Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mariotti vs. Simmons in an ethics-off. WHO YA GOT? (Part 1)

So I did not post about Simmons's conference championship game picks, but needless to say, he took both underdogs to win outright, and instead both favorites covered.  To be fair to him, had I posted my picks, I would have only gone 1-1, as I liked the Broncos and Niners to cover, and the Niners to possibly win outright.  To be unnecessarily generous to both him and me, the Niners were about a foot away from winning outright.  Anyways, much as we all wanted to enjoy some tasty Simmons schadenfreude after the GREATRIOTS laid a huge egg in Denver, his Twitter feed was silent between Friday evening and Monday morning, and when he did get around to tweeting on Monday, he had bigger concerns to address.

I assume you know what I'm referring to, but if you don't, Google "Grantland Dr. V article."  You'll find plenty of thoughtful (and some not very thoughtful) responses to what went down.  It's a tragic story that reflects very poorly on Grantland and Simmons, but I'm not here to pile on them.  I'm here to bring you the response the incident prompted from sports journalism's foremost expert on ethics: Jay Mariotti!

Like you, I had no idea he had a job again.  Somehow, he convinced some outlet called Sports Talk Florida to pay him for his labor.  As far as I can tell, Sports Talk Florida is an internet radio station that also publishes STRONG TAKES from its personnel on its website.  Jay apparently hosts a show from noon to three every afternoon, and also gets to write.  And when he writes, you know he's not going to shy away from the hot topics of the day.  Bill Simmons: prepare to be TAKEN TO TASK.  As Chris W said when sending this link to Jack M and I, let's root for the meteor.  (Late breaking edit: I didn't realize commenter tony harding also placed this link in the comments to my last post until just now.  Thanks dude.  I assume SportsTalkFlorida is in your blogroll.)

A fanboy should not be a sports columnist, a TV analyst and a website editor. 

Can we just end the article here?  Actually, even that's taking things too far and giving Jay's thoughts too much credit.  I think it's fine for fanboys to be columnists.  I'm a nerdy blogger who lives in his parents' basement, etc., so I have to support the idea of fans having a voice in the sports world.  I don't hate Simmons because he became a popular writer on a huge platform without any journalism credentials.  I hate Simmons because he's a fucking idiot.  However, I will agree with Jay that just because you have the magic formula that causes dipshit sports fans everywhere to gobble up anything you write doesn't mean you should be given a role on TV or creative and editorial control over a (corporate-funded) website.  Jay and I are definitely on the same page there.

A fanboy should remain a fanboy, 

Oh no.  You know where this is headed.

root vacuously for his teams 

If you use your imagination, you can hear Mariotti's voice morphing into Wilbon's as this sentence goes along.

and leave the serious work to the trained journalists. 


Only SERIOUS JOURNALISTS like Bill Plaschke and Jay should be able to offer up HOT TAKES on matters related to sport.  If you don't own a journalism degree, you shouldn't be allowed to offer your opinion as to whether or not Ozzie "the Blizzard of Oz" Guillen is utilizing his bullpen properly.  

What a fucking cunt.

Several years ago, ESPN turned a fanboy named Bill Simmons into a blogging cartoon character 

It is true that they literally turned Simmons into a cartoon character at one point (2005?  2006?) for a very short-lived online series that was as poorly executed as it was conceived.  I think Jay is referring to the fact that ESPN employed him at all here, but I just wanted to remind you that "Sports Guy's World," or whatever the fuck that web cartoon was called, was a thing that ESPN spent money on.

— the Sports Guy, he was called — who was cast as a role model for legions of other fanboys unqualified for professional sports media and used by the network to generate traffic for then-fledgling

I know you feel threatened by the fact that just about anyone can start a blog and develop a reader base these days, Jay, but let's not take it too far.  At the time ESPN hired Simmons (1999?  2000?) blogs were still several years away from being a thing (I hate using that terminology, but it's the weekend and I'm feeling lazy) and your cozy little job at the Chicago Sun-Times was still perfectly intact.  Simmons was only hired as a role model in the sense that his appeal was based on being an everyday fan.  Jay seems to think that ESPN hired him in order to inspire other knuckle-dragging non-accredited journalists to become successful BLOGGERS (term used pejoratively in this case) and RUIN SPORTS MEDIA FOREVER.  Kind of sounds like sour grapes from a hard-partying no-contest-pleading-to-charges-of-woman-punching fuckass who has no one to blame for his own downfall from major newspaper columnist to internet radio station guy.

This was when the Internet was swallowing the world and newspapers were starting to die, a perfect segue to a sportswriting fad. 

Yes, a "fad," which played a huge role in the death of many gigantic newspaper institutions, as you just acknowledged, and which will be the main way people get sports content for a long time to come.

Problem was, Simmons spawned a lot of other fanboys who could become sportswriters simply by signing onto Word Press and launching blogs. 

Although there are relatively inconsequential differences between a Blogger-hosted blog and the site Jay is using now, for all intents and purposes, one of these so-called "weblogs" is the only reason he has a voice right now.

Around this time, web entrepreneurs with no conscience about accountability and ethics 

Yeah, I hate those unethical bloggers!

launched their own grubby sites, 

I'm not going to link to it, but if you're feeling generous, go to Sports Talk Florida's site, and soak up the non-grubbiness.

then hired fanboys for pennies while ordering them to accrue as many clicks as possible by whatever means possible, 

LEAVE BLEACHER REPORT OUT OF THIS.  THEIR MOBILE APP IS ACTUALLY KIND OF GOOD.  (No really, it is.  ESPN Scorecenter has become progressively shittier with every upgrade, and Bleacher Report TeamStream is non-horrible.)  I also love the insinuation that it's only bloggers who ever stoop to ethical lows to generate buzz.  No mainstream old media print journalist would ever consider such a thing!

even if it meant stalking famous athletes and media people and publishing blatant lies, blind items, dick and vagina photos, whatever attracted the eyeballs of various stoners and losers.

Deadspin's commenters are the worst people on the internet, but I'm pretty sure there are at least some non-commenting readers who are neither stoners nor losers.

All of which brings us to Simmons today. Having ruined the sports media industry in too many ways to count, 

This is attributing too much power to Bill.  He's an obnoxious, talentless pile of dinosaur shit--but his overall impact on the sports media industry is probably no worse than "kind of bad."  It might even be neutral.  Sure, he's spawned a massive crowd of mouth breathers who think that liking sports means comparing athletes to characters from TV shows, and that the Ewing Theory is demonstrably provable via the scientific method.  But he's also probably inspired a lot of smart and entertaining people to start writing about sports.  Lord knows I'm not one of them (I'm not inspired by Simmons, nor am I smart or God knows entertaining).  But many of your favorite bloggers, and maybe even some of your favorite mainstream writers, probably owe a little bit of their success to him.  Plus, Grantland as a whole is a steaming sauna of shit fumes, but it employs some great writers like Bill Barnwell and Zach Lowe.  If I had magical past changing powers, I'd cut off Simmons's career around 2003 (and even that might be too late), but I certainly wouldn't stop him from ever having begun writing.

he now finds himself in an unforgivable legal predicament that could end his hollow reign atop a media empire that should know better. 

If the fallout from this Dr. V situation is the end of Grantland, I'll grow a mullet.  Wishful thinking on Jay's part.

It was Simmons, as editor-in-chief of ESPN’s Grantland spinoff site, who approved the publication of a piece last week called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.” The story was intended to determine the legitimacy of a unique piece of golf equipment. It ended with the transgender community crying foul over the insensitive work of the story’s author, Caleb Hannan, who discovered in the course of his reporting that the putter’s inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, was a transgender person.

When Vanderbilt learned that Hannan was aware of the information and that he had told Phil Kinney, one of the putter’s investors, she e-mailed Hannan and accused him of a “hate crime.” Then she committed suicide. The date was Oct. 18, 2013.

Last week, Hannan’s story ran on Simmons’ site, outing Vanderbilt as transgender and not treating the suicide with the proper tact and care. After reading it, and then absorbing the firestorm of criticism accompanying it, all I could ask myself was: 

How can I make this about me somehow?

Why is a career fanboy 

To be fair to Bill, he's been a professional writer in some capacity or another (term "writer" used loosely for the past seven or eight years, as he's averaged about three columns per year, but still) for pretty much his whole adult life.  He's an insufferable fanboy, and a real piece of shit to work with, but he knows the sportswriting industry.  I'll give him that much.  He still shouldn't be Grantland's editor, but acting like he's nothing but a guy who likes sports is disingenuous.  He's shitty sportswriter, but he's still a sportswriter.

making critical decisions about a difficult story involving suicide and a transgender person? Why was Bill Simmons in this position to begin with? Shouldn’t he have been back in Boston, wearing a Celtics throwback jersey and screaming from the cheap seats that Doc Rivers quit on the team?

While that is some top-notch mockery, let's face it: if Jay were editing a site as big as Grantland, he'd make horrendous ethical gaffes like this fucking constantly.

Part 2 later this week.


Anthony said...

I was hoping you would be breaking down that article. Looking forward to part 2!

Frank said...

I liked you making fun of Mariotti, but it's tempered by the fact that you're both clearly phsggots sucking the massive cock of irrelevancy.

Jack M said...

Woah, shots fired by Frank the Internet-Slang Slinging Homophobe.

Larry B said...

Yes but at least I have never pleaded no contest to domestic assault charges. Larry B 1, Jay 0. Also, I didn't realize irrelevancy had a huge dick.

Chris W said...

let's all remember that it was in fact Frank who pooped the bed

CHart said...

I love me some good old fashioned comment section homophobia -- really brings me back to the blog's glory days in 08-09.

TJ said...

Advice for homophobes: when referencing metaphorical cocks, don't mention how "massive" you're imagining them to be. It's kind of a tell.

Frank the Crank said...

I hope Jay is able to parlay this SportsTalkSouth gig to a return to Around the Horn so he can again dominate other sportswriting geniuses like Plaschke and Page.