Grantland was shut down today by ESPN. This was a move you could see coming a mile away yet the Internet was abuzz today with the gnashing of metaphorical teeth. This opinion may be unpopular but I won't miss Grantland. Yes I feel awful for the writers, editors and others who lost their jobs today but I'm guessing Disney is handling out pretty generous separation packages.
ESPN's first foray into smart sports writing was 15-years ago with Page 2. They fielded an all-star line-up of Ralph Wiley, Hunter S. Thompson, David Halberstam and a young Bill Simmons. Ralph Wiley and Hunter S. Thompson passed away. David Halberstam lost his enthusiasm for writing about sports after 9/11. That left just Simmons.
He was a hot property and he felt ESPN did a poor job with Page 2 so he leveraged his contract negotiations with the World-Wide Leader to let him create Grantland. His vision was to create a place where young hot writers could write what they wanted about sports and culture. He brought in and nurtured some very talented writers - that cannot be denied. But the problem was too much hipsterism. In many cases these hot young writers seemed to be writing to impress each other (and Simmons) instead of the general sports-loving public. The page views for Grantland just weren't there. The site wasn't close to being as successful as Deadspin or The Big Lead - but that was OK with the Grantland staff because they looked down their noses at those base sites that catered to the unwashed masses.
I was a regular at Grantland for a while but mostly for articles by Simmons or Charlie Pierce. Once Simmons was let go - I basically just read Pierce's brain droppings at the site (and I'm guessing Charlie will be just fine after today). Sure I gave many other Grantland writers a chance but to be honest I found most of their articles pretentious. Sorry - that's just my honest opinion.
Today many people are comparing the closing of Grantland to the similar fate of The National. No offense but this is like comparing the 27 Yankees to the 1987 Pawtucket Red Sox. Ironically Grantland did a great job of chronicling "The Greatest Paper that Ever Died".
Bill Simmons' hands are not clean with today's closing either. His understandable wish to get some measure of revenge on ESPN played a part in today's shuttering of Grantland (a situation Deadspin did a nice job of describing).
So Grantland has closed it's doors today. But it honestly won't be missed by me.