Allow me to roll up my shirtsleeves, affect my best Jim Cramer, and sing this from the rooftops: buy Mina Kimes stock. Now. In bulk.
This week, Ben Strauss of the Washington Post identified her as a potential host for the new daily morning podcast ESPN is launching. She also wrote a buzzy and exhaustingly aggregated cover story on Baker Mayfield. She broke down the penultimate episode of HBO’s drama-iest drama on The Ringer’s Big Little Live. She appeared on Highly Questionable, The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, and other programs across ESPN’s platforms.
Her high ceiling has been readily apparent for the last few years to anyone paying attention. But it truly feels as though things are really ramping up lately, as evidenced by Bill Simmons’ interest in bringing her aboard. And it’s not too much of a stretch to see her as a next-generation iteration of The Sports Guy. Yes, there are more commonalities between Simmons and Dan Katz of Barstool (bloggers who rose to prominence, propelled intense regional fanhood into national platforms, leaned into podcasts and television and empire-building), but Kimes is a triple-threat skilled in all disciplines who resonates with her reliability.
Like Simmons, she’s equally comfortable trafficking in light pop-culture fare or diving deep into one specific sport. Where he has basketball, she has football.
This ascension has been understated but no less real. Kimes is among the cadre of young, diverse talent the network has cultivated and built into an interactive net. She is more South Street Seaport than Bristol and more likely to be found in Los Angeles or Miami.
It’s abjectly unfair that others in this group have become enmeshed in bad-faith complaints about politics, but it’s also worth pointing out that Kimes has been able to escape that fate.
If there’s a speed bump on the road ahead, I am unable to see it.
The Shark and the Remora
Speaking of that story on Mayfield … Included in it is an admission by Mayfield that savvy consumers have long understood. “When I want to stir the pot, I’ll click to see what [Colin] Cowherd‘s said lately,” he told Kimes.
Of course he does. He and Cowherd are in a symbiotic relationship from which they both benefit. The Browns signal-caller provides content with either his play or his comments. The Fox Sports opinionist uses it to build a take, with the tacit understanding it will carry more interest with the public due to the duo’s backstory. A response from Mayfield further fuels the fire and fills the minutes.
The athlete uses Cowherd’s words and criticisms as motivation. He presents himself as something new and different: a modern-day breed of superstar who will battle the media on its own turf on its own terms.
To be clear, I’m not accusing Mayfield of playing into a role. His personality seems genuine. It’s also responsible for making him a bigger star. This generation loves outspokenness, brashness, and the open embrace of celebrity. Conflict sells.
The most interesting aspect here is that Mayfield won’t be the last quarterback like this. In fact, he’s a pioneer ushering in the way of the future. Cowherd is not the most traditional of media, but in this pairing he represents the way things have been vs. the way they will be. He, too, is no more authentic than kayfabe, but perhaps he’s figured out a genius way to position himself for that new world.
Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote a piece on the ailing Jerry Sloan titled Pay a sweet silent tribute to Jerry Sloan, as the once-fierce lion’s eyes grow sleepy. It is a reflective look at a life well-lived that is coming to an end due to illness. It takes a tough subject and handles it capably and respectfully.
TMZ took a slightly different route, aggregating the story and splashing this in 24-point font: NBA LEGEND JERRY SLOAN ‘HE IS DYING’ Dementia, Parkinson’s Worsening.
Part of the game is getting clicks. One of these headlines is more enticing than the other. One is more human. The balance isn’t always clear, but in this case what TMZ did feels plainly icky.
A Great Hell
The handwriting was all over the wall when Great Hill Partners, a private equity group, purchased Univision and Gizmodo Group assets. There was going to be friction and, yep, there’s been plenty already. The Daily Beast chronicled just how rough things have gone, with rank-and-file railing against “insane” decision-making by new CEO Jim Spanfeller.
Gaining visibility into the inner-workings is difficult and most of the information is coming from an aggrieved staff. Yet it’s logical to wonder just how the hell the acquirers foresaw things going. Gizmodo’s roster of talent is teeming with idealistic and fiercely principled people. They have aggressively aimed to speak truth to power and reported on the inner workings of their company. They’ve been passionate about not mixing business and editorial considerations.
Perhaps my perception is wrong. But this feels all too familiar. A deep-pocketed entity eyes an asset, doles out big bucks for it, and either doesn’t consider the moguls ahead or foolishly thinks it can smooth out the culture to create an easy ride. It just doesn’t work like that anymore.
Media members may live in constant fear of losing their jobs, yet that doesn’t stop them from being an aggressive and difficult bunch in aggregate. The same thing that makes them good at their jobs makes them resistant to being moldable pawns.
It’s becoming tradition for the Chicago Cubs to bungle a public relations situation. The latest — a completely unforced error involving Cup Snakes — is perhaps the most hilarious. It takes a special type of mismanagement to make Stoolies the sympathetic figure, but here we are. Add this to an impressive list of confounding decisions this year that includes a mysterious investigation with serious consequences and allegations that the team has been pressuring outlets for positive coverage. Can’t wait to see what that cracked staff will do next.