An open letter to ESPN The Magazine

Posted on Jul 15, 2008 in Featured | 42 comments


The Rays haven't won since you published this.This is the actual e-mail that I sent to ESPN The Magazine in regards to my subscription to their publication.

Fr: andy@desipio.com
To: ms_support@espn.go.com

Re: My ESPN The Magazine Subscription

Dear ESPN The Magazine Overlord,

I am currently a subscriber to your magazine, even though I never actually subscribed to your magazine. I pay the monthly fee to be an ESPN Insider, mainly so I can read Buster Olney’s baseball blog, and to check and see just how irrelevant Peter Gammons’ columns continue to become.

As a “benefit” you send me issues of your bi-monthly magazine. However, it’s obvious that you use a rather optimistic definition of the word “benefit.”

I am requesting that you stop sending me the magazine. It was brought to my attention by my wife that when the magazine comes to our house it never leaves the kitchen. It just kind of sits there, waiting to be thrown away…unopened.

I currently subscribe to two magazines, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly which I actually read, though I will admit that if a 300 pound Best Buy checker hadn’t offered me the opportunity to get free issues of both magazines, and if she hadn’t looked as though she was going to bludgeon me to death with the price scanner, I probably wouldn’t subscribe to either of them.

However, there’s a big distinction between those magazines and yours. I actually like them. I take them to my reading room where they sit in a basket right next to my special reading chair, or throne if you will, or toilet if you want to be specific.

As I defecate, I read well-written tales of athletes and sporting events, and movies and TV shows. I enjoy it.

As for your magazine? I don’t even like it enough to read it while I’m crapping.

I’m not asking for you to cancel my Insider subscription to your Web site, though really, it’s a complete ripoff. Though if Buster doesn’t stop wearing his Brewers knee pads pretty soon, I might have to rethink that.

Buster, they’re not going to pass the Cubs during the regular season, and they’re not going to beat them in the playoffs. The sooner you come to terms with that (and the sooner you come to terms with the fact that no grown man should be called Buster) we’ll both be better off.

No, I still want the Insider subscription. I just don’t want your strangely sized, poorly written, overly designed magazine. I mean, really, have you ever taken a good look at it? It sucks.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

1. First off, your magazine is a weird size. It’s not magazine size. I know you think it’s an edgy size, because everything you do is edgy, but really, it’s just annoying. One thing it is good for, though? If a fly gets in your house you can really go to town whacking at it with that thing. Maybe that would be a good secondary market for it? To exterminators?

2. What’s with the paper? It’s chintzy 70 pound text weight. At least real magazines use gloss on their cover.

3. What’s with all of the shirtless athletes? It’s like you can’t decide if you want to be a sports magazine, or a men’s magazine, or a gay men’s magazine.

This is kind of creepy…
I feel pretty!

But this is just plain gay.

Flaming!

Honestly, that Carl Edwards cover didn’t even make it to the house. I just tore the address label off of it and set it on fire right at the mailbox then threw it into traffic. Holy crap. What were you thinking?

Your audience is not women. What man is going to see that at a bookstore or grocery store and actually carry it up to the checkout? You might as well have given out a free “I LIKE DUDES” t-shirt with this one.

4. The design of your magazine is not cutting edge, unless the goal is to make your readers want to cut themselves with the edge of a razor blade. You can’t just throw nine fonts on a page and call it design. Also, find a few colors that work and stick to those. If my dog ate a box of Crayolas and threw up on the floor she’d be more consistent than the room full of monkeys you have working on this thing.

5. Your writers are either not good at all, or ill-suited to the format.

Like Bill Simmons, he’s at his best when he’s writing long-form. His magazine columns always suck. I mean they’re not bad they’re horrendous. He made a big deal out of how you gave him more room last year and you know what? He just sucks for two pages instead of one.

Stephen A. Smith is also bad. I have no idea what he was writing about in your last issue. It was either about Kobe isn’t MJ (really?) or how Kobe should have punched one of his teammates, or how Kobe’s not Muhammad Ali. I’m not even exaggerating, I have no idea what he was writing about.

Then, we get to Stu Scott’s steaming pile of feces where you used to pretend he traded text messages with people, and now you pretend he’s chatting online with people.

Stu’s an assclown on the air, and he’s even less suited for print. It’s gibberish. I mean, literal gibberish. Whoever his editor is should be beaten with a rolled up collection of these horrendously bad “columns.”

6. You call it “Page 2″ I suppose to try to tie it in with the lamest part of your Web site, but it’s really just pages 26-41. Or really, short features that aren’t good enough to be full features and frankly, that we should have just left out of the magazine altogether.

You’ve got your mailbag in there which is impossible to screw up, and yet, you try your damndest.

Then, do Mike and Mike really need a freaking page in your magazine? Is the world not tired of their “he’s fat and he’s a sissy” schtick? Oh, and they always discuss such pertinent things. In this last week’s issue we learned that Golic doesn’t think Batman’s a real superhero, that Tiger apparently won a tournament with a bad knee and they wrote about the Tour de France. The Tour de France? Tremendous.

Way to know your audience, again.

Oh, and come on, are you still doing that “Right Name, Wrong Number” thing? It was lame 10 years ago and you’ve done it twice a month since then. “Hey, let’s see if there’s somebody else named Aaron Rogers and we’ll call him and pretend that we think it’s the guy from the Packers! It’ll be a hoot!”

It’s not a hoot. So, not a hoot. Nobody is hooting. Stop it.

7. Your features are always late, lame or both. For instance in this last issue little Busty spends five days with Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks…starting May 15. For the July 14 issue. Holy crap, how is he filing his articles…by carrier pigeon? Yeah, the D’backs were good in May, they’ve been terrible since. How about a feature on what happened? Nah, it’s about how Brandon flies toy helicopters at Bank One Ballpark. That is outstanding. I love it. So much better than actual information. Thanks.

You did a feature on a Spanish basketball player named Ricky Rubio. That’s great. I’m sure all two Spanish basketball fans are thrilled.

Then, several pages on NASCAR memorabilia auctions, which was basically just your way of pointing out that you think “Dumbass hicks will buy anything with a NASCAR logo on it!” I’m not saying you’re not right, but come on…really?

Thanks for the two page spread on the World Series of Poker, an event that about nine people cared about when you were trying to force us to think it was important (just like you try with the NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament every year.)

Easily the most pointless article of the issue was the feature on Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns trying to get on a TV show. I thought that by the end of the article that he’d have secured a bit part on a TV show which is why you were doing the feature.

But no. He’s not. He just wants to.

Great. I’d like to meet Jessica Biel. Why don’t you spend four pages on that and have it end with me not meeting her?

Then we get some pap about Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and how he’s going to turn around the football program because it’s been so lousy for the 30 years, oh and he likes to swear, and lie to his players.

Hey, here’s an actually interesting idea for a story, about James Felton, a dope who declared for the NBA draft a dozen years ago out of high school and nobody ever heard from him again. It was a good idea, not so well executed, but not terrible. In this magazine, it’s the gold standard.

I’m so glad you were able to find 20 pages to devote to the ESPYs. I think it’s so cute how you think people actually care about that show, and how you pretend people watch it.

Then we get a story about cycling, because the kids love cycling. Once again, you prove you have no idea who your audience is, and even if you did, you’d have no idea how to reach them.

Then, the notes pages, this issue it’s the NBA, the NFL, college basketball, soccer and motorsports. These aren’t bad, but honestly, they ought to just be on the Web site, because by the time you publish the magazine, they’re all old news.

You have Kenny Mayne still doing the old Dan Patrick interview thing, which isn’t terrible, but would it kill you to have a new idea, even once?

The 0:01 where you fake a photo and it’s supposed to be funny…never is.

And we finish with Rick Reilly. Just about the time he started to phone it in at SI, you brought him over to work for you. That’s just so perfect.

So, to sum up, your magazine sucks, and even though I’m not directly paying for it, I don’t want it sent to my house. It’s just one more thing I have to throw away without opening every month. You know, like my bills.

Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Andy