Bryan Joiner

Why then I

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Hot Wilbon Take

Earlier today, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal tweeted this quote from ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, linking to a full rundown of an event that is just as exhausting as it sounds:

As it happens, what was once Grantland will be toasted at something like an Irish wake at venue in the city tonight with more than 1,000 people, including yours truly, having RSVP’d. Though Grantland was well-funded and played host to many wonderful pieces of journalism, it also ran very wonderful silly pieces, and many wonderful pieces that came from other reporting methods than the one through which Wilbon attained fame. Wilbon was no fan of Bill Simmons, and while Grantland doesn’t entirely fit the profile he was targeting, he couldn’t have considered it too far off, either. Now Simmons is gone. The blog king got. The Old School rules again. Or so it goes.

It doesn’t, but if he is obliquely right about one thing, it’s that the basics of beat journalism — talking to people, in person — can yield relationships and stories that cannot be unearthed in other ways. This is News, but it isn’t news. If he is wrong about the rest of it, and he is, it is because he has placed himself at the center of a universe in which he cannot be wrong, one in the Right People. Like him, Christine Brennan and Tony Kornheiser believe that the blogs are gonna ruin sports, or reporting, or America, or something, and for this they are afforded the gift of being on Wilbon’s level. If he his right, and I have no doubt he is, they’re professional equals only because they’re fading just as fast as him.


Some Fantasy Football notes to myself and okay you can look too

I’m an avid Fantasy Sports player, and I’ve found that my most astute observations about each game come in the middle of the season, only I forget to write them down and commit the same mistakes year after year. That ends tonight! Here are some Fantasy Football tips that are good for the way the game is played right f’ing now:

Wide receivers are the most important players in the game: There are no two ways around this one, and if it wasn’t for Brady and Gronk, they would be the entirety of the game’s most valuable players. Even in leagues where RB is the most important position in the game, the best RBs have proven to be largely fungible — both Jamaal Charles and Le’Veon Bell got hurt, and Charcandrick West and DeAngelo Williams are high-earning point-hunters in their stead. This isn’t always true — Alfred Blue isn’t exactly soaking up Arian Foster’s numbers — but it’s far more true than it is of the best receivers. If Julio Jones or Antonio Brown gets hurt, there’s only so much slack his backup can pick up.

The upshot: If you play in an auction league, like I do, it might actually be a good strategy to intentionally overspend on the best receivers in the game, even if it means blowing your entire budget. RBs will get hurt. TEs, QBs and defenses can be streamed. (We don’t play with kickers, and it’s a revelation.) The amount of season-long value at any position on the waiver wire in week 1 is insane — the only problem is identifying it. The only place you know it’s not going to come is on the wing. Grab the top WRs and win.

Be systematic: For the first month of the season (or first two months of the baseball or basketball seasons), work largely off of the beginning-of-season values. Take advantage of players who are willing to drop top players are dirt-cheap prices because of early season struggles. Shorthand for this is ‘get the name players.’ They didn’t become names by accident.

In the second month of the season, make lateral moves to fill out the depth of your roster. In the third month, exploit the waiver system to be ready to grab the best player available after any given week. If you have a mid-range waiver claim, don’t bother trying at anybody but the best players. Save up for No. 1. I’ve gotten DeAngelo and now Danny Amendola this way in just the last two weeks.

The upshot: As much as this might help you, the hilarious anarchy of Fantasy Football will ensure that your best laid plans eat butt. So take this with a grain of salt. At the same time, this won’t steer you wrong.

Make sure to grab fun players: Football is a TV sport, and you’re going to watch your players try to score points for you, and you’re going to enjoy it. That’s the plan, at least. Do draft players on teams that play close to you or you expect to see on national TV all the time, and try to cast as wide a net as possible (unless you just take all the Pats, like the Other Pats Fan In My League Did And Now He’s Gonna Win.) It’s diversifying your bonds to this dumb sport, and it’s a smart thing to do.

The upshot: You avoid realizing that you’re wasting your life watching this terrible sport.

Hope that helped. Good luck!

A sad toast

When I was a few months into my first reporting job at the Queens Courier, Daniel Pearl was killed by Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. The Editor in Chief of the newspaper at the time was especially somber that day and served us all red wine in paper cups to toast ‘Danny’ at the end of the day. At the time I thought it was overly fatuous, but I was young and dumb. That editor has passed away himself since then, and I finally see at what he was getting. Even then, the journalism industry was small, and it still is, in relative terms.

When two local news reporters were killed today in the course of doing their jobs, I felt something like my editor must have felt back then. There but for… and whatnot. Not everyone in journalism ends up at The Wall Street Journal, like Pearl, but it’s a capricious and hardly egalitarian system into which we enter. With few exceptions, anyone could be anyone else. Maybe not everyone could have been Daniel Pearl, but anyone could have been a local TV camera operator or news reporter in Roanoke, Virginia, and that’s exactly why it hurts, and why today’s sadness hits so much closer to home.

Sox win

… and I wrap it all up.

In which I appear on a baseball podcast

Listen here!

An oral history of the Sox on the eve of the World Series

3,500 words, by me. One of my favorites.

New York Apartment

All I can hear from my apartment are the grinding industrial coolers of the building behind me, constant sirens and a small dog that never stops barking. And everyone who comes here says the same thing:

It’s so quiet.

The system did not work

Shortly after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin, Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted:

The outrage in 2012 was that Zimmerman wasn’t being tried at all. He was tried. This is how the system works.

— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 14, 2013

This is not true. If you put a dollar in a vending machine and order Skittles, you’re not supposed to get a bill from the IRS. Similarly, if you walk into a store to buy a kitten, you’re not supposed to be shot dead. Even if the vending machine is programmed not to give you what you ordered, and even if the pet store is required to assassinate its citizens, this is not how these things are supposed to work. Our criminal justice system is tiered and subject to revisions and appeals because these laws are often unconstitutional and, counterintuitively, illegal. Illegal laws can stand for generations, but it doesn’t make them any more legal. A system that produces results on laws like Dred Scott or Stand Your Ground is not a system that works, and reducing it to that zero point, like Weigel, doesn’t make you wise. It makes you monstrous, a living relic of the past that we’ll eventually try to whitewash away like so much of the rest of it.

A very simple ‘Random Access Memories’ explainer


I’m sure other people on the Internet have thought of this, but here’s the narrative I see in ‘Random Access Memories.’:

1. Give Life Back to Music: Robots arrive. Thesis statement.

2. The Game of Love: In the first part of the robots’ story, someone gets their heart broken.

3. Giorgio by Moroder: They learn the value of music.

4. Within: They realize they have to move on.

5. Instant Crush: They have an instant crush.

6. Lose Yourself to Dance: They dance with the crush.

7. Touch: They touch the crush.

8. Get Lucky: They get lucky with the crush.

9. Beyond: The night with the crush is ending.

10. Motherboard: They leave the crush.

11. Fragments of Time: They remember the crush fondly.

12. Doin’ it Right: They repeat the process.

13. Contact: Robots leave.

What would David Price cost the Red Sox?

Hey! I’m writing at Over the Monster weekly, for now. This week: What would David Price cost the Red Sox in a trade?