Note to Shanoff:  The Big Lead is now the Boss.

... so feel free to leave the blogging world, if you really mean what you wrote.

Now to the more adult conversation:  Let's start of with a link to Dave Lozo's excellent breakdown of Will Leitch's weird post the other day in which he took a few shots at Deadspin's primary rival, The Big Lead.  Lozo's post goes methodically through Leitch's words, line by line, and credits Leitch wherever he made a valid point, while properly taking Will to task whenever he was BS-ing.  Simply: Young William got schooled by Lozo.  No more Big Willy!

One of the more interesting results of Will's column was that, despite very little response from TBL (other than to briefly drop a few lines here and there in the comments section of his own site, on this topic), several of Leitch's cronies have taken this opponent to jump into the fray and bash TBL even more on this topic.  They must not have gotten the memo that Leitch's original post seemed slightly bitter and unnecessarily harsh.

It seems a good time to mention that TBL is getting bashed over two quotes he gave an LA Times article.  While Leitch and his minions (more on them in a minute) are right in that not every blogger agrees with Buzz Bissinger in that blogs should exercise more, um, restraint, there are some prominent bloggers besides TBL who think Buzz might have had a point.  Leitch doesn't agree, referencing Dan Steinberg's column (a good column, by a really good writer, but one that misses the point:  Buzz says most, if not all, blogs are sh*t.  Yeah, so most, if not all, journalism writing is sh*t, too.  That doesn't necessarily counter Buzz's point; all it does is expend Buzz's contentions to another medium).
Bill Simmons is the Famous Original Blogger, not to be mistaken with Famous Blogger...
But perhaps Leitch and crew missed this article by Adam Reilly in The Phoenix on the topic, in which he got a quote from none other than the original king of sports blogs, and therefore another prominent blogger, Bill Simmons:

The bloggers, too, are capable of a modicum of self-reflection. For his part, Simmons argues that the lad-maggiest sports blogs, like Deadspin and the Big Lead, should ease up on traffic-generating but salacious posts about drunk athletes and the like. And in time, he predicts, they will. “The blogs will figure it out,” he says. “It’s still early. I have faith.”

Bill Simmons might have faith, but posts like this from Simmon's former "long-time" Page 2 colleague, Dan Shanoff (in the blogging biz, apparently being an employed writer for a few years = "long-time"), make me a bit doubtful.  Overreacting to the quotes even more so than his hero, Leitch, Shanoff calls it "quite possibly... the era's lowest point..."

Shanoff goes on to write that he doesn't appreciate that Jason McIntyre of TBL "doesn't speak for [Shanoff]", and that he "doesn't speak for the rest of us".  Later on, though, Shanoff hints at the clique-y nature of the sports blogging world:

I find it hard to find anyone who says they respect Jason McIntyre or The Big Lead. The rep: McIntyre as an empty apple-polisher who lacks a position of authority or respect among his peers.

I'll wrap this up quickly: Shanoff's column is full of venomous attacks.  My fave: on TBL best-known feature, Shanoff describes it as "95% of the time, functionally retarded" (did Shanoff learn such stellar writing techniques while attending arguably the second best J-school in the country, Medill?).  I'm not sure what TBL has done to warrant this type of attack from "his peers" (Shanoff, Leitch, Ufford), but I'm going to give ya'll my opinion.  And yes, I am speaking for only myself, not the clique of bloggers that I roll with or whatever.

It seems TBL is wearing the crown.  Simple as that.  And some of ya'll might think this means we've answered the question of "Who will replace Will Leitch (as de facto King of the Blogs) now that he's leaving the sports blog biz?"

If so, then you missed the larger point.  Leitch was already replaced, and he knew it.  In between writing his book, promoting his book, and changing the vision of his site (oops, you should never change the vision of your site), Deadspin was passed by TBL. I won't spend time on how it surpassed Deadspin (I can answer those questions in the comments), but summing it up: Deadspin was losing its edge as the most popular sports blog, or whatever you want to call it, and Leitch knew that.  He surrendered, and took a job in the old media world.  In the meanwhile, he's trying to fire a last shot, as he's leaving the room, at the man/site that essentially forced him out.  

Why go after TBL, when other bloggers, including Bill Simmons, agree with him?  Perhaps Will Leitch is still thankful towards Jimmy Kimmel for laughing at his poor Woody Allen impersonation (oddly similar to the one Leitch put on during his HBO appearance, while Buzz Bissinger screamed on him), and therefore doesn't want to attack Kimmel's good friend, Bill Simmons?

Or perhaps the likelier truth is simply that there is a bit of jealousy among Leitch and his "peers" at The Big Lead's success, in areas that Deadspin itself failed (reaching out to real media types, maintaining credibility, reaching out and being able to post on various different topics and sites without snark, etc)?  Whatever the true motivations for the recent attacks on The Big Lead, this much is clear: there seems to be a cabal of sports blogs out there that admittedly and openly disdain TBL.
WatchYourBackAnd with all that said, we're going to add only one last though: D-Wil is right... I don't care who is in charge of these "sports bloggers", and whatever silly values they represent while trying not to say anything different, or have too strong of an opinion!  It's time for representation for the Independent (Sports) Media... and I want guys like David Zirin, D.K. Wilson, Charles Modiano, and Mike Tillery representing.  Newspaper writers looking for a quote and an opinion... that's where you should go to.  Why keep asking guys who have no opinion on anything (except when they are leaving the business, then they are suddenly not so apolitical anymore!), when you can ask the aforementioned quartet?  Just a thought....

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[June 25, 2008 2:08 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Rickhouse said

There's only one problem with this: The Big Lead, as a site, kind of sucks. I don't take sides either way- because seriously, who cares?- and I read TBL every day and occasionally comment over there. TBL is never funny, it talks about "US Weekly" style topics way too often (he used to be a copy editor over there I believe, so there you go), and, worst of all, I don't really think he knows that much about sports. Sometimes I read his stuff and think to myself "this guy has no idea what he's talking about".

Now Leitch's post I thought was pretty good, but I think he missed one thing: TBL quit his job to write the site full time, he's trying to make money doing it. So maybe the original vision gets compromised a tad, but that's necessary if you want to make money. Also, as long as I've been reading TBL (since before I started my site), I don't think he's every really changed. Sure, his vision isn't what Will's is, but that's ok. Not all sports blogs have to be in this together. It would be kind of stupid if they were.

You may be right that TBL is the new top dog, but I personally don't think that's a good thing, just because he isn't that good. It feels to me like he half-heartedly writes a lot of short posts, just so people keep coming back. I get that he's trying to make money so he's got to up the page views, but it's pretty weak to post half-assed. I don't really like Ufford all that much either (he's ok, I guess), and I hate, hate, hate Shanoff.

[June 25, 2008 9:04 AM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

I think your first sentence and last sentence sum everything up perfectly. Yeah, I know TBL's weaknesses. And yet I would still rather have TBL be more popular than any of the those other sites. At the end of the day, I think the sports blog world has benefitted from having a big site that is not geared entirely around being negative and snarky, as opposed to Ufford and his ilk.

[June 25, 2008 10:05 AM]  |  link  |  reply
goathair said

I think that something that isn't ever addressed with Deadspin's vision changing (debatable anyways) is the role that Gawker Media plays in that. Every Gawker site is driven by page views, has added authors, and is seemingly micromanaged by Denton. Deadspin was the longest hold-out, but even that site has been touched by Denton.

Also, is TBL actually more popular than Deadspin? I've never looked at the traffic, but I'd guess not.

[June 25, 2008 3:38 PM]  |  link  |  reply
TBL said

I find all of this very humorous.

Just two small things, Rickhouse: Not that it matters, but my technical title was 'assistant news editor' at Us Weekly. It's a bit of a different setup than a newspapers.

I certainly dont profess to know more about sports than anyone else (not even about my favorite teams), but I was a sportswriter in newspapers for three years prior to the celeb mag thing.

And I'd never attempt to 'speak for everyone,' ever. It's your blog, do your thing. I can only assume that the 'we' used on TBL didn't translate well in the LA Times piece to seven bloggers who already dislike me for whatever reason.

The 'Token Media Blog Whatever'

[July 9, 2008 12:12 AM]  |  link  |  reply
jayd said

Will was hilarious. I am actually not going to even check that other site mentioned. I keep up to date with deadspin and firejoemorgan. If I want real news I can go to Fox or ESPN right? If I want amazingly sharp and funny posts I go to the other 2. Luckily there are sites for all of us, but those are mine

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