Happy Monday, you guys. It’s National Coffee Day so make sure to hit up your local Duncan Donuts. We hope you had a most excellent weekend. The Browns were on a bye, but With Cavs Media Day and the completion of the MLB regular season, we’ll have plenty to discuss. But While We’re Waiting…
It’s September 29, 2014 and Bill Simmons is still suspended. Wherein there has been plenty of reaction-type commentary on the topic (like this piece by Will Leitch), the excellent John Ourand from Sports Business Daily reported the hell out of what all went down between the publication of Simmons’ now-yanked podcast and today.
The fire drill began in ESPN’s Bristol and N.Y. offices just after noon Tuesday, when SI media reporter Richard Deitsch tweeted out a link to a story on the website Mediaite that provided a summary of the podcast. The podcast had posted on Grantland a day earlier, but ESPN’s senior management team did not listen to it right away. Just from reading Mediaite’s headline — “ESPN’s Bill Simmons Goes Off on Roger Goodell: ‘Such F*cking Bullsh*t'” — ESPN’s top execs quickly realized that Simmons’ remarks had the potential to go viral. The communications department started fielding numerous calls from reporters seeking a reaction. ESPN would not offer an official comment. The small group of execs spent much of the next two days talking via e-mail and phone about how to deal with the situation. They were unanimous in thinking that Simmons’ comments about the NFL commissioner were over the top. They believe that it is one thing to call on him to resign; it is another thing to profanely call him a liar. […]
As the editor-in-chief of Grantland, Simmons is considered part of ESPN’s management structure, which the members of Skipper’s inner circle believed meant that he should be held to a higher standard. Plus, Simmons’ role as the co-creator of the highly praised documentary series “30-for-30” also meant that he should have been more careful in using journalistic standards in all of his comments. Simmons pushed back on this point, sources said, saying that podcasts are more free flowing and have different standards than his columns or any of the “30-for-30” documentaries.
Potentially the most interesting fallout from all of this: Simmons’ buddy Jack “Jacko” O’Connel who, while not suspended by ESPN, is ghostwriting for his good friend. In reaction to the piece above, O’Connell tweeted the following:
"ESPN clearly wants to renew Simmons'deal. It is believed Simmons wants to stay with the company too."
— John O'Connell (@jacko2323) September 26, 2014
I've known Bill since we were 18 years old. That is the funniest thing anyone has ever written about him.
— John O'Connell (@jacko2323) September 26, 2014
Leitch thinks Simmons needs ESPN more than they need him. While this may be true, it feels more and more like we’ll find out who has the upper hand—and who actually owns Grantland as well as the 30 for 30 series.
WFNY isn’t exactly on the Buckeyes beat, but this fan tackle by former Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel is still getting plenty of burn 48 hours later.
The image is excellent, but the video of the events is even better.
There’s been plenty of follow-up video of the idiot kid looking completely shell-shocked as he was ushered off of the playing field. While I’m typically against the providing of air time to idiots (James Blair received nothing more than a mention in WWW as well), the video of this specific idiot getting destroyed is something they should play before the game when they read off the conduct policy as well as the beginning of every class said kid is in for the rest of his life.
What’d you think, Bill?
If you follow me on Twitter (which you should, by the way), I’ll occasionally touch on album releases which happened 10, 15, or 20 years ago on a given day. When you enter your early-to-mid 30s as I have, I see titles like Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik and Ready to Die and Enter the 36 Chambers all released 20-plus years ago and it makes me feel incredibly old. Also, if you follow me on the Twits, you know that I’m a big fan of The Dave Matthews Band, and have seen them regularly since the mid-90s. Going to Dave shows are not only a blast, but they’re the one place where I feel like time stands still—I’m still in my don’t-give-a-shit years, drinking light beer and jamming out to five (or six or seven depending on the year) excellent musicians playing music that exudes feel-good vibes.
Which brings me to this excellent piece at The Atlantic which discusses Under the Table and Dreaming, the band’s first album which came out—you guessed it—20 years ago this past weekend. “Dave” is one of those bands (similar to U2) that, for some reason, drives quite the polarity amongst music fans and pop culture types. They don’t thrive from the radio—it’s all about the live experience. And yes, their fan base has an overriding frat boy vibe. But this doesn’t take away from the quality of the music.
From the piece:
This perception of the fanbase has come to dominate the conversation surrounding the band. But that obscures what actually makes DMB unique. Under The Table and Dreaming hit record shelves at 20 years ago, during one of the most impressive eras in American rock history. The early 1990s saw a preponderance of sonically interesting music and epoch-defining rock stars leading a grunge/alternative movement that trafficked in despondency and barely audible lyrics. Those acts channeled the malaise associated with Gen X counterculture into anthems that made every listener feel like a proud, marginalized slacker.
In many respects, DMB couldn’t have been more different. It wasn’t that the group didn’t value artistic credibility over commercial viability, or that its members didn’t reflect certain ‘90s pop trends—Dave Matthews, the group’s lead singer and primary songwriter, has been known to don flannel shirts with regularity. […] In the years after Under the Table and Dreaming, DMB continued to tour with much success. But in an ironic turn, the very factor that helped earn the band a place within the accepted pop order—legions of loyal, concert-going fans—ended up being the very thing that would eventually diminish the group’s reputation and turn them into an object of derision.
Like any band that maintains popularity over multiple decades, they’ve experimented (Everyday was largely awful) and changed a few members (Leroi Moore’s passing didn’t help matters much), but the roots are largely still in place. I’m not sure how much longer Dave and the boys will still make new music. I’m not sure how much longer they’re planning on touring (I can imagine that it wears on you after a while—Dave’s voice come the end of tours being one glaring item of support). But I do know that the first summer The Dave Matthews Band doesn’t tour will be a weird one.
Like the Dead and a few other bands, I have countless live shows on CD, discs that I’ll hang on to forever, or at least until I can no longer find a CD player to play them. (Now that I’m thinking about it, it might be worth ripping all of these, but I digress). But like The Atlantic piece says, few in-person musical experiences, though, can rival hearing the opening riff of “Warehouse” or singing along with the last verses of “Ants Marching,” It’ll certainly be the end of an era. But for now, that era is alive and well—frat boy cargo shorts and all.
It’s a huge week for #ActualSportsWriting, due large in part to Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium. Hate the way that road venues treated the final season of his illustrious career, but if the final year of Jeter in pinstripes produced anything—as it didn’t produce a postseason berth—it was quality sportswriting.
“As the Crow flies” by Tom Reed (NEOMG): “Isaiah Crowell invited about 20 people to his parents’ Georgia home in early May to celebrate a phone call that never came. … Three years earlier Crowell had won the Associated Press’ SEC Freshman of the Year honor ahead of Jadeveon Clowney. The South Carolina defensive lineman went No. 1 overall to the Texans. Crowell went undrafted – 22 running backs chosen ahead of him.”
“The Final Walk Off” by J.R. Moehringer (ESPN The Magazine): “The story of every athlete, at heart, is the story of a betrayal. Sometimes, through lack of focus, or lack of commitment, or some moral lapse, the athlete betrays his gifts, or his team, or his game. More often it happens this way: The athlete is betrayed by his body. Our time is short, our playtime shorter. The weak flesh oppresses the willing spirit. That bleak scene in Act 3 of The Pride of the Yankees, when Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig opens and closes his trembling fist, staring in horror at its ebbing strength — that’s the norm. One day the body, which has always said yes, says not just no but hell no. Gehrig had a disease, yes, but every athlete has a disease, as does every human being. Time is the disease, and all the ice bucket challenges in the world won’t cure it. Derek Jeter knows this.”
“Derek Jeter Opens the Door” by Chris Smith (NY Mag): “The second floor holds the living room, but it doesn’t feel as if there’s been much living going on in Jeter’s New York house. He takes a seat at one end of a customized poker table covered in dark-blue felt with Jeter’s personal Nike logo at the center in white. The walls are mostly bare; his World Series MVP trophy is nowhere in sight, nor are any family photos or keepsakes, or any sign of Hannah Davis, Jeter’s 24-year-old model girlfriend.”
“Derek Jeter takes his place…” by Jeff Passan (Yahoo! Sports): “Baseball does cheese better than every other sport because it sees itself as lyrical and poetic and representative of life, and Jeter – the one at whom commercials depicted Red Sox and Mets tipping their caps even though others may have chosen to flip their birds – embodies this.”
“Death of the .300 hitter” by Ian Crouch (New Yorker): “It’s been another lousy baseball season for hitters, worse than last year and the year before, which previously set marks for lousiness. The current year looks likely to end with the fewest runs scored per game since 1981. Hitters have been getting on base (either by hit or by walk) at the staggeringly low rate of .314, which is the lowest since 1972, the year before the designated-hitter rule was added in the American League to add more offense to the games.”
“Exit Stage Center” Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated): “The day Jeter reported to the Gulf Coast League Yankees in Tampa in 1992 he found himself standing over a bin filled with wood bats. Jeter, the Yankees’ first-round draft choice and sixth overall, had used only a metal bat at Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich. He picked through the wood bats until he found one that in size and shape most resembled what he’d swung in high school. It was a Louisville Slugger P72, a model first crafted in 1954 for a minor leaguer named Les Pinkham. This one was 34 inches long and weighed 32 ounces.”
And finally, this week’s edition of Brew du Jour: Strongbow Honey & Apple Cider
OK, so ciders are technically not beer, so we’re already bending the rules a bit, just two weeks in to this here review, but having consumed a few of these bad boys during a Saturday afternoon clambake, I figured this was worth sharing. To get this out of the way: If you don’t like ciders (Hornsby, Woodchuck, etc.) you’re not going to be a fan of Strongbow, brewed in the United Kingdom by Heineken/Bulmers Cider.
Like most ciders, it’s light golden and immediately comes with a right jab of apple scents akin to an apple Jolly Rancher or something of similar ilk. Given that it’s a cider, there isn’t much in the way of head. The taste is as expected, with plenty of apple, but also comes equipped with a honey aftertaste. It’s lightly carbonated, is made with “flavoring” as opposed to natural ingredients and certainly has some sugar involved which could easily make most beer snobs shy away. But at the end of the day, you’re not buying a cider if you’re looking for the experience that comes with something littered with hops.
It costs anywhere between $8 and $11 for a six pack depending on where you shop. While the fruitiness and sweet layers remind me of something I would have consumed in high school before the palette became a little more refined, it’s a perfect outdoorsy beer for the fall, especially if you’re looking for something of a break from craft beer.