One of the hardest things to do as a columnist is write a strong lede. I can’t tell you how much this is stressed to me on a daily basis. Above everything else, you need to grab the audience by the collar with a strong pun that says, “Put your feet up and stay for a while.”
Almost like a butt-rock song, you need a strong hook (as I’m writing this, “Toucher & Rich” is doing a segment killing Nickelback. Good for a solid laugh. Give it a listen later on 98.5’s site). The point is writing an effective lede is paramount to a successful piece. In fact, one could argue (successfully), a lede about the importance of writing quality ledes is a terrible, ahh, lede. (Damn)
Anyway, the reason I bring this struggle to your computer screen is because today I had the pleasure (problem?) of having to many quality ledes at my disposal for the salacious ESPN story Deadspin broke Wednesday night.
According to the article, Keith Clinkscales – a former senior VP for content, development, and enterprise – allegedly physically and verbally abused subordinates as well as masturbated in front of sideline reporter, Erin Andrews (on a plane nonetheless).
You can’t make this stuff up. It was just last week when I wrote about the proclivity of consumers and the blogosphere to incessantly attack The Machine of sports coverage, ESPN, to unfair lengths. After all, I reasoned, ESPN still puts out great content like the Outside the Lines piece on Joplin High’s football team or the 30 For 30 documentaries. And yet the developer of some of these great stories being aired took the Zach Galifianankis line from The Hangover to heart…
It’s not illegal, just frowned upon. Like masturbating on an airplane. Everybody got so sensitive after 9/11. Thanks a lot, Bin Laden.
I have two takeaways from the story…
1.) ESPN Perspective: After the release of Those Guys Have All the Fun, one had to figure the suits at the four-letter network would tighten up the ship. There was a lot of weird stuff in that book. As I stated in my review, most of the transgressions were already known (or could easily be learned via an afternoon spent searching Deadspin archives).
Still, there were details I was unaware of such as Mike Tirico’s salty-dog persona. I suppose the value of “Those Guys” is how the tome is a nice tool in terms of putting the frat-house culture, which permeates Bristol, into one place for readers to digest. Almost like a glossary.
And that’s all well-and-good, but even the weirdest-of-the-weird content filling “Those Guys” didn’t cross the line of demarcation set by an average episode of “Jersey Shore.”
(Sans, maybe, the vague line about interns “turning tricks” at ESPN leased New York City apartments and the Erin Andrews peeping incident)
Granted, this incident occurred in the past and Clinkscales is no longer with the WorldWide Leader. The real story within the story from an outsider’s perspective of ESPN, is my feeble reaction to this allegation..
Instant reaction: “Are you kidding me!?! Poor E.A.! An airplane?”
15 minutes later: “The airplane monkey wrench threw me for a loop, but well, it is ESPN.”
And that’s the scary part. At this point an employee whipping out his ‘Pepper Johnson’ for others to see isn’t exactly breaking any new ground in Bristol (Sean Salisbury is slowly nodding right now. He is such a pioneer).
The airplane location and the alleged victim (Andrews) make the lewd story stranger and obscene (sort of how “Survivor” sets strange locations & sometimes has star celebrities like Jimmy Johnson compete). However, neither element give the scandal legs it appropriately deserves. Oddly enough, ESPN employees getting raunchy around one another isn’t a novel concept anymore.
Those Guys Still Have All the Fun…
2.) Deadspin Perspective: I have to hand it to the site – I killed them a few months ago for Tommy Craggs’ invasion of ESPN’s talent meeting. I thought it was a puerile move for an otherwise trailblazing entity. Editor, and writer of this story, A.J. Daulerio did a fantastic job laying out the details and timeline of events. This was a great example of commendable work which is more along-the-lines of investigative (Dare I say?) journalistic reporting.
(That felt weird typing)
Quick Musings, Links
1.) Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti spent all of last week giving us reasons why the Patriots own the Steelers. Although, Felger reiterated multiple times he isn’t confident and a win in Pittsburgh is “always a good win.” Fair enough.
The Patriots were subsequently dismantled. The score was not indicative of the way the game played out. I think we can all agree on that much. But if winning in Steel-city is “always a good win”, then how can losing by a touchdown be a “bad loss.” Actually, the way the media has collectively reacted, this is being portrayed as a catastrophic loss.
Did you hear? The Patriots are heading toward the Hugh Millen days! The reign is over. What have they done lately?
(Besides that whole 14-2 thing last year)
Better yet, now that it’s over, why don’t we try to breakdown the Super Bowl loss to the Giants that happened four years ago? (Yes, that really happened.)
So, crack open a beer and play “Glory Days” on a loop while watching your Super Bowl 36 Championship DVD.. Because according to 98% of the media, it’s over.
2.) Did anyone else find the content strange on the two afternoon drive shows on Monday and Tuesday? “Felger & Mazz” broke down how multiple Steeler wide-outs were open during one of Heath Miller’s 76 first down receptions; meanwhile, “The Big Show” talked about how even Green Bay (who are undefeated) have massive holes in their secondary, thus, the league is still wide open. The following day the two shows flopped: Glenn Ordway talked about Steeler receivers running wide open during the same Miller plays, while Felger cited a weak Packer defense.
3.) Also strange: Right after the NY Times piece, detailing former players turned analysts as volatile talking heads (and giving BSMW a nice mention), both Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi took shots at their old team. Harrison aimed at the Pats defense, and Bruschi says he isn’t sure if the Pats will make the playoffs.
4.) Steve Buckley did a nice job explaining what we should all consider — Boston will not bottom out and become “Loserville.” Remember that place? The abyss that saw a 15 year title drought? Instead, Buck points out, we could go into a comfy (and continuously competitive) place named “Lesserville.”
5.) Peter King gave props to Michael Holley’s new book, War Room, in his MMQB column at SI.com…
Looking forward to this read. I was a HUGE fan of Patriot Reign.
6.) The Sports Hub gives plenty of commercial time to Andy Gresh’s book of sports lists that just came out. Maybe I’ve missed it, but are they ignoring Holley’s book? The tidbits already released on Belichick’s drafting mistakes seem to fit well with Felger’s rants — it’d be disingenous to ignore.
7.) Looking forward to getting my hands on Jackie MacMullan’s book on Shaquille O’Neal in light of excerpts that have come out.
8.) I want more Jackie Mac on “Sports Tonight.”
9.) Chris Gasper joins in — “Bill Belichick hasn’t become out of touch or lost his touch. He’s lost his help.”
….”Help” referring to Romeo Crennel…The same guy The Hoodie went 18-0 without. And was also long-gone when the Patriots were a crazy helmet-catch away from winning a fourth Super Bowl..