Wednesday, June 22, 2011


There are three long poem-type stories that TigerBlog first heard when he was a kid that he came to be able to memorize completely as an adult.

One is "The Cat In The Hat," by Dr. Seuss. Yup, TB can recite all 61 pages of it from memory.

He can do the same with "A Visit From St. Nick," which begins: "Twas the night before Christmas ..."

Lastly, there is "Casey At The Bat," which begins with "The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day ..." and ends with less joy in Mudville than that.

As an aside, TigerBlog is a lot of fun at parties, people tell him.

For those who don't know, "Casey At The Bat" was originally a newspaper column, published back in 1888 in the San Francisco Examiner. Back then, that's what sportswriting was.

Eventually, the profession evolved to things like this:
Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.

There is very little sportswriting like that today. Today, most of the stuff reads more like this:
Jose Reyes, in my mind, confirmed Tuesday what I always believed:
He's a goner.
Sooner or later, via trade before the July 31 deadline or in free agency at the end of the season, Reyes will become the Mets' ex-shortstop. Given his desire to test the free-agent market and given the Mets' economic constraints, that's what I believe.
Reyes has told the Mets that he wouldn't be negotiating with them on a new deal during the season, leaving the team to try to sign him during an exclusive window after the season or, failing that, to get in line with the other suitors for his services.
Jose can you see - dollar signs?

The second one is from today's New York Daily News. The first one, famously, is from Grantland Rice.

As legendary old-time sportswriting artists go, it's hard to beat Grantland Rice, whose grandfather, according to Wikipedia, fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Rice, a Vanderbilt grad, also wrote this tidbit that perhaps you've heard at some point:
"For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,He marks - not that you won or lost -
But how you played the Game."

That quote is repeated on the masthead of "Grantland," the new website that Bill Simmons released last week.

TB goes way back with Bill Simmons, back to his days as the Boston Sports Guy, a website TB first heard about from Jim McLaughlin, then an intern here and now the Director of Athletics at Union College.

Back then, Simmons wrote basically every day on his site, either with original columns, "ramblings" or simply links to other stories that included his own highly entertaining comments. It was as good a sports site as has ever been, and it was way ahead of its time.

Eventually, Simmons was usurped by ESPN, where he became A-listed, which took away some of his original perspective of writing as a fan. Still, in many ways, he symbolizes what sportswriting evolved into.

Instead of being grizzled veteran reporters who went toe-to-toe with the athletes in the lockerroom every night, many sports media types today rarely go to games. Like Simmons, they bombard themselves with games on television and every other multi-media platform there is out there, and they churn out their thoughts from the comfort of their living rooms or home offices.

And, of course, sports media types have become stars themselves, as opposed to anonymous figures who covered the team and whose name appeared in the paper, without calling any other attention to themselves. Among the media mega-stars today, Simmons is up there with any of them.

In his time at ESPN, Simmons wrote less and less and did more and more podcasts, drifting further and further away from sports itself and helping blur the line between sports and entertainment.

When Grantland launched, TB thought it would be a bit self-serving and ultimately a big disappointment, something that would cause Simmons to ultimately fade away.

Instead, after two weeks at least, TB is a huge fan.

The site is no frills, which is great. So far, it's just really good writing on a variety of subjects, with new content every day.

And yes, some of it is a bit contrived, such as the "Rock VORP" column, but at least it's attempting to be creative.

If it continues at its current pace, it's going to be a big winner.

The number one key, of course, is the fresh content. If the reader doesn't have a reason to come back to the site every day, then there's no point.

That's the theory behind TigerBlog, which is updated every day - and which has drawn at least some of its influence from the Simmons style.

And it's especially true of

From Sept. 1, 2010, through today, a span of 295 days, has had just about 2,000 stories posted, an average of roughly seven per day.

Obviously, some days have had way more than that number, especially weekends in the overlap of seasons.

Still, even during days when there were no events, there were stories to post.

The result is that generated more than eight million page views during those 295 days.

Now that the summer is here, page views will go down again, since there are no events obviously.

The challenge is to come up with as much fresh content as possible, and it's the same challenge every summer.

Just like it is with TigerBlog, to come up with something every day.

Hey, that's one more day closer to the start of the fall.

1 comment:

Eagle said...

I think the quality is pretty good butI also think some of the Grantland content is trying a little too hard. I have only read the tennis articles but it seems that they are very David Foster Wallace-ish, and there aren't many writers like him.