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Sports Media Musings: WEEI and Barstool Sports, Grantland Issues, Twitter Fights

David Portnoy's post was a hot sport topic on WEEI (NESN.com)

Beating the Dead Horse

You are probably sick of the David Portnoy controversy like you are sick of the unstable economy. It is what it is, right? Staties went to the infamous blogger’s home to ‘persuade’ him to take the photos down. He complied. And here we are, a week later. If you want to read my full take on the story (what it means for old media vs new media; how I feel about it) – click here.

Events like this provide residual backlash. And, to me, residual backlash is interesting. Portnoy claims Glenn Ordway ordered the masses to murder him. This is kind of like saying MTV ordered Justin Timberlake to disrobe Janet Jackson during the Super Bowl. In other words, it didn’t happen. And that’s fine. Propaganda is propaganda, which is propaganda.

Personally, I’m more interested how the whole issue was, in fact, perpetuated by WEEI. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how this all went down, but at the end of the day (Hey! Crutch Phrase!) the station’s continual scrutiny only added exposure to the ordeal.

The right move, of course, would have been to write-up a press release stating the station’s decision to disassociate from Portnoy. A quick an easy hit. Don’t forget the cannoli.

Instead, the airwaves were inundated with debate on the post. The discussion introduced a whole new segment of people (other then the “stoolies”) to the content. Maybe this is a result of how our new Twitter-centric world creates opportunity for PR situations to go awry. WEEI claimed the on-air debate had nothing to do with ratings – and you’ll call me Bruce Allen’s lackey, and that’s fine – but everything in radio is about ratings.

Ratings = Advertising Dollars = Job Security.

Beating the Dead(er?) Horse

And now onto our weekly edition of “Who’s Crapping on Grantland!?”. Seriously, not that I’m ever flippant, this is actually a great piece. The author lays out his admiration of Simmons (shows no agenda), points out the site’s key flaws, and offers solution.

The thing about ESPN is they know the ugly step-sister is getting eviscerated all over the Inter-webs. I think the company is pensive to reign in some of the power initially given to Bill Simmons in regards to his brain-child. This is probably because of his petulant attitude and proclivity to act like a diva.

In the inception, I defended the site. The transient operation was being treated like the Miami Heat because, well, they were the Miami Heat of blogs. Commentary from critics was specious considering the site had been around for all of 2 weeks.

I’m waiving the white flag now, though. Grantland seems to be all talent, but no flow. There is no direction. The common blemish – noted by many – is the site catering to what Bill Simmons likes rather than any real theme. (Or, maybe that is the theme?)

Bill Simmons is getting into soccer. There is a soccer column with Chris Ryan.

Bill Simmons likes bad movies. There is a Razzie Watch column.

Bill Simmons likes Vegas. Bill Barnwell is now doing a column from Sin City.

Bill Simmons likes professional wrestling. There is a professional wrestling column by David Shoemaker. (Who is originally from Deadspin, and by far is putting out the best work on Grantland.)

This could go on and on (and on).

I agree with the criticism Molly Lambert is there to provide a woman’s take in a misogynist world. This is evidenced by columns about Cindy Crawford, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, and finally Blake Lively. Yeah, those are all separate columns.

And the thing is — I like Molly Lambert. 

I, mostly, agree the main issue with Grantland is that 76% (an estimation) of the writers should have simply been brought on to supplement a revamped “Page 2″ on ESPN.com. Remember when Page 2 mattered? Remember when Whitlock, Simmons, and Hunter S. were the scribes?

This could have been that. Unfortunately, execs decided to cash-in on the “Sports Guy” brand and attach his name to the project. This didn’t help, it created a target.

I will say this: I’ve always defended Simmons. I think he is innovative (a weird thing to say about a guy who’s references are approaching the 25-year-old mark). I also like the “idea” of long-form journalism.

As I pointed out in my podcast with Grantland staff writer, Anna Clark, since when is ambition a bad thing? Does the site have a pretentious aura? Yes, yes it does. But I like the idea, the delivery just needs serious refinement. And, as much as I’d hate to concede, a better editor.

Twitter-Tiffs! Twitter-Tiffs!

If this segment of my “Mega Media Musings!” column existed a few weeks ago, I would have included this little exchange between Andy Gresh and Mike Giardi..

Youre a beast RT @MikeGiardi@GreshandZo Linemen always say that b/c they’ve got nothing else! And I’m a solid 165 lbs Skippy

This was Gresh going after Giardi after inciting the CSNNE reporter by saying he “brings nothing to the table.” That sparked a reaction from Giardi and the two went back and forth culminating in the tweet above. At one point Gresh quipped that Giardi was a “Ken” doll who frosted his tips, or something like that. It felt like an episode of the short-lived MTV show, Yo Momma!

This week, after Fred Toettcher attacked Tom Caron in jest on his radio show, Caron fired back with this gem:

@fredtoucher Fred would appreciate facial hair for Bruins Foundation. Must be upset that I beat him in BSMW’s approval ratings.

Fred responded asking inquiring what BSMW was. These exchanges, presumably, are all in good fun. I doubt any of these personalities would be obtuse enough to air out dirty laundry. Nonetheless, I find it entertaining.

About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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