Football is over! (Thank God)
The NBA is almost a foregone conclusion, the Warriors are that dominant. We’re two weeks out from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training and last week, the DC sports staff had a meeting where we actually asked if the NHL season started.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the dead zone.
Mid February, on the sports calendar and in the weather, is a barren wasteland. Now is as good a time as any to offer a roundup of what shows to watch, who to follow and what podcasts you should listen to to get through this period.
The state of televised sports shows is not great. Blowhards like Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Colin Cowherd are given too much airtime to offer their hot-takes and fill the air with their nonsense screaming. First Take, The Herd, NFL Countdown and a host of other ESPN programs are wastes of your time. You’re better off checking out your buddy’s blog.
However, there is still quality programing out there. Katie Nolan’s show Garbage Time offers the rarely seen commodity in sports shows: comedy. A die-hard Boston fan, Nolan is a unique voice on Fox Sports. She’s crass, inappropriate, silly, irreverent, and is willing to chug a beer on camera. She also has the talent o take on real issues. Check out her vicious take down of Greg Hardy from this season. The sports world needs more Katie Nolans.
Pardon the Interruption will always remain a must watch. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon offer the best chemistry on a TV set. The two former Washington Post writers are equal parts sarcastic and sincere and speak to their viewers like adults. I learned more about sports from these two than probably anyone.
Rest in peace, Grantland. Rest in peace.
From 2011 to October 2015, Grantland was the home to the best sportswriters on the planet. I’ll argue that until I’m blue in the face.
The suits in Bristol decided that the work at Grantland was not worthy of more investment, so they pulled the plug. With that, a bevy of talented writers hit the open market, among them Bill Barnwell (football), Zach Lowe (NBA), Mark Titus (NCAA MBB), Jason Concepcion aka Netw3rk (NBA), Andrew Sharp (NBA), and many, many more.
Grantland was a seminal website for sports coverage. The brainchild of Bill Simmons, the site was home to thoughtful articles and even smarter people. Sean Fennessey, an editor at the site, wrote on his blog, “The people who worked at Grantland were profound talents. Astronomical. Also, kind. The biggest challenge you’ll find in this line of work is not “Ugh, this piece is a mess, let’s start over.” It’s “This first draft seems sort of perfect, is there actually anything wrong with it?” And the people that I worked with who were capable of the Impeccable First Draft were not arrogant about that — they were open-minded, thoughtful, engaged, desperate to improve. That’s a blessed professional environment. Grantland was an extraordinary circumstance, no matter your opinion. Supported by corporate largesse, until it wasn’t. Praised in that uniquely transient way, until it wasn’t. Glorious for the people who worked there, except when they were operating on 4 hours sleep with a bad attitude in a planning meeting.”
Following its destruction, I urge you all to read those writers. Lowe, Barnwell, Concepcion, Sharp, Juliet Litman, Molly Lambert, Chuck Klosterman, Katie Baker, Jonathan Abrams, Rembert Browne, Mike Goodman. They are the best of the best.
Corporations are the worst.
Welcome to 2016. Podcasts are cool now. We can’t discuss sports podcasting without Bill Simmons involved. Since leaving ESPN, Simmons has founded the Bill Simmons Podcast Network. Three of its episodes are in the top 10 for most downloaded this week in the iTunes store. Simmons has been podcasting since 2007 and has harvested the biggest audience.
Embrace the podcast. It’s like the radio, but instead of homer broadcasters who think Cam Newton dabbing is the end of the world, you have smart, funny people that can hold a conversation.