Grit, Grammar And Road-Grading: A Conversation With PFT Commenter (via The Classical)

pftcNo one in the NFL discourse, and maybe no one anywhere, is dumber than PFT Commenter. He is the most ill-informed, unreflective, backwards, craven, and vociferous voice in a conversation that offers plenty of competition. The difference — and what makes the PFT Commenter character such an astounding achievement — is that PFT Commenter is that dumb on purpose.

And he never, ever takes a play — or take — off. It’s funny, and a reliably vicious satire of the grunty goofiness of NFL media, but perhaps equally impressive is that it just never stops. The mind reels at the sheer endurance required to maintain this posture, both in the face of open contempt from the likes of Pete Prisco and Darren Rovell and because of the sheer effort required to be this wrong. It’s hard to think of an online performance artist that works harder, and impossible to think of one that loves Danny Woodhead more.

We are approaching satire so good that it’s difficult to laugh at. … Read More

(via The Classical)


The (Walking) Death of Sports on Earth


Last month, in a story that was poorly reported to the then-staff of the site Sports on Earth, to say nothing of the general public, it snuck out that, in some order, USA Today had pulled out of its partnership with MLB that supported the site and ninety-five percent of the site’s staff had been let go. The soldiering-on of “senior writer” Will Leitch (which is far from nothing) aside, SoE exists today at best as a sort of undead shell of the vibrant self Leitch and its former staff had built in what I called an important “second chapter” of the site’s history.

As David Roth, Keith Olbermann, and even Leitch himself have commented, the whole thing came as a surprise even to the writers, many of whom found out about the great “unwinding” for the first time on Twitter.

We have tracked the rise of Sports on Earth since its birth, and we’ve highlighted plenty of their many well-done stories in the past. From a technical standpoint, SoE was designed for optimal reading on a tablet, and, for me, it held the position of go-to breakfast-table reading for a long time.

I was just a reader. For The Classical’s David Roth, the whole thing was more personal, as he was friends and colleagues of many of the dispatched writers, many of whom also had written for The Classical. I learned about Sports on Earth’s demise from Roth’s extended obituary, which also expounds upon the challenges of sustaining and supporting interesting sports writing in today’s media landscape.   Continue reading

Comprehensive Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

As you can see from the above graphic, this year’s Super Bowl, already dubbed the Snow & States’ Marketing Rights Bowl, pits New York against New Jersey in a battle for subpar beach superiority. You do not have subpar taste, however, because you’re reading ALDLAND’s Super Bowl preview, the only one you’ll need to prepare yourself for the game on Sunday. What follows is a compilation of the most interesting, entertaining, and essential Super Bowl XLVIII content, concluding with the least interesting, entertaining, and essential Super Bowl XLVIII content, my game prediction:

  • First and most important: the game begins at 6:30 Eastern on Fox.

From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

News broke Monday morning that the Atlanta Braves were planning to leave their downtown location at Turner Field and relocate to a new, as-yet-unbuilt stadium in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, near Marietta, Georgia. This is a bad idea.

First, to clear out my personal interest, I do not like this move because it means I will attend fewer games. I live and work in town. It is very easy for me to attend games, because I can take public transportation (MARTA) from my office or home and be at the park in roughly thirty minutes. As a result, I was able to attend about eight games this season (as mostly documented here), something that would not be feasible following the proposed move. For a few of the games, I had planned to attend long in advance and coordinated large blocks of tickets with friends. For probably most of them, though, plans came together at the last minute, and I was able to shoot off from work and make it there in time for the first inning. I was shocked, then happy, when I first realized how easy it was going to be for me to attend major league baseball games in my new city. It would be a great personal disappointment if I no longer had that accessible opportunity to attend games.

Even bracketing my subjective, selfish perspective, the proposed move is an objectively bad idea. Continue reading

The Best of All Games: John Rawls, Baseball Fan (via The Classical)

Read anything by John Rawls—sorry, Whitlock, the political philosopher and not the jerky cop from The Wire—and one of two things will probably happen. His crystallized intelligence will either throw up an impenetrable barrier between his ideas and your ability to get to his next sentence, or that intelligence will pull you on, through one of the great journeys in political thought. He’s not easy, in other words, but he’s great, and his seminal work painstakingly and brilliantly details how to organize society as fairly as possible. So, the answer to life, the universe, and everything, give or take, while ordinary folk like you and me face decision paralysis over which RSS client to use. It is important to understand that John Rawls was much smarter than us. It is impossible to read what he wrote and not understand that.

On most Saturdays, the shy, private Rawls would spend hours typing letters recalling past events in astounding detail. One such letter, republished by Boston Review, recalled a conversation he had some twenty years earlier—you probably had conversations with sentient beings today who have lived shorter than that—about why baseball is the best sport. In the letter, Rawls credits his interlocutor, Harry Kalven, for coming up with six reasons why baseball is “the best of all games.” Rawls had a penchant for ascribing his own brilliance to the minds of others, either out of intellectual generosity or a clever ruse to deflect criticism. Considering that he experienced plenty of criticism nonetheless, it was either an ineffective attempt at the latter or successful version of the former.

You would think, then, for Rawls—given his massive intellect and habit of applying that intellect to much nobler pursuits—that tackling something as trivial as baseball would be a weekend thing requiring very little exertion. There’s just one problem: his vision of the game just does not reflect the typical level of otherworldly intelligence I had come to expect from the American philosophical giant. In fact, it can best be described as inventing the oxymoronic genre of McCarverian eloquence. … Read More

(via The Classical)

Dateline: Mudville (via The Classical)

Detroit does not appreciate being patronized any more than any other city. It’s thoughtful of you to have cheered for the Tigers because ‘it would be good for the city’ or whatever but a World Series victory was never going to renovate abandoned buildings or convince consumers to buy Volts. It would have been cool, though.

If Detroit has an abundance of anything at this point in its history, it’s a defiant civic pride. Shirts, buttons and sticker proclaiming love for the city are their own thriving cottage industry. And the Tigers’ old English D has become the de facto emblem of all things sturdy about the city. Arrive as a passenger at the Detroit Metro Airport and you are greeted by a sign welcoming you to “The D.” All cities have bonds to their sports franchises, but Detroit is uniquely and thoroughly synthesized, by choice, with the Tigers’ logo. … Keep Reading

(via The Classical)

Picking at the Scabs: Week 4

The NFL’s replacement official charade certainly has become a tired to quite tired act. The volume of written responsive outrage is headed that way, too. While it’s good that the media is heeding Jim Leyland’s call for them to hold officials accountable, there’s only so much complaining you can or want to read. This new, weekly feature takes care of the latter problem for you. Each week, we’ll sift through the glut of hyperbolic, whining responses and pull out the best snippets for you.
As we all know, the real NFL referees were back in action for all of Week 4, meaning that this is yet another of ALDLAND’s short-lived features, though we prefer to think last week’s edition was the precipitating factor for their return. Here’s a sendoff to the replacement officials and this feature, presented, as before, without comment.


David Roth:

But there is, finally, only one thing to find at the bottom of all this, and it’s worth repeating. This whole florid thing springs from a cold—and, it seems so far, astute—calculation on the part of the NFL’s Rand-oid ownership class. That calculation, which is not precisely new but has a new manifestation over these last three weeks, is that people will watch NFL games no matter what, no matter how slow or poor or wrong or off or dangerous things are allowed to become on the field. . . . That [the owners] haven’t and won’t pay up to make their hugely profitable product palatable says a good deal about them. It says a lot more about how they think of us, and of the game that enriches them.

Lingerie Football League:

Because of the LFL’s perception it is that much more critical for us to hire officiating crews that are competent, not only for the credibility of our game but to keep our athletes safer. Due to several on-field incompetent officiating we chose to part ways with with a couple crews which apparently are now officiating in the NFL. We have a lot of respect for our officials but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations.

We have not made public comment to date because we felt it was not our place to do so. However in light of tonight’s event, we felt it was only fair that NFL fans knew the truth as to who are officiating these games.

Foot Locker:

Despite recent allegations, our employees have spent the last few weeks at our stores and not [working as replacement referees] at NFL games.

Mike Florio:

Some have suggested that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the officials lockout should result in the termination of his employment.  The more accurate position is that he should get a raise.

Roger Goodell:

We are sorry to have to put our fans through that, but it is something that in the short term you sometimes have to do to make sure you get the right kind of deal for the long term and make sure you continue to grow the game.

Pacman Jones:

Guys are going to have to play with a lot of technique now [that the real officials are back].


Week 3

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):

The 2012 NBA finals: Resurrecting the Zombie Sonics allows attention-seeking bloggers to go all-in on LeBron James

The very elemental 2012 NBA finals tip off tonight between the Heat and Thunder, and while we don’t know which way Captain Planet’s going with this one, I did think everybody outside of South Beach was on board with cheering for Oklahoma City. Probably more accurately, I thought everybody was on board with rooting against LeBron James & co.

Now that King James is (again, admittedly) on the verge of winning his first NBA championship, the internet’s writing hands are rushing to join his camp. Whether they really are tired of harping on James for The Decision, the pep rally, and his promise of eight championships in Miami or they’re just following the old, adhere to one view for a long time and then publicly and suddenly change positions to get attention model, or maybe they see that James’ time is here and they want to be on the right side of history, everybody’s suddenly all-in on LeBron James.

How to accomplish this switch? Remind everybody saying OKC “did it the right way” that OKC did it the wrong way first, by ripping the franchise out of Seattle. Continue reading