Anyone reading Grantland? (Bill Simmons' new sports website)

Interesting array of talent there, and I like the footnote references and the general layout. However… I find most of the content too Esquire-esque, in that the articles are often very long, and many of the writers employ those long, complicated sentences. After years of reading his mailbag columns, I’m surprised Simmons’ thought this was a good idea. I’d be a little surprised if his core audience is interested in that type of content. Of course, I could be wrong. Anyone else have any initial thoughts?

I’ve read a few pieces, but I haven’t had time to sit down and read most of the long articles. I’m a big fan of long form magazine journalism, sports writing definitely included. As far as the core Simmons audience, I think he’s figuring that it will appeal to people who like his combination of sports and pop culture references, and as far as that goes, I figure there is a significant audience for that and I hope it works. I like it when writers get to have their say about sports from a little bit of a remove, without folding commentary from the athletes (which are almost always unrevealing) or fitting every development into the whole adversity scheme.

I think they’re trying to recreate the Sports National Daily, to an extent. Simmons has ESPN money to put together a good group of talent and put up some interesting stories. They’re clearly still trying to figure out what they are and how they’re doing it, and, yeah, I don’t see Simmons’ core audience loving it, but so far, I think it’s pretty decent.

It popped up on my iPad the other day. I read an article or two. If the Pad serves up more content, I might read it.

It has some really good stuff and some pretentious, long-winded garbage. One of the best stories was about a community college basketball game in South Dakota, like 20 years ago.

Yep. Chuck Klosterman is a pretty damned good writer.

I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I was just complaining in another thread about how Simmons himself seems to have abandoned writing, but he’s had something like five full-length columns up on grantland in the last week.

I really don’t enjoy Chuck Klosterman at all, but it’s easy enough to breeze right past it, along with the other articles that aren’t interesting to me, and if one out of three articles is worth my time then the site itself will get a visit from me every day.

On edit:


Perhaps I spoke too soon. I read (or at least started to read) an article about Ichiro (not by Simmons but some other dude), but the article is just really bad. It starts out with an anecdote about the 1986 World Series. WTF? I realize Simmons is Boston-centric and this other writer is apparently too, and hell I live in the Boston Area, but why on earth is he babbling about Boston for an article about Ichiro?

In my head I’m explaining it like this: who ever wrote this thing is trying to impress Simmons – or at least ingratiate himself to him. Bleh.

The guy that wrote the article (I just read it too) is one of the editorsof the site.

storyteller: Have you read any of his interviews? The one he had with Britney Spears is pretty interesting.

He needs to learn to edit then.

It’s absolutely in need of an editor, really. Every single article I’ve read has had at least one crippling error that ruined an entire sentence. Not a typo, those are forgivable to an extent in that most times they’re invisible, but I mean an entire word missing. And that word is always the most word.

Otherwise the articles are mostly pretentious trash sports writing. Basically a bunch of dudes who are all very certain they’re great sports writers and are setting out to really impress a bunch of people, mostly other writers. Chuck Klosterman is absolutely the worst of the bunch. The guy is way too convinced of his own superiority. I mean, he wrote an entire article about how he can’t think of an analogy. Deep, bro. Good God man, get a grip.

Pretty much, when they write about themselves and thier deep thoughts it is garbage, when they actually do some reporting, like the basketball story I mentioned earlier or the article on the rapid rise and fall of *The National[/i, then it is pretty damn good.

I got about 400, maybe 500 words into Jay Caspain King’s column about Ichiro before I had to stop reading. The column amounts to “Look how smart I am.” I am not making this quote up:

This has… what, exactly, to do with Ichiro Suzuki? Have you ever seen more pretentious look-at-my-big-brain prose? Ever?

Yeah, I admit I skimmed through that part.

That’s exactly what I meant in my OP about it being reminiscent of Esquire articles. I stopped reading that magazine a few years ago for the same reason.

I just made a failed effort to read that IChiro column. What a load of crap.

I managed to finish it.

He stops talking about all the book-larnin’ he’s done and starts talking about Ichiro, sort of, but he never really presents a coherent thesis.

It’s a good example of how wordplay doesn’t make good prose. Even if it didn’t have some of the glaring should-have-been-edited out errors that** Jules Andre **refers to (and it does) it’s a lot of sentences with university-level vocabulary, but nothing coherent connects any of them.

It looks like just another platform for Simmons, whose podcasts and whose Boston-centric stuff turns me off. I’m not a fan of podcasts by columnists because I can read their stuff a lot quicker than I can listen to it.

I actually like the podcasts for the very same reason that you dislike them - I have a 90-minute commute each way to and from work, so a Simmons podcast generally can eat up most of the trip without forcing me to listen to local talk radio, which is agony, or music, which will usually make me want to doze off.

As for the other, I have heard this criticism often, and never understood it. Of the last 10 columns Simmons has written (including five on grantland so far), only one has been directly related to Boston sports: an article on the Boston Bruins, who are currently playing in the sports’ championship series. The other nine: an introduction to grantland, a column on LeBron’s collapse in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a column on Game 6 of the NBA Finals, a general article on the NBA, a retrospective on Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a profile of Phil Jackson, an article on the Sacramento Kings’ financial situation, and a two-part review of the NBA playoffs (with some Boston content, but no more focus on the Celtics than on any other playoff team).

Now yes, his perspective is definitely that of a Boston homer, but why is that a bad thing? Everyone has a perspective of sports slanted by their rooting interest, and frankly I’d rather read someone who unabashedly displays his biases (allowing me to account for them freely as I read) than someone who makes some feeble pretense at objectivity (forcing me to guess their hidden biases).

As for grantland, yeah, I think my initial enthusiasm is fading. The Michael Weinreb article on the “Fox Box” (the little scorebox that appears on most televised sports) is just awfully written. I mean:

This is a modestly talented high school sophomore trying to trick his English teacher into giving him an A for a paper with no content. The rest of the article is a really really stretched attempt to draw some kind of deep social meaning from the existence of a box that tells the score.

A lot of the articles are like this. On the other hand, Michael Schur (Ken Tremendous!) just posted something, and if he posted once, he may post again. That, as far as I’m concerned, makes grantland worthwhile :slight_smile:

Ok, of the 1,000 columns he’s written over his life, only the last 10 and another 50 or so before that were not Boston centric.

No, that’s not right either. Perhaps I should say there were not Simmons’ centric (Simmons, his friends, his dad, his kids, his trips to the Gah-den as a kid, etc etc.). I don’t care about him, his friends or his family. If you like it, storyteller, that’s great. Simmons has found a great niche audience and you’re part of it. Huzzah! Me, I can’t stand him.