Setting aside the quality of what is actually produced, the mere existence of WFNY in 2018 is an incredible accomplishment. WFNY started in an amazing era for “sports internet,” a boom with so many sharp and talented voices finding platforms and creating their own shops. It was a glorious time with so many independent outlets able to bring so much voice to the coverage of sports, a voice that the citizens of the Internet demanded and one that pushed the old legacy media types who had the access and platform for decades to up their game. WFNY was at the forefront of this.
That golden age, however, did not last long. The indies were either bought up and re-branded by a handful of “big” media companies, or the talent that made them was hired away by the same companies. There was a rapid consolidation and the sports internet felt a little less fun and pure.
WFNY held strong, refusing to chase nickels and dimes in exchange for its voice and independence. It persisted and the fact that it still exists, largely with the same mission and structure, is an astonishing accomplishment that should not be taken for granted. The founders and stewards of the site should be hailed for that persistence because it makes it that much more valuable an outlet for its audience and the Cleveland media market as a whole.
I’ve not even started discussing the actual work put on the site. It’s been 10 years of quality, humor, insight, emotion, and yes, a freaking championship. Think about all that’s happened in your life, on a personal level in those 10 years? I changed careers a couple times, moved, got married, had three kids. WFNY just kept plugging away, changing writers but keeping its mission and foundation and place in Cleveland sports.
The founders, fortunately, gave me a shot to help on weekends in March 2009, alongside Denny Mayo and Jacob Rosen, the first “Weekend Crew.” Denny was one of the funniest dudes on the Internet. Jacob was a freaking high school kid on the way to big things (there were prom jokes, many prom jokes). Writing about sports is obviously a privilege, but the weekend work wasn’t always glamorous for some younger guys when the weekends were your own to explore the world and actually meant not just chasing your kids around for two days nonstop. But you felt like you were getting in on the start of something good, something useful, and something that was going to be around for awhile. It was worth it thanks to what the founders Scott, “Rock,” and Rick provided. And it was an honor to be able to get published on the same site as Craig, TD, and Dan. I’d come to know many more talented minds and writers that joined the group, like Bowers, Kirk, Ben, and Jon (who I still maintain was THE best baseball writer in America at the time). I know I’m omitting a few names, and apologies for that — there’s just been that much talent and heat that hopped on the WFNY train over the years I was there.
There are 5,814 “WFNY” related emails in my inbox. Email was actually the way people did things back then — that’s how long WFNY has been around. Scanning through them, I saw subject lines like “Lofton is such a d**k” and “Frye” and “Winslow” and “LaPorta at 1B?” The first official email I was on featured TD worked up about Eric Mangini (I still laugh about TD’s daily David Dellucci induced blood pressure spike). So WFNY has seen some things, man.
I don’t keep up with those guys in the way I’d hope. Families and jobs and age rob of us of our time and sense. But I know we could all get together tomorrow and pick up right where we left off and immediately jump into heated, humorous, and insightful conversation. I’m still following and reading from afar, both those “old” names I mentioned and all the new talent that keeps coming through.
I couldn’t believe it when Rock, or Andrew I guess I should say!, emailed me with the news that it had been 10 years. I felt I had to put some thoughts together. WFNY gave me so much. It gave me a start in a career that is now writing about sports full-time. I’ll be forever grateful to the founders that gave me a shot, the colleagues that intimidated and inspired me to try harder, and the audience that made it worthwhile and possible.
So congrats to the founders, the contributors, the readers, and the Internet. It’s all better for having WFNY in our lives for this long. Here’s to another 10 years.
Just to celebrate #WFNYX we made some new gear!