Pitchers using sticky substances: What's become collective understanding and what's ephemera?

June 14, 2021


A problem with being Super Online is that when certain issues cross over to the mainstream and trigger fresh waves of “discourse,” it can feel disorienting. In my internet-rotted brain, the controversy about MLB pitchers using sticky stuff to grip the ball was litigated in the middle of the 2010s and ebbed away, so the return of the argument, inflected with newer, Statcast-inflected understandings of the effects of better grip, feels like a sneaker wave.

My brain won't let go of a job I wasn't offered

June 7, 2021


In the summer of 2017, I applied for a communications job with a Silicon Valley startup. After two phone interviews, they invited me to an in-person interview at a co-working space with no signage on the outside.

The two gentlemen conducting my interview met me outside on the sidewalk and guided me to their home office, which occupied one of the co-working space’s sub-warrens. As we headed through the company’s rooms, we passed several young men in shorts and t-shirts working on laptops. One of them had four or five cases of Soylent stacked under his table.

If The Athletic’s head honchos cash out, what was the point?

May 25, 2021


If the New York Times ends up buying The Athletic, as Axios reported is in the works, it could be good for readers. There’s a scenario where the NYT simply absorbs The Athletic as a sort of sports vertical and lets all the local journalists they’ve hired the past few years continue as they have been. There’s also a chance they make a series of cuts in an attempt to “right-size the business” when it becomes part of a public company and is no longer propped up by venture capital, and readers, local news outlets, and journalists are all left out to dry while a few executives and their VC backers make a tidy profit off the NYT’s optimism.

Either way, the primary lesson of The Athletic saga that I think not enough people have learned is how much news ⁠— radio, television, digital ⁠— is built upon the foundation of local general interest newspapers, and that the entire ecosystem goes to hell without that foundation.