by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Ooooooh, Expert Writer! Is that like Stable Genius?

Starting Five


  1. The disaster’s epicenter: the Ukraine.
  2. In the initial stages, the power mongers attempted to downplay the gravity of the incident and silence anyone who spoke up.
  3. Finland was an innocent bystander.
  4. The meltdown was ugly to behold and fatal to anyone who was closely aligned with the operation.
  5. Finally, a man of integrity and learning stepped up and acted as whistleblower, paying a ghastly personal penalty while in the long run saving thousands, if not millions, of lives.
“Do I know where that hand has been?”

19th Nervous Meltdown

That weird feeling when daddy is becoming unhinged and you go into your room and play with your dolls or read comic books and turn the music up loud so you don’t have to listen. That was the Trump presidency yesterday. From tweeting the word “BULLSHIT” (lawdie, my precious evangelical ears!) to going Travis Bickle (“You talkin’ to me?!?”) to referencing Nickleback to describing the Ukraine as a “beautiful, wide wall” to, and this is the most important part, evading for three or so minutes a most basic question posed to him by Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, Trump was a fuming rageaholic.

Then he ordered Mason to ask the president of Finland a question, and Mason did, and as the president of Finland began to answer, Trump completely interrupted him and hijacked the answer. I don’t care about our policies all that much. I do care that you’re an asshole of a human being.

For the second time in less than four months, Oakland sports fans got to watch their pro sports team’s season end at home to a team from a town in the Eastern time zone that begins with a “T”. From Toronto to Tampa.

Rays, A’s, Bay

The Rays won 5-1 thanks to a pair of homers, including a game leading-blast, by Yandy Diaz, who had missed all of August and nearly all of September due to injury. Diaz was activated on the final day of the season.

Reliever Nick Anderson, who once played on a barnstorming independent league team, got four late outs all by strikeout. It’s so refreshing to see a Nick Anderson from a central Florida pro sports franchise delivering in the playoffs.

Line we enjoyed from the ESPN2 broadcast: “If the Yankees or Astros or calling about trading for one of your players, you need to go back and look at what you’ve failed to see in that player.”

Global Warming Hits SI

I had not been at Sports Illustrated as a reporter more than a year or so when managing editor (read: top dog) Mark Mulvoy’s secretary phoned me and asked me to come down to Mark’s office. I was thrilled. Terrified. Was I in trouble? Was I about to be lauded or ripped for my latest batch of story ideas? Was I going to be fired?

I had never had a one-on-one meeting with Mulvoy before. And he was a commanding presence, besides standing 6’4.”

When I arrived, the secretary handed me some freshly laundered dress shirts. “Mark’s at the Harvard Club,” she said, “and he needs these brought over.”

That was probably the most essential service I performed in my first two years there.

As reports that SI is laying off half its remaining staff soon circulate this week (at least it isn’t being sold again) and that Christian Stone, once a colleague and a good personal friend, is leaving, it’s hard not to reflect on how all of this happened.

I liken it not to an asteroid striking SI, but rather SI’s top brass taking the new media landscape about as seriously as the GOP has taken global warming (it’s going to hit 100 degrees in Alabama today, by the way).

I was there, as you know. The top staff at SI in the 1990s were almost all Ivy League-educated (Mulvoy was not; he was a B.C. alum) and the few who weren’t were usually either bullies or had adapted that entitled mentality. There were a few rogues, such as Bob Roe and Chris Hunt and Greg Kelly, generally and genuinely good guys who knew their stuff and were not imperious and all-knowing (even when they weren’t).

A few specific errors SI made: 1) Letting the culture die by failing to promote the next generation, the people who’d grown up in the mag, properly. Or at least promoting mostly the wrong people. That future stars (who were already stars and just hitting their primes) such as Steve Rushin, Jeff Pearlman and Tim Crothers were either let go or allowed to leave or even wanted to leave is a shame. Some of the people who moved up were the very people that those of us who knew them best kew were exactly the wrong types to be taking the reins. We know who they were, knew what they were, but somehow they’d managed to impress the fifty-somethings with their ability to confidently spew bullshit, and those top guys recognized a familiar and beloved phenotype.

2) Not fully respecting the power of the web. When the web became a reality, SI did not promote the people whom they considered to be their top guys to run it. The management thought of it as a ghetto and the internet an annoying fad, like stone-washed jeans, that would soon disappear. Fatal mistake.

3) Failing to tighten belts until it was entirely too late. If you knew how SI was still spending money on writers and ad sales trips and boondoggles even 10 years ago, you’d laugh. Or cry. “Global warming? What do I care? I have my own private island.”

Everything you see going wrong with the GOP and global warming, or with Jeff Epstein, or all these other old white, chauvinistic power mongers, it was all happening back at SI where no female ever rose to a rank of true influence. These were the Old Guard, who were unwilling to adapt and who deep down knew that it would be the next generation’s problem, not theirs. So they got all theirs while they still could and failed to prepare for the future. Just as your Republican leaders are doing today.

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Always enjoy your thoughts on the sports media landscape.

    By reading this insight into SI, one has to think it is somewhat humorous to see a media site like Barstool Sports now basically eating SI’s lunch in its own house (i.e. city).

    I would have love to have been in the conference room 10 years ago witnessing individuals telling SI what sites like Barstool will do to them.

  2. Maybe, but Barstool is just emblematic of the dumbing down of the American male. I would not have recommended trying to out-Barstool Barstool. Let the monster truck fans have their fun. No need to copy them.

    • Certainly Barstool represents the extreme of where we stand today in sports media, but there really isn’t a gold standard (in today’s age) for high-quality sports content that is produced with the idea of me wanting to revisit the piece, say, four weeks from now.

      I’m not particularly interested in examining the content of each new media player (the Athletic, the Ringer, Barstool, etc.), but more so in the channels they use to reach their audience. Love or hate the guy, Bill Simmons was one of a handful of people that saw podcasts as a viable sports content channel. Same can be said of Barstool. And now the Athletic is following suit.

      Saying that Barstool is the “dumbing down of the American male” seems extreme. Sure, their most ardent fans from the beginning aren’t exactly people I’d like to have lunch with, but there is always a sense of immaturity with any tribe, especially in sports. I understand SI has a storied history of producing high-quality content, but it is also an outlet that banked on the concept of taking practically naked women and putting it in a magazine from front to back. That doesn’t scream intellect to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *