Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How ESPN.com Views Its Staff

Much like a movie, ESPN has organized its stable of ESPN.com writers alphabetically. Also much like a movie, the exceptions to this rule are very interesting. Walk with me, if you will, down the list of contributors to see the good, the bad and not a few ugly.

Bill Simmons
He’s first, he’s smug, and he’s the undisputed king of ESPN.com. Lord of the roost, cock of the walk, and flavor of the month all rolled into one. But he looks a hair nervous. That’s because he knows his wife is not only a better writer than him but knows more about football, too. If she starts writing about basketball and obsessing over Larry Bird his days on ESPN are over.

Mary Buckheit
Pity poor Mary: she’d be first in line if it weren’t for Simmons demanding top billing. She kinda sorta came out a while back, after the infamous Tim Hardaway comments about gays. And just to show that there’s no stereotyping at ESPN, they made her main beat women’s beach volleyball and interviewing former winners of ESPN’s “Sexiest Female Athlete” award. You can’t make this stuff up.

Jim Caple
Caple used to be funny, but went insane after the 2000 election. Since then he’s become a sweaty, conspiracy-theory-spouting, wild-eyed toad, which is pretty well represented in his picture, actually. His pet project since then has been 24 College Avenue, which explains why it’s drivel.

DJ Gallo
Up next on Sprockets: herr Gallo shows us his latest work to shock the masses, De Virgin unt Rhino Testacle. Seriously, what’s with this picture? But you’ve gotta hand it to Gallo: not only did he sell out to serve the masters at ESPN, he managed to replace the execrable “Daily Quickie” with an even more vapid “AM Jump.” That was some nice work.

Jemele Hill
A newcomer to ESPN.com, and writer of the lamest introductory column I’ve seen on the website yet. ESPN apparently trusts Hill enough to let her write without an editor, which about one time in five turns out not to be a mistake.

Patrick Hruby
You know, I can’t think of anything to say about Hruby, other than I’m not at all sure how to pronounce his name. H-ruby? H-rue-bay? Hurby? H-rubby? A pronunciation guide would be nice.

Scoop Jackson
Somewhere in ESPN headquarters there’s a checklist of things that they’ve tried with Scoop to see if he has any skill at them: “Television? Nope. Commentary? Nope. Athlete interviews? Nope. Play-by-play? Nope. Column writing? Nope.” So for now they’ve decided to just stick him on the website and see what happens.

Bomani Jones
I’ve no strong feeling on Jones one way or the other, but he looks pretty happy to be here. His primary focus appears to be race and sports, which he does okay at, although not as well as Whitlock did (or the late Ralph Wiley before him).

Tim Keown
The human spleen's job is to make out lists of things he doesn't like, prefaced by some supposedly witty prose about things he hates. Even though it's phonetically unlikely, I guess that Keown rhymes with 'sneer.'

Eric Neel
How many substandard forgettable columnists does ESPN.com need to employ, anyway? Three per sport or something?

Kurt Snibbe
Greg Maddux is a gold-glove winning pitcher and…wait, that’s not Maddux? Oh, um, I guess Snibbe’s illustrations are okay. But the combination of Snibbe and Caple should be banned from the pages, since they bring out the worst in each other.

LZ Granderson
I actually think this guy does all right. ESPN doesn’t, though, because he stuck out here past Snibbe in his own subcategory. I don’t know what he did to deserve that. Maybe he agreed with Jason Whitlock or something.

Sam Alipour
You know why he looks like he’s about to cry? Because his last name starts with A but he’s way out here near the end. It’s like getting a 2 on your performance review. You’re not fired, but almost.

Jonah Keri
I don’t know Johan Keri. I don’t read Jonah Keri. I have no animosity towards Jonah Keri whatsoever. But based on this picture, I’d like to punch him in the mouth.

Paul Lukas
Not only does he look like a Muppet, he’s the driving force behind Uni Watch. Those are both good reasons to let him go back to doing his own thing on his own blog.

Jeff Pearlman
Is he really wearing a T-Shirt in a publicity photo? Also, as readers know, I’m not particularly a big fan of his writing.

So there you go: the ESPN rogues’ gallery. This is presumably what the editors of ESPN, if any, think of their writers:

Lord of the Realm: Simmons
Peers: Buckheit, Caple, Gallo, Hill, Hruby, Jackson, Jones, Keown, Neel, Snibbe
The guy they don’t want to put in the next group for unknown reasons: Granderson
Serfs: Alipour, Keri, Lukas, Pearlman