Deadspin defectors debut

page 2 protege

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There is nothing on their twitter feed or any of their writers pushing anything, nor is there anything in their announcements section. It's certainly a negative, but also very weirdly phrased email, so I would suspect everything still maybe be ok (holistically, not with whoever sent that)...
 

TheGazelle

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That reads like the sports website equivalent of an email from the DNC claiming that, unless you donate $5 immediately, the Republicans will somehow immediately have 104 Senators.
 

dirtynine

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Yeah, maybe that “not long for this world” joke is just a riff on the extended fungus / spore bit they were using. I admit it’s possible I didn’t really grasp the message perfectly on first read - just that it sounded forlorn. Are they being ironic? To quote the Simpsons, I don’t even know anymore.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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So I just this second cancelled my subscription at Defector. It wasn't anything that made me angry, but I was just kinda skimming through articles and I wasn't getting much for my money. I like Ray Ratto when I'm in the mood for him, but he has a tendency to overwrite himself into knots sometimes. Magary is boring me and David Roth doesn't write enough about baseball to keep me going.

All of the other writers are just fine.

Chances are, I'll be back. But for now, I need a break.
 

hube

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Maybe it's me, and maybe it's temporary, but I think I've finally tired of Magary. Every column is a mix of the same five or six bingo clues ("I quit drinking/boston sucks/I'm deaf/I smoke weed now/Vikings!") and he's devolved into a terrible podcaster - Roth and the weekly guest are constantly interrupted in the middle of an interesting point. Two weeks ago the Distraction guest was Adam Conover - who gave a great explainer about the writer's strike (and Michael Schur a couple of months back was even better), and Drew would just barge in with awful jokes and asides mid-story. This is a regular thing.

Ratto's gotten old as well, but I think it's because he writes so much more than anyone else. I don't get the Creaturefector thing in the least (I actively hate it).

I still think it's worth sticking around for Roth and most of the bench (McQuade, McKenna, McKinney are usually good, and I like Luis Paez-Pumar, Giri Nathan, Laura Wagner, and Lauren Theisen). There's a mostly-good commentariat (the sycophants who try and fail to adopt the voices of the staff are there, but largely ignored). There have been some really excellent one-offs of the non-sports variety. I find that the site is at its best when it's publishing those stories. On a less-serious note, I really enjoyed the recent De La Soul Is Dead discussion.

The site could use some new voices in the regular rotation. I worry they can't afford them, which would put a big hole in their whole model/ethos.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I dropped Defector about two months ago and I haven’t looked back. I was done with Magary. Probably more me than him, I tend to get sick of writers after a certain time. But the list of your grievances are the same as mine, though I’d also add his accident too. He’s shoehorn that into everything.

I like Roth but he didn’t write enough for my subscription. Just a week ago they sent a questionnaire about why I left and I went into a lot of detail. I’ll let you know if they write back (I doubt they will).
 

nattysez

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Maybe it's me, and maybe it's temporary, but I think I've finally tired of Magary. Every column is a mix of the same five or six bingo clues ("I quit drinking/boston sucks/I'm deaf/I smoke weed now/Vikings!") and he's devolved into a terrible podcaster - Roth and the weekly guest are constantly interrupted in the middle of an interesting point. Two weeks ago the Distraction guest was Adam Conover - who gave a great explainer about the writer's strike (and Michael Schur a couple of months back was even better), and Drew would just barge in with awful jokes and asides mid-story. This is a regular thing.

Ratto's gotten old as well, but I think it's because he writes so much more than anyone else. I don't get the Creaturefector thing in the least (I actively hate it).

I still think it's worth sticking around for Roth and most of the bench (McQuade, McKenna, McKinney are usually good, and I like Luis Paez-Pumar, Giri Nathan, Laura Wagner, and Lauren Theisen). There's a mostly-good commentariat (the sycophants who try and fail to adopt the voices of the staff are there, but largely ignored). There have been some really excellent one-offs of the non-sports variety. I find that the site is at its best when it's publishing those stories. On a less-serious note, I really enjoyed the recent De La Soul Is Dead discussion.

The site could use some new voices in the regular rotation. I worry they can't afford them, which would put a big hole in their whole model/ethos.
FWIW, Ratto got canned from his sports radio gig out here a month or two ago. He had one of the better sports talk shows (based on my limited listening), but I suspect he and his co-host were way too expensive for the ratings they pulled, so he was cut loose. That presumably leaves him plenty of time to write.
 

semsox

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Interesting write-up of Defector on the Columbia Journalism Review: https://www.cjr.org/analysis/defector-last-good-website.php

A snippet:

At Defector, about half of staffers are in their thirties or older. About a third have kids; as I made the rounds, I was told that two were taking advantage of the company’s six months’ paid parental leave policy. Defector’s salary floor is higher than that of most unionized national publications, though senior journalists at those outlets tend to make much more. When I told Ley that Deadspin had recently posted an opening for the editor in chief position with a salary range starting at about twenty thousand dollars above what he makes, he laughed. He’s doing fine, he said. After he started at Defector, he and his wife bought a house. “We’re not starving artists.”

Nobody is likely to get rich working at Defector, but nobody will be laid off out of the blue, either—as some co-owners have been in the past. In recent months, Sports Illustrated announced layoffs, as did the Washington Post, NPR, and Vox Media, following cuts at Gannett and CNN. In April, Disney slashed its staff, including journalists at ESPN and FiveThirtyEight. BuzzFeed News shut down in May. Substack may offer a life raft, though Henry Abbott—a former ESPN employee who, along with several others, took the leap in 2019 with TrueHoop—said that, even with more than seventeen thousand subscribers, “everyone’s working for a lot less than they used to make.” He added, “I’m very jealous of Defector.” Ray Ratto, who, at sixty-eight, is Defector’s elder statesman, began writing for Deadspin after his contract at NBC Sports Bay Area was not renewed. A day before we spoke, Ratto lost yet another job, at a California sports radio station. At Defector, he said, the editorial freedom—coupled with freedom from employers’ mood swings—is “remarkably pleasant.”
 

hube

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The annual “Why Your Team Sucks” preseason write ups are here and full of real edgelord takes across the board.

The Pats edition is especially hateful, Including one particularly gross line about how Drew hasn’t “been this happy since Len Bias died.”

I get this is how Deadspin made its name, but I’m pretty over trolling and negativity for the sake of it. The site and its participants on the whole do a good job, WYTS just feels like a band way past it playing the hits and going through the motions. I said it upthread, Magary has just gotten stale.

Edit - I’m a Pats fan but this applies across the whole slate
 
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hube

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Anyone else still on the Defector bandwagon? My subscription auto-renewed last month but I think this year might be the last unless the content improves. Great model, talented writers, but almost the same editorial voice/viewpoint throughout.

I think it's more my tastes changing than their whole direction, I'm just exhausted by negativity and trolling for the sake of it sports talk, and I'm not getting the same enjoyment out of the non-sports stuff.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Anyone else still on the Defector bandwagon? My subscription auto-renewed last month but I think this year might be the last unless the content improves. Great model, talented writers, but almost the same editorial voice/viewpoint throughout.

I think it's more my tastes changing than their whole direction, I'm just exhausted by negativity and trolling for the sake of it sports talk, and I'm not getting the same enjoyment out of the non-sports stuff.
I never subscribed to Defector for that very reason, it got very tiresome to read "Your enjoyment of sports sucks and you should feel bad about it" in every single article.

Plus, honestly, the snide NYC attitude was grating. Too many New York folks writing from that fandom POV.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Anyone else still on the Defector bandwagon? My subscription auto-renewed last month but I think this year might be the last unless the content improves. Great model, talented writers, but almost the same editorial voice/viewpoint throughout.

I think it's more my tastes changing than their whole direction, I'm just exhausted by negativity and trolling for the sake of it sports talk, and I'm not getting the same enjoyment out of the non-sports stuff.
I cancelled my subscription a few months back and I don't miss it. There are times when I'd like to read what their take is on the controversy du jour, but I don't really give a shit any more. My main reason for staying there, Magary, is just so stale now. He may as well be the DC Sportsguy.
 

hube

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Magary is awful now. I've defended his non-sports stuff in this very thread in the past, but it's just the same rehashed middle-class, middlebrow, slightly edgy Gen X white dude take after take after take. I can talk to my college friends if I want that, and that's free.
 

Silverdude2167

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I've stopped reading Magarys stuff but still find value in the site. The random content that pops up I enjoy and I don't find elsewhere (not that I actively look). I enjoyed the piece about Simone Biles and Charlie Pierce writing about Wakefield was very nice.

And the they sporadicly cover F1, EPL etc. Also the random bake off challenges series is a good time killer.

Finally I am happy to support the concept even if I don't read most of the articles.
 

ManicCompression

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The concept and the model sound like they should be good, but we're now three years into it and all of these writers, even Magary, are pretty irrelevant. For example, the Deadspin thread was one of the most active in this forum, but the Defector thread is only updated when a poster wonders "Anyone still reading this?" We don't get posts about interesting articles or pieces that have gone viral, just curiosity about subscription statuses. Maybe they can sustain this model long-term, but I doubt it - I feel like their careers are on a downward path.

It could be that the model is fine, but the writers are worse. Or everyone on the internet copied their "I'm smart, everyone else is stupid" style of writing. IDK, the thing that made Deadspin popular was the fact that it was subversive, then it started being very safe and boring so once it became super popular. Now they have a perfect opportunity to be subversive again because of their model... and they just write the same boring late-era Deadspin shit. I'm not saying go back to the days of AJ Daulerio, but when I get their articles forwarded to me (rare), I don't get the feeling that their content is differentiated from the market so much that I must subscribe.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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We stopped talking so much about it when they went to Defector because they are now a pay site and the percentage of people willing to pay for a sports writing site is exponentially lower than the number of people willing to read old Deadspin for free.
 

CaptainLaddie

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Great post, MC. I used to check Deadspin every day — it was an automatic check when I would get to my desk. I don’t do that with defector — I probably check it only when they send articles or when it gets into my Twitter feed.

I’m still supporting them because I want the model to work and I think what they’re doing is good for the sportswriting world, but it’s not nearly the must-read that peak-Deadspin was.
 

ManicCompression

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We stopped talking so much about it when they went to Defector because they are now a pay site and the percentage of people willing to pay for a sports writing site is exponentially lower than the number of people willing to read old Deadspin for free.
That's my point. The concept/model hard to grow over time or even just keep level by backfilling cancellations without subs sharing your work and giving new readers exposure to the site.
 

hube

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Great post.

There are often good/different/out-of-the box articles that deserve wider attention and don't use the late-period-Deadspin voice. There was a great article on managing poverty/homelessness while still working full-time a few months back (I think I linked it in an earlier post). They've been running a really interesting series on transitioning and access to medical care. But since it's impossible to reach a wider audience with everything paywalled, they go largely unnoticed. Twitter becoming a cesspool probably has contributed to that lack of promotion.

On the other hand, I still cannot understand the point of the Creaturefector beat.

At a certain point the meat and potatoes stuff just gets stale and it seems like that's all there is lately.

I still get magazines delivered to the house, I pay for a few other websites. I don't have a problem supporting this project, though I can only take so much of the "you're an idiot for finding sports entertaining, Boston sucks, and you suck too."
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I'm not saying go back to the days of AJ Daulerio, but when I get their articles forwarded to me (rare), I don't get the feeling that their content is differentiated from the market so much that I must subscribe.
AJ Daulerio was the absolute worst and was the one who murdered Deadspin because he had to be such an edgelord. Why Will Leitch continually defends him is beyond me.
 

ManicCompression

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AJ Daulerio was the absolute worst and was the one who murdered Deadspin because he had to be such an edgelord. Why Will Leitch continually defends him is beyond me.
He was probably one of the least principled people in media for a while, and that's saying something. That so many of these people worked for him without saying/doing something is what makes their "holier than thou" schtick so grating to me. He was Portnoy before Portnoy and I don't remember Magary or anyone else revolting against him at the time.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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He was probably one of the least principled people in media for a while, and that's saying something. That so many of these people worked for him without saying/doing something is what makes their "holier than thou" schtick so grating to me. He was Portnoy before Portnoy and I don't remember Magary or anyone else revolting against him at the time.
You know what, I never thought about that but you're right. The amount of bullshit that Daulerio did on a regular basis is a protoPortnoy. It was getting to the point where I couldn't read Deadspin any more because he was such a fucking dick. But Magary and company were like, "Yeah but he's our dick. So it's okay."
 

Bozo Texino

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IIRC, there's a SoSH-er who has firsthand knowledge of Daulerio's dickishness. I seem to remember someone here saying, without going into details, that they had a VERY unpleasant experience with him.

Everything I've read about him gives me the impression he's a total asshole - an idiot, too.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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The only interesting thing that I ever remember him doing is dropping acid and playing MLB on a Playstation to see if he could get a no-hitter like Doc Ellis. Other than that, complete fucking garbage. And I don't think that the ensuing years have been too kind to him.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Deadspin was one of the handful of sites that I checked every morning. I never subscribed to Defector and haven't really missed it. Maybe that says something about me, but as much as I enjoyed browsing there I never felt compelled to pay for it.
 

McSweeny

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On the other hand, I still cannot understand the point of the Creaturefector beat.
That's funny, I really enjoy the Creaturefector posts. One of the reasons I continue pay for Defector because I end up reading things I would never encounter elsewhere. (Such as this hilarious and informative post - https://defector.com/the-real-horse-wives-of-hortobagy-arent-here-to-hurt-feelings-but-they-will-stirrup-trouble ) I also fully support their employee-owned model and am happy to continue to support them towards that end.
 

Zedia

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This bumping the same day as the Von Erich thread reminds me, who was “the Masked Man” who did the “Dead Wrestler of the Week” series? Is he part of Defector?

edit - Well, to answer my own question, it’s David Shoemaker and he’s now at the Ringer.
 
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John Marzano Olympic Hero

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This bumping the same day as the Von Erich thread reminds me, who was “the Masked Man” who did the “Dead Wrestler of the Week” series? Is he part of Defector?

edit - Well, to answer my own question, it’s David Shoemaker and he’s now at the Ringer.
He has a decent book about wrestling that came out a couple of years ago. It’s upstairs and I don’t feel like running to see what it’s called but it’s worth reading.
 

Zedia

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John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Kliq

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Shoemaker's book is fine if you are more of a casual fan of wrestling and just want to hear some old stories about guys--he is a much better writer than most wrestling people.

For a more...accurate portrayal, I'd suggest something by Tim Hornbaker, particularly his fabulous "Death of the Territories."
 

B H Kim

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I think that Dave McKenna is the best writer there, but he doesn't write frequently enough for me to justify paying for a subscription. His piece last week on Diana Nyad (exposing her as a fraud) was great.
 

hube

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Here's a semi-regular update.

It stinks!


Longer - there just hasn't been much that grabs me on a daily basis for the last several months. I'm not a tennis or a hockey fan - there's a lot of coverage of both lately. The NBA finals coverage is lacking with the Celtics in there and the site's general (obnoxious) anti-Boston bias, but Dallas isn't easy to root for either from their perspective, so the first two games have gotten pretty minimal coverage. The Lakers coaching search has gotten about the same amount of ink. The baseball takes are fine for this time of year. There hasn't been much non-sports content worth mentioning though there's a good piece up today from one of this summer's interns about her experience at campus protests this spring. I need to go back to that one. And a good remembrance of Grant Wahl.

Roth mentioned on the Distraction recently in sort of a State of the Site update that they've consistently hovered around 40k subscribers since the start, and haven't seen any real growth. It's essentially become a one-in one-out operation and that's where they hover. They make a living, they have health insurance, they pay freelancers and interns, but they've hit a plateau at this point.

The editorial voice is all pretty much the same as it ever was without a lot of expansion despite early signs of growth. Magary's lukewarm boomer-lite takes are tougher and tougher to read every week especially this time of year (no NFL and he's terrible on any other sport) - the last few Funbags are pretty bad, there are a couple of takes in this week's that are straight out of Facebook quality opinions.


Is anyone else still a subscriber? I've always said I'll support this kind of independent media until the wheels fall off, but at a certain point the value just isn't there.
 

milfordsoxfan

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Is anyone else still a subscriber? I've always said I'll support this kind of independent media until the wheels fall off, but at a certain point the value just isn't there.
I was a day one subscriber. I cancelled at some point, and they offered me a deal to resub for $3-5/month, can't remember exactly. It is worth about that much to me, and I've kept my sub at that price point. I read anything by Roth or Ratto, and periodically something else that interests me (the Charlie Pierce guest posts tend to be pretty good). I want to support their endeavor, but it is tough when I only like a few of their writers.

As to the plateauing of the platform, I wonder how much of that is related to discoverability. Roth has like 27k followers on Bluesky, and Magary has 20k. Both of those guys had a much bigger followings on Twitter. I imagine the same is true for their other writers. No idea what the situation is on Threads/IG.

If someone didn't know Defector existed, I'm not sure how likely they would be to come across one of their articles or even find out about the site. With the collapse of Twitter and the changes to search, this must be a problem for a lot of smaller platforms.
 

hube

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I was a day one subscriber. I cancelled at some point, and they offered me a deal to resub for $3-5/month, can't remember exactly. It is worth about that much to me, and I've kept my sub at that price point. I read anything by Roth or Ratto, and periodically something else that interests me (the Charlie Pierce guest posts tend to be pretty good). I want to support their endeavor, but it is tough when I only like a few of their writers.

As to the plateauing of the platform, I wonder how much of that is related to discoverability. Roth has like 27k followers on Bluesky, and Magary has 20k. Both of those guys had a much bigger followings on Twitter. I imagine the same is true for their other writers. No idea what the situation is on Threads/IG.

If someone didn't know Defector existed, I'm not sure how likely they would be to come across one of their articles or even find out about the site. With the collapse of Twitter and the changes to search, this must be a problem for a lot of smaller platforms.
I had the same thought about the slow death of Twitter really killing their marketing strategy. They do seem to try some cross-promotion with similar self-owned sites, but not much, and with social media a) splintering and b) flooding with more and more garbage, I don't know how they drive readers to the site anymore

Relatedly, Flaming Hydra is an interesting concept at something like $3/month for two articles a day (Roth is a founder, as are Luke O'Neil and some other worthwhile writers), I hope it sticks.
 

ManicCompression

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I was a day one subscriber. I cancelled at some point, and they offered me a deal to resub for $3-5/month, can't remember exactly. It is worth about that much to me, and I've kept my sub at that price point. I read anything by Roth or Ratto, and periodically something else that interests me (the Charlie Pierce guest posts tend to be pretty good). I want to support their endeavor, but it is tough when I only like a few of their writers.

As to the plateauing of the platform, I wonder how much of that is related to discoverability. Roth has like 27k followers on Bluesky, and Magary has 20k. Both of those guys had a much bigger followings on Twitter. I imagine the same is true for their other writers. No idea what the situation is on Threads/IG.

If someone didn't know Defector existed, I'm not sure how likely they would be to come across one of their articles or even find out about the site. With the collapse of Twitter and the changes to search, this must be a problem for a lot of smaller platforms.
Discoverability may be an issue, but this board (which should be their ideal reader profile all things considered - full of educated, wealthy people who love interesting sports journalism) has only posted one link to an article from them since October 23, with very few people saying "This is worth the small investment each month." It seems like it's not even a money issue - people here don't think it's even worth the investment of time.

I feel like if Twitter was the same as it was a couple of years ago, not much would be different because their content is generally boring.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Discoverability may be an issue, but this board (which should be their ideal reader profile all things considered - full of educated, wealthy people who love interesting sports journalism) has only posted one link to an article from them since October 23, with very few people saying "This is worth the small investment each month." It seems like it's not even a money issue - people here don't think it's even worth the investment of time.

I feel like if Twitter was the same as it was a couple of years ago, not much would be different because their content is generally boring.
I think I've mentioned this before, but while I do enjoy some of their content and read them every day when they were at Deadspin, the constant snark got really, really, REALLY tiresome after a few years. It was exhausting to read articles that basically said "this thing you enjoy is bad." Add to that the relentless anti-Boston undercurrents (as expected from a NYC-based publication, no matter how much they protested), and it became unenjoyable to read. When they moved to Defector, I didn't subscribe.
 

hube

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The most relentless anti-Boston sentiment comes from a prep-school douche who grew up in Connecticut, spent his high school years at an exclusive Massachusetts boarding school, went to college in Maine and now resides in suburban Maryland and roots for the Vikings. (I know, he lived in NYC for a spell).


I get it, Boston teams were easy villains for a long while, but the bias has gone so far past its sell-by date and it's so deeply ingrained in the editorial voice of the site that really has become a turn-off.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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The most relentless anti-Boston sentiment comes from a prep-school douche who grew up in Connecticut, spent his high school years at an exclusive Massachusetts boarding school, went to college in Maine and now resides in suburban Maryland and roots for the Vikings. (I know, he lived in NYC for a spell).


I get it, Boston teams were easy villains for a long while, but the bias has gone so far past its sell-by date and it's so deeply ingrained in the editorial voice of the site that really has become a turn-off.
I thought I was in the Bill Simmons thread halfway through your first sentence.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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I’ve probably said this before, but I feel like Magary has toned down his super-snarky persona, even some of the anti-Boston stuff. Almost to his detriment, I dare say. There are definitely some super bitter and angry writers on there, though, or the stuff I’ve read by them comes across that way.