The World Wide Fraud

by Scott Raab on November 22, 2011

Spent last week in Cleveland and Columbus pimping The Whore of Akron. Had a ball. A couple of bookstore events, a few TV spots, a ton of radio, local and national. It was great.

The book’s official publication date was 11/15. The Associated Press, the Christian Science Monitor, Parade, Sports Illustrated, the Wall Street Journal, and various other national media outlets all weighed in on it. Not all the coverage was favorable, to be sure, but I have no problem at all with that.

I do have a major problem with one media outlet, though: ESPN. The World Wide Leader. The most powerful institution, bar none, in the wide world of sports. Bigger than any league, any apparel or sport drink or shoe manufacturer, any other network, any other entity you can name. They’re not only business partners with the NFL, NBA, and MLB; ESPN calls all the shots, and everyone knows it.

To ESPN, there is no such book. The Whore of Akron simply does not exist. Search the Heat Index, where 18 writers are standing by to file columns in case King James strains himself during a bowel movement. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Their treatment of the book is no surprise, really. I’m hard on ESPN. The Decision was a travesty, the Heat Index is an ongoing parody of sports journalism, and I genuinely believe that anyone who ascribes any degree of honesty or integrity to ESPN as an unbiased source of sports coverage is a damned fool. All this, and more, is in the book. So I would’ve been naive to think that a book like mine would get much play there. Hell, I’m the one who used #ESPNMiamiHeat as a Twitter hashtag all season. I get it, honest. I’ve worked at national magazines for 20+ years. It’s just business, and that’s all it is. Nothing personal.

Then I found out that Bill Simmons spiked a review of the book written for Grantland, the Sizzler of sports websites. Ran it up the flagpole first — and Simmons doesn’t answer to a lot of people; he’s Bill fucking Simmons, after all — and then killed it. And that was the last straw. That I did take personally.

You guys want to rip the book? Fine with me. You want to rip me? Even better. I’ll go anywhere anytime with anyone ESPN chooses to debate my opinion of ESPN. It’s just one asshole’s opinion, after all. But the fact that ESPN is ignoring the book is not an opinion; it’s a fact, and it strongly supports my opinion of ESPN’s corporate cowardice and utter lack of integrity.

By the way, I have plenty of colleagues at ESPN whose work I respect, and more than a couple I consider friends. This isn’t a writer/reporter problem. It’s a management/editorial problem, and my colleagues and friends there know all about it. It goes WAY beyond one asshole’s opinion or his book. And, sooner or later, it will sink the Mothership.

  • Powderturns

    I’ve wondered if you had any connection to Simmons that might help in promoting the book. God knows he’s got a similar (if slightly reduced) disdain for Lebron and his antics.

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  • D.K. Wilson

    Scott Raab. It is Interesting that you complain about ESPN now that they cause you pain in an affair of commerce. But you had no qualms at all with proudly sporting that #ESPNMiamiHeat hashtag like a, well, “Whore of ESPN.”

    Your issues with editorial/mgmt. SHOULD extend to the writers, aseditorial/mgmt. picks them – you – carefully; along certain personality profiles, certain “truth thresholds.” Unless, of course, your friends at Disney’s cash cow are the following: Notice how “certain” ESPN writers – people who were mistake hires – signed in blood for the promise of a fantasorgasmic pay hike and notoriety beyond their wildest dreams, are buried, barely heard from non-entities. They were once movers and shakers in sports journalism, albeit underpaid and sometimes under-appreciated, but their words and works were ubiquitous when certain topics in sports were mentioned. Now though, at the WWL in sports image making and breaking, these writers who approached speaking truth to power as they believed it to be, are largely nowhere to be found.

    However, since your “beef” with the self-titled “WWL” is over notoriety (in your world, “a fair shake”), it is certain that you too fit the ESPN mold.

    (Demonic Voice, sounding eerily like an EQ-distorted John Skipper voice emanating from the source of George Bodenheimer’s soon-to-be next bowel movement): ‘Welcome to the cast, Scott Raab! Now that you signed with Disney, errr, ESPN, in blood, where are you going?!”

    Scott Raab: ‘I’m going to the ESPN/Disney Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida where they teach young athletes about the present and future benefits of sucking ESPN cock!’

    When a managing editor who would Rob and mob to be a King tells you, “You have a unique and important voice and I need to find a way to use that voice” then sends you an email telling you how you “misconstrued his compliments” (like we were in a bar snarking with each other over drinks for shits and giggles) before shoving you off the sportswriting cliff, please feel free to tell the world about your unfair treatment at the hands of ESPN. Until then, please STFU, review your bank statement daily, and remember that it was Disney and your riding the “LeBron James Hate” train that positioned you to have a voice at all.

    (Full disclosure: I too dislike LBJ, but unlike you, I am fully aware of the modern, town square, human auction site where he was “purchased for future considerations” and its conveyor belt molding machine that created the image of a ——– “King”).

    • Anonymous

      Somewhere in there is an interesting comment, and I sincerely appreciate that.

      Your personal judgements are far less interesting. The job I have — the full time job I’ve had for 15 years now — is far better than anything ESPN could possibly offer the likes of me.

      You sound like you know sports and sports journalism better than I do. Maybe so. But spare me your bitterness and envy. It may be time to hold youself to account for what you have or haven’t done with that knowledge.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Simmons is gutless. He did several podcasts on Hunter S. Thompson. Apparently, corporate shills enjoy a good read, but growing a pair is a tougher task. Thank God that we can read more reality TV show analysis on Grantland.

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