This block is one of Tommy’s favorite plays in sports. Wizards-era Michael Jordan, doddering around the top of the key like Marv Albert in heels, gets his shit blocked, turns, sizes up Ron Mercer taking the outlet down the right wing, starts pumping his old-ass knees and elbows hard enough to generate something like the young Jordan bounce, and swallows the layup with two hands. This is the rare moment, Craggs says, where all the bullshit about grit and will and transcending the moment is given actual form in a real live human being. He’s not wrong. Jordan really seemed like he could will those couple stray fast-twitch fibers into existence in a moment of need. And like Jordan, Craggs is a singular sonofabitch who through sheer will can create, as if from nothing, and without regard for place or time or company, a motive and willingness to be a disagreeable fucker.
The first time I met Craggs was at a Gawker Media party at Nick Denton’s apartment. I’d worked for Gizmodo out of the Gawker office for maybe nine months at that point, and finally worked up the gumption to slide in with the Deadspin guys. And within about five minutes:
“You know,” Craggs said, “you’re kind of like a little Korean Bill Plaschke.”
Now, I’d made some dipshit argument about preferring Kobe over Shaq, and probably deserved worse. But Craggs has this very specific grin he saves for when he knows he’s got you by the round ones. It’s a thin, wide smile, then a beat, then his eyes get giddier than you’ll ever see them otherwise, and then he pounces. He spent the next half hour or so breaking this out at the party, interrupting passers by to introduce them to his new friend, Gook Plaschke.
The happiest I ever saw him was at an explicitly congenial book reading, when he cornered an old colleague who had since moved to BuzzFeed and, to an audience of horrified 24-year-olds, prosecuted him for, among other things, some other guy having written The Story Of Egypt’s Revolution In “Jurassic Park” Gifs. This is a man who once got into an argument so heated with Jay Kang—at McKenna’s fucking welcome aboard party!—that Kang threw his chopsticks across the table at Craggs like they were about to draw pistols, to the bafflement of multiple white people present; who in his first week installed at this sinecure was thrilled to attend a sit-down with a guy he’d once called “the worst writer working in the English language today”; who is endlessly amused by pasting Deadspin staffers’ terrible cover letters, and IMs, and (my) end-of-year self-evaluations into company chatrooms; who once arrived at a Halloween costume party wearing his normal jeans-and-disheveled-button-down getup plus a bright orange ski hat, and told everyone he was “Ailing Yasser Arafat,” as the real Yasser Arafat lay on his deathbed; who was disinvited from speaking on a Gawker Media-sponsored panel for sending a reply-all to other speakers he had not yet met that simply said “die”; who trains his cat to cozy up to people with allergies; who once nearly came to blows with Daulerio over, I shit you not, Chris Kluwe and usage of the word “optics.”
So it’s fitting, I guess, that the single most impressive physical feat I’ve seen in person just happened to be Craggs, making things happen. Last year, someone hatched the genuinely awful idea of Deadspin hosting a series of parties for Monday Night Football at a local bar. (They were lightly attended enough that the bar kicked us out after something like three or four weeks. I’ve got a series of photos of us arriving to a big, empty room.) Anyway, one of our emeriti had this running gag/felony where he would dose Craggs with whatever drugs he had on hand, and wait for him to realize and get pissed. So Craggs ends up having consumed, by some way or another, a goodly amount of molly. And we just watched as Craggs, meeting the moment, physically shut down his brain’s pleasure receptors one by one until he rode that shit out, grumpy as fuck, forcing the chemical imbalance back into order by sheer tyranny of will, just so he could stay exactly as mad as he wanted to be. Even MJ would have been impressed.