And that is that

Michael Cox

I made the very first post at Strikethree.com back in 1998. (It’s still here if you want to poke around for it. It’s not very good though.) To say that I had no idea what the intervening years would bring would be an understatement. It’s been fun, a hassle, hard work, no work, and an enormous bummer at various times. There were highs, such as watching our traffic grow in the first couple of years, the 1998 home run chase, and the 2001 Mariner season. And there were lows, like when the national sports network we joined went under, leaving us with worthless paychecks they had stalled in issuing in the first place while the CEO left (no doubt with a large golden parachute) to start a network exactly like the one he left to burn.

This isn’t really the last post – it’s more like a new statement of purpose – but it’s definitely the end of the road for the old Strikethree.com.

When we started this site, there was nothing like it on the Web: stats for the statheads, sarcasm for the sarcasmheads, and humor for everyone. But over time the world caught on. Baseball Prospectus prospered with its übergeekiness, The Hardball Times combines interesting writing with a balanced approach, and Deadspin took over the court jester role (even if Gawker seems to have a no-actual-baseball-knowledge requirement for their hires). We were the pioneers, but there are a host of others who took the torch and ran with it, farther than us day-job-holding folks could hope to. My hat is off to them all.

Some of the old Strikethree.com core set up shop a few years ago at USSMariner.com, thereby circumventing their editor’s repeated pleas to write something that’s not about the Mariners. They do an awesome job there.

Having established the good, let’s move straight on to the ugly: in the last 11 years, conventional sports reporting has gone from being crappy to being crappy and mean-spirited. And it’s harming the sport these guys claim to love.

The biggest story of the past decade has not been the steroid scandal – it’s been the self-righteous piling on of every bozo to overeat at the free media buffet. It’s a slam-dunk for a guy who’s never done a push-up in his life to blast Alex Rodriguez for trying steroids for a year or two. They hang on minutiae such as whether “A-Roid” (sooo creative) has met with the team to discuss…what? Something they’ve all already known about for years? And who broke the story? Selena Roberts, the former NYT reporter who was last in the national media eye passing judgment on the Duke lacrosse team (for which she apparently met Sports Illustrated‘s hiring criteria).

In fact, SI has cultivated the idea of sports-as-soap-opera in order to sell a few issues when the swimsuit issue falls off the stands. Between Roberts, Jeff Pearlman and Rick Reilly, the magazine has become the sports version of the Globe. Reilly is really the worst offender here, trailing the parade like the elephant dung scooper but proceeding to fling that dung with glee, he fans the flames of controversy but adds zero to the discussion.

The steroid “controversy” (something most normal people could care less about, as evidenced by a Colbert Report audience booing Reilly for suggesting Barry Bonds’ record should have a syringe beside it in place of an asterisk) is only the tip of the iceberg. In the past week alone, the media has gone nuts on Carlos Zambrano for joking about replacing Wrigley (using it as a platform to fan more flames) and blaming some sort of Canadian drinking epidemic on the tossing of one baseball (along with a few paper airplanes and paper-thin plastic cups) onto the field (Jim Leyland said he’d never seen a baseball tossed onto the field – while I can’t say he’s lying, I can tell you he’s been to many, many more games than me, and I’ve personally witnessed it on multiple occasions).

And it trickles down to the local media as well – newspapers are failing all over and they’re running with the idea that conflict sells. Here in Seattle we’ve had to witness one reporter bang a constant drum of Ichiro-as-clubhouse cancer, based on the expert testimony of Carlos Silva an unnamed clubhouse source that is not, I repeat not, Carlos Silva, no matter what his former manager told you. And it apparently sold papers and got clicks, resulting in the preseason grilling of Ichiro by said reporter, in turn resulting in the reporter’s line of questioning being insulted by Ichiro (in his culturally polite way) and Ken Griffey Jr. (in his culturally direct way). Even loose cannon former teammate Jose Guillen basically told Jim Caple that it was an idiotic inference. Meanwhile, the local reporter was last seen personally attacking online commenters who disagreed with him. Hooray for journalistic integrity.

Don’t even get me started on sports talk radio. It’s a cesspool.

My point here is that increasingly I find the stuff I want to write consists of brutal bashings of the sportswriters with nothing but a pocket full of schadenfreude and an outlet that pays them to voice it. I’m the last one to take a “love it or leave it” attitude, but I think there should be random IQ testing in the business and the failed tests made public.

But I don’t want to gripe. I want to watch baseball and enjoy it (even the new ballparks, Mr. DeMause – I know, I know, you’ve found your niche. Keep stirring up that Quixotic anger). And I think I’m going to concentrate on doing that.

Like I said, I’m not hanging up my keyboard entirely. I can also be found at my current labor of love, Tao of Bachelorhood, where I help single guys dress themselves, get fit, and meet women. I’ll post here from time to time (didya see this one?), and I’m prepping a great clearinghouse of news from the Internet’s best baseball sites so that you can come here for your total daily fix.

And we still have t-shirts.

Published April 9, 2009

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