Thursday, June 09, 2011

Launch Site or Final Destination?

Anyone else reading since its launch yesterday?

My thoughts thus far:

> Klosterman = +. His pieces have been fascinating (which I was expecting) and, frankly, touching (which I was not).

> The reality fantasy draft post (about a fantasy draft of reality tv characters wherein points are earned by various horrific, yet totally expected, behavior) included the following line: "We encourage you to start your own leagues, suggest changes to our system, or just read these posts and mumble to yourself, 'I thought this site had Malcolm Gladwell?'" That may be the funniest thing I have ready in months. I literally laughed out loud uncontrollably - probably because as I was reading that trainwreck of a post, that is exactly what I was thinking.

> The writing has been absorbing. These are genuinely creative, talented, and (I just can't think of a better adjective) great writers. You can just lose yourself in the worlds they are creating -- mid-80's North Dakota junior college basketball...Wembley stadium...Wrigley...a freaking video game review when I don't play video games... When reading this stuff, I have become somewhat lost in the worlds created by these writers, and it's almost a shock to come to the end of the piece and leave those worlds. The essays (thus far) are deeply compelling, even when they are about the most trivial of subjects.

> As gripping the writing has been...the site is just "meh" at best. At best. I actually like the attempt to keep it simple, but it's just not easy. Once a column has fallen off the mainpage, where does it go? Go to columnists and you only get Simmons and Klosterman. You have to search for prior columns - there does not appear (yet) to be an archive or an ability to click on an author and find their work. I think this needs to be cleaned up relatively quickly.

> But, mainly, it has Simmons writing regularly again. I've got this sneaky suspicion that he may wind up as the President of ESPN one day soon, (FN1) and he's had so many irons in the fire recently that the writing has just fallen way off. What - a column every two weeks or so? That makes sense. I don't like it, but it makes sense. He's so good (in my opinion) that he's been pulled in a million directions and it just takes time and focus to sit down and draft 5,000 words that won't ruin the reputation he has developed. But Grantland may be getting him back to his writing roots, at least that's what I'm hoping. Granted, three pieces in two days is because of the "launch." But, if this site has him focused on a column a week, it's well worth it. And writing is what he does best.

The question becomes is this Simmons' launch site? Does the "Editor-in-Chief" want to move onto to further executive positions? Or is this right where he wants to be, and where he'll be content to stay. No idea, but it will certainly be interesting to watch... or rather read.

FN1 - There was a long feature on Simmons and the launch of Grantland in the NY Times Magazine on May 30. In the midst of it there was a throwaway moment in which Simmons was at a LA Lakers game with the author/interviewer and they see Stephen A. Smith (who does not notice them) walking by. Upon seeing Stephen A. go by, Simmons tells the interviewer, "We need to do a better job of protecting out talent. ... He's a guy who should be writing more. We let him become too big a yakker." Look, Simmons has the most widely read sports column on the internet, he is (in large part) the creator of the exceptionally high-quality '30 for 30' series of documentaries (maybe the most critically acclaimed thing ESPN has ever done); and now he's the Editor-in-Chief of, an ESPN spinoff. Call me crazy, but I think he could be running ESPN someday soon.