The link on ESPN’s page says, “Bill Simmons Presents Grantland.com.” That rolls off the tongue like “The Kentucky Derby brought to you by Yum Brands.” Grantland.com launches at high noon on Wednesday. For those of you without a historic interest in sports writing, the site is named after Grantland Rice, the first great American sportswriter. His connection to pop-culture and the other miscellany that will be handled on the site is less concrete. I guess they thought it was a better name than Grandiose.com. You see? There’s a simple cheap shot. They’ll be coming fast and furious.
This is going to be a huge website. Simmons is the most popular sportswriter on the internet. He’s bringing with him several other established writers with loyal followings. They’re operating with the backing of ESPN. Don’t think this is some risky, speculative venture by the Sports Guy. This is a lock. It’s too big to fail. For lack of a better analogy, this is essentially the Miami Heat of sports websites.
The most fascinating thing about the website for me is that it appears everyone already has a preconceived notion about it. It feels like you had to pick a side before this thing even got off the ground. You were either on-board, a rabid mainstream Simmons fan who hangs on his every tweet, or you already hated the website and everything about it. You’ve written it off as narcissistic fluff, because you operate in the counter-culture of the internet, aka people on the internet who hate things on the internet.
I know that I am going to read the website, at least at the start. I have some preconceived notions myself. I think there might be a lot of self-serving pap, but we are talking about some of the people with the best access and best connections, so you’d think there will be some good stuff on there too. I’m fearing the length of the articles. We know the Sports Guy like to write opuses, and the preview articles were in his style. It was a billion words on the Knicks and an extensive movie preview by someone who hadn’t seen any of the movies. An ominous beginning to be sure, but like I said, curiosity will drive me over there in about 15 minutes. I’m wondering how much will be blog length posts, and how much stuff will be feature length. Simmons made his name with the bathroom printout article. He’s never really mastered the quick hit. Is someone over there going to be covering the news of the day, or will it all be big picture?
I’m wondering if a website will pop-up that is solely devoted to trashing Grantland. Deadspin appears to be on the case, and they’ll be more than willing to skewer anything that deserves it, but I think this website could be big enough to spawn an entire hate website all its own. Deadspin is preoccupied with any number of other scandalous tales, I don’t think they can devote enough time for a full “Fire Joe Morgan” style treatment. I’m just saying, if you’ve got the time, I really think there is an opportunity out there. IhateGrantland.com, or something of that ilk. Get on that.
The internet is all about creating a reaction in people. Then the domino effect takes over. Haters, trolls, fan-boys, sheep, it’s the same old cycle, the people just need to be seeded. And, I think this Grantland is going to be the mother of all internet powder kegs. Choose your side.
Ok, It’s Up:
First Articles…An introduction I couldn’t get through, a mildly entertaining account of baseball beat writing and a “Reality TV Fantasy Draft,” which I didn’t even open. Seems about right. Still no comments section, though. Simmons does not like the comments. Now, I’ll check for the initial blowback.