On Monday of this coming week, all of us at Deadspin will sit down at our computers and write blog posts about sports and other things. On Friday, we will do the same. In between, while we are blogging, our parent company, Gawker Media, will be sold by auction in bankruptcy court. This will end the company’s 14 years as an independent media company and bring Deadspin and its sibling blogs under new ownership, most likely as part of some larger company. This should not be cause for concern for you, the reader: Eventually, inevitably, there may be changes, but the site has been through changes before, and these could be changes for the good, for all we know. That said, this does mark a transition, and so our editor-in-chief sent out the email below to friends and enemies of the site this week; it is followed by what he got back, in the order he got it.
These emails have not been edited save to take out a few things that someone operating in bad faith might take out of context.
As you may have heard, we fought the law and the law won; this is Gawker Media’s last week as an independent media organization. I’m actually pretty confident that this is going to turn out fine—it’s not like we’re not used to dealing with the shifting and unknown whims of an erratic media overlord, and if, say, Outbrain buys the whole outfit as part of a move into the “content space,” at least we’ll know where we stand—but it’ll definitely be a change, and even if it’s not the sort readers in search of Draymond Green dick pics will be all that concerned with, it still feels like it’s worth noting on the site.
To that end, I’d love to have something from all of you—our former staffers, our contributors, our friends, our enemies—as we go from working for one guy to working for someone or something else. My idea was that I would send this out to a lot of people who might have something interesting to say about the site and that we could run whatever they had to say as one giant post on Thursday or Friday, a few days before our fate will be determined in an auction.
I have no idea just what all you various and varying people might have to say, but one thing I’m clear on is that the idea here isn’t to score anything to “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).” When the ship is going down, whether it’s weeks or years from now, we’ll have a somber and solemn remembrance of all the dong shots, purloined Hall of Fame votes, fake dead girlfriends, Arsenal stanning, excellent boxing writing, defenstrated mayors, ESPN exposes, and what not. For now, I’d be deeply in your debt for a graf or two (by, I don’t, know, Wednesday?) talking about your favorite post no one read; or how I’m sitting on a piece of yours; or how you’re glad when bad things happen to us because we wrote nasty things about you over a period of years; or how you were glad we flogged some issue; or how working with/for me, Tommy, A.J., or Will sucked; or how we fucked you, the working journalist, over; or whatever other Deadspin-related thing might be on your mind. I’d like to think of it as a celebration at which people who want to toast us and people who want to toast the idea of our death are equally welcome.
Also: please, please forward this on to whoever you think should be invited to send something on and whoever you think would like to see it. I’m sure I’m forgetting lots of people here, and worst case you send it on to someone who already got it. You know where to get me, and I love you all, except for those of you I genuinely detest.
I miss pretty much everything about Deadspin except one huge thing: the hostility of Slack. But Slack did have some fine qualities, including and especially the fact that it facilitated a favorite game of mine: Tormenting my coworkers by casually mentioning that I eat, say, nachos with a knife and fork. Albert would go APESHIT. It was the best.
I actually eat a lot of foods that are traditionally eaten by hand using a knife and fork. It has to do very specifically with the fact that I have an aversion to feeling like there’s anything underneath my fingernails. (You know who I am, so even though you may object to all of this philosophically, you do have to admit that you understand it on some level.) To mark this day in Deadspin history, I decided to compile an utterly incomplete list of hand-foods that I choose to eat with a knife and fork.
Also, I love you assholes. (You’re still making the bed, right?)
An Incomplete List of Hand-Foods I Choose to Eat with a Knife & Fork*
*May substitute spoon
Chicken fingers, including Buffalo chicken fingers (I will not eat wings, to difficult to fork)
Sandwiches, but NOT hot dogs: thus concludes that debate
Tacos, soft (I will not order hard tacos, due to their un-forkability)
French fries, for the most part and always if they’re topped
Onion rings, crucial to ensuring there is both onion and fried batter in each bite
Indian snack mix
Potato or tortilla chips that have been broken into a piece less than half their size
Tim - You’re a class act, right to the end. And that’s ON the record. - mushnick
sorry to see you guys go.
Here’s only the appropriate score:
A couple of years ago, I got an email from Tim Marchman, a guy I’d never heard of, about a book chapter I’d written. He asked if he could buy it for Deadspin, a website I’d also never heard of. Tim, Tommy Craggs, Deadspin’s lawyer, my lawyer, and I waltzed around for a while, finally coming up with a way for them to publish the piece. It ran in April, 2014, and within a couple of weeks I had a movie option offer from Michael Medavoy’s production company, two agents (literary and theatrical), two separate NPR features, a dozen radio and print interviews, and a longish segment in a sports documentary film. My reading audience expanded from a couple of hundred to (for a later piece) a quarter of a million people.
Without Deadspin and its editors, there’s no way any of this would have happened.
Since that first piece ran, I’ve had agreements and disagreements with Tommy Craggs and Tim Marchman. Pieces have run and not run. Deals have worked and not worked. But full payment for articles (even the unpublished stuff) always arrived promptly. More importantly, regardless of whether things were working or not, my relationship with both Tommy and Tim remained collegial. Even as we were scuffling about individual pieces, they promoted me to people they knew, sent my writing to other editors, and made sure I got noticed.
Talk to writers who’ve published with online sites or in print magazines; you’ll see what most of them have to say about their editors and the publications. Gawker and Deadspin did right by me. And Tommy Craggs and Tim Marchman remain my friends.
I’ll always remember Deadspin fondly as the place I got my start, and busted my ass working nights and weekends making next to no money for literally years yet never got brought on full-time because it wasn’t in the budget*, only to get another job and see it explode into a site where multiple full-time staffers were quickly hired to write about how to properly tie your dog’s shoelaces, where to find the best deals on dog shoes, and occasionally sports. And! they got benefits like “medical insurance” and “having your taxes taken out of your paycheck so you don’t owe the IRS thousands of dollars because you’re the worst at budgeting and planning for the future.” So, at the very least, working at Deadspin was a huge boon to my confidence.
I’ll also remember it fondly for making this search in my personal Gmail account possible:
Loved you, Independent Deadspin
*In all likelihood, this is totally the reason. I’m sure Craggs has never forgiven me for it. And rightly so, it is a bad, bad** blog and makes me cringe just to think about it.
**Still, fuck Gomes, though.
Deadspin was a great place to work if you were a young person who enjoyed being constantly told to “eat shit.” Foodspin was the only redeemable thing about this dick-pic emporium until Burneko started writing about pianos.
I’ll never forget my first week on the job, when Tommy Craggs asked me if I wanted to work a night shift, then told me I was “so fucked” after agreeing to help out. I eventually worked weekends for Deadspin during my senior year of college, so I’m pretty sure Marchman never read a single blog I wrote because he was too busy eating a bowl of gravel while performatively enjoying the uncomfortable heat of a sauna.
My favorite Deadspin memory is from my second-to-last day in the old office, when I asked everyone what I should order for lunch. Craggs suggested Parm, a hilariously overpriced (when making $8.00 an hour) sandwich spot in NYC. Tommy ordered some food too, and asked me how much he owed me. I said I would buy his lunch in exchange for a hug. He walked over to my desk, dropped $40 in cash on my keyboard and silently walked away.
Make no mistake, Deadspin is infinitely better now than it was 10 years ago, but Deadspin as it was back in 2006—Carl Monday!You’re with me, Leather! Run, you stupid fucking dinosaur, RUN!—should be remembered as something truly ground-breaking. There was nothing else like it on the web. I know it showed this frustrated, mid-20s, low-level magazine staffer that there was another way into writing about sports, that stories living along the furthest margins had just as much value as the real, packaged-for-consumption thing we often accepted without question. For years, all I wanted to do was write for Deadspin.
Then I got my chance! I did one good blog. Almost everything else I did sucked, but I’ll forever be grateful to Craggs for that chance. My whole career as I know it started at that point. I know that he and Will and AJ and Tim gave that same opportunity over the years to dozens of other no-name writers that you now read with regularity. Deadspin’s fingerprints on the state of journalism today can never be fairly calculated because it’s immeasurable. No matter what comes next, we would do well to never forget that fact.
And may that stupid fucking dinosaur never stop running.
The advantage I always had with Deadspin at Gawker Media is the same advantage Deadspin has always had at Gawker Media: Nick Denton has no idea what we’re doing. I can proudly say that I have not one single bad word to say about Nick Denton. The reason I have not one single bad word to say about Nick Denton is because the entire time I was doing Deadspin, I didn’t have a single meaningful professional interaction with Nick.
(Actually, that’s not quite true. For about a month in the summer of 2005, Nick, Lockhart Steele and I spent about 15 minutes a day trying to come up with names for this stupid site, including the infamous “Tronball” before Nick finally just gave us Deadspin. I wanted to call it Benchrider.com. That was pretty much it though.)
I would hear these stories from Alex Balk and Jessica Coen and Choire Sicha and Emily Gould and Mark Lisanti about how impossible it was to work with Nick, how he was constantly micromanaging everything, how he’d bother them about every post over IM. But that never happened to me. Nick trusted Lockhart, Lockhart trusted me, and I was so cheap that even if I turned out to be a total moron it wouldn’t cost anybody much more than the price to own the URL. Nick was smart enough to know what he didn’t know shit about, and he didn’t know shit about sports. Nick never IM’d me, he never suggested any stories, he never told me to get traffic up, he never paid me based off how many pageviews I was getting, he really never said much of anything to me. Deadspin was just this site that made him a bunch of money for reasons he never quite entirely understood, and thus he just stayed out of it entirely.
This has made me totally think Nick Denton is awesome! I think he’s the perfect boss, and of course I’ve been spoiled ever since. From what I understand, he has been a little more hands-on at Deadspin since I left, but only a little. This place mostly avoided all the palace intrigue. It’s the Gawker Media site with the most continuity, the most established hierarchy, and, I’d argue, the most cohesion. It’s a place I can come back and feel like I’m still a part of, even though none of the staff knows who I am and are also all 11 years old. It’s a place where having been with Deadspin sort of means like you’ll always be part of the same family from then on, even if you weren’t there very long. ***
And I think much of this is thanks to Denton’s happy indifference and confusion about what the site was doing. We were just all left to do the best site ourselves, without some jackass from accounting asking us why there are so many bear posts. I know the site’s going to be fine whoever buys it; the dumbest thing anyone could do would be to mess with Deadspin. But it’s still strange to think of it fully separated from Gawker Media. Gawker Media’s total befuddlement with Deadspin is one of the primary reasons the site has been able to succeed. Deadspin will be lucky to find a new owner as totally ignorant of the sports world as Nick Denton has been for more than 11 years now. Thank you for everything, Nick. Thank you for staying the hell out of everyone’s way.
Oh, I can now admit that this post, which initially featured this photo of David Eckstein chugging from a tequila bottle , was written at 6 a.m. in the morning when I was so blindingly drunk that I cannot believe I could even find my house, let alone my computer. I’m pretty sure I tried to give a hickey to the St. Louis Arch that night. I’m pretty sure I masturbated into a Willie McGee jersey that night. I’m pretty sure I ate a live rally squirrel that night. And yet there I was, at 6 a.m., just posting away for the whole world to see. Do you realize that for the first three years of this site, I was the only person who could publish on this site, and no one looked at anything, ever, until I hit publish? I honestly can’t believe I got away with it.
*** With one exception.
I was saddened to hear that Deadspin—which has of late become my favorite site for healthy-meal planning, race-war stoking, labor-law dissection, and Amazon deals—was sold at auction along with its sister titles to an investment consortium led by Founders Fund, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, and the Bill Simmons Media Group. I am trying my hardest not to think of what new ownership will do to the site’s sensibility, although I am thrilled that Mike Lupica will be coming aboard as editorial director.
Before the deal closes, there is one matter that needs clearing up. For months, pundits of varying renown have spread the lie that it was A.J. Daulerio, unrepentantly reckless journalist, who deep-sixed the company. The revelation of Peter Thiel’s financial involvement in the lawsuits has debunked most of that formulation, so let me take on what’s left. Daulerio is not reckless. He is dogged and iconoclastic and bold, and when he took the reins at Deadspin he brought those qualities to bear on sports and sports-media worlds that back then needed a dose of them. (His tenure, it should be noted, predated much of the ruthless herd-culling brought on by economic upheaval in the journalism business. It stuns me to say that the hack columnist in need of humbling is now an endangered species.) I am very thankful that as my first boss he passed his values to me on even a little bit. The only lamentable editorial trait A.J. passed on to me—and it’s a minor one—was his tendency to wrap stories so thoroughly in irony so as to make it impossible to discern who was the butt of the post’s criticism or joke. He oversaw some fantastically unclicky headlines; that voice did not do wonders for SEO and social traffic. To that end, here’s an A.J.-edited post I wrote during the 2011 World Series—closing in, five years later, on 12,000 pageviews!—that to this day cracks me up: . You probably missed it the first time. I hope to hell the new owners don’t forget where Deadspin came from.
There are a lot of great things about Deadspin but for the purposes of this post I will just point out one: Deadspin runs more good boxing writing than any media outlet in America. And it’s not even a boxing site! It’s not even really a sports site. But this is a fact. There is not one website, magazine, or newspaper that runs more quality boxing writing than this stupid blog. (You can take out the stuff I wrote and this is still a fact, to an even greater degree). That’s pretty incredible.
I also think it’s noteworthy that Deadspin is the least athletic group of people at this company. Readers should know that.
Fuck you, A.J. Daulerio. Fuck you for taking a chance on me when my career was stuck in Old Newspaper purgatory. Fuck you for letting me share a table at Deadspin with some of the best, most talented people anyone could want to work with. Fuck you for all our Arguments About Journalism. Fuck you for those nights in Philly at Locust Bar, the Pen & Pencil, Cherry Street Tavern, and RUBA. Fuck you for everything about Fantastico. Fuck you for your generosity. Fuck you for your loyalty. Fuck you for being so principled. Fuck you for La Salle making the Sweet 16 that one time. Fuck you for introducing me to my wife.
Fuck you, I put in the windows. Fuck you, we’re overdue for dinner at Bamonte’s.
Fuck you, A.J. Daulerio.
Hi, my name is Dan. If you started reading Deadspin any time in the past 3 or 4 years, you probably know me as the guy who wrote that thing about Floyd Mayweather. Or maybe the guy who really relentlessly flogs his material on Twitter; like Billy Mays on a 4-day coke binge relentless flogging. You might even know me as a guy who recently challenged a major party presidential candidate to a charity boxing match. You probably think I’m an idiot.
But, if you started reading Deadspin 5 or 6 years ago, you know me as IronMikeGallego, the Deadspin Commenter with the single least creative screenname, ever. This is how I would like you to remember me. Then you wouldn’t think I’m an idiot; you would know it.
When I initially stumbled across Deadspin in 2006 or whatever it was, it was an accident. I had a stupid boxing/baseball blog I ran with a friend and one of our stories got linked to by some surely-no-longer-existent-but-then-moderately-popular blog, sending our readership skyrocketing above our usual level of “mom.” The story adjacent to ours was from Deadspin, so I clicked over. The site was pretty bare bones at the time, pretty much just the great and unyielding Will Leitch banging out 6-8 daily stories about life in Matoon and why Bill Simmons was the devil, but something special caught my eye: it was the comments.
There were, already, quite a few options for sports blogs. What separated Deadspin, besides Will’s writing, were the comments. They were hysterical. They were intelligent. They were almost completely inscrutable to an outsider, which only made them more appealing to an insecure sad sack like myself, who somehow immense derives self-esteem from belonging to any sort of even modestly-exclusive group, such as vertebrates.
What followed was several years of admiring the comments from afar, before Deadspin transitioned from an invite-only commenting system to one where you could audition and be called up to the team if you actually made people laugh. I tried. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. I think I came up with a few clever screen names along the way, but nothing came of them. Each time, my joke bombed, and no one even came close to approving me. I was a nobody.
Then, one day, Hamilton Nolan dropped by Deadspin with one of his guest posts about boxing. Now, I have long asserted that Hamilton is just about the finest boxing writer out there today, but I also find that our opinions coincide about as frequently as the Mayan calendar resets, and that was certainly the case that day. Confident my invisible rant about his opinion would forever remain a nullity, I quickly made up the first and dumbest screen name that popped in my head: the name of an obscure baseball player I’d liked as a kid, “Iron Mike” Gallego. I ranted impotently, and, I figured, that was it. It wasn’t: a popular commenter with the far more creative name of Sheed’s Bald Spot (now better known as Motherboard EIC, Derek Mead) saw my dumb rant and approved me for reasons I didn’t understand. I’d later find out that Derek made a habit of approving the worst comments in Deadspin history; I’m proud to be a part of that group.
I could spend a lot of time talking about how great the Deadspin comments were then. It was the second or third generation of Deadspin commenters, the core of Leitch originals, besides Big Daddy Drew (Magary) and Clue Heywood, having by then mostly moved out of their parents’ basement to a new place that didn’t support WiFi. It was the era of Don’t Forget Where You Came From Cheese Mac (Sean Newell), All Over But The Sharting (Albert Burneko), Tulo’s Mullet (Tom Ley) and Samer Ocho Cinco (Samer Kalaf; I just put that together as I was writing this!). It was the time of guys like Mark Kelso’s Migraine, David Hume, Theodore Donald Kerabatsos, Bevraj of Choice, Eddie Murray Sparkles, UweBollocks, Always Winning, Gamboa Constrictor, Same Sad Echo, Mattingly’s Sideburns, RMJ=H, Save To Favorites, Steve U, and many others. And, somehow, aside these genuinely hilarious motherfuckers, there was me, a guy who refused to use swear words in jokes for some reason I don’t even remember, and who began his professional commenting career with this gem. In time, we even got our own rating service, run by the mysterious and infinitely non-corruptible, Miserable Shitehawk (now known as your friendly Foodspin host, Chris Thompson). It was everything I dreamed it would be.
Like all good things in the universe, Kinja eventually destroyed it. Half the commenters got pissed off about losing our shiny golden stars, or the elimination of commenting auditions, or the size of our avatars, or something. I don’t remember—I’m sure it was stupid, and like most bad things, largely my fault—but there was a quick and seemingly permanent exit of many of the best commenters of the time. Some of us, I guess, stuck around to contribute to the site in other ways, and some of us still try our hand in the comments section, but it was never the same. The thing that had initially made Deadspin so special to me had vanished.
The good news is that today the site writ large is better than ever. But I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia for the good old days. The days before just anyone could heart a comment; the days when one had to manually type out a “+1” and if one of your jokes got more than 2 or 3 of those, it meant you could blow off work the rest of the week to celebrate. The jokes were great, the group of commenters were special, and the sense of community was about as tight as anything I’ve ever witnessed on the internet. It was awesome.
So, my plea to the new overlord of Deadspin: Make our Commenting Section Great Again.® Not for me, and the other guys from my time—most of their parole conditions don’t allow them to interact with other felons anyway—but for the next batch of funny motherfuckers out there. Everyone should get to experience Deadspin the way I did.
TL; DR—this was my best joke ever, I hope you all heart it.
Everyone thinks of Canada as one of the most welcoming places in the world to move, and technically it is, in part because they’ve always had more trees to cut down and more oil to process than they can handle alone. But while Canada loves immigrants, Canadians are indifferent. They tend to hire other Canadians, because — and this is true — they look at years of experience and say, Yes, but do you have Canadian experience? (This is a real question. Ask yourself whether you’ve ever, ever heard a version of this spoken to a foreigner looking for work in the States. No, I assure you, you haven’t.) Move to Toronto, especially during a sag in media, and you’ll be stuck blogging for an American website while you look for reporting jobs. That was me, circa 2013, keeping poutine on the table by doing weekend work for Deadspin. Belated soorries for all that last-place Jays coverage. (Still, you’re welcome for the pictures of Rob Ford’s crackhouse.)
But because Deadspin is an internationally renown bad motherfucker, it still opens doors. Two moments stand out. One was meeting a couple of local sports producers in a pub, one of whom was a Deadspin commenter; the mere word “Deadspin” opened up a long and loud conversation that culminated in someone — a lady journo, in fact — picking up a round of beers. Another was meeting a friend at a bar to watch the deciding game of the Heat-Spurs Final — the holy-shit-Ray-Allen-with-the-stepback game. A friend of his shows up, hi, how are ya, and I do that thing where I say I’m a freelance journalist, you know, for the CBC, for here and there, for Deadspin ... “WOW, Deadspin!” buddy interjects. “I love Deadspin! Read it all the time!” Then comes the line every Deadspin writer dreams of. Buddy looks at me and asks, as one might when hopefully quasi-recognizing a celebrity: “Are you DUAN?”
I’m trying to recall the circumstances that led to Tommy Craggs saying, “It’s just a different kind of journalism.”
That, delivered in the same tone as No, that dress doesn’t make you look at all hippy, plus the snickering in the background—this was a rare phone conversation—it didn’t build confidence.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, which is stupidity, I was pretty desperate to find a place that would pay me to write about running. I found this website called Deadspin, but there was nothing about running on it. Not many words either, lot of pictures. There were gifs of baseball players punching fans and a guy picking his nose though.
This guy, Tommy Craggs (which, I then and still pronounce short a, rhymes with bags) got back to me right away, which I took as a bad sign, and said he was thinking about starting something about running, so yeah, send something over. I thought of all the ways this could go horribly wrong and how it had come to this and stuff, and sent in a nice interview with Irish miler from the 1980s, Eamonn Coghlan.
The interview appeared with some cartoon graphics and a sensational headline like, “I’m a freak ....” in between a video of a football player coldcocking his girlfriend in a hotel elevator and perhaps something indelicate hedded “Holy fuck, look at this ...”
You know, I have hardly any self-esteem left at this point, but when I wrote for The New York Times, people asked for my opinion on big ticket purchases. Since I’ve written for Deadspin, people have asked for a receipt.
I believe I called Craggs/bags immediately after my nice interview posted in that compromised position and confronted him about my endangered reputation as a journalist and he responded as above, the different kind of journalism thing. With the lowlifes in the background snickering. Goodness, I’m ashamed of how high and mighty I acted and how poorly I treated him. That’s probably why he quit. Two years later.
The thing that took me so many moons to realize about this crude, unwashed, hideously awkward bunch embodied first by Craggs and then seamlessly by Marchman (seamlessly, because he also did not know why I kept sending stuff in) was that they were the kindest, most professional, most respectful people I’ve ever worked for.
Oh, isn’t that the way? Hanging modifier.
My wife says to say “Thanks for giving my stupid husband the means to lose his job, you dicks.”
She says it with love though.
Tim, this is going to be great and I wish I could contribute - I do have a couple of thoughts! - but I’m swamped with freelance work, calls with editors, plus I’m off to the mountains tomorrow and haven’t even bought my freeze-dried food yet. So with regrets I’ll have to decline the opportunity. Best of luck, and thank you for thinking of me.
I was going to write something about how Deadspin is a family, a dysfunctional, albeit fiercely loyal family. I was going to mention how whenever commenters were dicks to me, I’d go into the comments to fire back, and usually someone on staff (probably Barry or Draper or Bert) would have beat me to it. I was going to recognize that it’s navel-gazey to talk about how great Deadspin is, and I was going to say fuck it, because Deadspin is great! I planned to talk about how working there was so much fun, how we approached the world with the idea that pretty much anything could be a blog, but that we backed up the joke blogs with really stellar reporting. I was going to touch some of the Deadspin posts I think of all most often, like Wagner’s Gamergate piece, Burneko’s piece on how the system is not broken, Billy’s Travis Scott takedown, and the piece that brought “Crankin’ My Hog” into our lives. I would mention that I picture the limp body of the unconscious Nuggets mascot being lowered to the court all the time.
But I really came here to say one thing: I have never seen Ted 2. (I haven’t seen Ted 1, either). I’ve revisited the trailer several times to see if I could figure out what it was that I found funny when I first saw it late one night about a year ago, but I keep coming up short. To be fair, a lot of people did find Ted 2 funny. It grossed $33.5 million in its first weekend. Thousands of people paid good money to watch Mark Wahlberg and a CGI bear make jokes about jerking off. I was just extremely high when I wrote that tweet.
Deadspin didn’t invent sports blogging. When this site came into being, there was already an established, if rudimentary, landscape in place. We were hobbyists, dabblers, misfits, and often total fuck-ups who had found a way to talk about sports in ways that—at least to us—made perfect, personal.
It wasn’t so much about providing an alternative to the mainstream or staking out new territory; to say that would be to drastically overstate what it meant to have your own blogpost.com in 2005. The whole thing was one gigantic accident: Someone gave us an opportunity to be heard (or more accurately, read) and we decided to take a gander at it because there was absolutely nothing at stake. It was a free-for-all with a limited audience and little or no prospect of legitimacy.
Deadspin changed all of that. Within weeks, there was a web property that not only acknowledged and gamely participated in whatever loose sense of a scene there was, it celebrated and legitimated it as a thing that people might care about. For me, the early days of Deadspin were as much about Will’s interest in elevating that community—in making sure that this place was very much a part of that world and in line with its values—as it was pumping out content that could both appeal to a wider audience and still feel very a part of the universe as, say, my own kooky project.
On the most basic level, Deadspin made careers happen: KSK, for one grew directly out of the equally sharp and profane comments section. When, for some inexplicable reason, Will decided to link to FreeDarko.com nearly every day during the playoffs, our traffic boomed, the name spread, and we ended up with a book deal. Whatever success I have had as a writer of basketball is due in large part to the generosity of Will Leitch.
There’s a symbiotic relationship between a great publication and its editors—one so simple that it hardly warrants such a high-flown sentence. Deadspin was an institution but everyone who sat atop the masthead put their stamp on day-to-day operations. As an online institution that unfolded in real time, Deadspin was subject to constant, if unpredictable, upheaval. That was part of the fun. And what made this place remarkable wasn’t just that it’s had editors who could sustain it but who—each in their own way—found ways to improve and expand on Will’s original vision. There’s a symbiotic relationship between a great publication and great editors that hardly even warrants mention.
I can no more imagine Deadspin without A.J., Tommy, or Tim than I can imagine any of them without the website they helped mold. I remember standing in Vegas with A.J. as he listened to a voicemail with a lead on some potential MLB sex scandal; wondering if Tommy was the single most capable writer and editor I’d ever dealt with; and watching as Tim continued to turn Deadspin into something far more expansive and comprehensive than I’d ever imagined it would become in those early days.
I can’t say that I’ve read every article that’s ever appeared on Deadspin. But if anything, the more the site has grown—and the more difficult it’s been to catch all the stories, ideas, and talent that’s appeared on here—the less realistic it’s been that someone could possibly keep up. There’s simply been too much that’s happened, too many things worth reading, for anyone sane to stay on top of it all. Whatever happens next (and no matter what some people arbitrarily decide is disposable) there’s also an enormous amount that will be positively invaluable—as a great read, a snapshot of a moment, or the place where a story was simply realized to the fullest. But at least for those of us who were there at the beginning, Deadspin was as much about knowing you could say whatever the fuck you wanted as what you ended up saying.
I’m from Ohio. I’m a lawyer. Ergo, I’m a boring person. The only thing that keeps me feeling cool is reading Cool Things from Cool Blogs written by Cool Writers. That’s where Deadspin comes in.
Deadspin is the first website I pull up in the morning and, besides Pornhub, it’s the last website I visit at night. And because I’m too bashful to contribute in any meaningful way to Pornhub, email@example.com has allowed me to outwardly direct my boredom.
Dating back to June 2, 2009 I have sent a total of 1,285 tips to Deadspin. Sometimes I sent so many emails on the same subject or occurrence that it must’ve felt to the Deadspin staff that I was beating a dead horse. From time to time I believed I had found the perfect story for Deadspin and I got hard just thinking about my having my name attached to said story. Other times I was so focused on finding material for Deadspin that I screwed up something at work.
But thanks to that fucking snake Peter Thiel, firstname.lastname@example.org might be taken away from us readers. Fuck you, Peter. Railroading Nick Denton in court is one thing, but taking away a free, awesome website from bourgie Midwesterners is taking it too far.
I owe Gawker/Deadspin everything and nothing. They are monsters who have my eternal gratitude.
Five years ago, I posted a Bill Simmons take to my blog one night and woke up with a ton of people emailing me to say “good job” or “u jelly, bicth???” Somewhere in the email mess was an invitation from AJ Daulerio to try writing for Deadspin.
I submitted something, which AJ ran, but over the next few months, nobody did me more favors than Tommy Craggs. He often included my blog posts in the daily links roundup (remember those?) and let me badger him for editing advice. Within a year, AJ hired me full time to write semi-longish election pieces for Gawker. It was great.
After the election, I was told that AJ gave Nick Denton some ultimatum, Denton called his bluff, and AJ walked. With my contract almost up, with the guy who hired me gone, and with me as the last-hired, I suspected I might not get re-upped. I wasn’t. It sucked, but I understood. I just assumed I’d return to the mothership eventually anyway. Half the people who leave here go through a revolving door like Billy Martin managing the Yankees.
Here was my problem: I had just sold my house and contracted to build one. I had to hand in a big-ass check in six months, when it was completed. I’d never have done that if AJ hadn’t told me my contract was safe; unfortunately, AJ never told me that he potentially wasn’t. I had the money in savings but suddenly no income. That was a long, nervous six months. At the end, I signed over a check and walked away with only a few hundred dollars in my bank account.
Anyway, Craggs was still there. I’d fucked up my Gawker farewell piece and made it sound so optimistic that people assumed I already had a job. I didn’t, but Craggs printed stuff, helped me with my pitches and signed off on a long, reported piece on horse racing. Then our worst tendencies took over.
I’m a procrastinator, and so is Craggs. Trying newer and bigger projects intimidates me—which makes procrastination worse—and Craggs hates work, so together we managed to stretch the piece out forever. My big ambition of having it appear a month after leaving Gawker and showing that I could do more serious work faded into the fall.
It’s my fault, really. I want to blame AJ and Craggs for half a year of being terrified of losing thousands in a deposit and going without a house, and for half a year of foot-dragging on starting the next part of my career. But I should have done more myself, and anyway, I like both of them too much. Eventually, it all worked out. Until two months ago, when I became essentially unemployed again. Because this business is stupid.
I will always thank Deadspin for letting me write about ancient terrible books nobody else would have cared about, and in the meantime I await making my triumphant Billy Martin-like return to the new Gawker Media as soon as it’s purchased by Yum! Brands.
I’ll always remember the tipsters.
I got hired at Deadspin in April 2012. In my first week, Tommy Craggs dumped an actual hard copy file on my desk. It was about a 20-something ESPN gambling columnist who was young, pretty and had a preternatural grasp on betting lines. She stunk, and he asked me to check her out.
Craggs gave me time, and after three weeks I had enough to file a perfectly adequate draft that raised plenty of questions but answered few of them. I didn’t have a smoking gun but it would do.
And then we got a tip.
The tip came out of the blue—the person who sent it had no idea I was already reporting it out. The tip led us to someone who instantly brought us to the goal line: This columnist was, indeed, a scam artist, and we had the goods.
That story was not just a reporting or editing triumph. It was the tip line.
That was the same tip line that introduced us into Manti Te’o. It was the same tip line that provided the greatest single email I’ve ever received: “Here’s a tip: YOU SUCK.”
Last year, the reporter Tom Robbins described the Daily News in its heyday this way: “When the News was really trying to do stories that resonated with the great middle class of New York, they could do it better than anybody. You felt a visceral connection with your readers, and that was a precious thing to have.”
I know exactly what he means. Deadspin was a home for a loyal, underserved reader who felt an intensely close relationship with the site. And that’s the Deadspin that I hope always exists.