Back in August, I noted the launch of what then appeared to be a new heavy hitter in the high-end online sportswriting market: Sports on Earth, helmed by the well-known (for varying reasons) Joe Posnanski. After working out expected opening-day kinks, the site was getting off the ground nicely, and SoE has found a good niche providing current, day-to-day content in digestible bites by good writers. With those good writers and the backing of USA Today and Major League Baseball, the site seemed to be in a good place.
After just five months, though, Posnanski left without explanation, which had the effects of calling the site’s future viability into question and bolstering Posnanski’s reputation as a drifter. (His immediate destination was not a mystery, though: he joined NBC Sports to “writ[e] long-form stories” and a weekly column on Fridays called “The Big Read,” which seems like a painfully obvious play on “The Big Lead,” a popular, all-purpose sports site USA Today– Posnanski’s most recent former employer– bought a year ago. Weird.)
SoE lumbered on through the winter without a formal leader, and, really, seemed no worse for the wear. Spring arrived last week, Easter is this weekend, and yesterday, former “contributing writer” Will Leitch issued this announcement:
I am pleased to announce that next month, I will be joining the staff of Sports On Earth full-time, as a lead writer for the site. I’ve been writing for the site part-time since it launched last fall, but now I’m going to be there every day. It’s going to be my home.
My columns up to this point have been mostly media columns, but this is a more expansive role: I’m basically gonna be writing about everything, traveling all over the place, serving as the face (or one of the faces, anyway) of the site. I will also be hosting a daily podcast and will occasionally contribute for MLB.com, and certain columns will also be running in USA Today. Basically: I’m gonna be all over the place there.
Will’s writing voice has some built-in modesty to it, but the circumstances (including the fact that he is leaving his full-time position at New York magazine) make it clear to me that he has claimed Posnanski’s vacant seat as the head and face of Sports on Earth.
I think this is great news. Leitch remains a fresh voice in the media and sports realm, and he combines that with the experience that comes from operating very successfully and with perspective online. Will seems to have retooled and stretched out a bit since leaving Deadspin, and I think we’re at the point where we’re all going to benefit from his taking an in-earnest plunge back into the sports world.
Leitch’s first day in his new role is April 15.