Bill Simmons’s long-awaited Grantland project limped into existence yesterday, and the Internet responded with a disappointed shrug. Common complaints: the lackluster design, the dearth of content, and the Wallace-aping footnotes. To me, what stands out so far is the terrible fucking writing.
I was a little excited for Grantland because, while I’ve come to hate most of Simmons’s written output (and God knows Klosterman’s a clown), he did put together an intriguing stable of writers and contributors: Ken Tremendous, Dave Eggers, Chris Jones, Katie Baker, the Masked Man, Bill Barnwell, and more.
But the evidence so far shows that throwing off the censoring yoke of ESPN’s corporate overlords hasn’t freed Grantland’s writers to express personality, profanity and subversion, as hoped. Rather, they’re apparently now free to write the most pretentious sentences and passages since the O.G. (Original Grantland) was vomiting all over newsprint.
When Jimmy screamed, “Ladies and gentlemen, Coldplay!” to a throng of people, he could barely contain his joy. This was everything he ever wanted. (Simmons)
The 2011 Finals, strangely, is the most metaphoric series in years, not because the Mavericks, or even Dirk, carry any inherent meaning, but because something must stand in opposition to Team Villian. (Jay Kaspian Kang)
There have been times when I have convinced myself that the statistical approach to sports comes out of the collective shame of millions of men, who, every time they think about baseball or basketball or whatever, find themselves embarrassed by the game’s sentimental vocabulary. (Kang)
And although Dirk cannot quite fill out the Munny/Mifune role because his demons are not as alluring or self-destructive, the hand-wringers and the altar-thumpers in the sports media have nonetheless anointed him as basketball’s redeemer. (Kang)
The first half [of my ltime] is spent trying to figure out how reality works, if time is real, and what it means to be alive; the other half is spent scheduling my life around sporting events I am compelled to watch, even though I don’t care who wins and won’t remember anything significant about the game in two weeks’ time. (Klosterman)
Who are you, LeBron James? What’s inside you? And why do I care so much? (Simmons)
And this summer we’ll use a similar model for the inaugural Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League. (Simmons’s vile friend Dave Jacoby)
* Yes, I know some of these excerpts are more than one sentence. Fuck you for noticing.