WFNY Roundtable

Many voices, one site: WFNY Roundtable

One of the biggest obstacles to celebrating the 10 years of WFNY is one of the greatest blessings for the site. There have been so many fantastic writers, podcasters, and creators to participate in the decade of WFNY, and we wanted to give each of them space. After the WWWs were filled, the former contributors took up some article slots, and podcasts were filmed, we still had the backbone of the current WFNY staff to accomodate. These are the people whom WFNY relies on a day-to-day basis to fill the channels of the multiple platforms being supported. Without the people below, the site would be barren of content and discussion.

So, what better way to celebrate their contributions than utilizing the long-standing tradition of a Friday WFNY Roundtable. Throughout the last 10 years, there have been many differing opinions on a multitude of topics (sport and otherwise) that have been presented in this open format. Take a read through and get to know some of the people better whom you have been reading, listening, and watching over the recent years.

When/why did you start writing at WFNY?

Josh: December 2014. I respected the guys at WFNY and wanted to write about Cleveland and Ohio State sports myself. At the time, I was doing so on my own wesbite, one that had 5-10 views on a good day. But I wanted more and wanted my work to be seen by more than just a couple friends and family members who might have caught the link coming across their Facebook feed or Twitter timeline. WFNY provided just that, and I will forever be grateful that Craig, Scott, and Andrew gave me a shot, one that I hope they don’t regret. I can’t believe it’s already been more than three years. Seems like yesterday that I joined this great group of dudes (and girl) and am so glad I decided to take the leap the day I asked if I could write for WFNY.

Jim: When you’re an online writer of Cleveland sports, it’s impossible not to have noticed, read, or listened to WFNY. For over a decade, I had written about the Indians, Browns, Cavs, and Ohio State sports at the Most Valuable Network, Indians Baseball Insider, and Everybody Hates Cleveland, and while each site had its own Cleveland niche, the standard bearer for Cleveland Sports blogs was always Sometime in late 2012 or 2013, WFNY co-founder Rick Grayshock and I talked on the phone a few times about me potentially joining WFNY as a columnist. Once EHC closed up shop in July of 2016, WFNY’s co-owner Craig Lyndall reached out and asked me to hop on board, and the timing just seemed right. So for the first time in over a decade, I don’t have to edit or run a site, but I get to be a part of the single best Cleveland sports blog in the history of the medium.

Gage: August of 2017 marked my start at WFNY. After following the site for several years, it seemed like the kind of place in which I would enjoy writing a piece or two here and there. I appreciated the Indians coverage provided by Michael Bode, Mike Hattery, and Jim Pete, and enjoyed interacting with them on Twitter. Joining this writing community in which I am outclassed has allowed me to continue to grow as a writer and learn more about baseball every day.

Gerbs: I know it was last year, during the baseball season, because I was brought on to do football things but my first story was covering Danny Salazar’s rehab start at Mahoning Valley. Here I am, hardly knowing anyone from the site except having met Mike Hattery, Jim Pete and Jeff Nomina at an Indians game once, covering a real life baseball game a few weeks into being with the site. Quite a start and it showed me how much I don’t know about writing.1

Gilbert: I joined WFNY in April 2014, giving me the opportunity to write about the city and sports team that I love. With my focus centered on the Browns and the NFL Draft, I get to give my opinions and thoughts to people who have just as much passion for the topics as I do. I wanted an outlet to talk about the things I am passionate about and WFNY was that place.

Mike Hattery: I started writing at WFNY in August of 2016 and had the opportunity to cover the most enjoyable Indians run of the past decade. I started writing because I believed in the quality of the writing happening, the depth of the audience, and because I believed we could provide the best Cleveland Professional Baseball writing around. Each has proved to be true.

Corey: Before WFNY, I had a small Tumblr that I would use to write quick articles about sports stats, stories, or moments that amused me. From time to time Scott would include the links in a WWW roundup which for a young man was the emotional equivalent of getting a nod of recognition from Bruce Springsteen. I formally came on board during the spring of 2015 because I had recently moved to Washington state and wanted to write more consistently. WFNY was always one of the first sites I would check in the morning,  and it felt like I had been beckoned to the cool kids’ table.

Dave: I never really intended to start writing for WFNY. I had Craig on my sports movie podcast, and pressured him on twitter to let me come on the WFNY podcast. He had me on, we had a good rapport and he asked me to be a regular guest. Then Craig’s life got crazy with vacation, a house sale, and Thanksgiving and he asked me to host. The rest is history with plenty of podcasts and the Friday Fumble following. On occasion I write some pieces on Crew soccer, and I love participating in roundtables like these.

What is your favorite “only at WFNY” story/conversation/meet-up, etc.?

Josh: Writing is great, but the best part about this group is WFNY’s Slack channel. Sorry guys, what happens in Slack, stays in Slack. As far as meeting up, I met up with quite a few of the writers at an Indians playoff game in 2016, which was a great time.

Jim: WFNY’s Slack is truly something to behold, and it’s nearly impossible to talk about one thread or another there. It’s the most neurotic sports (and other) discussion that you’ve ever seen. If we write about it on site, just know that there has been a full-on, seven day discussion about the topic in which every member of the site has levied an opinion, argued with each other, grouped together to mock Nom, and eventually had it all devolve into a political “discussion” that involves eating random food, and posting strange “gifs.” Oh, and I’m pretty sure this answer gets me a couple hundred points.

Gage: With only six months in at WFNY, there aren’t many that come to mind immediately, save for some very interesting Slack conversations. The casual conversations that sprout from that Slack channel are great because they provide everything from random non-sports related discourse to a good launching point for the next piece.

Gerbs: Having to navigate the Slack channels and the various conversations/personalities is something that only WFNY can provide. While I can’t remember any one single interaction, the friendship and commraderie felt from the brotherhood of writers makes WFNY feel like home.

Gilbert: My favorite “only at WFNY” story is July 11, 2014 or the day LeBron announced he is returning to the Cavaliers. As everyone knows, the announcement was an out of nowhere and just plain shocking. At WFNY, we were still using email to talk with each other. So, when the story came out, the email chain just freaked out. But, the funny part of this story was who was going to write the post about LeBron’s return. The usual Cavs writers were unable to get the news in a timely manner, so it fell to the hands of Indians writer Jon Steiner to write the biggest news of the year. It was just a really fun and hilarious aspect of the LeBron return.

Mike: There are a ton of conversations. Our Slack channel is a blast and one of the reasons I enjoy writing here is getting to argue with Bode, Pete, Will, and Nom about the Indians. Even more fun, spitting ridiculous Browns takes for Craig, Joe, and Jake to talk me down from. There is no single conversation that defines how fun it is to shoot the breeze with these guys.

Corey: In a true “what a small world” moment I learned that fellow contributor Jacob Rosen roomed with a childhood friend of mine at Dayton. Jacob and I were able to meet up in Portland when Ohio State played VCU in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, and he was as cool as you’d expect. It is always nice to see online friends become real world friends.

Dave: The WFNY Slack is my favorite social media site. We have such a great group of people that there is always an interesting conversation going. If WFNY didn’t have a website at all, the slack would be worth it for me. It has also been great to meet up with some people in the real world.

What is your favorite article or writing experience at WFNY?

Josh: Is it bad that I don’t really have a favorite? I love that I’m able to write about literally whatever I want, whether it’s Taylor Swift, country music,2 sports, or anything else. Whether it’s serious or not, WFNY gives me an opportunity to express my feelings towards countless events, teams, and moments, and for that I’m forever grateful.

Jim: When you’ve read as many ‘While We’re Waitings’ as I have, to have my first official writing piece at WFNY be a ‘While We’re Waiting’ discussing the potential of Corey Kluber winning a second Cy Young was pretty cool. I loved writing the piece comparing the potential rise of Greg Allen to the early years of Kenny Lofton, and coming full circle, Corey Kluber DID win a second Cy Young…how about that. In the end though, I love reading any piece that involves one of our writers passionately describing something they love about Cleveland sports. Watching someone develop something they are defending to the hilt, likely first on slack, then on twitter, before formulating it either as a written piece, or as a podcast, is pretty fun.

Gage: There are a couple that stick out right away. I haven’t had many chances at WFNY yet, but never pass up the chance to write about Trevor Bauer. His personality and pitching profile are unmatched as far as writing content is concerned. A piece I wrote comparing the Indians winning streak to the Moneyball Oakland Athletics run in 2002, however, was by far my favorite to compile.

Gerbs: Though I was brought on to write about football, my “duties” changed a bit and I’ve been doing more baseball things as of late. With that in mind, my two favorite moments were covering the aforementioned Scrappers game and going back into the locker room to talk to Danny Salazar and find out he had been hurt almost the whole year. Talk about a dream come true. The other was writing my Tito Boyzz3 and having the full backing of the editors and other writers. It was a controversial piece and got a lot of flack on Twitter, but it was something I felt passionate about and I was excited to have the backing of WFNY.

Gilbert: My favorite writing experience are my NFL Draft pieces. Whether it’s mock drafts or player rankings, these pieces are my favorite writing experiences at WFNY. As you can elude from my writing, I love the NFL Draft. So, the experience of writing evaluations of players and giving my opinion on who will be the best players is a dream come true. I love the whole NFL Draft process. WFNY has given me the opportunity to write about one of my true passions in life.

Mike: I have enjoyed so much of the work I have gotten to do here be it working with TD to break the Zimmer call-up, writing about Eric Haase launch angle development, or writing about how trading for Andrew Miller helped the Indians sign Edwin Encarnacion. Each piece was made better by bouncing ideas off Jim Pete, Jeff Nomina, Michael Bode, and Scott Sargent.

Corey: It is incredibly daunting to pick a single article, but a particular 2016 World Series article sticks out.  After the Tribe’s Game 1 victory I reflected on my dearly departed grandmother, an avid Indians fan, and how she would have felt about the season. The article felt cathartic to write, and I remain grateful that this site can provide a platform for writers to get personal and delve into how these games can connect with us and our families.

Dave: Producing the Friday Fumble on the WFNY podcast was a very difficult task, but it was very satisfying as far as the end product is concerned. I think we did some excellent comedy about a pretty brutal subject, the Cleveland Browns. This past year it became too much. There was just no humor to be found for an 0-16 team. If you want to check out an episode or two, I would suggest the trip back to 1999, or the Draft Preview from 2016

Why do you think WFNY has been able to last 10 years?

Josh: The writers help keep it afloat, but WFNY would no longer exist if it weren’t for the leadership shown by guys like Scott, Andrew, and Craig. The fact that an independent sports blog has lasted 10 years is insane, really. Add in that all of us have full-time jobs while continuing to contribute and keep up with the site and it’s even more remarkable. We’ve tried different paths, but it’s simply to experiment and try to find what works best for our site at all times. Luckily for all over us, it doesn’t look like WFNY is slowing down, either!

 Jim: If you have paid attention to WFNY over the years, you’ll remember all of the different paths that this site has taken. You need to have leaders that quite simply want the site to continue, and would do anything to make sure that it does. I’m sure if you ever get a chance to sit down and talk to Andrew, Rick, Scott, and Craig, I’m sure there have been numerous roadblocks over the years in which closing shop may have made sense…but not only did they keep the doors open, but continued to try and make it better. Without that simple premise, there is no site, and while WFNY has been a part of a Network when they briefly joined Scout, for the most part, it’s been run as an independent, and that’s just unprecedented in Cleveland Sports blogs. WFNY has covered the beats, has written commentary, has been on the sidelines and in the press boxes, has been to pressers, and live podcasted around Cleveland, and done everything in between. We throw things against the wall to see what sticks, then do it again, because new voices may do it differently. Past that, you need to have a unique voice, and the one thing that WFNY has always done well is that very thing. So many amazing writers and podcast voices have been a part of this site, and whenever one of those voices move on to other things, the leadership is always able to find new voices to take their place. And hell, we’re just getting started…

Gage: It starts with the people putting in the work. Andrew, Scott, Craig, and others that were before my time at WFNY created a unique place which offered quality coverage of each professional sport in Cleveland, which is hard to find for free elsewhere. Additionally, the comment boards are a very safe place to kick the tires on thoughts about Cavs struggles, Browns futility, and the Indians.

Gerbs: Cleveland has sucked this bad. I kid, but honestly, it’s the city. The fans here are unlike fans elsewhere. They are voracious for content and anything you write will be consumed within moments. The comments might get hairy, but the viewership and audience is there for whatever we put out there. It helps that WFNY pumps out great content, for free to the listener/viewer/reader.

Gilbert: I think WFNY is the best sports media outlet in Cleveland. We have great writers who are passionate, knowledgeable and incredible writers. We are not strangled by the push to do click bait-type pieces, but rather just good content to get discussion started. Each writer has their own opinions, writing style and knowledge they bring to the table. WFNY has been around for the last 10 years because of the writers it has produced over those years.

Mike: The passion. These people who have been here forever, Craig, Scott, Andrew, they have a passion for making this place the place to go for Cleveland sports analysis. They are creative, and drive writers to be creative. More, while every writer is compensated, and ownership works hard to make that happen, the writers challenging themselves and each other with ideas makes it special. Every writer who has graced these pages has a passion about bringing creative ideas and good writing to a great audience. The passion of the writers is essential.

Corey: Because we care. Even the most rudimentary headline still receives an editor’s attention, and we want everything that flies under the WFNY flag to uphold a high standard of quality. Also we can be critical of the team without losing passion for the games and players. There isn’t a single person on the staff I’d call jaded or cynical (at least not after their morning coffee). Here’s to ten more.

Dave: Because at the end of the day, it is about passion for Cleveland and her sports teams. None of this makes sense money-wise. None of this makes sense from an effort-reward stand point. But we all love Cleveland and we all love the teams here. So we keep going with hopes that like in 2016 you get to cover a championship. 

Just to celebrate #WFNYX we made some new gear!

(Patreon supporters can access the special code to buy this gear at cost.)

  1. Editor’s note: Let’s make sure we remember here that Joe made WFNY the only Cleveland-based media outlet at the Mahoning Valley game, and his line of questioning allowed Salazar to open up about the pain he had been struggling with for the last year. The quotes were so good, we wound up including the audio on the post too. []
  2. I’m going to most likely get made fun of for mentioning the best genre of music, given that I think I’m the only country music fan on WFNY. []
  3. Double the Z, double the flava. []