Long ago, Pax wrote a post saying that Deadspin was necessary reading for sports fans. I’m not sure this is the case anymore.
Since Leitch’s departure last year, the site’s content isn’t the same. Daulerio’s just not as good of a writer. From a purist standpoint, there are a lot more errors. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s not as funny. The only guy on staff who can hold his own with Leitch is Dashiell Bennett, whose posts are few and far between (comparatively). There are really only about 40 must-read columns a year — Drew Magary’s and Leitch’s weekly football posts. For a site that posts 25 times a day, this is probably a problem.
It also has veered from its mission statement: without access, favor, or discretion. The discretion part is partially true, but as Daulerio has gotten closer and closer to ESPN, Deadspin is becoming an insider now. They have access to things. They interview Linda Cohn. They have Simmons on speed dial. They have plenty of sources; this isn’t some rogue operation. And the idea that they are, or have ever been, without favor is laughable. They pick on the same athletes repeatedly (often justifiably, but at the root we are talking about favor), and natually like the teams they like.
The other problem is this: Deadspin has seemingly always been about the community it fosters, where people go on and try to outdo each other in the comments section of articles. Most of them aren’t funny and are just crass — it becomes sports radio in print. And with the options available to people for expressing themselves on the Internet, what’s the point in spending your time in the dregs of Deadspin? You can get your information from all kinds of sources. There are a gazillion (official count) places to get breaking news, reaction, or humor for your sports information, and I think Deadspin is getting passed on all accounts.
As Simmons is constantly saying these days (for specific examples, check out his two-part podcast with Chuck Klosterman), the best thing about the Internet is that it’s forcing you to be good. If you’re not talented, you won’t last. Leitch lasts. Magary lasts. The best sports guy on the Internet, JE Skeets, will have a long career. (Note: His takeoff of the Costas Now video about Deadspin is the funniest thing in the history of the Internet.) But Deadspin as currently constructed is failing on its mission statement and doesn’t have the talent to hold up. It has name recognition, but is there any substance behind it?