times this company melted down, I was looking at job applications online, and I got a slack message out of nowhere that just said “if you are thinking of leaving, call me first please.” There was no reason for this, I didn’t work for him. I never worked for him. It was just something he thought was worth doing.
Tim was an outside ear that has talked me through every career decision I’ve made since then. Even the one that led me to leave media and this company, where my loyalty to this hellhole had a good chance of preventing me from doing what was best. And he didn’t stop being there just because I left. Last week, he texted, “stop tweeting and write!” The draft I eventually turned in only got done because he yelled me into it. Having Tim on my side has been one of the best things that ever happened in my life, and it’s a shame that people coming into this company won’t have the same opportunity. Anyone letting him leave is a moron.
Also, he’s a soft, whiny child who wouldn’t let us do this when he left Deadspin, so he deserves his new life as a head mounted on the wall of Bryan Goldberg’s weight room.
Marchman is a true Kinja mensch. When I was the managing editor of Splinter (née Fusion), Marchman always happily took our splices, which felt so generous coming from one of the newest sites in the network. He did this before ever meeting me in person, and because he worked remotely and wasn’t in the office often, he took on a sort of mythical status in my head. I eventually learned that Marchman is a mensch in many more ways: one of the most astute editors I’ve ever worked with, always ready to help with a difficult story or reporting task, and cares deeply about elevating the newsroom. He also always took the time to write the most articulate, well-thought out Slacks. The last time I saw him, outside of a bar, he was yelling very drunkenly at a stranger on the street. So there’s also that.
Office politics is a tricky thing in the best of times, and rarely was it the best of times at Gawker or Gizmodo or GMG or FMG or, apparently, G/O. Eventually, through the long grind of new worst days and dire all-hands meetings, I found myself doing my job more or less alone. Singly or a few at a time, the whole cohort of executive-level editors who’d lived through the Gawker experience with me had left the company, if not the city, if not this entire side of the country. My multi-time and last boss, John Cook, was departing as the head of the Special Projects Desk, leaving me, his deputy, to keep our team going.
But I still had Tim Marchman. Marchman had seen what I had seen, known what I’d known. We’d been through the same ever-more-frequent low times and the same occasional triumphs. He was my kind of people, nearly the last of our dwindling tribe, a Deadspin person, a Craggs person. He knew what made an argument work, technically and spiritually; he embodied that spark-throwing clash of idealism and cynicism that could drive someone to hound a beloved bestselling author, quixotically and then almost effectively, to tell the truth about whether or not he had the pages. I could tell him about my hopes and my plans and my frustrations. Our new corporate bosses didn’t really relate to me, and I didn’t really relate to them, but Special Projects needed a new official top editor. Here was my path forward at the company, a chance to lead a talented group of reporters, whom I admired and with whom I was already working every day.
I spelled all this out to Marchman. I think I talked to him about the memo I had to write, the memo in which I had to make a pitch for letting me do the work I was doing every day, only formalized and empowered to put my stamp on it.
And then Marchman, my ally and confidant, the Game of Thrones enthusiast, decided he should apply for the job himself. He told me this outside on 17th Street, by a construction fence, as if he were telling me he’d come up with a great plan for us both. I told him that if he did apply, and he got it, he’d be forcing me out of the company—that if I couldn’t even get a promotion to the job I was already doing, that was the end of the road for me. I noted that, as was, he had a great gig running Deadspin, possibly the best editorial position in the company and certainly not, by my estimation, in any way a step below Special Projects, that he would need to ascend from. At best, he would be gaining an extra half-inch of altitude, by stomping on my outstretched fingers.
Marchman applied for the job, and told the bosses he had the right new dynamic vision for the job, and got the job, and seemed genuinely confused when he started trying to tell me what great things we were going to do together as boss and deputy and I told him I was quitting. I went off to run my own website, where I’m happy with what I do. If he’d stayed at Deadspin and backed my bid to run Special Projects, then he’d probably still have a job and I might have been the one shitcanned this week. Valar morghulis!
Someone has probably already mentioned that Malört swill Tim introduced to the office. Someone has probably also mentioned his dreadful taste in cereals. These two things are important things to know about him, though his ability to grow a full beard in a week IS an admirable skill. In all seriousness, what I’ve always appreciated about Tim was that he was the art department’s biggest fan. He would fight for us and promote our very small team in a sea of writers. I’ve always admired and respected his loyalty. He’s a wonderful coworker, great dad and husband (according to his slack tales), and spectacular person to drink with when your company loses a lawsuit or gets bought by a corporation. Also take everything Haisley said and attribute it to me.
Tim Marchman is one of the smartest, quickest, and most deranged editorial minds I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and even in this industry that is so ass-backwards and singularly dedicated to driving away its most talented people, I have no doubt that Tim will be scooped up by some lucky publication immediately. If you do ever find yourself fortunate enough to be working with Tim, I give you this advice: Don’t ever go drinking with him. Like everything else he does, he’s better than you at it, and if you try to keep up you will only end up shitfaced and making a damn fool of yourself.
On the night of September 21, 2016, Tim Marchman assigned me, a college junior freelancing for Jalopnik, to go livestream a protest in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, which quickly turned into civil unrest over the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by the Charlotte Mecklenburg police department.
In less than an hour through scattered Slack messages, Tim gave me a crash course in reporting and turned an inexperienced idiot into a decent reporter for a night. He kind of scared the shit out of me, but he guided me through a hectic situation involving tear gas, molotov cocktails, and bricks being thrown past my head through bus windows without any of that Braveheart speech-giving bullshit, which was nice.
I will never forget that night which filled me a sense of purpose, made clear the path I wanted to take in life, and probably went a long way in securing me the job I have today. So thanks, Tim.
No one else in media can cut through the noise quite like Marchman, and he’s probably the only guy who could convince me to go walk into a cloud of tear gas again if it ever came to it. I’d also really love a chance to shoot him with powdered pepper spray pellets some day, just to make sure he knows what that feels like.
I was Deadspin’s weekend blogger, a few months into the gig, out on a Friday. Around 10 p.m., I got a series of texts from Marchman, rapid fire, one after another after another (after another). I, of course, freaked. What could be so important? Was I being fired? Was the site shutting down? If it truly couldn’t wait until tomorrow morning, it had to be something. I excused myself—explaining to my date that my boss appeared to be in the middle of an after-hours crisis—and left the bar to read the texts, figuring that a phone call would probably have to be next.
José Quintana had a good start. Marchman just wanted to tell me (in detail).
This is painfully earnest and not in keeping with the righteous, well-deserved roasting that tends to accompany these kinds of farewells, but I genuinely wouldn’t have a career today if it weren’t for Tim. He ran my first reported feature; he let me write way too many words about fights that nobody was watching, and fighters nobody cared about; and he made the call that all the degenerates and layabouts who browse this site and make it such a pleasure to read would also be interested in the fall of the Roman Empire. Because of all that, but especially the last one, I get to wake up every day and do my dream job. That’s pretty fucking cool, and Tim is directly responsible for that. Again, I know this is painfully earnest, but I’d run through a brick wall to pay him back for all that.
The editorial leadership at the Company Formerly Known as GMG won’t be the same without Marchman. I’m glad to have had the chance to work with and know him.
Marchman is the kind of editor you encounter out in the wild and wonder if he was pulled from central casting. There’s the obvious: middle-aged white dude, scruffy beard, glasses, a propensity to lose track of time, either a limitless amount of khakis in his closet or just the same pair over and over again. I think of all of our phone conversations have begun with one of us (mostly him, I’d like to say) saying “Hi! Yes! Sorry!” And on more than one occasion, a conversation about a story has been interrupted by a call from (his) home asking why there are empty sardine cans on the table (were they sardines? May have been tuna. Perhaps crackers), or him needing to go back to his desk to retrieve his favorite pair of jeans.
Marchman is a hot ass mess. But as an editor, no one I’ve worked with showed greater clarity, enthusiasm, or care for a story. I’d come to Marchman with a story idea, laden with doubt about whether it was any good, or executable, or worth the time and effort to do. Not only would this asshole somehow know more about my stories than I did, but I left every meeting feeling more excited, more validated in my work than I did going in. If Marchman is deeply cynical about the world (and he is), that mindset never touched the writers he worked with; he was profoundly, shockingly optimistic about us, our abilities, and our work. That precision, that advocacy and that fearlessness shouldn’t be as exceptional in this industry as it is, but it is.
The thing you have to understand is that the cereal rankings were unauthorized. The outrage from the rest of the staff in the comments was not faked, and it was not a bit. We had spent the afternoon in the staff chatroom yelling at each other about cereals, but generally banding together to shout down Marchman’s claim that granola gravel was the best. It was so self-evidently wrong, and the collective disapprobation so strong, that we never for a second thought he’d want to share the claim with the world. We did not agree, as a website, to run any cereal rankings, and we moved on to yelling about other topics. And then about an hour later, out of nowhere and to everyone’s complete surprise, Marchman published his blog. That is what you need to know about Marchman: He is more committed than anyone I know to being weird and gross and wrong, where people can see.
Tim Marchman, lover of lukewarm toilet chicken, of weird banned Swedish tobacco products, and, most disgustingly, of the Chicago White Sox, is leaving us. His end is untimely and unjust, but cosmically appropriate. Though he had already moved on from this website, you cannot truly be called a Deadspin EIC until you leave the company in an extremely traumatic and public manner.
Marchman was my boss for however many years it was before he wisely decided we made his life and happiness measurably worse, and he gave me the greatest gift of all: Handling all the company bullshit and letting me just do and edit blogs. But somehow, even beyond that, he managed to oversee this site’s incredible coverage of the NFL’s Greg Hardy cover-up, getting Kevin Johnson the fuck out of the paint, buying a Hall of Fame vote, and, of course, the Blight Sox vertical.
One time, Marchman and I played half-Goodfellas, half-Woodward and Bernstein by meeting with a source in a dim and dingy, 127-year-old bar and exchanging a duffel bag filled with stacks upon stacks of cash for a vital piece of hard evidence for a story. I was hiding out in the corner, unknown to the source, and holding onto the bag while he vetted the source’s info, until, at a signal, I came over and sat next to the source and penned him in, just in case he was thinking any funny business. It was quite possibly the coolest thing I’ll ever do in my life, and I’ll never be able to thank Marchman enough for facilitating it and for somehow keeping a straight face. He’ll be missed, but I know I’ll see him in Philadelphia or in Hell, whichever comes first.
Much as there was a sphere of Final Office People at the Gawker offices back on Elizabeth Street (as in, you could reliably look up from your glowing computer screen at 9 o’clock in the evening to see Stephen Totilo and Heather Dietrich still tapping away at their desks), so too was there a sphere of Final Drinkers in the Gawker days. That is, no matter what In Memoriam drinks you were going to, no matter how late you left, somehow Marchman would appear outside, smoking away. He would usually complain about taking a train back to, uh, Pittsburgh? Somewhere. Then he’d offer up the name of another karaoke bar.
Over the years I have learned to respect and honor Marchman’s commitment to journalism and investigations, of being direct about how things are and what needs to be done. But my respect and honor to Marchman’s commitment to karaoke, that I recognized instantly.
During my first week at Compete (RIP), I tried to submit a story to Marchman at some ungodly hour. It was my first full-time media gig, and I wanted to make an impression. His incredulous reaction to me shoving a Google Docs draft about non-breaking non-news well past closing time surprised me, but every day since, I’ve been grateful for it. An editor encouraged me to not overwork myself. (Also, he definitely did not want to spend his evening editing a story about reddit-based esports drama.)
Marchman was guiding hand through some of my toughest times, and a celebrator of all our best. I wish I had some damning, embarrassing factoid to drag him with, but he’s already published all of those, so I’ll heap annoying amounts of praise on him instead. He’s patient, insightful, an excellent mentor, and is the kind of editor who elicits the best possible work from his writers. I know wherever Marchman goes next, the people there will be better for it.
It’s unfortunate that we often wait until the end of something to say what we’ve long felt, usually after it’s already too late for our words to make a difference. Unfortunately for me, him, and the people to whom this would matter, the words I’m about to share regarding my friend, mentor, and no. 1 hockey fan, Tim Marchman, are no different.
The thing I’d most like to say about Marchman is that he, more than any other individual person, is to blame for me turning out the way I have as a writer. To my small but dedicated band of haters: all the nasty comments or tweets or emails you’ve sent my way would’ve been better served had you directed them at him.
Think my numerous diatribes targeting MLS have been dumb and annoying? It was Marchman who pitched me the idea of writing the season anti-preview that started it all. Think my countless, overlong, error-ridden soccer posts suck and that I clearly don’t know anything about the sport? Marchman is the one who allowed me to write endlessly about European soccer on a site that previously didn’t cover it all that much, and to do so under his extremely permissive guidance. Believe me to be a terrible writer who abuses run-on sentences and flowery language and impenetrably stacked clauses under which I (poorly) attempt to hide my embarrassingly low IQ? Marchman has been the editor behind almost all of my worst offenses on that front, and if anything he’s only encouraged me toward more stylized opacity.
Marchman, as Deadspin’s deputy editor, then as the site’s EIC, and even later as the now-severed head of GMG’s senselessly murdered Special Projects Desk, has, almost since day one, been the person who most empowered me as a writer. (Not quite since day one, though. The first time I met him I thought he was some weird, bearded mute, and I don’t think we said a single word to each other during the first 2-3 months of my editorial fellowship.) He has always been there to support me, to follow me on my flights of fancy, to boost my confidence when I needed it, to nurture my ideas and make them even sharper, to give my blogs all their best lines, to push me to write my most ambitious takes, and to protect me from my worst impulses. The writer that I am today, and the frankly enormous ego I’ve since developed that makes the prospect of me ever changing the things I write about and the way I write about them an extremely dubious proposition (sorry, haters), is in large part because of him.
So if you hate me, you should really hate Marchman. I am, quite literally, all his fault.
I first met Tim when we were starting a website together, many years ago, and what I remember is that he smoked cigarettes faster than anyone I’d ever seen. Faster, certainly, than could have been pleasurable. He was doing sprint cycling or something at the time, and the speed-smoking—if the bar had been equipped with a revolving door for some reason, it wouldn’t have stopped turning in the time it took for him to complete a cigarette—came over the course of the evening to seem like an extension of his training. It’s unclear what the purpose of such a regimen might have been, but it was clear that he was excelling at it—approaching a target that only he could see, which he’d then bump further out and chase again. I didn’t have to understand it to know that he was serious about it, and that I respected how serious about it he was, and that knowing any more about it than I did would quite possibly drive me mad. It has more or less stayed this way: I think he’s a remarkable and remarkably talented person, and I don’t know how his mind works and am certain that I would not be able to comprehend it if I were somehow given access to it. I am just glad it is in there, doing what it does, and that it periodically slows down enough to cook a chicken thigh in a dishwasher or get optimistic about Kelvin Herrera. He’s a monster and I admire him a great deal.
Tim Marchman is just the best person to have in your corner and also full of the most random and wonderful stories about bizarre things he is going to cook and/or eat. I think he cooked chicken in his dishwasher once? I was miss working with him tremendously and fear always for his culinary safety.
Aside from the guy who hired me to bus tables at the country club in high school, I’ve worked for Marchman longer than I’ve worked for anyone else, so I guess you could say he’s been pretty influential in my professional life. On one hand, he hired me at Deadspin and taught me practically everything I know; he’s never ignored any of the dozens (hundreds?) of “hey you free to look at something real quick” messages I’ve sent him over the past two-plus years, even though it was almost never “real quick”; and he’s edited everything I’ve ever cared about, making me look far better than I am. On the other hand, he’s a vile White Sox fan; he made chicken in a dishwasher; he has unforgivably bad opinions about cereal; he’s said to drool special Swedish snus on his pillow when he sleeps; and he ate this. Marchman: Meh.
After I quit my last gig, I badly wanted to return to Deadspin, which I will always consider my home. This period coincided with Gawker’s murder, which meant there was a lot of uncertainty about what kind of budget Marchman would have. He never bullshit me. He put me on retainer, and he told me to sit tight. Every now and then, he’d check in to give me a timetable on when something might shake loose. Months went by, but eventually, things did shake loose, and out of the blue one night Marchman called to offer me a chance to come home. I will forever be grateful for that, just as I will forever value his counsel as an editor. His cereal takes still suck.
Of all the moments worth recalling as I take stock of this Marchman madness, for me nothing tops his interview from October 2015 on KOVR-TV, the CBS affiliate in Sacramento. Along with showing Marchman’s wonderfulness as a journalist and a colleague, the clip makes me laugh through the shittiness of no longer working alongside him.
The prologue: Marchman had overseen about a year’s worth of Deadspin’s coverage of Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star turned creepy and corrupt mayor of California’s capital city. Many of the reports catalogued the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against Johnson through the years, most involving young females, and described how his political survival was due to his paying accusers to prevent the accusations from ever being heard in court. But the Sacramento media had dependably run interference for Johnson while Deadspin shone light on the mayor’s creepiness. But the local journalists were forced to acknowledge Johnson’s problems when ESPN cancelled the broadcast of “Down in the Valley,” a documentary produced for the “30 for 30” series. The film painted Johnson as a role model and saintly figure while utterly ignoring his grifting ways and all the evidence that he’d inflicted pain and suffering on adolescent girls. ESPN announced the shelving of the movie, a decision the network attributed to Deadspin’s reporting, mere hours before Johnson was scheduled to host a big premiere party at a Sacramento theater, thereby maximizing the mayor’s humiliation.
So KOVR invited editor-in-chief Marchman onto its nightly news in hopes of answering the questions asked in huge graphics:
The interview, conducted via telephone with Tony Lopez of KCBS, is a hoot from start to finish. Marchman was brilliant and profane and didn’t suffer the foolishness being served him. Take a watch. I promise you won’t want your four minutes and two seconds back.
And stay till the end, when Lopez puts a cracking coda on the report: “Tim Marchman ended our interview by telling me where to go...and it wasn’t, ‘Go have a nice day!’”
Days after Marchman’s boffo performance, Kevin Johnson announced he would not be seeking reelection, and essentially disappeared from public view. “Down in the Valley” never aired on ESPN or anywhere.
Thanks for it all, Tim. Go have a nice day.
I don’t remember precisely where I first met Tim, but I think it was at the company’s holiday party in 2013, at the lobby bar of the Tribeca Grand. That would make sense, at least, because all of the remote editors would have been in town for the event. I excavated this memory, which may or may not be accurate, in the course of learning that Tim and I joined the company around the same time, in the summer of 2013. We didn’t work together, however, until late 2017, when Tim took over the Special Projects Desk. One thing was clear at that point: The company that hired us four years prior was not the company for whom we now worked.
Tim and I crossed paths at a time of intense self-examination. Within the company and among our peers, it was no longer clear that the methods and attitudes and positions that guided our journalism were worth the risk. We had adopted a philosophy, a way of thinking and talking about the world, that had become increasingly difficult to practice.
I write all of this to say that Tim is the one you want when you are entering unknown terrain. Certain editors thrive in crisis, and Tim surely counts as one of them. But the more important thing is that he regards each writer and reporter as a fully-formed individual, full of potential and fault and mystery, whose value as a human being has nothing to do with their value to their employer. I am incredibly lucky that Tim was my editor at one of the hardest and most confusing points in my career, and I envy the next writer lucky enough to call Tim their own.
Over my nearly two years with Marchman as my boss we probably wanted to kill each other more than we didn’t, but that’s probably in part because we are very, very similar. A favorite story I heard while at Deadspin was that Marchman tried to delete his entire story on Alex Rodriguez because he was a nervous pissbaby. I, too, am a nervous pissbaby and Marchman never hesitated to use his own nervous pissbaby status to help push me along to the finish line on something I lost faith on halfway through.
Some outlet should just hire Marchman to blog his baseball takes for eternity. I would love to read his takes about Yoán Moncada’s plate discipline evolution in blog form instead of just hearing about them in a group text named for the twitter handle of a certain well-known sabermetrician. He wants to find out if baseball players turn into scientologists when they have spring training in Tampa/Clearwater/St. Pete. (Tim Burke is going to blow a gasket when he reads this.) Anyway, reference available on request.
Marchman interviewed, hired, then managed me for over a year without making eye contact. At first I thought I’d done something wrong. Over time I realized that this type of crank—mumbly and avoidant in person, disconcertingly articulate via messaging, shouty over beers—is essential to the function of this stupid company. This realization was dismaying in its own right. But still not as dismaying as the thought of this company without him.
Of all the obnoxious linguistic tics that have barnacled onto the Deadspin style guide across the years, the very worst is the word “challop.” It’s a bad but useful word, describing an opinion so outlandish, so obviously wrong, so ostentatiously trollish that its only purpose, or at least its primary one, is to draw attention to itself. The people who use it are assholes or former debate team captains or friends with Tim Marchman. (These are three identical groups.)
Marchman is impossible. There is the cereal, the music, the Williamsburg Moriarty getup. It’s a good bit. If you are unfortunate enough to be his friend, however, you will discover the terrible fact that he actually believes all this shit. He really thinks the ‘90s Knicks were the epitome of aesthetic basketball and combat sports. He really believes that the KD-and-Russ era Thunder—a team that played as close Riley ball as any this decade—was weak and soft like the Warriors. He really, really thinks a redditor who writes 8,000-word close-readings of three-page passages is a genius of his time, and really, really believes Daniel Day-Lewis is America’s worst working actor. The fact that he’s right never quite makes up for the fact that he’s making you think about this shit in the first place.
Here is the part where I explain that this … quality … makes Tim a rare editor who sees the whole field at angles which are invisible to people with normal, working brains. Sure. He’s a genius and a top-5 living baseball writer. What it really makes him, though, is completely fucking impossible. He thinks like an alien and argues like a mule. Stupid, unending scream-fights are a fact of life with most of the Gawker Media forebears, but only Marchman casts Overton Wormhole at a high enough level to make the world as it appears to his terrible, ruined brain seem conventional and “Actually, I’m not sure Skyrim is the highest work of American art” seem extraordinary. He makes you into the challop. He is a criminal and I am glad he is dead.
How great that this company lucked out with another shitty owner who makes bad decisions! This post is probably full of people roasting Marchman for “bad takes” and some sports-related things, but here is what I will say about Tim Marchman: Don’t ever drink with him, because you will end up smoking a cigarette and you will be very mad at yourself the next day.
Here is another thing I will say about Tim Marchman: He taught me some valuable lessons about scheming. The people who work at deadspin.com, though I love them, can be extremely skeptical and difficult when it comes to...certain things. YOU try explaining to these people that they should have an instagram account in 2016! I learned a lot about management from Marchman, who guided me through these conversations. As it turns out, the key to getting these people to do anything is bribery...even if you don’t follow through. I still owe the Deadspin staff a pizza for “getting the most newsletter subscribers” three years ago. It’s coming, I swear!
The horror is finding yourself agreeing with a Marchman opinion. I’m not talking about being persuaded to his cause, here. That’s impossible. If Marchman says “I like breathing, it’s good,” by the time he’s done issuing the sentence you will have radicalized to an absolute anti-oxygen position (What the fuck is wrong with you? What kind of a fucking maniac breathes? Christ, this is fucking sick pervert shit.) because if Marchman holds the opinion, it must be galaxy-brained insanity. Or anyway Marchman disagrees in such easy good spirit, with such neat, clean, bright lines separating the specific disagreement from his broader attitude toward the person doing the disagreeing that disagreeing with him—sharply! passionately! vituperatively!—is a hundred times less fraught and more rewarding than agreeing with most of the other cranks who have worked at this website. What I am talking about is issuing an opinion and then discovering, after it has left your (physical or virtual) mouth, that it agrees with Marchman’s take, that your thought processes just sorta naturally aligned with his while you weren’t paying close attention to either.
What even is analogous to this nightmare? Remember in Army of Darkness when Bruce Campbell discovers a blinking eye emerging from beneath the skin on his own shoulder? The shock of finding yourself, safe homey you, suddenly monstrous and incomprehensible, host to unfathomable horrors. Oh God, was I always a fucking psycho? Am I the last to know? I avoid adventurous cereal purchases, now. What if I found out... no. I can’t even finish the thought.
I guess this is a warning for whoever’s lucky enough to work with him next. It’ll be somewhere else. That’s a shattering thought; I’m furious and heartbroken and it makes me fucking sick that I can’t find him in Slack to kick around the kernel of whatever idea will be some future weird blog I feel good about. Via however many hamhanded broke-dick owners and needless, contrived, bridge-to-nowhere-ass restructuring schemes we’ve endured over these past few terrible years, the bottomless stupidity and offhand wastefulness of this doomed industry have developed a bad habit of resolving themselves into the sudden absence from this editorial unit of good and trusted leaders, and it always hurts and is terrible, and no plausible next step could pay off in a way that makes the sudden, cruel displacement of brilliant editors and valued friends worth it. Unless Marchman also thinks that’s the case, in which case the exact opposite of all that, absolutely, to the death.
I immediately knew I would get along with Tim once I realized we were both fans of terrible baseball teams. We’ve worked together now for four and a half years, and he’s proven that you can’t judge a man by his baseball taste. He’s edited excellent work by myself and others at Deadspin, and more recently across all the sites. But you already knew that.
So if I may borrow from the baseball statistics community and suggest that there is an unseen force behind Marchman’s success—his wife, Sarah. I’d like to think y’all don’t need me to go on a long explanation about the invisible work done by spouses and partners, especially when someone has as demanding a job as Tim. I can only speak for myself, but I know I’ve interrupted dinners, caused changes to family plans, and probably upset a fair share of relaxation time. On a personal level, she befriended me at my very first Gawker Media holiday party, where I knew nearly nobody, and her kindness that night has stayed with me for many years.
I have tried my hardest to thank Sarah over the years, but I am also certain those thanks remain not enough. Whatever brilliance Tim accomplished here, a fair amount of credit belongs to his wife as well. And Tim is smart enough to know that I’m right on this one.
Like, obviously I knew on some level that if I came to work for this company I would be signing up for an epic scale of dysfunction and chaos that would cause my hair to go gray and half my paycheck to be spent on concealer in a futile attempt to cover up the dark circles under my eyes caused by sleepless nights and debilitating stress. But on another level, and I cannot emphasize this enough, it is all Tim Marchman’s fault.
That Marchman was ever interested in hiring me always felt like the most flattering thing in the world; that I told him no twice before acquiescing only after he left Deadspin felt like a boneheaded mistake because I’d never get to work with the deranged genius that has molded many of the best writers on the internet and on dead trees; that he became my closest coworker, mentor, and confidant for 14 months even though he had much better things to do feels like one of the most valuable gifts I’ve ever received; that he will never stop texting me about the Blight Sox and ignoring my texts about the equally woeful A’s wounds me deeply. I am despondent that he is gone and wild with jealousy that a mere two days after being shitcanned he looked like he had been on a Caribbean island for weeks.
No one will ever believe in you like Tim Marchman will believe in you. Even when the squares of “The Establishment” tell you repeatedly that your ideas are “bad” and “don’t make sense”...
… Marchman will always bring you back from the brink.
He also just happens to be a brilliant editor and wonderful friend, and I’m very sorry he’s dead.
I didn’t work for Marchman very long, but he is among the sharpest and most supportive editors I expect to have in my career. He’s a deeply decent guy who can be incredibly nasty when professionally obliged to do so, a skill he deployed often and with great vigor in the service of all the people who worked for him. Tim treated the most complicated investigations and mind-numbingly dumb blogs with equal rigor, and we’re all very much worse off without his guidance. Also, one time, very early into my tenure at the desk, Marchman engaged in one of the softest forms of trouble imaginable—I think he stole a gift bag from an event we both attended—and texted me about it to underscore how much he “loves doing dirtbag shit.” I found it extremely endearing for reasons I still can’t really explain.
It was an honor to work with Tim Marchman, to co-parent an esports site with him and to listen to run errands while he ostensibly was having important phone meetings with me. It was like I was right there with him when he was buying cigarettes. It brought us closer together.
Like a lot of editors I’ve worked with here, Marchman has always held a fanatical skepticism regarding the ultimate veracity of certain acclaimed works. I’m not talking about him being the kind of guy who cries out “‘SHOPPED!” whenever someone tweets out a photo of a stray coffee cup appearing in a Game of Thrones scene, although he can often be an irritant of equal or even greater value. I’m talking about him harboring a healthy (or perhaps not so healthy) cynicism of a lot of classic longform nonfiction they teach in colleges and shit. Marchman is the sort to INSTANTLY side-eye this strain of bourbon bastard writing: rolling his eyes at attributed quotes that read like flowing prose and alerting everyone that his spidey senses are tingling because the author in his crosshairs seems to have supernatural mind-reading abilities when it comes to the subject matter.
“Lots of venerated old journalists made shit up” was a go-to Marchman take for so long—a rare good take to secure his endorsement—that colleagues like me bitched at him to make it an official post, the way he finally got around to ranting about writers who use the royal we here two months ago. After all, there is no shortage of evidence backing up this take, and the fact that the longform community was essentially groomed to worship at the feet of potential fabulists and known charlatans and asshole hacks like Norman Mailer has made it an unfortunate breeding ground for insufferable writererers with shitty habits and even worse turns of phrase. This take needed to be took.
And you know what Marchman did? He fucking tweeted the take. I would embed the tweets he did here, but he uses an automatic tweet deletion service like the tinfoil-hatted truther that he is. So they’re gone now, unlike so many of the revered works he doubted. He harbored this take for years ... and ... he just ... he tweeted it out. The moron. I’ll miss him dearly, although who knows if he’ll want that fact checked.