I have a Sunday morning routine. I roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, and brew a cup of coffee while watering my plants. Once coffee is in-hand and the plants are properly fed, I head straight to my computer. It is a pretty mundane beginning to my day. Once I open up my computer, I head to Twitter to see if anything new is brewing in the sports world. I guess it is my version of the Sunday paper. What is now being added to my Sunday morning routine is seeing the majority of my followers bitching about one thing…
Bucky Gleason's Inside the NHL column.
You can practically predict when the blogosphere-MSM rivalry hits its highest peak. It always seems to happen when the Sabres season goes into the toilet. When the media turns on the heat, some bloggers and die-hard fans are there trying to douse the flames. I don't know why that's the case, as I think 9/10 bloggers/fans understand that the Sabres are kind of shitty and have a long way to go to being a contender. I bet if I polled eternally optimistic fans about whether Darcy Regier should be fired, the consensus would be yes.
And yet, when TBN starts in on how things need to change, the message is greeted with the same repetitive complaints: Bucky is being too negative, Bucky has it out for Darcy, Bucky is writing the same thing he always writes. To play devil's advocate here, if we're saying this has been one of the worst seasons we can remember, why does Bucky get torched for what he's saying, especially when the GM has been here for all of those years? I don't get it. Why is Bucky's take so wrong if he's agreeing with us?
Over the last few years, the noise about Bucky – or anyone from TBN's staff, really – has gotten a hell of a lot louder. Sure, I blogged about MSM folks back when I first started blogging, but I think I did it more because I'm a junkie for reading and listening to sports takes. It also helped that I have a broadcasting background so I find that stuff interesting.
Since then though, I think we've devolved a bit when it comes to being critical of TBN. It used to be more about constructive criticism but now it is often just a self-important "Look at me! I'm talking shit and trying to get someone to block me!" I'd even throw myself in that category.
More people are reading sports blogs than ever before and because of that, we are getting more attention (press passes etc.). When you start getting an audience or a reputation as an entertaining writer or personality, you naturally start thinking you are equals with the MSM and can go after folks because, well, you are becoming more popular and perception is reality in any walk of life. When you factor in how some bloggers have always had a chip on their shoulders about being seen as basement dwellers and all that sort of nonsense, it's easy to see how venting becomes the thing to do.
I think, however, that you have to show at least some semblance of fairness and acknowledge the good and the bad. Maybe I'm a TBN apologist, but Bucky has written nice things about the Sabres in the past and no one, I repeat, no one gives him credit for it. He had a bunch of blow job pieces about Pegula buying the team and for most of that summer, with Darcy spending money like a loon, he was quite pleasant about the future. Then the shit hit the fan and the team sucked. However, there were some nice pieces that followed.
Bucky's first piece after Lindy Ruff got fired was all about kissing Lindy's ass and remembering the good times yet no one really gave a shit about it. Instead, most waited until he returned to the negative narrative and pounced. It is getting to the point where I'm wondering if people are more pissed off about Bucky Gleason's piece on Daniel Paille than they are about Darcy being a crappy GM, and I say that in all seriousness. It sometimes makes me feel that we have an agenda, too. Bucky wants to bitch about Darcy, we want to bitch about him. Both sides are doing the same thing. It is the same message.
It starts diluting the argument about whether Bucky or others are hacks. We are the boy who cried wolf too many times. You wanna say that Bucky panders to the #illhangupandlisten crowd, but I think we pander to those who just despise MSM.
Trust me, I'm trying to hate them as much as others, but I can't. In a way, the bashing of them has kind of made me think maybe we are self-serving martyrs just as they are accused of being. Now, are there instances when they deserve it? Yes. Being dicks on Twitter to your readers doesn't help.
From a written material standpoint, my pet peeve has always been when TBN's criticism is more about personality. Sully dissing Mario Williams' grammar on a suicidal text or arguing that Ryan Miller does not like it here anymore because of his wife makes me want to take a stand. Columns in which stats are used in a half-assed way because then they support the columnist's point-of-view also stick in my craw.
But even with that, we are mostly just white noise now to the point where I start wondering if we are just yelling about TBN as some sort of cheap ploy to get attention. Any blogger with a stat counter knows that any piece about the media is a hit parade. At least half of the top 10 viewed stories on this site have to do with TBN, WGR, or bloggers vs. MSM. Readers gravitate to it.
I think it is due in large part to the media making a living on being harsh (or obnoxious) critics of the sports we love. We love being able to give them a taste of their own medicine while enjoying the drama of making them squirm. It is our way of getting even with Mike Schopp for cutting off callers and being flippant about their takes. Besides the getting even part, it is also about holding them accountable for being wrong sometimes because, god forbid, they ever admit this actually happens. It should be about accountability.
Of course, some media folks may like the added attention just like bloggers do. It is like the Howard Stern idea that all publicity is good publicity and that's the problem here, I can't decipher anymore what is actually smart takes on MSM and what is just someone trying to be contrarian for the sake of traffic hits or to prove that they're different. I'd like to think our criticism of MSM is more about calling out agendas and holding the press accountable, but I don't think that's the case anymore. It is more about snark than actual substance and just giving your platform an edge in being bad ass bloggers.
When Trending Buffalo went after Mike Harrington because he made a comment about Thomas Vanek's ice time in a way to make it out that he's trolling him, and then the next day they have a piece on trading him, that's a classic case of tearing down peers in order to make yourself look awesome. That's not cool. That's agenda serving and I'd be a hypocrite in saying I probably haven't done that in the past. It is no different than a reporter accusing all bloggers of trying to break news like the big boys even those most of us aren't in blogging for that.
I roll my eyes whenever I see it now coming from either side. It is just overdone by myself and by other bloggers. Yet, I always fall into the trap of talking about, like I'm doing now.
What it boils down to now is that I can't stop complaining about the messenger long enough to figure out what the message actually is. Or maybe I can't get on the destroy TBN bandwagon whenever they want Darcy to get canned, because, well, he fucken deserves it.
Don't be in denial about our role in this whole thing because the same narcissistic attitude that has made Jerry Sullivan call us all small-timers is eating at us as well.