If SB Nation were a chess game, I'd be a pawn for sure. I mean, sure, I'd be one of the cooler pawns. You'd sacrifice me to capture a bishop or a knight or something. I'm not one of those loser pawns that vanishes in the first five moves just to get the game going. But I'm still a pawn.
An apology on behalf of me
Some people don't take our platform seriously, and it hurts me on both a personal level and a quasi-professional one. I hope you'll accept this.
I write fantasy baseball here for Fake Teams, and fantasy football for SB Nation Fantasy. I've filled out employment forms and the like. But I have 331 Twitter followers. Grant Brisbee or Jon Bois I am not.
And that's why stuff like what was written on Halos Heaven this morning hurts me, probably more than it hurts the Brisbees and Boises of the world. (If you didn't see it, it's been taken down -- because AWFUL -- but there are cached versions out there that I have absolutely no intention of linking to.)
See, I love SB Nation. I only discovered the site when Rob Neyer left ESPN to come here, and I was hooked. It was funny, it was informative, it was (to me) clear- and right-thinking. Having graduated with a journalism degree, worked for newspapers and HATED it, I wanted to write in an area I enjoyed, rather than just fall into whatever career, and SB Nation looked like exactly where I wanted to be. I made it a goal to one day work here. I've not yet really achieved it -- I make a little money here, and I think I do a fairly good job, but I still have to bartend at O'Charley's to, you know, survive -- but it's still a goal.
On the whole, I think SB Nation, and Vox at large, do a great job. I brag on the company to people I know and strangers who let conversations with me go on longer than a couple sentences. The community-blog model employed here is fairly genius -- "we use your content, you use our platform, everybody wins" -- when employed properly. Heck, without it I'd still just be a wannabe, as I started writing for Fake Teams as my first step to writing for SB Nation Fantasy.
Unfortunately, today -- and a couple other times since I've been here -- that same model makes all of us writing for the subsidiary blogs look like rank amateurs. The Halos Heaven blog that was pulled read like an angry story comment, or a PFT Commenter parody. It insulted Josh Hamilton in a manner that went far beyond the pale. It ignored facts about how the Angels handled the situation. Most gallingly, it blatantly ignored most everything we know about addiction and mental illness to insult a man who almost certainly needs help, not derision. Josh Hamilton isn't perfect. Few of us are. He is perhaps less perfect than most. The piece also flat-out lied about some of Hamilton's accountability as regards his history of drug and alcohol use. I was embarrassed by proxy, and I'd like to think the hiding-behind-a-screen-name author has come to be embarrassed as well.
This isn't a big deal to most people. If I weren't an SB Nation regular, I might see that piece, shrug, decide that wasn't a site I needed to frequent, and move on to, I don't know, Hardball Talk or Deadspin or (god forbid) Barstool Sports. But from the other side of the coin, it horrifies me. I was pretty excited, yesterday, when my weekly Closer Rankings piece on this site hit 1,000 page views between publication at 2 and midnight. I'm not getting hundreds of thousands of hits for my pieces. Every reader counts. Attracting new readers counts even more.
But read the start of the paragraph before this. If I weren't already an SB Nation regular, I'd move on from the site because of that piece. It was infantile, insulting and offensive. I will bet good money that someone who follows Craig Calcaterra or similar who only came across the site because he linked to the story will now not return to SB Nation sites (at least, not on purpose) because of it.
SB Nation made the right decision and pulled the column down altogether. It wouldn't shock me if an apology or explanation were in the offing as well -- though, as that "pawn" I mentioned earlier, I am not in-the-know enough to say for sure either way. Regardless, it's gone, and only cached versions still exist. That's still too much, but it's the Internet, so whaddyagonnado.
I do my best to write in a way befitting some of SB Nation's full-timers -- heck, befitting a full-timer at any site or any publication. It's not a half-ass hobby for me, or something to fart words at and laugh at my juvenile offensive jokes. (Though I do make juvenile jokes often, and laugh at them. At least they aren't offensive.) In my mind, everyone who writes for one of the SBN affiliate blogs agrees. That clearly isn't true, though, and for that I apologize.
I don't speak for SB Nation at large. I don't even speak for Fake Teams. I certainly don't speak for Halos Heaven. This is just for me. The writer of that piece is a pawn like me, and bad pawns reflect poorly on all the pawns. If we've lost readers because of that piece, there isn't much I can do about it. There are others who were put off by that piece, and might leave yet, but haven't decided. To those people, I can say you'll never see such ridiculousness from me, or from the vast majority of writers at the vast majority of SB Nation-affiliated sites. It's an aberration, and it doesn't reflect what most of us are here for.
Maybe I'm overreacting. But I couldn't shake that column from my head this morning. I'm writing this on my phone at work (because Tuesday morning bar shifts at O'Charley's are the height of profits, y'all), which explains why I'm not linking to some things I could, and why my em dashes are really double hyphens -- phones are only so versatile. But if I don't say this now, the moment will have passed.
As long as I'm writing for SB Nation -- and I hope it's a while -- my pieces will be my best work. That doesn't always mean they'll be great, because of course they won't, but I'm never going to stoop to levels like that piece today. I hope that's enough to keep readers around, even when others make me look bad by proxy. I'm not out to be "outrageous," to bait for clicks or to offend, intentionally or otherwise. I'm sorry on behalf of those that are.