Eight years in, and I never once thought about the demise of this site. Or that SbB had somehow lost its scab-ripping reputation in the sports media.
(If no longer being cool means SbB ascending to the same prestigious pantheon as Liam Gallagher and Tom from Myspace, what exactly is the downside?)
But that changed when I heard a kiss of death-comment last week about SbB by a certain mildly-successful sports radio host who, for a brief moment, was the scourge of the sports blogosphere.
While guesting on Jorge Sedano’s morning show on 790 The Ticket in Miami last week, nationally syndicated ESPN Radio Host Colin Cowherd was asked what he thought about SbB:
He (Brooks) has cultivated a following with the two things guys like, sex and sports. … I have a website and I always tell the guy who runs my website, ‘girls and sports’.
In fairness, if you listen to the clip in context, he isn’t exactly gushing over SbB or sports blogs in general for that matter. But he did firmly recognize our relevance - however reluctantly. He also earlier brought SbB up in the interview without prompting, which, I must confess, is more than a little disconcerting.
Now for the best part of Cowherd’s remark: Three years ago he guested on a sports talk show I was co-hosting with Gary Miller on ESPN Radio’s KSPN-AM in L.A. (yeah, the guy who used to do SportsCenter.)
During the visit, Miller asked Cowherd if he’d heard of SbB, and Cowherd replied that he hadn’t. At the time I believed him, and took his non-reax as the highest compliment I could receive from a longtime mainstream sports media guy - since he was never intended to be my audience.
But now hearing Cowherd’s recognition of blogs and SbB reminds me of when I still had to keep office hours at a sports radio station in L.A. a few years ago. Myspace had been out only for a year or so - pre-News Corp - so it was still marginally cool. That is, until our middle-50s, combed-over sales manager for the station, who I also remember as having inordinately long nosehairs, walked up to me one day in the office and bellowed that he had just discovered “something called Myspace” - and had friended me.
Good night everybody!
I’ve always prided myself on the fact that SbB wasn’t meant for consumption of the majority of sports fans. Guys who think Chris Berman is funny, Frank Deford is still relevant and Rick Reilly is a genuine American original were, to this day, never meant to get SbB. (Now, the late, great Tom Mees narrating Canucks-Whalers highlights on SportsCenter ‘83, that’s a whole ‘nother matter.)
I specifially started SbB to get myself as far away from the dinosaur sports media as possible. And produce content that a sliver of folks would like, but that Arnie Spanier’s pistachio brain could not comprehend.
For the 47 of you left who followed SbB those first few years, you know SbB was the Sex Pistols of sports media. U-G-L-Y in every possible way. But there was just enough of an entertainment quotient to grab a loyal audience. Including guys like Will Leitch and Bill Simmons. (Actually with them, it was more likely the big juggs.)
You also have to remember though that for many of those intial years, I was still working fulltime in radio. Finally, I got the courage to bolt the only biz I’d every known to give web a full-time, no-net shot.
I made that call having previously made zilch on the site for all those years, so I knew I had to change the site up immediately to make it financially viable - with out losing the original appeal.
I had to
stop drinking and chasing women button up SbB design-wise to make it attractive to advertisers. So I blew my brains out for a full year (ugh) redesigning it. Nightmare. But once the new site was up, money started flowing in from advertisers and I soon started hiring writers who, unlike me, didn’t need a primer on basic sentence construction from the Hollywood Adult School on Sunset & Highland. (Home of the Sheiks!)
Traffic has since grown exponentially.
It probably isn’t a coincidence that our audience has exploded since I scaled back my regular editorial contributions, and I suppose with me as lead singer, this band would’ve probably never escaped The Baked Potato.
I continue to think the site is miles better today than it used to be, but Cowherd’s comment still gave me pause. Not to mention what do I know? I’m 41 and still most appreciate Bryan Adams‘ for his profound contributions to Canada’s widely celebrated guitar rock legacy. Not that indistinguishable duet you heard him on while awaiting valet outside P.F. Chang’s at the Beverly Center.
So kiddos, it looks like from here on out, it’s damage control for SbB. I suppose the best I can hope for at this point is for Mike & Mike to tell me to DIAF - right before Golic’s next Odor Eaters live read.