"Stick to Sports" narrative killed one of the most prominent sports websites of the past decade

Not sticking to sports: I am going to miss Deadspin

Not sticking to sports: I am going to miss Deadspin
Deadspin

Last week Deadspin, one of the premier sports blogs over the past 15 years, went down in a blaze of glory. For me and many other fans of sports, satire, and silliness the events of last week feel like the loss of a friend. What is worse though, is that it is a loss at the hands of the ridiculous "stick to" commentary that has unfortunately entered our discourse. If you aren't familiar with what happened, the implosion went down like this:

Deadspin and its parent company Gawker, had been involved in a number of highly controversial stories over the past few years which resulted in a number of lawsuits which eventually took down Gawker. Deadspin, along with a number of its sister sites survived but the sites were acquired and sold to different groups a number of times over the past couple of years. This past week the actions of the most recent ownership group, G/O Media, unfortunately brought about the the end of the site as we know it by issuing a "stick to sports" edict to the Deadspin staff. If you know anything about Deadspin you know this did not go over well. Readers of the site know that some of the best parts of Deadspin have nothing to do with sports. No its stories that rank breakfast cereals, share unfortunate poop stories, or touch on the trials and tribulations of being a dad. Deadspin unquestionably produced great sports content, however it is the other "stuff" that really makes Deadspin what it is. Following this corporate demand, the staff revolted and immediately filled the homepage with their best non-sports stories, all of which had the not-so-ironic tagline of "Stick to Sports" plastered on the cover photo of each story. This did not sit well with the powers that be at G/O Media and brought about the immediate firing of the site's editor who had been with Deadspin since the site's beginning. Over the next three days the entire staff of Deadspin resigned, completely neutering the site of everything that made it great. While the site is technically still up and running with new writers there is no doubt that it is for all intents and purposes dead, and for this I am sad.

We all have our favorite little spots on the internet, a sanctum from the stresses of daily life. A place that we instinctively and almost subconsciously type into our browsers as soon as we log on to the internet. Deadspin was one of those places for me; when I type the letter "D" into my browser it auto-fills with Deadspin. I would spend entire class periods in law school on Deadspin and even more time once I started working a full time job. If I was bored it was one of the first places I went.

I realize though that not everyone loved Deadspin and they found themselves embroiled in controversy on regular basis making more than a few enemies. Could their writers be somewhat insufferable at times, yes, but really who among us isn't. Did they say things that they probably shouldn't have, yes, but who among us hasn't. Were they childish, absolutely, but again, who among us isn't. I didn't necessarily agree with all of their takes, but I still read because maybe at the end I would learn something or be entertained (God forbid that someone continues following a site with takes that they sometimes disagree with).

However, I will miss Deadspin the most because it was a major factor in bringing me here – writing on SportsMap. While I am certainly not as talented as the Deadspin writers their style of irreverent writing spoke to me and gave me a template to build my own written voice from. Additionally, through Deadspin I discovered a sister site called The Vane which was more or less Deadspin for weather. Being the weather geek that I am this was a mind-blowing discovery for me. Were there actually people who would read weather related content that wasn't just a bland local forecast? Apparently there were, and I wanted to be part of it. I began writing on a personal blog that never gained many readers but helped me develop a writing style I was comfortable with. Eventually I managed to hook on with Houston Sports and Stuff (somewhat of a predecessor to SportsMap) and when SportsMap came along I was lucky enough to have the powers that be (Fred) allow me to continue.

These days the "stick to" mindset has become way too prevalent. We are all humans with varying interests and some of those interests may even be * GASP * outside of one's stated profession. I see the "stick to sports," stick to weather", etc. commentary way to often now and I just don't get it. It is the "stuff" in life that makes it interesting and I fear we as a society are losing sight of that. Lets be honest, no one wants to be around the guy who only can talk about one topic, so why is this not true in our online lives? The "stick to" mentality is unfortunately becoming another buffer that people are using to insulate themselves from information that makes them uncomfortable or that they don't agree with. This mindset killed one of my (an millions of others') favorite places on the internet and it is just sickening to me. Even though it has cost me one of my happy places, I applaud the Deadspin staff for standing up for their principals and sticking it to "stick to sports" guy.


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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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