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Warning: something you have to care about sports to care about
June 8, 2011 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Launching at 12:00PM ET today is Grantland.com, a new site from ESPN's Bill Simmons which will feature longer-form articles and a mix of sports and pop culture, with an impressive roster of contributors, including Malcolm Gladwell, Dave Eggers and Chuck Klosterman. The site takes its name from the legendary early-20th-century sportswriter Grantland Rice.
posted by Horace Rumpole (40 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yep, these are my writers.
posted by haley_joel_osteen at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to agree with Simmons about the name kind of sucking... in a pretentious new real estate development sort of way.

Here's hoping they feature some good long-form boxing journalism, a dying art.

and the website is already blocked on my corporate firewell... that was fast.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:38 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


no RSS feed? really?

the site design is pretty nice though
posted by Cloud King at 8:53 AM on June 8, 2011


Gladwell, Eggers, Klosterman.

*sigh*

Oh look, Chuck Klosterman's first column is about an obscure junior college basketball game that was the greatest sporting event ever. You've probably never heard of it.

Next up, Malcolm Gladwell tells us why everything we know about sports drinks is wrong, followed by a lengthy interview with Dave Egger's sailing instructor, aboard his racing sloop, Humility.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:55 AM on June 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


No mention of the pink gorilla?
posted by Chrysostom at 9:06 AM on June 8, 2011


Comes across as just another wordpress blog. With not even a good theme really.
posted by cashman at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I like Simmons, generally speaking. But he can be insufferably self indulgent with his pieces. I'm concerned that this website will just feed into that.
posted by oddman at 9:16 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how Gladwell is this weirdo egghead from Mennonite country who's interests in the notions of excellence and success have led him into this odd collision.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:17 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like a little bit of Simmons a lot. In the sense that, sometimes when you dig through the mountains of smirking Real World All-Stars dreck you can find some thoughtful and personal gems. I think he did that more back in the olden, pre-ESPN, Boston Sports Guy days. This newvenue, if one can judge from his first essay, might be really good for him, giving him the freedom to go long but deep, instead of long but bereft.

I wish it success, because I would be happy read it if is good, and in general it would please me for more thoughtful sportswriting to succeed.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:24 AM on June 8, 2011


I'm not a big fan of Bill Simmons, but forget Gladwell and Eggers; it looks like there will be some real sportswriting on this site.

Esquire's Chris Jones will be on a dedicated AL East beat. (He's been featured on the Blue before for a really remarkable feature.)

Katie Baker was one of the writers that made Deadspin worth reading. If you haven't seen her piece on being sports message board jail bait, your missing one of my favorite essays of last year.

Also, Ken Tremendous (aka Micheal Schur, aka Mose Schrute) wrote the phenomenal Fire Joe Morgan (RIP), then went ahead and co-created Parks and Recreation.

And those are just the names I recognize off the top of my head. So don't be distracted by the pop culture fluff. There should be substance here too.

And if you're interested in some behind the scenes Grantland gossip, here's Deadspin's description of how ESPN almost poached Deadspin's Tommy Craggs, but were foiled by a pink gorilla.
posted by auto-correct at 9:37 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


auto-correct: "And if you're interested in some behind the scenes Grantland gossip, here's Deadspin's description of how ESPN almost poached Deadspin's Tommy Craggs, but were foiled by a pink gorilla."

Will Leitch (creator of Deadspin, now at New York mag) piece on the pink gorilla. Short version: there are lots of assholes in sports journalism.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 AM on June 8, 2011


For a more critical view,
Bill Simmons has a perspective problem, and yet another vanity project like Grantland seems only to add to the evidence of it. A good argument against that conclusion could be made if the site had any kind of purposeful coherence. Allegedly it's a serious sports website maintained by a man whose critical rigorousness about sports can often be measured by going to the IMDB "memorable quotes" page for a movie and trying to apply it to some random category like "interceptions made by New England Patriots, 2001-2010." Allegedly it's a serious cultural website maintained by a man whose cultural mind looks like one of those spooky MRIs of "ecstasy brains," with all the black dead spots, and a bit where someone burned "SWEEP THE LEG" into it with a laser scalpel. Its celebrity contributors list reads like a Who's Who of people whose only metric for understanding the human experience is the singular preciousness of themselves or the nauseating insipidity of corporate-retreat science. Then there's the preposterousness of the name. Bill Simmons is to Grantland Rice what Tucker Max is to Hunter Thompson.
from the previously posted blog Et tu, Mr. Destructo?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


This certainly does seem like a vanity project from almost all angles, but the Klosterman piece on the greatest sporting event he'll ever see (which isn't quite hyperbole after you read it -- I imaged I'd feel the same way if I'd experienced it) is a good read, and if they manage one of those every couple of days, I'll keep checking it out.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sent Instapaper to ACQUIRE.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:21 AM on June 8, 2011


How does anyone launch a website without an RSS feed these days? I'd love to keep up with this, but the chances I'll remember to check the website for new content are slim to none. What a lost opportunity.
posted by platinum at 10:22 AM on June 8, 2011


I read his basketball book. Before that, I wasn't aware anyone could have that many opinions about a sport.
posted by smackfu at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seconding the disappointment about the lack of an RSS feed -- He doesn't think I'm going to make this my home page, does he? Do people still think that's how success on the web works? -- although it's only Hour One of the site's existence.

Maybe it was an oversight and the RSS link will appear soon.
posted by GatorDavid at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2011


RSS could be part of the future builds, he says comments will appear in future versions as well (why?). Either way, it appears they won't be pushing hundreds of articles so keeping up without RSS should be manageable. Thank god that someone saw space in the market for quality over quantity.

The mobile version also looks and works great. (Try out the touchable footnotes, now that's you please a reader who likes footnotes!)
posted by stratastar at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2011


I don't really understand why ESPN would give full creative control to Simmons, and then decide that it should name the site? What is that about?
posted by stratastar at 10:43 AM on June 8, 2011


I read his basketball book. Before that, I wasn't aware anyone could have that many opinions about a sport.

Well, about a third of his opinions in that book are about the sport of basketball. The other two thirds of his opinions in it are divided between his opinions about himself and his opinions about pop culture since roughly 1975.

More broadly speaking, I find Simmons kind of problematic. Between this and 30 for 30, he's clearly got ideas and ambitions that are incredibly progressive for the modern ESPN-based culture of sportswriting, and I support that. It looks like he also recognizes quality sportswriters elsewhere. If he'd signed up Craggs, that would make this a must-read for me. The problem is that everytime I read his actual writing nowadays, it's almost a tired parody of itself. The Book of Basketball felt like it had about 20 pages of interesting commentary surrounded by 700 pages of stories about strippers in Vegas and pointless references to 80s movies. It's frustrating to see someone who seems like he could be doing interesting things mired in the topless pool at the Bellagio.

On preview: he says comments will appear in future versions as well (why?).
Oh God, no way is that anything but a massive disaster.
posted by Copronymus at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love sports and sports writing, and I can't stand Bill Simmons.

Also, they have like 3 or 4 writers total for all sports, and they have 1 guy dedicated to covering the American League East division of Major League Baseball?

WTF?!

Also, Ken Tremendous (aka Micheal Schur, aka Mose Schrute) wrote the phenomenal Fire Joe Morgan (RIP), then went ahead and co-created Parks and Recreation.
Your search - "ken tremendous" site:grantland.com - did not match any documents.
Can Bill Simmons Win the Big One?

Bill Simmons Already Sick Of Yet-To-Launch Grantland Because It's 'Too Much Work'
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on June 8, 2011


Also, they have like 3 or 4 writers total for all sports, and they have 1 guy dedicated to covering the American League East division of Major League Baseball?

WTF?!


It's owned by ESPN, they may not actually be aware that there are other divisions in the MLB.
posted by drezdn at 11:28 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Simmons' piece on the NFL labour situation was spot on: Greed is Good.

Cuts through a lot of bunk, to my mind.
posted by Trochanter at 11:31 AM on June 8, 2011


Good sportswriting died with Hunter Thompson.
posted by COBRA! at 11:32 AM on June 8, 2011


Ugh. The pretensions in that Klosterman article ...

"You'd think a game like that would make national headlines, but no one even noticed."

No, really? No one noticed a quaterfinal game in the North Dakota junior college basketball tournament that ended with a charge, a turnover, and a bunch of missed three pointers? No way!

It deserved a blip in the Sports section's News of the Weird, or a few lines in Sports Illustrated's "color" section. This does not sound like an ESPN Classic type game here, despite the oddity of a (poorly coached) basketball team absolutely blowing it after the other team lost their best (and 5th) player.

I can understand why Klosterman might think it was the greatest game he ever saw (I know the feeling that great sports games can inspire), but he failed to communicate that feeling to me. I don't get it.

I'm just grumpy because I like good sports writing, but not this sort of pop fluff. I like sports writing that focuses on performances, not personalities. Back to Fangraphs for me, I guess ...

Barry Bonds = insane

The best basketball game ever
posted by mrgrimm at 11:43 AM on June 8, 2011


It's frustrating to see someone who seems like he could be doing interesting things mired in the topless pool at the Bellagio.

Topless pool at the Bellagio? How the hell did I miss that when I stayed there years ago?
posted by COD at 11:53 AM on June 8, 2011


Good sportswriting died with Hunter Thompson.

Dave Zirin is really good.
posted by box at 12:23 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Topless pool at the Bellagio? How the hell did I miss that when I stayed there years ago?

I actually have no idea where in Vegas it was, but there's a long bit in Simmons's Book of Basketball where he meets Isaiah Thomas who dispenses the "Secret of Basketball" at a topless pool somewhere in Vegas. Bellagio just happened to be the most fun to type of the casinos that came into my head.
posted by Copronymus at 12:23 PM on June 8, 2011


Well, I feel better now. The thought that I missed out on that while staying there... ;) But now that I think about it, I sort of remember reading something about a bikini top optional pool in Vegas, and I'm thinking it was the Hard Rock.
posted by COD at 12:26 PM on June 8, 2011


I've been really looking forward to this, but my very first thought on seeing it this morning was, "Is this all there is? Is this all there's going to be?"

Its celebrity contributors list reads like a Who's Who of people whose only metric for understanding the human experience is the singular preciousness of themselves or the nauseating insipidity of corporate-retreat science.

OK, that made me laugh hysterically.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:35 PM on June 8, 2011


OK, one final grumble after reading the TV Fantasy League story.

It's like it's trying to be a pop-culture blog for sports fans (as defined as Red Sox or Yankees fans), i.e. a sports fan/Jersey Shore crossover vehicle.

Dave Zirin is really good.

True enough.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2011


I sort of remember reading something about a bikini top optional pool in Vegas

There's one at Mandalay Bay. It costs extra in general, and even more extra for guys. Single males need not apply.
posted by smackfu at 1:51 PM on June 8, 2011


Here's a theory: Grantland is a secret project from a mole within ESPN to make Deadspin relevant again.
posted by drezdn at 3:06 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tommy Craggs (of pink gorilla fame) wrote a column dissing Grantland Rice.
posted by reenum at 3:30 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


drezdn: "Here's a theory: Grantland is a secret project from a mole within ESPN to make Deadspin relevant again."

This made me laugh, because I just linked to Deadspin twice in this thread even though I stopped reading them regularly three or four years ago. So, truth.
posted by auto-correct at 11:07 PM on June 8, 2011


Today's essays are pretty good, actually. Except that DVR piece, that was bad, really bad.
posted by oddman at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2011


They have RSS now.
posted by togdon at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2011


Grr not full text RSS but it'll do. Check out the Super Google Reader extension if anyone hates having to click through abbreviated RSS links...
posted by stratastar at 4:06 PM on June 9, 2011


"I violated one of my rules in life, which is never make a life-changing decision while on a yacht."

The oral history of The National by French and Kahn is fascinating.

And interesting to see Charles P. Pierce with a piece up there, given what happened in December.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:49 AM on June 10, 2011


Huh. I totally missed that it was supposed to be part pop culture. Well, that explains why I don't like it. The worst part of Simmons is all the 90210/OC BS.

Tommy Craggs (of pink gorilla fame) wrote a column dissing Grantland Rice.

Now that I enjoyed. Regardless of what you think of Rice or the site, it truly is poor, poor choice of name.

And god I hated that Bill Simmons story on the Stanley Cup finals. "Now that my team is winning, hockey is great!" :\

They created a hard salary cap after the 2005 lockout that kept ticket prices down and helped the Bruins (suddenly Jacobs wasn't a factor); so did a few smart rule changes, widescreen HD televisions (the games look splendific, which isn't even a word), and the sport's unannounced return to the days when men were men. In basketball, you can't look at someone cross-eyed without getting a technical. In football, you can't touch the quarterback or the receivers anymore. In baseball, you can't throw at anyone even after they've just taken 20 seconds to complete a home run trot. Hockey swung the other way: It will never endorse something as sleazy as Rome's hit on Horton, but Thomas' getting pissed off because Burrows kept being a dick and hitting Thomas' stick? Absolutely. Do your thing, Tim Thomas. Cross check him in the head, get your two-minute minor, make your point.

Ugh.

Unlike the Canucks, Boston sports fans don’t feel the need to call attention to themselves by wearing obnoxious and annoying costumes to every sporting event they attend, unless you count Patriots jerseys.

Is this a Stanely Cup with no winner? I guess I'm not a sophisticated enough sports fan for Grantland.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2011


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