Interview with The Big Lead (aka Jason McIntrye)

If you read this blog, I’m sure you’ve come across The Big Lead. It’s my go-to sports blog and the only big one that I comment on with any regularity. One of my favorite TBL features is the interviews. He’s lined up some impressive subjects from Norm Chad to Tony Kornheiser. I decided to turn the tables on him, and he gracefully obliged.

Alright…so what do I call you, The Big Lead or Jason McIntyre? Have there been any unforeseen consequences of revealing your identity? Ever regret it?

The Big Lead, TBL, Jason, whatever works. Zero regrets on slapping my name on the blog. I wondered whether or not there would be a backlash, or if the folks at ESPN might put a hit on me. Neither has really happened yet, but nobody knows what tomorrow holds.
I did, however, realize that when I was attaching my name to it I’d have to tone down a few small things on the blog such as obscenities and links to some questionable content because family members would be reading. Obviously, I don’t always do a spectacular job at this.

The interview has been around nearly as long as journalism, but somehow I feel like I’m stealing your schtick doing this. How did that happen? Were bloggers publishing interviews before you started doing it?

I can only assume bloggers have been publishing interviews since whenever blogs started. Back in 2006, during a random summer night, I think I read a Norman Chad column – love the guy – and thought he’d make a solid interview. I was still anonymous, and figured he’d say no, but Chad responded to the questions, and people seemed to enjoy it. So then we talked to a guy at Esquire, TJ Simers, and the interviews thing kind of took on a life of their own.

Talking to sportsmediaguide, you said something about “when somebody else takes over.” Are you already thinking about life after The Big Lead? Do you have anything lined up or ideas what you might do?

Never really thought about life after The Big Lead, but only because it’s so much fun right now. I grapple with whether or not I should have a five-year plan, but then somebody emails me a link to Tim Tebow wearing Crocs in the Far East and that thought gets shelved. Down the road I have typical writer dreams: Books, screenplays, the New Yorker. Standard-issue pipe dreams.

Is oversaturation of blogs just an inherent quality of the medium? Take our blog for instance, no one is necessarily looking for what we have to offer, but we’re throwing our hat in the ring anyway. Does it get to a point where you say, ‘geeze, this is getting annoying. Everyone needs to stop thinking they’re the next big thing.’ Or is it just a matter of sitting back, letting Darwinism do its work and making sure you’re not slipping yourself?

How do you know people aren’t looking for what you have to offer? After about a year of blogging, we had a tiny readership. We just stuck with it and slowly the readers came. I think that’s the case for most bloggers – if you keep plugging away and producing fun and interesting content, the readers will notice.

As for over saturation, I feel there are several untapped sports niches yet to be mined, and sports blogs on the whole are still in their infancy. Look at it this way: Comscore says that 20 million unique visitors go to Yahoo and ESPN per month. And if the comscore #’s are to be believed, some of the ‘top’ sports blogs don’t combine to tally even a third of that.

As for ‘being the next big thing,’ that’s something that I feel is out of everyone’s control. So what’s the point of worry about it?

When did you realize you were going to be successful? (Define success however you please.)

I’m inherently negative, and thus reluctant to use the word success. Somebody once joked to me that you’ve arrived when you get an invite to a party at the Playboy mansion. Whats the blog equivalent? A link on the Drudge Report?

Regardless, the day I sit back and say, ‘man, we’re successful!’ is the day the blog slips. We’ve built up a nice-sized sports community that is expanding by the day, and I’m content with that.

Trolling the Internet and its multitude of blogs is a significant part of your job. Which blogs do you go to for enjoyment or pleasure though?

Non-sports? Gawker was the first blog I was introduced to back when Elizabeth Spiers was editing it. I think Page Six made reference to it once, and I dropped by, and it became a daily visit. I’m a Mac dork, so I try to visit Macrumors frequently. When I need a breather from sports, I peruse a couple real estate/economy blogs that aren’t worth mentioning.

I’m obsessively tinkering with my fantasy sports teams, and perusing Us Weekly and People because it’s always fun to see when athletes pop up.

How important are gorgeous women to sports bloggers?

To all bloggers? No idea. I’d never speak for all bloggers. To TBL? Gorgeous women are a daily occurrence because, well, that’s life.

What’s the single worst thing about ESPN? What could be done to fix it?

Do they still have the automatic video and audio that beats you over the head when you arrive at the site? Have they figured out how to turn that off?

You said you were hoping to get a set of golf clubs. What did you end up getting and what’s your current handicap?

Sadly, the trip has been twice-postponed. The first time I instead went to see The Incredible Hulk, which was surprisingly pleasant. It was a terrific tweak to throw in Bill Bixby footage and Lou Ferrigno. The second time, I think Vanilla Sky was on TV or something.

I haven’t played golf since about 1993. As a poor journalist, I couldn’t afford to date women much less play a round of golf, so I gave my clubs to a relative. Since then, I hit the range once, and that was maybe three years ago. I like to tout myself as a natural athlete when it comes to challenging sports like ping-pong and bowling, so I anticipate picking up my golf game right where I left off 15 years ago – averaging a touchdown per hole.

What are your favorite books? What are you reading now?

The last book I read was pretty neat: Black Swan. I enjoy reading the Alchemist once a year.
I had planned to read Atlas Shrugged this year, but I haven’t gotten too far. What messes me up is magazine subscriptions. I get the New Yorker and Esquire, partially because one day I hope to write for them, and also because there’s great content in each (except the increasing trend toward lists in Esquire). I’ve been putzing around with two screenwriting books for a few weeks now.
But mostly I try to read non-sports in my free time because, as I’ve written before on the blog, I can’t do sports 24/7. Just not in my DNA.

What is the one question that I really should have asked you? What’s the answer?

“Tell me something interesting.”
The first and only time I was asked this, I failed miserably. I had done some freelance work for ESPN the Magazine and the .com, and I finagled an interview with the No. 2 in command, Gary Belsky. I went in fully prepared: I did my homework on the mag, and on Belsky, who has written a few books. We get through the pleasantries, and we’re shooting the shit in his office and he leans back in his chair, clasps his hands behind his head and says, “tell me something interesting.” I went with one of his books, and he brushed it off. I boasted about my meek credentials, and ditto. He kept pushing me for something more obscure.
For reasons I am unable to explain, that brat in Jerry McGuire who blurted out random facts from the backseat flashed before my eyes. And then, laughably, I said, “I’m going to Curacao next week? Nobody really goes there, but Andruw Jones is the pride of Curacao.” It got an eyeroll, and we moved on. A few minutes later, I said something like, “oh, I had this plant that was near death, and my Dad, a wannabe botanist, advised me to put some epsom salt into the soil, and that would bring the plant back to life.”
And? He asked.
Amazingly, it worked.
That seemed to impress the guy more than anything I said all afternoon.
(Not that it matters, but I didn’t get the job. They were looking for an editor, but got the impression I wanted to write. Silver lining: I was about a year into doing The Big Lead as a hobby, way back in the anonymous days. And if I had gotten the ESPN job, I would have quit the blog … and this interview would have never happened. Everything happens for a reason … )

So, as you can see, Jason McIntyre’s life has led him to this point so he could be interviewed by us. Makes me wonder what’s next, but I’ve troubled the poor guy with enough questions.

Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 9:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Sweet interview, dude. Good get. Should’ve asked him what he thinks of With Leather, since all his commenters but you hate that blog, lol.

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