Relief from Short Relief

Not as in “relief from the burden of Short Relief.” More like, “Short Relief (at last) has provided me with some relief.” I am not a longtime reader of Baseball Prospectus the way people who truly have been reading Baseball Prospectus for a really long time casually sprinkle into digitally transmitted discourse that they are longtime readers of Baseball Prospectus, but I have been reading the site and its books and listening to its podcasts (or one of its former ones, anyway) for a few years and been a subscriber for the balance of that time, and there is no question that the temperament of the site has changed over that period. Since I have been reading it, BP has had three editors in chief: Ben Lindbergh, Sam Miller, and Aaron Gleeman, its current EIC. Miller, who now writes for ESPN, has a special ability to blend the analytical and the fanciful (perhaps “imaginative” is a better word here, though neither are correct), and, by outward appearances, was a judicious editor. Baseball writers everywhere usually write about baseball in serious tones, and Miller was a breath of fresh air in that regard, if a measured one. It’s good to have outlets for some less serious baseball writing too. There used to be a whole place for that, which was called NotGraphs, but it was terminated in late 2014. Thereafter, its postmortal spirit attempted to eke out a living in an even smaller corner of the web, but that campaign fizzled.

cart

Although Miller never misses an opportunity to credit Lindbergh, his former boss and collaborator on two significant projects who now writes for The Ringer, as the best in the business, it’s clear to me that it’s Miller who’s left a large impression on the current version of BP. Whimsy, once reserved for sidebar Hitlist one-liners and a few player comments in the BP Annual (not unusually in the form of a Simpsons reference) everyone raced to find, photograph, and post on social media web platform Twitter.com, now abounds– or, at least, attempts to abound– at BP. This is most visible in the daily Short Relief feature, a sort of refugee camp for NotGraphs alums that typically contains three essays, or maybe poems, or maybe just a picture, that effort and imitate toward the odd and purposefully absurd.

I never read every article every day at BP, but I’ve never read less of BP than I do now (Russell Carleton and Rob Mains are musts), and I very rarely read Short Relief. I’m glad a major baseball site is trying to resurrect NotGraphs, but this take just doesn’t hit me right. It feels very unessential and often forced. A lot of that probably is due to the fact that it’s an everyday feature. It’s really hard to produce original funny, silly, odd, unusual, quirky, or whatever content on a daily deadline. It’s even harder when you’re limited to one subject area. (There’s also the part about the site’s budget crunch and probably a little friction with the idea that BP is contributing resources to Short Relief rather than its core mission, which seems noticeably understaffed at the moment.)

zcsxziuylxt1sawu9zbv

BUT. Today’s Short Relief I did read, and today’s Short Relief I did like. It contains two entries, both by former owners of NG bylines. The first, from David G. Temple, once the managing editor of TechGraphs, is a short story about baseball cards that really hit home for me, as anyone reading ALDLAND’s late-night tweets earlier this week might have guessed. The second, from Short Relief coordinator Patrick Dubuque, provides a short metacommentary on the Short Relief series itself that resonated in light of the above-transcribed feelings about the Short Relief series. I commend both to your screen and eyes.

Advertisements

The slowest day in sports blogging?

Things have been a little slow around here lately, but hey, we aren’t the only ones. Deadspin’s pulling an amateur radio move and begging for calls, while Clay Travis has been padding his content at Outkick the Coverage by reposting months-old articles by guest writers.

Fortunately, we have tons of great content sitting in the hopper just waiting for that finishing touch and a push out the door. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, go Wings!

This is what is right with Grantland

Earlier, Brendan told you what’s wrong with Grantland, and I can’t sit here and say that the world needs 3,100 words on a made up basketball statistic modeled after the play of Kobe Bryant.

I’ve already outlined my thoughts about the site in general, and nothing has happened since then to make me want to walk away from my generally positive view of the site

No sooner had Brendan fired his shot across Grantland’s bow, though, than I saw a post from Grantland’s newest writer and my favorite comedian, Norm Macdonald, about how he made a New Year’s resolution to resume his crippling sports gambling habit. Norm Macdonald is what is right with Grantland, and Grantland has never been more right.

___________________________________________________

Previously
This is what is wrong with Grantland

Related
Writing about writing about writing: Grantland
1500 words to say that Conan never was that funny and he isn’t getting funnier and TBS doesn’t seem to care
Norm Macdonald’s 2013 PGA Year in Preview

Tracking the best name in sportswriting

We‘re a pretty modest bunch, but it bears noting, on very infrequent occasion, that the subjects of our content sometimes read our content. When Jalen Rose, in response to a feature on him, tweeted us his approval, I included a copy of the tweet at the bottom of the post because it was relevant feedback and fit within the arc of the piece.

By contrast, some responses bear mentioning separately from the triggering content because, while substantively outside the arc of that content, they require a response, at minimum, in the form of an acknowledgment of receipt. (Sometimes, of course, they create their own conversation altogether.) Such was the case with a tweet we received Saturday morning.  Keep reading…

The future of boxing? M-A-R-S, Ali says

Unlike my more complete, early assessments of Bill Simmons’ Grantland and Clay Travis’ OutKick the Coverage, The Classical has been subjected to less exacting treatment here, in part, I think, because I have yet to pin down a describable essence of the site upon which to hang a similarly descriptive post. This is due, in part, I think, because The Classical itself hasn’t quite pinned itself down. A quick, supporting example: while David Roth’s emergence as a primary voice on the site is not in any way unpleasant, the apparent vanishing of The Classical’s star editor-in-chief, Bethlehem Shoals, is at least mystifying. If I had to register a conclusion at this point, it would be that, though still finding its way with its general readership, the site at least appears influential as a blogger’s  blog, evidenced, in part, by the emergence of the transcript-style dialogue features at places like Grantland and Deadspin. And now that I’ve wholly unnecessarily exhausted my quota of commas for the week, it’s time to move on to the substance of this post.

________________________________________________

Born of Kickstarter, The Classical does have an early, functional legacy in its support of other Kickstarter projects. One of these is the funded blank on blank, which “aim[s] to take recorded interviews that might not otherwise be heard and give them new, multimedia life.” One such recorded interview, which The Classical recently highlighted by way of updating readers on the status of blank on blank, was a 1966 high school radio interview of Muhammad Ali:

The interview was the result of a happy confluence: a champion who delighted in talking like virtually no athlete before or since, and some precocity cases from Winnetka, IL’s New Trier High School who had the pure high-school balls to cold-call that champion and get him out to a high school campus for an interview.

While Midwesterners certainly are non-shocked by the suggestion that there might have been some “precocity cases” at New Trier, this is a neat clip (and not just because it sends up a more recent, albeit alternative, presidential space program proclamation):