Buzz: YOU are Full of Excrement

Not you, my friendly reader … I’m referring to H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, who by now you may have heard went postal on Will Leitch of Deadspin during the CostasNow show on HBO. If you didn’t see it, the video segment is available on Awful Announcing (luckily, it wasn’t filmed in Wrigley Field so MLB can’t take it down), FireJoeMorgan has a great synopsis of the event, and Matt Cerrone had some choice words. In addition, Joe Posnanski wrote a long but enjoyable treatise on the “roundtable discussion”.

In case you don’t have the time or desire to follow those links, I’ll give you my own quick rundown. In short, Bob Costas hosted what was supposed to be a roundtable discussion, with the goal of having Bissinger, Leitch, and Braylon Edwards discuss the future of blogs and sports journalism. That goal was not quite reached, because 15 seconds into Leitch’s first comments, Bissinger cut him off, saying, “…I really think you’re full of sh*t …” Bissinger then condescendingly asked Leitch if he’d ever read W.C. Heinz (no one’s sure why) but Leitch answered in the affirmative, and that seemed to really send “Buzz” off his rocker. Bissinger was a raving lunatic from then on, trying to make the point that “blogs are dedicated to cruelty, they’re dedicated to journalistic dishonesty, and they’re dedicated to speed”. Costas supported Bissinger by readingly aloud the most profane READERS COMMENTS he could find on Deadspin (actually that’s not true; Costas probably doesn’t know how to use the internet, and had one of his production assistants or maybe the key grip find the worst comments for him).

It got uglier, but the best description I’ve read of the exchange was from Posnaski:

The rest of the conversation seemed to me to be Buzz hitting Will about the head with an umbrella, and Will saying, “Would you please stop hitting me with the umbrella,” and Buzz continuing to hit Will about the head with the umbrella, and Will saying, “Damn it, ow, stop hitting me you crazy old man,” and Buzz hitting him about the head some more with the umbrella. I love the phrase “about the head.”

Why am I addressing this roundtable-turned-altercation here? Because every “important” sports blogger is covering it, so I figure I better, too, if I want to be “important”. Also, it’s a day off for the Mets, and I’m trying hard not to think about yesterday’s 13-1 loss.

Although Buzz Bissinger did a fine job of making a mockery of himself, I’m still offended by some of the things he said, and will take the time now to lash back. First, a personal offense to start off: Mr. H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, what kind of a pompous arse goes by his first two initials AND a nickname? “H.G.”? What’s that? A subliminal method of aligning yourself with H.G. Wells? Reminds me of a former colleague of mine who referred to himself as “W.P.” in his byline instead of Bill or William. Annoyingly pompous, in my opinion.

Bissinger insinuated that bloggers were not of the same intellectual level of Pulitzer Prize winning sycophants such as himself. I use the word “sycophant” because I can — although I’m a lowly blogger I have a B.A. in English, authored several books that have been translated into dozens of languages, and used to work as an editor for a highly successful international book and magazine publisher. However I have not won a Pulitzer Prize (yet), and have never read the books of W.C. Heinz — though I have read Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Ring Lardner, John Steinbeck, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Kennedy O’Toole, John Barth, Raymond Carver, David Halberstam, Jim Bouton, Homer, Ron Sukenick, Flannery O’Connor, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Charles Einstein, Bill James, Daniel Okrent, Michael Lewis, Roger Angell, Roger Kahn, Bernard Malamud, Voltaire, Pat Jordan, Philip Roth, Jancis Robinson, Eliot Asinof, William Goldman, Charles Bukowski, Vladimir Nabakov, Jerzy Kosinski, Thomas Pynchon, Ovid, and hundreds of others. I like to consider myself “well read”, and feel my library is “eclectic”. But apparently it’s incomplete without W.C. Heinz (and Bissinger, for that matter … but hey, I saw the movie).

Here at MetsToday, I rarely — if ever — include profanity in my posts, and even hesitate to use the word “suck” (though I admit I have a few times). The people who comment here uphold a similar level of respect, and though the discussions get heated, they’re never cruel. We may criticize performance, but do not make personal attacks. I’d like to think that the content is entertaining and somewhat intelligent without being ostentatious or inaccessible. But to hear it from Bissinger and Costas, every sports blog on the internet is exactly like Deadspin — a wild party of potty-mouthed degenerates who are degrading sports journalism.

In truth, Deadspin is not that bad — it’s entertainment of a different sort, and not for everyone. This event reminds me a lot of the early days of the world wide web, when some people pointed at the porn sites and decried the internet as the gateway to hades. Let’s get serious — if you’re going to lump all sports blogs into one pile represented by Deadspin, then you don’t understand the medium, you’re ignorant of the true realm of sports bloggers, and you have no business going on HBO spewing your opinion. Bissinger and Costas are no more qualified to speak about sports blogs than I am about rocket science — and you don’t see me on the Discovery Channel blaspheming NASA, do you?

I’m off the soapbox … more Mets stuff coming soon.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude May 1, 2008 at 11:57 am
    I agree wholeheartedly, Joe. I only lasted about 3 minutes into the “discussion” before I wanted to jump through my computer screen and strangle Buzzy Boy…and since that wasn’t an option, I stopped watching. But I definitely got the gist of what he’s trying to convey. And that is, like you say, to compare deadspin.com (a site I’ve never visited or heard of) to every blog in the world, and to lump every blogger into the same basket as the 2% of idiots who think it’s funny to do nothing but curse, ridicule, and make up lies about others online. And we all know he couldn’t be further from the truth, but he’s too pig-headed and set in his ways to educate himself on the topic.

    I found it quite ironic that he and Costas accused all bloggers of being foul-mouthed poop-for-brains when they couldn’t complete a sentence without dropping an f-bomb or sounding like they knew nothing of which they were talking about.

    I also find it contradictory that Buzz would imply that only the cruel, dishonest, amateurish, and inept author blogs, when many of his “competent” brethren have been involved with blogging for years. For example, Adam Rubin has a fantastic blog that is accurate, frequently updated, interactive, and enjoyable. But by Buzz’ standards, Rubin must be up to no good simply because he’s associated with the word blog. And that is entirely blasphemous.

    I’m glad you chose to cover this topic, Joe, and I’m glad to see Buzz and Costas getting so much negative feedback from their attempt to discredit the international blogosphere. There is no doubt they made absolute fools of themselves, and that their way of thinking is dying by the second because the spread of information via the internet is only going to get bigger and better as the future unfolds. Either embrace it or get the hell out of the way.

  2. joe May 1, 2008 at 12:12 pm
    WELL put, ‘dude. And thanks for the support. I like to think of MetsToday as a conversation, with everyone’s input adding to the value of the site. And that is exactly what people like Buzz don’t get, and where they get frightened: a blog by definition is open dialogue between writer and reader. Buzz feels very safe writing from his pedestal and keeping his work a one-way street, giving no one the chance to respond or otherwise soil his Pulitzer Prize – winning pontifications. He’s typical of many (but not all) writers I’ve met — people more interested in themselves than in others.

    Note to Buzz: the great writers tend to listen, and find excitement in the passions of others.

  3. sincekindergarten May 1, 2008 at 2:39 pm
    Joe, I sent you a link to a story on Fox Sports’ site that was written by a NFL writer there, that pretty much backed you guys up. Hopefully, that wasn’t what set you off.

    You hit it on the head: What the “Old Media” fears the most is that the dialogue between the writer and the reader. It happens in political blogs, too. “Old Media” types usually think that they are the “smartest people in the room.” When they’re proven not to be, they do what any bully would do in that situation–they lash out at whoever they perceive as threatening their comfy existence.

    ID sums up the options pretty well–“Either embrace it or get the hell out of the way.”

  4. joe May 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm
    SK, got the link, thanks … but no worries, I wrote this article before you sent me the link.

    You’re right, the old media dinosaurs are a lot like bullies. Kind of sad, really … a lot of smart people, but unless they open their minds, they’ll remain bitter and unhappy, since it appears this “blog thing” will be around for a while.

    I think that many of the great, classic writers — Chaucer, Swift, and Pope come to mind immediately — would be bloggers if they lived today. But then, their works are timeless, while I doubt “Friday Night Lights” will be read in English classes 300 years from now.

  5. sincekindergarten May 1, 2008 at 4:04 pm
    Ya know what, Joe? I’ve got to re-read The Canterbury Tales again. I think I read it when I was at St. Lawrence . . . that was a sketchy semester.
  6. Luke Jackson June 30, 2010 at 12:38 am
    Friday Night Lights has been my nightime favorite show.”`”
  7. Jackson Hill July 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    i love football and lovestory that is why i like Friday Night Lights. *~-