Today, ESPN announced that it was suspending publication of Grantland. We were loyal readers of it at FiveThirtyEight — it was pretty much our favorite site — and were sad to hear the news. To mark its legacy, we compiled some of our favorite articles from Grantland, along with some words about why they stuck with us.
“The Cult of ‘Jurassic Park’” by Bryan Curtis
A few weeks shy of my eighth birthday, I saw “Jurassic Park” in the theater with my dad and was scared shitless and to tears. Fast-forward 20 years, and I’m Dr. Alan Grant for Halloween. I wasn’t alone in my fandom, and this piece explains why. Life found a way.
–Oliver Roeder, senior writer
“Saber Rattler” by Hua Hsu
There is just too much terrific work at Grantland to pick from, but for some reason the last line of this piece always stuck with me. “He was a winner and a loser. He was undefeated.” A profile of the Red Sox’s forgotten stathead, Mike Gimbel.
–Nate Silver, editor in chief
“The Steroid Hunt” by Bryan Curtis
It’s easy to go through my Grantland favorites; roughly 60 percent of my brother’s emails to me are links from the site. I loved this story on how baseball reporters tiptoed around the steroid crisis, trying to figure out exactly how far they could go with their questions. Should be required reading for journalists on any beat.
–Leah Libresco, news writer
“The Sea of Crises” by Brian Phillips, with illustration by Jun Cen and Thoka Maer
Brian Phillips’s intricate take on Sumo, Seppuku, and what he learned about Japanese culture from a trip to Japan is a masterpiece of genre-bending long-form content. Not only does it demonstrate incredible storytelling craft in its weaving together of two powerful narratives (or three, if you count the writer’s journey), but its gorgeous and delicate presentation washes over you in a way that connects you to the author’s mood and experience. Phillips writes: “The first time you read a story like this, maybe, you feel cheated, because you read stories to find out what happens. Later, however, you might find that the silence itself comes to mean something.”
–Ben Morris, sportswriter
“Yankees Suck! Yankees Suck” by Amos Barshad
How a bunch of 17 year-olds that like punk music made thousands of dollars selling T-shirts to all the people I went to high school with — this story was so much fun.
–Reuben Fischer-Baum, visual journalist
“Who Won 2014?” by Rembert Browne
My favorite use of the bracket form on Grantland, Rembert’s four-volume, year-end Who Won series is epic. The movement from hilarious absurdity to deeply analytical commentary on the year’s most pressing cultural question is pure genius. (In 2014, the winner was how video footage is forcing society to come to terms with deeply rooted injustices.)
–Anna Maria Barry-Jester, writer
“The Broad Strokes” by Rachel Syme
I’ve never seen someone describe a friendship between two young adults as accurately and romantically as Syme does in this piece about the women behind “Broad City.” “They talk like all BFFs in the era of instant messaging, sending verbal links back and forth about things they saw or read … they are each other’s favorite IRL Twitter feed … Anyone with a best friend would recognize it.” I read this and immediately sent the link to my best friend.
–Sara Patterson, podcast and video intern
“Shady XLII: Eminem in 2014” by Molly Lambert
I always hated Eminem — for his misogyny and homophobia, sure, but also for his narrow representation of Detroit, my hometown, which his audience took as authentic and therefore universal. Molly’s retrospective made me finally believe in Shady’s talent. But her true coup is this perfect articulation of why Eminem grates: He has stayed the same in a culture that’s moved just enough to make his brand of masculinity obviously ridiculous. (In the same vein, this prescient pre-Grantland Molly essay on how to be a woman in a boys’ club is so necessary that I wouldn’t be the first to suggest getting it tattooed on your back.)
–Simone Landon, senior editor
“The Sound and The Fury” by Alex French and Howie Kahn
When they do the oral history of oral histories, expect some extended musing about this one.
–Jody Avirgan, podcast host and producer
“‘Mad Men’ Power Rankings, Episode 707: ‘Waterloo’” by Mark Lisanti
No, it’s not one of the great entries in their pantheon, but it’s from a deeply funny and warm series, from one of the great sites of its day, covering one of the great shows of its day. I really could have picked any one of these, but in “Waterloo,” “Mad Men” sees the death of a beloved character that always felt just a little bit out of his own time, and it seemed he liked it that way. Just like Grantland.
–Walter Hickey, lifestyle writer
“The Consequences of Caring” by Bill Simmons
This is Simmons writing tenderly and philosophically on the inevitable moments of disappointment that come with being a sports fan. He takes his young daughter, a fledgling Los Angeles Kings fan, to see the team lose a gut-wrenching Stanley Cup game and then juxtaposes her crushing sadness with his own after seeing LeBron James and the Miami Heat demolish his beloved Celtics in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals (aka, LeBron’s greatest performance). Seeing sports as a metaphor for life, Simmons writes: “You win, you lose, you laugh, you cry, you cheer, you boo, and most of all, you care. Lurking underneath that surface, that’s where all the good stuff is — the memories, the connections, the love, the fans, the layers that make sports what they are.”
–Andrew Flowers, quantitative editor
“The Front Lines of Ferguson” by Rembert Browne
I’m from St. Louis, and I watched the Ferguson coverage unfold from afar. My heart was breaking for the people of Ferguson, and some of the coverage from outside media was deplorable. But Rembert Browne’s extraordinary piece cut through the garbage and showed me moments — terrifying, important moments — I saw almost nowhere else. I am grateful.
–Blythe Terrell, general editor
Rembert wasn’t the only journalist of color to visit Ferguson in the agonizing days after Michael Brown’s death, but to me, his account was definitive. Maybe it was the harrowing situation; maybe it was the fact that it happened to a friend and colleague. But Rembert weaved together history and a chilling first-person narrative to produce a piece of experiential journalism that I will never forget.
–Neil Paine, senior sportswriter
“Love Letters” by Katie Baker
Everyone that ever will be married/is considering the thought of marriage should be required to read every one of Katie Baker’s incredible “Wedded Blitz!” columns, but my favorite piece of insane bride psyche is “Love Letters.” I love this sentence: “The whole planning process often feels like a reverse Rorschach test in which each snap decision bleeds into an ominous pattern revealing exactly who you’ve been all along.”
–Allison McCann, visual journalist
A longstanding favorite topic of mine, the backlash to sports analytics, handled expertly by the sports media’s most astute analyst of itself. Charles Barkley had just fired a shot against advanced statistics in what Curtis identified as the latest skirmish in the eternal “power struggle” between sportswriters and the athletes they cover. “Using numbers to say someone ought to be unemployed doesn’t make the news go down any easier,” Curtis wrote.
–Carl Bialik, lead news writer
“Knight Takes King: Remembering Robin Williams, 1951-2014” by Alex Pappademas
After Robin Williams died, I read every obit I could get my hands on, both because I grew up on Williams’s films and because I was deeply unsettled by the coroner’s report of the suicide scene. Most of the obits felt like perfunctory overviews of the comedian’s career, pointing to Williams’s highs and lows, describing his comedic style (often very prosaically) and hinting at the mostly unshared trouble in his personal life. But Alex’s account of the man’s life and influence stood out as both personal and profoundly humanizing, and more than any other, struck an emotional chord that was exactly right.
–Ritchie King, visual journalist
Lambert’s sharp recap of the “Mad Men” series finale was a fitting send-off to a show that combined earnestness, nostalgia and more than a little cynicism. The show ends with lead character Don Draper dreaming up the iconic Coca-Cola commercial, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” A hit among TV viewers at the time, the commercial was also “supremely cynical: I want to connect with you by sharing this consumer experience,” Lambert writes. In the end, it’s all just a product, designed to capture our imaginations. “Look deeply enough within yourself and you’ll find everyone else there, too. It’s the real thing.”
–Christie Aschwanden, science writer