The Big Lead has become somewhat of a real-life Field of Dreams… if you replaced Kevin’s Costner’s baseball field with one of the most heavily updated sports blogs on the Web. Now, that’s not to say the site’s head honcho and subject of our latest ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series, Jason McIntyre, has heard any whispered promises of “if you build it, they will come.” But since launching The Big Lead in 2006, come they have: TBL is now receiving upwards of 2 million+ hits a month.
Like many bloggers, McIntyre enjoyed an anonymous life in his field until being unmasked in a recent Sports Illustrated profile. Of course, ETB’s fellow Brooklynite had already long been revealed as a clever writer, tireless worker, and excellent interviewer, the latter through an ongoing series of talks with some of the biggest and most well-known names in sports media (links to a few of those below).
Without further ado, we sit down for a cozy fireside chat (via email) with The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre.
Empty the Bench: The Big Lead has, in part, made its name from its ongoing series of excellent interviews with sports media personalities. Who’s been your
favorite interview so far in 2008 and why?
Jason McIntyre: It’s tough to pick just one. My sentimental choice would be Kornheiser, just because I idolized him growing up reading the Washington Post. Buzz Bissinger was timely and fun. Klosterman was fun. Karen Crouse’s responses might have been the most memorable. Selena Roberts’ may have been the most eye-opening. Readers, for the longest time, had wanted to hear from Joe Posnanski and Wright Thompson, and their responses were terrific.
ETB: The Big Lead is known for maintaining a high volume of daily content. How often do you experience “writer’s block” and how do you try to get over it?
McIntyre: Food, the gym, or interns. I also try to read as much non-sports as possible during the day. There’s no way I could sit at a computer for nine hours and think and write about sports. Impossible. Lately, I’ve been taking some mid-day Madden breaks just to break up the monotony.
ETB: Which free-agent signing or trade that’s happened so far this summer will have the most impact next season in the NBA?
McIntyre: Elton Brand? The swing for the Clippers and 76ers was massive.One day, the Paper Clips had Baron Davis and Elton Brand and Chris Kaman and enough talent to reach the playoffs; the next week, Elton Brand was gone and offensively-challenged Marcus Camby was in the mix.
Love Brand on the 76ers. I can see them finishing as high as third in the East. Brand, when healthy, can be a 20-10 machine. Bullish on the 76ers to win a round, maybe two in the postseason, even though Brand doesn’t have a playoff history to warrant that outlook. (Editor’s Note: this is not McIntyre or anyone affiliated with TBL in the video below.)
More from The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre after the break…
David Stern Photo Credit: Icon SMI
ETB: Has NBA Commissioner David Stern taken enough heat for the Tim Donaghy gambling embarrassment? Should more have been said about Scott Foster’s potential role in this as well?
McIntyre: I don’t know… every pro league has its issues. Depending on what numbers you want to believe, half of baseball was using PEDs the last few years, and this year a ton of stars have seen their numbers drop (or have battled injuries) and a guy nobody’s heard of, Carlos Quentin, is leading baseball in homers.
The NFL offseason is littered with arrests. I think the NBA and Stern took a fair amount of heat for the Donaghy mess. Frankly, I don’t think many fans will care, just as they don’t about PEDs in baseball or NFL player arrests. Is attendance down for any of those sports? Is anyone going to quit paying attention to the NBA because Tim Donaghy fixed a few games a few years ago?
ETB: Is this run of NBA free agents heading overseas to play in Europe a fad or a trend? Will this have any effect on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, and if so, any guesses on how it’ll be addressed?
McIntyre: Wow, that’s way above my pay grade.I can only hope it’s not a trend, because I don’t think my cable can pick up games in Greece, where LeBron or Kobe could end up playing. I can’t fault the players for taking advantage of it, though—it’s no different than someone getting a job offer overseas for more money for a few years.
Leave the country, soak up some culture, get paid, and then return to the U.S. in a few years. They have the internet in Russia, right? The NBA is one of my favorite sports, so yeah, I hope Stern addresses this situation.
ETB: Do you expect Team USA to return to its dominant form in Beijing? What’s your prediction for this team’s fate?
McIntyre: Because I took so long on this, can I predict a dominant performance from the team, and a close-ish Gold medal triumph over… Spain?
ETB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing on a NBA court next season for the first time: 2007 first-overall pick Greg Oden or 2008 first-overall pick Derrick Rose?
McIntyre: Oden, and it’s not even close. The Bulls were the biggest letdown in the league, and already had a backcourt. So they drafted another PG? I like Rose as a player, but point guards with little college experience usually take some time to get acclimated to the league.
I’m far more interested in Oden. The Blazers are going to be exciting next year what with all that young talent and Rudy Fernandez. I hope their games are streamed online.
ETB: The Big Lead usually uses photos of “sexy women” in its posts, most often in the daily Roundups. Have you made a direct correlation that images like these help increase traffic/visitor loyalty? Do you ever worry about alienating or degrading the female reader?
McIntyre: Things most guys enjoy: sports, TV, drinking, women, movies, music. The majority of our readership is males. It is a formula that seems to work for us. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a complaint via email from a female reader saying they felt alienated or degraded by any photos we have posted.
ETB: What affect did your profile/interview on SI.com have, if any, on the The Big Lead in terms of traffic, exposure, various media and blogger personalities contacting you, etc.? How did that interview come about?
McIntyre: How it came about: Deitsch asked. I thought about it for about four seconds and then went with it. It’s Sports Illustrated. As a longtime sports fan, it’s tough to turn down SI. There was a traffic spike after the interview. Exposure-wise, yes, it certainly helped. Anytime you can put a face and a name to somebody, it’s going to help the business.
A few radio shows wouldn’t put me on in the past because I wouldn’t give my name, but as soon as I put my name on the blog, that changed. So it’s been positives pretty much all around.
ETB: Finally, a three-part Brooklyn question for you: who has the best pizza in the borough, which is your favorite bar (and why), and will you swim in McCarren Pool once it’s re-converted from a concert venue back into a pool next summer?
McIntyre: Ha. Is it a cop-out if I say Grimaldi’s was the best pizza I had in Brooklyn? I think that’s what everyone says. Strangely, I can’t think of one time where I was sober and had pizza and shouted, “THIS IS THE BEST PIZZA EVER!” I’m pretty flexible on pie. I know some folks can’t stand Dominoes, but I’m a fan (thick crust only).
As a backup, I’ll have to dip back to my single Manhattan days, when I’d literally go next door in my old Gramercy Park neighborhood and get a slice for $1.50. Those were the days. Dinner for $3, and yes, I’d do that regularly when I was broke as a joke in my newspaper days.
Other food is memorable though: For instance, there’s this dessert place in Baltimore that I’ve been raving about to anyone who will listen. It’s called Vaccaro’s. It’s a pastry shop and there’s always a line out the door. I got a cheesecake with a chocolate topping (!) that was off-the-charts incredible. I must have devoured it in minutes, and my stomach looked like Al Roker’s afterward.
Favorite bar? Toughie. How weak is it to say that when you hunker down into that thing called marriage, you pull back from the bar scene a bit? I really have never been a bar guy. I always thought lounges were more conducive to meeting women as opposed to bars. I already wrote about my favorite spot in NY being Naked Lunch, but that’s in SoHo.
Swim in a public pool in New York? Sure!
Recommended Reading at The Big Lead:
– Q&A with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports
– Just Pour Some ‘Tussin on it, Shawne
– Exclusive: David Wright Throws His Real Girlfriend a Surprise Birthday Party
– The Big Lead’s 2008 Culture Tournament
– The Not-So-Curious Rise of Tom Brady’s Manservant
More ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series:
– J.E. Skeets of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie
– David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout
– Ron Hitley of Hornets 24/7
– Ryne “Odenized” Nelson of SLAMonline
– Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and FanHouse
– Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops
– Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge
– Kurt of Forum Blue and Gold
– Brian Powell of Awful Announcing
– Lee Grammier of The Dream Shake
– Scott Carefoot of Raptor Blog
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 1
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 2
– Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse and Detroit Bad Boys
– Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed.com
Greg Oden Photo Credit: Icon SMI