Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pat Summitt is plotting

Remember back like all the way to last month when Tennessee Vols coach Bruce Pearl showed the world just how hairy his chest is?

Well you see, Pat Summitt, coach of the No. 2 Lady Vols, plans to return the favor tonight when Tennessee hosts Florida by dressing up as a hooker.

The last part we sorta made up. By "hooker," we really mean "cheerleader," and by "really," we mean "speculated." Though it does seem apparent that Summitt and her staff will attend tonight's game with big plans in mind.

Summitt: So we should totally like dress up or some shit tonight?
Staff #1: Yeah.
Summitt: Whaddya want to be?
Staff #1: Vampires.
Staff #2: Goblins.
Summitt: It's not fucking Halloween.
Staff #1: What about doing what Coach Pearl did?
Summitt: You mean put hair on our chests?
Staff #2: No, Coach. Go topless.
Summitt: That's a thought.
Staff #1: What about cheerleaders?
Summitt: Can we have pom-poms?
Staff #2: Sure, why not.
Summitt: Done. Though I won't rule out going as call girls. Or topless. I hear the boys from the Sigma Chi house will be there!
Staff #1 and #2: (Giggle like school girls)

(kickers_suck" gets a tug-job for the tip)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Calvin Johnson is fast

The "C" on his right shoulder is for, "Can't touch me, Asshole."

If you haven't caught on by now, we have a big time man-crush on Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He's tall, he's athletic, and he'll make your average defensive back look like a fucking elf.

Johnson just furthered his reputation as a well-hung stallion by running faster at the NFL combine than the speed of fucking light and sound combined. *

Johnson wasn't going to originally run, but when he saw his potential to get grown men to drool, he opted to perform.

You'll keep hearing how CJ borrowed shoes from a friend -- East Carolina quarterback James Pinkey -- but that doesn't matter.

Johnson could have run a 4.31 40 over hot fucking coals. Broken glass? Why the hell not? He'd run that shit barefoot.

We view CJ as a Superman like figure. It's a bird, it's a plane, no wait, it's Calvin Johnson scoring a motherfucking touchdown. His kryptonite was a coaching staff and quarterback who didn't throw his way 60 times per game.

Hell, put Johnson behind center. He'll throw the ball to himself. He's that good.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- who will likely select Johnson with the fourth overall pick -- better get the idea. Johnson will put points on the scoreboard and fans in the seats. And he'll run fast too. Just give him the ball. Hey, let him play defense. He's quick, ya know.

*Not an accurate statement. His 40 time was between 4.31 and 4.35 seconds.

Guys named Barry are into drag

Who pulls off the better Paula Abdul? Bonds or Zito?

Big ups to the stallions at San Francisco Giants Jottings, via McCovey Chronicles, for the Zito pic.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blogger Interviews: Dan Steinberg

We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.

Joining us today is Dan Steinberg who is a staff member at The Washington Post and writes the kick-ass D.C. Sports Bog. You can find out what the heck the Bog is all about here. The picture above is brand new and we're mildly disappointed the old one's gone. Dan was wearing a very cool hat. We want to get one just like it. Anyway, here's Dan to take it away. Be gentle.

1. The rundown:

Name: Dan Steinberg
Age: 30
Location: Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Journalist/blogger.
Favorite team: I grew up a Buffalo Bills fan. I haven’t really rooted for a team since I was hired by The Post five years ago. Seriously. The Washington Wizards and D.C. United have been most fruitful for blogging purposes.
Links to your favorite all-time posts you've written. (3-5)
Irish Igloo Part I and Part II
Roberto Donna Cheese video Part I and Part II
NASCAR fans eating fancy beer and cheese
Gilbert Arenas has phenomenal swag, text and video
Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: 10-12 hours, I guess.

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging for you. And because you, unlike most bloggers, do real life reporting, how does that fit in? Do you head to a Wizards practice, for example, get some good material, and write from there? Details please.

This probably isn’t very interesting, but one of the founding principles of the Bog was that I would provide a morning dose of every link concerning every local sports team, from blogs to mainstream stories to online columnists. That was a major justification for the Bog’s existence. So when this thing launched in September, I would get up at 6:30, spend about two hours searching and reading and summarizing, post the morning links around 8:30, bang my head into the wall, look at online job ads, and then spend the next 10-14 hours trying to find other bloggable items, both online and out at actual events.

Gradually, I began giving up the morning links, for a few reasons. First, I didn’t think I was uncovering things that hardcore fans wouldn’t have found by themselves. Second, the formatting was such that the links were obscuring the rest of my blog. Third, so many of the newspaper stories were rather useless; no one really needs to read seven different versions of a Redskins game story, with the same quotes and stats over and over.

Fourth and most important, I felt like I had something that very few bloggers have: press credentials. I felt like I needed to use that to my advantage; that the things people liked about my stuff (to the extent anyone liked anything about my stuff) was that I combined those formal credentials with a blogger’s more informal sensibilities. So I figured the more time I spent away from my own living room, the better. Also, I was going to physically die if I kept going out to sporting events until 10 or 11 at night and then waking up at 6:30 to read sports stories.

By the way, this is not to say that a link dump doesn’t serve a purpose—it clearly does, and many people do that very well—just that it wasn’t how I was likely to find my biggest audience. My boss still isn’t 100 percent signed up with that idea, and I might find myself collecting 243 links about the Nationals tomorrow morning.

Anyhow, now I wake up a bit later, skip the mad search for every single repetitive Redskins story, and try to concentrate on highlighting details that aren’t likely to be in our paper, both from other people’s stuff and from my own wanderings. I have a Washington Post-issued air card, so I can blog from anywhere. If I go to a team’s practice, I’ll usually try to find a source of power nearby and spend a few hours blogging on-site. Also, once I’ve committed to a practice, I’m not allowed to not find good material, so if nothing happens I have to try to make “nothing happened” sound entertaining.

3. We're journalists and suspect we have many readers who are or aspire to be too. Since you blog (bog) for a newspaper -- meaning two things: 1.) They likely pay you 2.) You likely don't blog from your basement in your underwear like every other sports blogger -- can you take us through your career path and tell us how to go about getting a job in sports journalism?

Well, I blog from my living room in my underwear. Not sure how much different that really is.

The boring story is, like every kid who played strat-o-matic a bit too much, I always wanted to be a sports writer. My experience covering sports at Delaware (first story: equestrian team) made me think maybe I didn’t want to do be a sports writer. So I had a D.C. non-profit job, and then I spent 18 months working in the cheese department for Whole Foods Market, and then I again decided I wanted to be a sports writer, so I started taking down high school field hockey scores and making photocopies and talking to deranged callers as a Post newsaide. The truth is, a friend of a friend was in charge of hiring sports newsaides at the time, so I got very lucky with that, and I got very lucky with a few random writing assignments, and a bunch of editors were way nicer to me than they needed to be, etc, until I got a full-time writing job.

4. You went from covering a beat to becoming The Post's lead blogger, now covering, essentially, lots of beats. Seems like a great gig. How'd you swing it? You pitch it to the brass or did they come to you?

I don’t think I’d say “lead” blogger. So many of our beat writers are now blogging, and doing an unbelievable job at it, concerning subjects that are of intense interest to our readers, such as the Redskins. Whereas I write about what sorts of clothes the Wizards wear. But yeah, my deal is pretty close to ideal: no editors, no pressure to break news on the Redskins’ punting situation, no deadlines.

Two years ago I did a two-day blog from the ACC men’s basketball tournament. I believe I was handed that gig because I was youngish, and didn’t have a beat, and the bosses figured I knew something I might be able to relate to all these damn young people out there. I happened to come down with the worst case of the flu I’ve ever had right before the tourney, and I was extremely medicated during the whole event, and people seemed to like my overly medicated ramblings well enough. So then I did some other brief blogs, and then I went to the Winter Olympics in Turin and spent three weeks writing about the New Zealand curling team and Piedmontese cheese, and when I came back I had trouble imagining myself spending the rest of my career writing stories about which team won which game, instead of covering post-game parties in which New Zealand Olympic curlers watch an Italian rock band perform Dire Straits tunes in a community hall while their sisters and girlfriends dance in the back.. I just couldn’t maintain the illusion that these sports results actually mattered as anything other than entertainment. So I let it be known that I wanted to do something like this blog, and I got a one-year chance to see what I could make of it. And now the year is about halfway up, and I still don’t know the answer.

5. OK, let's get down to business here. Dan Shanoff was very complimentary last week and said your blog (bog), "Is the template for how every 'traditional' media outlet should be approaching blogs: Original reporting, distinct (and likeable) voice, fundamental understanding of the sports-blog universe. Steinberg has created the gold standard."

If this blog (bog) has had the success that it has, why the hell aren't other papers getting the idea?

Dan Shanoff, whom I’ve never met, has been exceedingly kind to me. I think it’s because I used to cover his high school’s girls’ volleyball team. (The Whitman Vikings).

And while I need every bit of pub I can muster, I think, on the whole, I’d probably disagree with him. There are certainly people who want distinct voice and lots of cross-linking from their MSM sports blogs. (Dan Shanoff, for example.) But I would guess that there are far more people who want a direct pipeline to the beat reporter for the Redskins, or the Trail Blazers, or the Red Wings, or whatever their favorite team is. That’s what the stodgy old papers can offer that the proverbial man-in-his-underwear cannot. And the best MSM bloggers will be actual insiders who learn to write like bloggers. Jason La Canfora, our Redskins beat writer, is building every bit the community I am over on his Redskins blog, and he’s doing so while also pumping out thousands of words for our newspaper, which still pays the bills. Beat writer blogs are fast becoming a staple, and it seems virtually every paper is realizing this.

And more and more beat reporters are finding a distinct voice in their blogs, which compliments what people really want (information). I think they’d be well-served by linking to the rest of the blog world, and I think they will, eventually. I also think every columnist will have a blog pretty soon, and that those columnist blogs will fill more of the role I’ve been trying to fill, voice-wise.

6. Many mainstream media outlets now have blogs, but they don't connect with the blogosphere the way you do. Why (or how) did you get involved with the sports blogosphere and how has it helped with the bog?

Is this where I get to start launching my polemics? I’m gonna say yes, it is.

I know this is a trite thing to say, but I really have no idea what a blog is, technically speaking. Seriously, I sometimes speak to high school and college classes about what I do (answer: try to find YouTube clips of local college basketball coaches doing commercials, go to locker rooms and ask stupid questions), and I have no idea how to define the concept of blogging. Seems it’s used for virtually any piece of online writing nowadays. In the sports world, let me mention two of my favorite NBA blogs. TrueHoop is a brilliantly executed collection of hoops news from around the country, largely made up of links with fairly brief commentary, which is mixed in with original reporting and occasional opinion pieces. Wizznutzz is a completely ridiculous satirical fantasy about one basketball franchise, complete with nutty original songs, fab t-shirts, esoteric Scandinavian reference sand borderline tasteless jokes. Aside from the fact that both sites reside on these internets, and that neither takes itself too seriously, they really have nothing in common at all. But for some reason they’re both “blogs.” (Oh, here’s something else they have in common: Sam Smith doesn’t read either one.)

So to me, the “sports blogosphere,” the way you mean it, is really a state of mind more than anything else. There should be a code somewhere -- maybe there is, and I never got my copy -- but it’s about not taking yourself too seriously, not taking sports too seriously, regarding other sources of information as a friendly help rather than competition, freely crediting those sources of information and rooting for them to succeed, harboring some strange resentment against ESPN and all its manifestations despite watching ESPN and listening to ESPN radio and subscribing to the Mag, signing your life over to the Internet (and heading to the Internet sober or non-sober), trusting that the grownups don’t really get what you’re talking about half the time, and rooting for the Deadspinners and Cantstopthebleeders, both, to win the battle for hearts and minds. By that standard, Truehoop and Wizznutzz both qualify as sports blogs, and despite what I said above, a large number of so-called MSM sports blogs do not.

For a variety of random reasons, I happen to find myself in a situation where The Post (which is as mainstream as it gets) is paying me a salary. But my mindset is probably more in line with the typical blogger -- if such a thing exists -- than the typical reporter, so I’ve tried to make myself a part of that world.

Plus it’s lonely out there. And if you mention bloggers by name, they’ll find your blog, and give you a click, which will please the bean counters who decide whether to keep paying your salary.

But I also think it’s generational. I just got back from a D.C. sports bloggers happy hour. There were about 19 people there. About 17 were white males under the age of 35 or so. Thirty years from now, what we once knew as blogs will be old and stale, and our children will make fun of us, and call us decaying, and make jokes about how we bloggers should just hurry up and die already. As much as Will Leitch and Matt Ufford and Unsilent Majority and the rest might rule the universe right now, there’s a pretty slim chance a 20-year-old kid will think they’re cool in 2053. So we’ve got to enjoy this while it lasts, and while TV stations are offering to put us on TV for no reason other than our association with that word, blog. I’m getting nostalgic already.

7. This might not be a fair question, but where will newspapers be in five years? And where should sports writers be looking for jobs right now?

I have no idea where newspapers will be. Wherever it is, it’ll probably be worse than where we are today, which is worse than yesterday was and slightly better than tomorrow will be. But I’m no visionary.

If I were a kid just graduating from college, there’s no way I’d take a writing job that didn’t include a significant online component. Of course, if I were a kid just graduating from college, I’d probably go to grad school at some nice Midwestern campus and try to become a history professor or something, so I’m a bad person to ask.

8. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?

Way, way too many to try, but I wanna give one more shoutout to the Wizznutzz, and not just because I’ve become friendly with the creative geniuses behind the site. They provide virtually no news -- hell, they provide virtually nothing that is true. They spend much of their time writing about NBA players who are no longer in the league, and people who don’t exist. They disappear for days at a time without explanation. But I idolize the site for one overriding reason: there isn’t anything else like it anywhere in the world. If I want to read that sort of deranged writing, or hear those sorts of soul-bending melodies about Peter John Ramos, there’s literally only one place in the world to go. It’s virtually impossible to be original when writing about sports, and they somehow pull it off.

Also, I’d like to second Shanoff’s argument in this space that the writing in blogs is often superior to the writing in mainstream outlets. The stuff at Kissing Suzy Kolber, for example, snaps more than just about anything you can find in the mainstream press. Reporting might be a skill that requires a fair bit of practice, but most of us have written a few sentences at one time or another in our lives. This blog stuff lets us all enjoy the snappy writers who were smart enough to choose another profession.

9. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

In all honesty, it’s rewarding to be able to write whatever you want, without the constraints of space or time or the thoughts of an editor with whom you might disagree. And while I wouldn’t trade my position for a beat job in a million trillion years, it’s sometimes frustrating knowing you left a role where your work was automatically plopped in front of more than 600,000 people a day for a role in which you have to claw your way to an audience that’s much, much, much, much, much smaller than that.

10. Glaring differences between newspaper reporting/writing and blog reporting/writing?

Aside from deadline gamers, everything I write now is created more quickly than everything I used to write. Paradoxically, the things I write now are probably better thought-out, because I know there’s no safety net, that whatever I write needs to be exactly as I want it. I also can be more lax with some facts; when Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson are saying ridiculous things, I can publish their quotes and say “I have no idea if this is true.” That raises serious journalistic issues, which I prefer not to consider right now.

The voice, though, is the main thing. I try to make my blog posts sound like e-mails to a small group of friends. I use first-person incessantly. I make as many jokes as possible. I include ungodly numbers of asides. I skirt the boundaries of good taste. I never need to write artificial, ponderous prose about important third-quarter stops. I never have to quote boring coaches saying boring things. I never have to compare athletes to the Messiah.

11. In your photo on the bog, you're wearing a neat hat. Tell us you wear that all the time. Like all the time.

The photo changed! I thought I looked dumb, so I asked for a normal picture. That hat was a wonderful present from my wonderful wife, but she had my hat size wrong, and it doesn’t really fit. I don’t wear it outside of the house. Sorry.

12. We'll leave you with this: like we already said, you do real life reporting meaning you talk to real life athletes. Who's often a good interview? Who's duller than a brick wall?

Um, Gilbert Arenas once in a while says something interesting.

No, seriously, I’ve found a whole mess of the Wizards way more entertaining than they have any right to be, from Brendan Haywood to DeShawn Stevenson to Caron Butler to Roger Mason. Bobby Boswell of D.C. United will be a multimedia star. Former D.C. United forward Alecko Eskandarian is brilliant with the media. I could mention several more players from those two teams in particular.

Coaches, in general, are blogging death. Coaches don’t screw around. They don’t want to talk about their wardrobe or their iPods or their fantasy football teams. They want to win games. Which is totally boring.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bill Self: Man of the chickens

Word around the farm is that there were some live chickens released in Kansas State's Bramlage Coliseum before Monday's Wildcats-Jayhawks game.

According to the Kansas City Star, Kansas coach Bill Self had this to say:
“My first year here, one of them actually hit me,” Self said. “So this year I was pretty glad that we were on the other side of the court (from the students). I didn’t feel as threatened.”
A story like this merits a list:

1.) Chickens in a basketball arena is
a.) Cool
b.) Like very cool
c.) Illegal? Gotta be illegal, right?
d.) Was there cockfighting? We like cockfighting. So if there was, that like would be totally rad.

2.) Midwesterners amuse us -- in a good way.

3. ) A chicken hit Self a few years back?
a.) What, like a fucking chicken raised its dukes and slugged him?
b.) Or more like it was thrown and hit him?
c.) Or maybe it flew into him.

4.) Self says he's threatened by chickens
a.) Is he threatened by all fowl?
b.) What about chicken Parmesan? That shit is the chronic.
c.) Salmonella? It's Salmonella that worries him, isn't it?

Anyway, another neat story that falls in the category of things we couldn't have possibly made up. Thanks to "kickers_suck" for the tip.

In other news: Michigan State beat No. 1 Wisconsin 64-55 after Spartans coach Tom Izzo slipped Bucky the Badger some Roofies.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An open letter to SEC commissioner Mike Slive

Dear Commissioner Slive,

See the enclosed photo? That there is a beautiful thing. Storming the court is as important to college basketball as Psych 1 is to the curriculum.

But you're taking that away. You're taking it all away. And we want it back.

After we upset No. 1 Florida, we did what any good college hoops fans would do: we stormed the fucking court like the French did the Bastille. And the school is getting fined?!

All due respect Mr. Slive, but fuck that shit. It's one thing to rush the court when it's not appropriate, but we beat the top-ranked team. We were unranked! That's like a big, gigantic, huge upset. Mr. Slive, even you know that merits a celebration.

Yet you think storming the court leads to an unsafe environment? Ever hear of Snakes on a Plane, Mr Slive? That shit was unsafe. If you continue to keep us down, what we'll do to you will make snakes on a plane look like unicorns chasing fucking rainbows.

Is that a threat, you ask? Damn straight it's a threat, Mr. Slive. Thing is, we don't want to cause trouble. We don't want anybody to get hurt -- in fact, that's exactly the opposite of what we want.

In times of excitement and sports ecstasy, all we want to do is keep a wonderful tradition going. We want to celebrate with each other, the players...

But you have taken something from us. And we want it back. Now.

The Vanderbilt Student Body

The Norv Turner Update lives on

What the hell were the Chargers thinking?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Arizona State cannot be kept down

Ladies and gentlemen, you can sleep easy tonight. The Arizona State men's basketball team has won a Pac-10 game.

(Sigh of relief)

That's right. The Sun Devils, which brought an 0-14 record into a Sunday date with USC, left with their first win of the calendar year, beating the No. 22 Trojans 68-58.

While the glass of whatever it is they drink at ASU will be half full all week, USC coach Tim Floyd's glass will be half empty. And that's not good for Floyd.

Timmy already has the look of a guy who comes home from a brutally boring job -- regional manager or a paper distribution company perhaps -- loosens the tie, pours himself a healthy glass of Maker's Mark, takes it in one sip, loosens the tie some more, and pours another. (OK, so we already made that joke over at The 'House, but hey, new jokes are hard).

Back to Arizona State. The 'Devils were led by Jeff Pendergraph's 14 points and 15 rebounds and the fans stormed the court, which we think is sorta neat. Hey, they've had nothing to cheer about thus far, so why not pretend they just made the Tourney? The players did not seem as excited by the win and probably thought that at least they won't be the answer to some trivia question down the road.

As for Herb Sendek, well, it's his first Pac-10 win. He'll probably celebrate with two hookers and some blow. Just a thought.

In other news: The West beat the East 153-132 in the NBA All-Star game after the East decided to only play three players at a time.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blogger Interviews: Dan Shanoff

We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.

Up today is Dan Shanoff who is the creator/writer of the former ESPN Page 2 column, "The Daily Quickie." He's now taken his show to the blogosphere and runs the site Dan Shanoff, a name which we're sure he spent hours coming up with. Oh, and he's got his own Wikipedia page. Whoa! Big time! Here's Dan to take it away. Be nice.

1. The rundown:

Name: Dan Shanoff
Age: 34
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Writer
Favorite team: Florida Gators
Links to your favorite all-time posts you've written. (3-5)

V-Day 2007 (on Free Darko, 5th item down)
Obama/Arenas in '08!
BCS Mess Solution
Simmons vs. Colbert Live-Blog

Jags '06 Preview (on Deadspin)

Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere:
3-8 hours.

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging for you.

1. Up really early to see what to write about.
2. Scan mainstream media outlets (news only).
3. Go through my favorite sports blogs.
4. Put together daily "morning" post
5. Read blog-user Comments
6. Post again if inspired
Repeat 3 and 5 obsessively/compulsively

3. We're journalists and suspect we have many readers who are or aspire to be too. You being a well-established writer, can you please walk us through your career, perhaps starting with your days at Northwestern and early jobs and internships. And how did that turn in to a column at ESPN.com?

I stubbornly refused to leave Chicago after college, but stubbornly insisted on a career as a sportswriter. In 1995, there was only one place for me: Online, where two MBA drop-outs were getting money from AOL (Me: "So what's this A-O-L?") to start a sports site. All I knew was that they were going to pay me to write about sports.

Most importantly, they gave me the freedom to write about whatever I wanted -- and there were no rules about what was appropriate for online. So I and my co-workers ditched traditional journalism notions for a far more "fan-centric" voice. That seems ubiquitous now, but back in January 1996, that seemed really cool and revolutionary. And readers really clicked with it.

Meanwhile, a huge part of our editorial strategy was to let fans have a voice, so we did some really cool things with user-generated content. Again, this was back in '96. (I'm misting up now...not because of the good times, but because I was far too short-sighted to realize that there was a LOT of money to be made with that concept. Guess it took about a decade.) But I was having so much fun: Being paid right out of college to write whatever I wanted about sports, all while living in Wrigleyville with my best friends? Ridiculous!

Anyway, that experience set me up the rest of my career, because I enjoyed early-mover status in "online content." From the start-up, I was recruited away to work for ESPN.com in Seattle. I was the college hoops editor, working nights and weekends. But imagine the best sports-argument you've ever had, with the smartest sports fans you've ever met, every night. That's what it was like working on the news desk with that group. I get all Glory Days-ish, and some of those guys went on to great things: Kevin Jackson was NFL Editor and is now Executive Editor of ESPN.com. David Schoenfield was MLB Editor and is now Editor of Page 2 at ESPN.com.

I ended up heading back East, and through relationships and my experience, I worked for the NFL (on NFL.com) and for SI (on then-CNNSI.com). I had a quick jaunt at a stereotypical Silicon Alley start-up at the peak of the dot-com boom before jumping ship after the crash for business school. And that's a segue to your next question, where I'll answer how that turned into the Quickie...

4. You have an MBA from Harvard. Um, what are you still doing writing?!

Funny: I get that question more than any other. First, I'm writing because I love it. Second, it's because that two years getting my MBA gave me the perspective to step back, evaluate what I really wanted to do -- and then successfully pitch ESPN.com to let me publish the Daily Quickie.

Consider what I was asking: A five-day-a-week column. About virtually anything I wanted. In what was essentially my own "time slot." And in the "short-form" style I preferring writing in -- and saw was becoming the consumers' preferred choice.

I never would have had the confidence to pursue that without the MBA, which not only affirmed that writing was what I wanted to do, but also helped me analytically frame the column's pitch: As much as it was a "dream" column for me, it filled a real need within ESPN.com's editorial programming -- and a previously unmet reader appetite.

The work I put into pitching the column was as much of a business analysis as it was an editorial analysis. I loved writing the column, but it was equally satisfying to see the traffic, the reader-satisfaction and the revenue I had projected be realized.

If you'll indulge me, let me briefly dovetail both of the last two questions, because I want to at least take a stab at the "take-aways for aspiring journalists" thing:

At its most fundamental, I recognized an unmet consumer need, then was able to articulate how to fill it (and, critically, how that makes sense for a company) and to pair that with some very good relationships. But it all started with recognizing that need.

The good news for aspiring journalists is that there hasn't been a moment of such "unmet consumer need" in the media in our lifetimes. There are opportunities all over the place, because media companies are diverting resources from their traditional platforms and flooding them into new platforms like online (where they should be, because that's where the advertisers are going, because that's where the consumers are going.) That's good news for aspiring writers -- or should I say: "Content producers." There's no shame in that new-fangled label.

Will you get to do your "dream job?" Not necessarily. But you might very well find a reasonably interesting writing or editing job that you get paid to perform.

I'd hammer home this defining question: What is your niche and how unique is it? And is it enough to generate an audience that is large enough to attract sponsorship or acquisition prospects?

5. Any glaring differences between writing the "Daily Quickie" for Page 2 and now writing a blog?

Glaring? Yes: Getting paid.

Otherwise, blogging is similar to the Quickie in that it's a lot of short-form, quick-hit items, and I get to cover most everything people are talking about. The voice in my blog is virtually the same as was in my column.

In the blog, it's nice to be able to write a little longer if I want to. It's nice to curse when that might be appropriate. It's nice to talk about unsubstantiated rumors or stuff that isn't necessarily appropriate for a family audience.

It's also nice to be able to do more media criticism, if only because that often reflects what fans are talking about. Oh, and it's nice to be able to be (even) lazier in my analysis if that's how I'm feeling at that moment.

And I think the sports-blog community is unbelievably cool and supportive. That's not to say that my colleagues at ESPN.com weren't great -- they absolutely were.

But the sports-blog universe has been awesome. There are very few notable feuds or rivalries -- everyone seems to be rooting for each other. For the most part, we admire each other's work (at least, I admire so many other bloggers...can't say they feel the same way about me!)

6. Dream job? Go.

Wait: Didn't I have it with the Daily Quickie?

When I hit the moment where I was writing the Quickie, doing a bunch of radio stuff and finally breaking through in TV to get on "Around the Horn," that was pretty close to the dream.

(But, wow: I would hate to think that my best career years are behind me. At 34? Cripes, would that be depressing.)

If I was getting really pie-in-the-sky, I'd say Commissioner of a sports league or President of my own TV network. (And the HBS grad in me would say, "Hey: Why not?")

7. What was it like working for ESPN.com and more specifically, Page 2? Did you get close with any editors or other writers? (We talked to Jim Caple a few months back and he said he only met Bill Simmons once).

I know you want some dish, but I'm going to disappoint. This is not b.s.: I personally couldn't have had a better experience working for ESPN.com.

Let's see: I brought them a concept that was pretty much my dream scenario. They bought it. I got to write every day, with a bunch of supportive, hands-off editors who allowed me to develop this uncharted gimmick and voice. And they let me do it for nearly four years!

Working on Page 2 was pretty amazing. I started in January of 2001, writing random off-the-news columns and, eventually, the remarkably shallow "What's Hot, What's Not" column before I launched the Quickie. I'm not quite sure I will have a professional thrill that makes me prouder than being affiliated, in any way, with Ralph Wiley. And I was part of the ill-fated "Writers' Bloc," which coulda/shoulda/woulda been the Huffington Post for sports.

I connected with the Page 2 editors more than the writers, and I consider all of the editors terrific friends, even today. I didn't see the writers too often face-to-face, but whenever I emailed to offer compliments or ask a question, there was always a friendly response. That's the experience I had with nearly every ESPN.com writer. It's a great bunch of guys.

I know if I was a reader of this interview, I would have been disappointed by that answer, if only because it lacked the catfights. This is what I get for being sequestered alone in my apartment.

8. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?

Wow, where to start? Deadspin, obviously -- both Will and MJD. And while I love that the sports-blog world is mostly fragmented by specific sport or team coverage, I appreciate the handful of blogs that, like mine, try to cover it all: The Big Lead, With Leather, We Are The Postmen.

I constantly read sport-centric news blogs like ProFootballTalk and TrueHoop. I love the hilarity of Kissing Suzy Kolber and The Wizznutzz. And I think Free Darko covers the other side of the spectrum, the more existential. They all represent individual parts of what make sports blogs such a powerful whole.

That's worth elaborating on: Sports blogs are absolutely eclipsing traditional sports media (newspapers, magazines). Dominating. Eating their lunch. It's laughable, and if you discount the current state of blogs because the audience isn't as big as a newspaper or the writing isn't considered "professional," you're not seeing the tectonic shifts right now -- and the implications for the future.

Traditional sports media is primarily (perhaps entirely) valuable for exclusive or breaking news only.

(And even that gets commoditized, literally within minutes: As fast as a newspaper can "break" a story online, I and 50 other bloggers can poach it. The funny part is that newspapers think that just because we "credit" the paper -- which happens a lot more honestly among bloggers than among mainstream media -- that doesn't mean the paper's competitive advantage was eroded to nearly nil. Fans don't care where a story comes from; they just want to talk about the story itself. That's where blogs surge ahead of the original story source.)

Meanwhile, bloggers are becoming more and more of a primary source for news and rumors. Consider how many of your local or national sports section's stories or gossip or "trend" pieces started first among bloggers. (Though you'll still rarely see mainstream media credit that source of inspiration.)

For commentary and opinion, meanwhile, mainstream media is way behind bloggers, and the gap is widening: For timeliness, for depth, for insight, for almost everything. Mainstream sports-media columnists are becoming less and less relevant, because they can't offer nearly the insights and passion -- not to mention timeliness -- of someone who has voluntarily devoted their free time to an expertise in a single issue, team or sport.

(Differences in writing quality? Please. It's not like mainstream media sports columnists are Hemingway. If you took your standard newspaper sports column and posted it on a blog without listing that a "name" columnist wrote it, most newspaper writers/editors, bloggers and readers would not only laugh at the quality, but rip its flaws in argument. Consumers' appreciation for the meritocracy of sports blogs is at the heart of its advantage over the top-down force-feeding from traditional sports media.)

I'm about to oversimplify, obviously, but here goes. When you talk about the basic fan consumption progression: (1) There is the ESPN.com front page (and sport-specific national "Headline News" coverage). (2) There is your favorite teams' coverage (perhaps a newspaper but, more and more, simply on a favorite online message board or blog). (3) There is your chosen fantasy provider (Yahoo, ESPN or SportsLine, most likely). (4) And then there is the universe of independent blogs, which -- taken together -- are capturing an ever-increasing part of that consumer experience. Everything else is fighting for relevancy.

(I'm not speaking in absolutes here. There are plenty of examples of great offerings on ESPN.com and every other major sports site, as well as individual newspapers or sports-media outlets. I'm painting in VERY broad strokes to try to illustrate the larger point: There are several basic sports consumer needs to be filled in a broad way, then a very VERY fragmented universe of choices that reach consumers individually. And I'm arguing that blogs -- taken as a whole -- are now part of the fans' "broad" consumption.)

Let's remember that that's what it comes down to: Consumer choices. And, from all evidence, blogs are doing a hell of a lot better job of feeding that consumer choice than newspapers do -- or perhaps even can.

While I'm doing an industry analysis (damn you, MBA!), I would like to point out two of my favorite blogs that I find notable for specific reasons:

(1) AOL Fanhouse. First, it cornered all of the leading team bloggers and got them to post daily (or more). Second, they created the only unique editorial strategy out of all the other major sports sites trying to compete with ESPN.com. The others all try to compete head-on with ESPN. That is such a huge mistake; it's nearly impossible to identify any of their unique value propositions. (Maybe Yahoo, but that's for fantasy.) But AOL managed to circumvent that by targeting a specific, "growth" niche that they could own. (And they put Fanhouse impresario Jamie Mottram on Cold Pizza, too.)

(2) D.C. Sports Bog by Dan Steinberg, which is the Washington Post's lead sports blog and, without question, the template for how every "traditional" media outlet should be approaching blogs: Original reporting, distinct (and likeable) voice, fundamental understanding of the sports-blog universe. He's not a beat reporter doing a blog, which is fine and good, but incredibly limited. He's a blogger, exclusively, filtering every beat. Steinberg has created the gold standard, and even if you don't care about sports in D.C., you should be checking out his blog to see how it should be done.

9. Any interesting job offers lately?

Ha! Any sports-media entities out there interested in a daily columnist to write about anything he wants, working across every platform, while getting paid handsomely to do it?

No, seriously: I've actually been dabbling a little bit with my MBA (finally). I have been doing some consulting for a phenomenal cross-platform (TV, online, film) production shop that specializes in sports. Developing new TV shows is pretty damn fun. And, from the rambling above, I obviously enjoy analyzing the online-media industry for opportunities, both mine and clients'.

Like every good writer (or blogger), I've got a book proposal (or several). And damn if I won't sell an option on this completed screenplay sitting on my desktop before the month is over...

11. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

Most rewarding: Feeling like part of the sports-blog community. Connecting with fans. Editorial freedom and flexibility. The occasional curse word.

Most frustrating: My blog traffic (while totally flattering and appreciated beyond words) is a fraction of what it was for the Quickie. I can't calculate the number of regular Quickie readers who didn't know that I launched the blog after the column folded. And who doesn't want to get read by as wide an audience as possible? Oh, and did I mention the money?

12. Dude, you predicted the Super Bowl correctly in August! Have you been telling everyone -- like everyone -- you know about that?

I tried not to be TOO obnoxious, but that was pretty much the greatest prediction I will ever make in my life – and I've made so many... so many WRONG ones! I feel like I need to get SOME credit, but I've recognized that there is very little that a sports fan or pundit can say that is less endearing than "I called it."

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We've been put On Notice

Yep, the headline says it all. Remember that little "Would you do...Sam Ryan?" post we ran a few weeks ago, well, it may have gotten us in some trouble.

A guy named Sam Ryan, who runs a blog cleverly titled, "Sam Ryan," found our little post about the MILF-y sportscaster. If you recall, we said this about Ryan:

Sam Ryan. Say it out loud. Everybody now. The name just sounds hot.

Aaagh! Sam Ryan sounds so hot — almost pornstar-y.

But she knows her shit, is on board with suburbia and if you tell your friends you reamed a chick named Sam Ryan, they’ll instantly think she’s hot.

Now our blogger Sam Ryan, who found our site via Google, retaliates taking this shot:

This borders on defamation of character. My name is not sexy. The official Sam Ryan website, which you are reading right now, is way further down on the Google results than a blog post about whether sports fans would have sex with some random reporter. And here’s the kicker: Her real name is Samantha Dombroski. Not Sam Ryan. That is my name, and she took it from me.

This is it, sports fans. You are On Notice. Recognize me as the one true Sam Ryan, and I will consider revising my opinion of your depraved, ugly little minds.
Ha! Our "Would you do..." series beats this guy on Google, despite his name -- and blog -- being named Sam Ryan. Put that on notice, bitch.

(Update: Our Book of Scrap has our back! Thanks, fellas!)

Joel Zumaya plans to keep on rockin' (in the free world)

Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves with the Neil Young reference in the headline. What can we say? We love the chops.

Anyway, we're not sure if Detroit Tigers flame-thrower Joel Zumaya likes Neil Young or not (our guess is an overwhelming "yes") but we're certain he can wail on the guitar...or at least the video game version of a guitar.

Zumaya, who was injured during last year's ALCS playing the Playstation 2 game "Guitar Hero," won't let the injury keep him from rocking. From Detroitnews.com (via Ben Maller):

"They had a tough time trying to find out what was wrong with my arm," Zumaya said, "and I told them I was playing this guitar game. I don't believe that's what it was, and to tell you the truth, I haven't stopped playing it.

"A lot of people have criticized me and told me, 'Joel, put it away.' But I'm still going to play it. Just not as often."
Fuck yeah! That's the rockstar attitude. Never give in. Never back down.

But dude, even though it's just a video game, whatever you do, don't even think about playing "Stairway." We hear they'll castrate you for that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NBC is probably paying Tiki Barber a lot of money

Hold the fucking phones: Tiki Barber is going to be on TV next season! Whoa!

We're so shocked by this, Martin Luther King's ghost could speak to us and tell us that his dream really consisted of two chicks doing it in the front of a bus and we wouldn't be mildly surprised.

Whoa! Deep breathe. Exhale.

OK, now that we've collected ourselves, here are some details that you may or may not care about. Tiki Barber -- running back, twin, bald -- will work for NBC next season and appear on the "Today" show and do some football shit too.

The football-related thing is expected, but the "Today" show?! Isn't that with Katie Couric?! OK, so morning talk shows are about as foreign to us as non-malted liquor. Couric is long gone from the show. Our bad. Meredith Vieira is now the host. Along with Matt Lauer. We smell an on-set affair, FYI.

Hey, Al Roker's on the show too. Maybe he'll teach Tiki all about tummy-tucks and Gastric Bypass operations.

We're done with our little "Today" show rant. Bet it's really pretty neat. We're just curious what Tiki -- a football player after all -- will add to it. Though we're 110% sure the on-air chemistry between Tiki and Roker will be undeniable. Yep. Undeniable

Monday, February 12, 2007

This will be about the only time people will cheer for the Warriors

A bit old indeed, but this story, via Ben Maller, is too good and close to our heart to pass up.

The Golden State Warriors were in Indiana getting ready to take on the Pacers when the Colts were gearing up for their Super Bowl parade in Indianapolis.

Seems though, when the Warriors team bus was driving through Downtown, they received a hero's welcome because the fans thought it was the Colts.

If they only knew...

The Warriors, who are anything but consistent, would never get a cheery welcome in the Bay Area. If a player was spotted outside of the arena, people either wouldn't know the player was actually a player, or, in the case of Stephen Jackson, they'd probably run the other way.

Speaking of Jackson, he was on the second team bus -- do they really need two busses? -- which got in a bit of a fender bender. As cops came on the bus to get the usual info from the driver, coach Don Nelson had this to say.

"I told Jackson to get down and keep quiet."

Brilliant! Nellie giving Jackson shit about his legal problems! That's just priceless. Knowing Jackson, he probably pulled a gun on Coach. Hey, it beats choking him Latrell Sprewell style.

In other news: Duke lost its fourth straight game and Coach K subsequently decided to add an "L" in his last name, "for good measure."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Jerry Jones is a genius

The Dallas Cowboys owner is not a genius because he hired Wade Phillips to coach the team. Phillips is a fucking tool and has never been a particularly successful head coach; he's a better defensive coordinator.

Jones is unbelievably intelligent because he didn't hire Norv Turner, who was viewed as the front-runner. Why he was the front-runner for the job was unbeknownst to anyone who knows what a football looks like. Turner, who is about as good at being a head coach as we are at being un-cool, would have burned the Cowboys franchise to the fucking ground. Just look what he did in Oakland. Al Davis hasn't been the same since.

Norv, who is actually a pretty good offensive guru, somehow can't get it down when he has all the responsibility. He probably buckles under pressure and gets conservative with the offense.

First and 10: Run up the middle
Second and 9: Run up the middle
Third and a long 8: Run up the middle
Fourth and 9: Punt (But considers faking it with a halfback dive).

Fuck that shit. Norv has a way of developing players (Aikman, Young Alex Smith, Heath Shuler...OK, not Shuler. He fucking blows.), but his play-calling makes you want to take a blowtorch to him.

Turner is about the worst head coach since Isiah Thomas and can offensive coordinate with the best of them. Jerry Jones may have shot the city of Dallas in its collective foot by hiring Phillips, but Jones, had he hired Norv, may just as well have moved the team.

In other news: The top-ranked Lady Blue Devils beat No. 2 North Carolina 64-53 Thursday behind 20 points from J.J. Redick.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ron Artest hates dogs

File this under things so fucking far-fetched that we couldn't have possibly made it up.
Animal services officers seized a Great Dane from the mansion of the Sacramento Kings star, saying the dog was underfed.

Neighbors complained for weeks that the dog -- named Socks -- appeared to be starving inside a gated area on Artest's $1.85 million estate in rural Loomis, according to a county report.

This confirms multiple things:

1) Ron Artest is, in fact, crazy
2) His dog's name is Socks.
3) Artest hates dogs
4) Ronnie doesn't like to feed bitches (the dog is female)
5) Artest doesn't have a membership to PETCO (or PETA).
6) He lives in fucking Loomis, Calif!
7) Artest has a Great Dane, not a Dachshund.
8) Did we mention that Artest is a fucking lunatic?
9) Ronnie's house is only worth $1.85 mil?! Record/CD sales alone could pay for that.
10) Hey, we made it to 10! And only used one repeat item! Hooray!

Maybe Ronnie's upset that the Kings aren't playing well. Or perhaps he's still pissed at that guy who threw some beer on him. We wouldn't advise any of you to take your rage out on a dog by not feeding it. Cruelty to animals will not be tolerated. Not for a fucking second...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pac-10 official put in witness-relocation program

Remember like way long ago when the Oregon football team was good and the Oklahoma football team too was good? Well, it was on Sept. 16 and the two teams played a friendly little football game in Eugene, Ore.

The end to the game was wild, and there was a call that was evidently not called correctly. It cost Oklahoma the game -- perhaps a shot at the National Championship -- and led to Gordon Riese loosing his job.

Riese was, well, let the much less lazy AP report sum it up.
Gordon Riese said he received death threats after a call on an onside kick near the end of the Sept. 16 game that the Ducks won 34-33. Televised replays showed the Sooners recovered that kick, but Riese did not see that angle in the replay booth.
He'll remain a Pac-10 technical assistant (whatever that means) but has been relieved of his replay duties.

Here's what gets us the most though:

Riese, who took a leave of absence for the season after the game at Autzen Stadium, told The Oregonian newspaper that his doctors had advised him not to return to the job, anyway.

His doctors advised him not to return?! What like he might get an ulcer or something from all the stress? Perhaps the FBI should have advised him not to return -- so, ya know, avid Sooners fans won't follow through on those death threats.

But looking back in retrospect, we're glad Riese blew the call. If he got it right, and Oklahoma awarded the win, this may never have happened.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nate Robinson is a slam-dunk to repeat

Repeat as the winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, that is. (And don't you love that headline? It's sort of a play on words. We thought about showing the headline to our newspaper-y boss, but then remembered he doesn't like the word "fuck" (1) and we're about to use the word fuck (2) 13 more times in this post).

Our boy Nate Rob, all 5-foot-7.75 (that's totally the 2007 way of writing five feet, seven and three quarters inches) of him, will attempt to defend his Slam Dunk Contest crown during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Vegas.

We're really not too concerned/interested about the actual Dunk Contest. Nate's gonna win and he's gonna jump over a tank of fucking (3) sharks with laser beams to win the thing. We're far more interested in what Nate's going to do in Vegas. Las fucking (4) Vegas!

Scene: Nate goes to trendy, overpriced club:

Bouncer: You have to be 21 to get in.
Nate: I am fucking (5) 21, fuck (6) face.
Bouncer: No, no you're not.
Nate: I play basketball, man.
Bouncer: High school?
Nate: N-B-fucking (7)-A.
Bouncer: What team?
Nate: Knicks, biatch.
Bouncer: Oh, I'll have to check with my supervisor

Scene: In (da) club

Nate (to girl): You want a spin on Mr. Robinson's Wild Ride?
Girl: How tall are you?
Nate: 6-8.
Girl (giggling): No, you're lying. You're like 5-foot-7.75.
Nate: You're right, I am lying. I'm 6-9.
Girl: Do you want to go somewhere and talk?
Nate: You mean fuck (8)?
Girl: Yeah.
Nate: Yeah.

Scene: Waiting in line for New York, New York rollercoaster

Attendant: You have to be six feet to go on this ride.
Nate: I'll show you something that's six feet.
Attendant: I'm sorry you can't go on this ride.
Nate: I'll ride your fucking (9) girlfriend all night long if you don't let me on, dickwad.
Attendant: Will you not do that if I let you on the ride.
Nate: No promises.

Scene: At strip club

Stripper: Hey baby, want a dance?
Nate: Who ya calling a fucking (10) baby? I'm all man.
Stripper: I can tell.
Nate: Will you take off your shoes so you're not so tall?
Stripper: I'll do anything. Anything.
Nate: Will you read to me?
Stripper: What?
Nate: Goodnight Moon. It's my favorite.
Stripper: What?!
Nate: Just fucking (11) with ya, Sweetheart. Let's dance.

Scene: Hanging out at Dunk Contest with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith

Nate: You guys suck.
J.R: Haha, funny. Asshole.
Nate: Carmelo, you fight like a bitch.
'Melo: Fuck (12) you.
J.R.: Yeah, fuck (13) you.
Nate: When I dunk over Yao Ming, you two can go fuck (14) yourselves.
J.R.: Good luck dunking over Yao, Gary Coleman.
Nate: Gary Coleman just fucked (15) your momma.

(By the way, Dwight Howard, Gerald Green and Tyrus Thomas will be your runners-up, in no particular order).

Looks like Cinderella got bitch-slapped by her wicked stepmother

And by "Cinderella," we mean George Mason and by "wicked stepmother," we mean other college basketball teams.

Every one's favorite feel-good story from last year's NCAA Tourney is only feeling good these days after a visit to the "massage parlor." The Patriots are 13-10 overall and just 7-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Minus Jai Lewis, who was instrumental in GMU's late-season success last season, coach Jim Larranaga has turned to Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell to get the job done. Thing is, they haven't gotten the job done.

The Patriots have lost to the likes of William & Mary and Drexel, while having few quality wins. The best would probably be over Mississippi State.

Why bring up George Mason's disappointing season now? Well, 1) slow news day; 2) any excuse to type the name Folarin; 3) we like feeling good, so to reminisce on the Patriots' success last season makes us gushy inside.

If you're a knowledgeable George Mason fan, follower, or player -- Folarin, if you're reading this, what's up, homie? Wanna hang out some time? -- feel free to chime in with what has changed this year. GMU was 25-7 during the regular season this time last year, after all. Why the drop off? No Jai Lewis? Pressure to succeed? Stopped putting speed in the Gatorade?

We want answers dammit!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Now that Peyton's won the big one, who's America's next choker?

This is more The Hater Nation's territory than ours, but we thought we'd chime in.

People seem to enjoy hating on Peyton Manning -- for various reasons, really -- but primarily it seems that his choke jobs in the playoffs and inability to win the Super Bowl got people focusing on the negative. Well, now that Peyton's finger will have some jewelry on it, we can't really hate on him anymore, can we?

Of course, we still can. Peyton's a cracker-ass bitch. See? We just hated on him. (Disclaimer: we've always sorta liked Manning. Sure, his family can go stick a finger up their collective asses. But we admire him for staying at Tennessee for four years).

(Mid-post intermission: We found it funny today that Fox -- which you all know we love so much -- in no way tried to compete with CBS and the Super Bowl. Get this shit, today on Fox rival the game (out West anyway) they were showing Air Bud -- fucking Air Bud! -- followed by Scent of a Woman. Yeah, we'd call that conceding the ratings. Way to score big during Sweeps, Fox.)

Now that we can't call Manning a choke artist any longer, who will take his place? What NFLer will step up during the regular season just to falter when it really counts?

We'll throw out some suggestions, but please feel free to leave your best thoughts in the comments.

-Drew Brees
-Sexy Rexy
-Donovan McNabb
-Blah, blah, blah...you guys are soooo much better at this than we are. Please -- please! -- help us out in the comments.

In other news: Florida State beat Duke 68-67 Sunday when the Blue Devils decided to field a starting five from the lacrosse team.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jenn Sterger may be coming to a campus near you!

That's right, folks! Jenn's taking a road trip to college campuses across the country.

She'll be making stops at Wichita State, Oregon, Syracuse, LSU, Wisconsin and "a stint in Las Vegas," which we think means either she'll be stripping our checking out UNLV. The two are virtually interchangeable.

Jenn doesn't know her way around, she admits, because really, who's been to Wichita State? She's looking for a guide to take her around, show her the hotspots and teach her about the school spirit. For $10, you can probably cop a feel too.

We need your help, dear readers. If anyone is near these schools, please -- please! -- go, say hi to Jenn for us and snap some photos. Hell, Eugene, Ore. ain't all that far from Seattle. Maybe we'll go.

Don't know what we'd actually say to her if we met. We'd probably do our best not to mention her rack, but somehow we think we'd slip. "Hey Jenn, you're one of the breast writers at SI." Or, "Jenn, your writing is awfully titty." Or "Jenn, you're pretty hot, but you write like a fucking six-year-old with autism."

Yeah, whatever. But if you're around those towns, check out Jenn in person. See how she looks up close. We bet she's still hot. If you see her out at a bar or something, snap some photos. We love drunk photos. And we love Jenn. Together that'd be splendid.

Make us proud, people!

(Big ups to Signal to Noise and "kickers_suck" for the tip).

In other news: Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman has been suspended for two games for joyriding with the Stanford Tree and Eddie Sutton on Oct. 21.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Blogger Interviews: Will Leitch -- he wears pants

We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.

Joining us today is Will Leitch who is considered a pioneer in the sports blogoshphere. He's the editor of Deadspin, which is the most successful sports blog, well, ever. Leitch is also a published author, having penned the books Catch and Life As a Loser. We highly encourage you to check them out. (We've read Catch, which was incredibly entertaining. Haven't gotten to Life as a Loser yet, but plan to). Will looks a little something like this, but clothed looks more like this, seen here inquiring what Kordell Stewart is doing for dinner. Please help us in welcoming Will, and behave yourselves in the comments.

1. The rundown:

Name: Will Leitch
Age: 31
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Editor, Deadspin.com
Favorite team: St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals, Illinois Fighting Illini
Links to your favorite all-time posts you've written. (3-5)
Pretty much anything involving Carl Monday, which I will confess is my favorite story on the site.

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging for you.

Well, I wake up at 7 a.m. and start digging in. The first post goes up at 8:45, and they’re spaced out throughout the day from there. I take a break about 2 p.m. and go to the gym, because no one’s ever at the gym at 2 p.m. I live alone, not in my parents’ basement, and I do wear pants.

3. A lifetime ago, you worked as a sports reporter. We suspect there are some aspiring journalists reading this who'd give their left leg for a job at a major newspaper or sports magazine. If you will, please take us through your career starting at your days in Champaign. So, we're curious about internships, first jobs, etc.

Well, when I went to the U of I, I spent every day at the Daily Illini; I was one of those annoying lifers who was a part of the newspaper clique that no one else could enter. (Sorry.) I covered the basketball and football teams for the DI and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and then I moved to Los Angeles to work as a film critic for a year. (Which, deep down, is still probably my dream job.) I moved to St. Louis to work for The Sporting News for a year and a half, and because I’m a pretentious schmuck, I packed my bags and headed to New York in January 2000 to Be A Writer. After odd jobs ranging from working as a Web producer for The New York Times On The Web to being a secretary for a doctor, I eventually started The Black Table with some friends of mine, and that ended up leading to Deadspin. I’d always worked as a journalist, but found it frustrating. Not the work; I always loved the work. It was just difficult to get anyone to read it.

4. When, why and how did you get out of traditional sportswriting? Did you have the job at Deadspin lined up at this point, or were you facing unemployment? Also, traditional sportswriters have to deal with these little filters we've come to call editors. How liberating is it writing without a filter?

Oh, I have a filter; the readers are the best possible editors, because they call you on your shit immediately and in the most public possible forum. It makes you be on your game all the time, which is exhausting but absolutely worth it. I had been out of “traditional sportswriting” for a while when I started Deadspin. I was actually covering Wall Street for a trade publication called Registered Rep., and still doing The Black Table of course.

5. Take us through how Deadspin was created. You approach Gawker? They come to you? Meet in the middle? Sleep with the upper management? Did your work at The Black Table factor in at all?

Yeah, the BT was the main factor; they had seen my work over there and we were all trying to figure out a way to do something together. (I’d like to note that all four BT editors, all of whom were working boring trade pub jobs when we started it, have great gigs now. Eric Gillin is at Esquire, Aileen Gallagher is at New York Magazine, and … well, I’m a blogger. There’s three of us doing well, anyway.) They had approached me about doing Oddjack, the gambling site AJ ended up doing, but my dirty secret is that I don’t like gambling on sports and figured that made me a terrible candidate. So I wrote up a long proposal to sell them on the idea of a sports site. They were initially skeptical, but I gave them enough alcohol to the point that they finally gave in.

6. OK, so Deadspin comes into existence. How the hell did it have so much success at first? The content obviously speaks for itself, but still, how'd word get out initially? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady readership.

Honestly? It was just like any other site. Gawker didn’t put out some big publicity rush or anything. Basically, they told us that we were on our own. Having seen Oddjack struggle -- despite AJ’s excellent work there -- I knew that I couldn’t count on them just giving me unlimited rope. It’s not an art project. So I just figured I’d do my best to kick ass at it every day and hope people eventually noticed. It helped that I was posting more every day than anybody else was. I had that advantage. Because there hadn’t been that many sites like that up to that point, people started noticing. SI did a story on Deadspin, and then the Times, but those really weren’t huge traffic spikes initially. The whole thing grew mostly organically, which is really the only way to do it. You have to be patient.

7. Dream job? Go.

Being able to wake up every day and write about whatever the hell I want. So not that far from what I have right now, I’ll confess.

8. "You're with me, Leather." Ever think that was going to take off the way it did?

No way. When you look at the early posts, I almost downplayed it too much. In retrospect, it should have been obvious; it’s the perfect tweaking-ESPN catchphrase. Someone told me the other evening that they had no idea that “You’re With Me Leather” originated on Deadspin. They just thought it had been around forever. That’s just amazing to me.

9. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?

Agh, just so many. I really can’t narrow them down; it would be like asking which type of food I would recommend. There’s something for every taste.

10. Any interesting job offers after building yourself up as a top blogger?

A few, but none that would be even remotely as much fun as this is.

11. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

I really don’t get frustrated by anything anymore. This is an unbelievable opportunity, and I try to keep it in perspective. Some people get really worked up when the “mainstream” media takes one of their stories and doesn’t credit it, but it just doesn’t get me too riled up. I mean, the site is founded on not taking sports too seriously. That extends to the site as well. I mean, it’s a blog. It’s hopefully funny and can hopefully shed some light on the world of sports, but you can’t get carried away. Like sports, it’s supposed to be fun, and it is. It can, however, wreak havoc on one’s personal life. I’ll admit to that.

12. We'll get you outta here on this: There's this little football game about to be played in Miami. Give us a winner and also a player who's bound to get into some mischief on South Beach.

I think the Colts are going to win…and Jim Sorgi is totally gonna get arrested with crack.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier).