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Pete Gray died on June 30, 2002, at the age of 87.

June 20, 2018

This week marked 10 years since I left Deadspin. (This also means, in a week, I will have been a Contributing Editor at New York for 10 years.) I’ve written plenty of thoughts about my time at Deadspin in the past, and, frankly, I think I’ve pretty much dug that well dry. But I was thinking today about something else that happened Ten Years Ago: My big book tour.

I’ve written four books: Life As a Loser (2003), Catch (2005), God Save the Fan (2008) and Are We Winning? (2010), but the only time I’ve ever done a book tour was for God Save the Fan. The whole concept of a book tour has mostly gone by the wayside these days; only the biggest name authors, or the ones willing to pay for their own flights and cars and hotels, get them anymore. But in 2008, you could actually talk publishers into putting up the cash, or at least I was able to talk David Hirshey and HarperCollins into it. So for three weeks, off I went.


I was still running Deadspin when GSTF came out, and we turned the whole tour into a regular party on the site. (Here are all the old posts about it.) I was still doing the site solo (with help from Rick Chandler) when I went on tour — Daulerio wouldn’t be hired full time for another couple of months — which meant I would work on the site in the morning (scheduling posts throughout the day), get in the car, drive from one stop to another, pop by a coffee shop to make sure no major news had broken while I was driving, do one of the book tour stops, go out drinking all night with all the readers who came, crash at the hotel, wake up, start typing, schedule all the posts, hit the road and repeat the whole process. I did this for three weeks! The human body is capable of much more at 32 than it is at 42, I will say that.

Here were the stops:

  • Arizona (where the Super Bowl that year; the book came out the week before the Super Bowl).
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Chicago
  • Champaign
  • St. Louis
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • New York (three stops)

You can find pictures of the whole book tour here. (Remember Flickr?) It was a terrific time, that book tour. We had a gimmick for each reading, so it wouldn’t just be me sitting there and everybody watching me, where we would act out my John Rocker interview with two volunteers from the audience. One audience member would pretend to be me; one would pretend to be his then-girlfriend Alicia Marie; and I would play Rocker and the footnotes of the interview. You can find video of one of these here. In San Francisco, my sister was in the audience and played Alicia Marie. In Brooklyn I made my then-girlfriend, now-wife do it.

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(I remember posting pictures of the San Francisco reading with my sister, including the above one, on Deadspin, and every commenter started bugging me for her number. 2008 was quite the time.)

The book tour happened to be going on during the 2008 Presidential primary season, and I’ll never forget staying up essentially all night in Los Angeles at a bar with some awesome people watching all the Super Tuesday results come in. I was definitely the obnoxious bro-yuppie white guy wearing his Obama ‘08 shirt (with a blazer!) everywhere at the time.

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It was three weeks of basic 20-hour days, probably the craziest three weeks I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s probably a good thing publishers don’t pay for these anymore because I’m pretty sure it would kill me. I’m in the middle of writing my fifth book right now, and, assuming it ends up published, I might read it at Avid Bookstore here in town and then go to sleep directly afterward. It is astounding what 10 years does to the soul, mind and body.

Forgive the frivolity and nostalgia of this week’s newsletter. It has been the sort of fortnight that does not make one want to dwell too fervently in the present.


Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. Why Hasn’t Sports Had Its #MeToo Moment? New York Magazine. This was a good piece that, alas, got totally lost in the Kennedy retirement on Wednesday. It happens.

2. Yadier Molina Is Saving the Cardinals Again, MLB.com. The Cardinals immediately lost when I wrote this piece.

3. Review: “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Paste Magazine. Sorry, I think the Ant-Man movies are pretty lame.

4. Who Is the Ray Bourque of MLB? MLB.com. OK, spoiler, it’s Adrian Beltre.

5. Debate Club: Best Serious Performances by Comedians, SYFY Wire. Albert Brooks in Drive is still totally wild.

6. The Thirty: The Most Likely MVP Winner on Every MLB Franchise, MLB.com. I wrote a lot of stuff this week, but I’m not sure any of them were great. Some weeks you just plow through.

7. Your Tortured NBA Fanbase Rankings, Medium. This is just a list, and a late one at that.

THE WILL LEITCH SHOW

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This week’s show, as mentioned in last week’s newsletter, was a doozy. Anthony Scaramucci, in the midst of all of it. A friend pointed out that it looks like I’m LeBron talking to J.R. Smith. Sounds about right. You can watch the show on Amazon or on SI TV.

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Grierson & Leitch, trying to muster up the energy to talk about “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and “The Ringer,” and then digging into “A Serious Man.”

Seeing Red, Bernie Miklasz and I can’t figure it out any better than you can.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, no show this week.

If you have an Amazon Alexa — and my family doesn’t, for obvious reasons — you can hear a special show Grierson and I are doing weekly solely for the Amazon Alexa. Read about it here. If you have one, will you try it out and see if it works? I have no idea how to work that weird device.

We are just more than a month away from school starting here in Athens again. The world sprints by even as it’s crawling.

Here is a picture of Wynn on a horse.


Have a great weekend, everyone.


Best,
Will