One of the funnest parts of overseeing the blogs at the LAT way back in the day was our sports blogs.
the Lakers Blog was one of the first blogs at the Times and it was already a monster before I ever got there.
i was able to convince LA’s best Dodger blogger to blog for us, and i was able to do it without costing the paper a lot of money (because we had just gotten rid of some salary elsewhere).
but when ESPN poached the Kam Bros I was suddenly lost because i never expected them to leave us.
I tried everything in the book to convince them to stay saying things like, “radio isn’t where intellectuals go, it’s where washed up journalists and jocks go. You are both young, pretty, full of life, do you really want Bill from Downey to tell you that he thinks Kobe should pass the rock all day?”
it didn’t work, The Sports Leader ganked the brothers and I had a giant hole to fill.
at first I decided to replace them American Idol style by having 4-5 contenders take over the blog, one applicant per week, and at the end of the trial period we let the readers vote.
but life is rarely that exciting. so we interviewed this guy from that paper and this other dude from this other paper. they were fine.
but Mark Medina had something special that i liked: he was young, totally down for Whatever, and somehow it came up that he lived in El Segundo so he could be close to the Lakers and Clippers practice facilities.
i was all, this is the sort of insane fan/pro that i need to write 3-4 blog posts a day.
so we hired him and expected the worst because the Kams totally dominated the Lakers blogosphere up until that point.
and part of their popularity was the fact that they’d get 100s of comments a day. Could Mark mix it up in the comments AND go to practices AND interview the players AND cut videos AND go to all the games AND give me half or 3/4ths the traffic that the Kams did?
weirdly he Could!
in a total shocker, many of the readers did not follow the Kams to ESPN, they stayed loyal, for reasons I still don’t know (habit maybe), with the Times.
people asked, is Mark really that good of a writer? what’s his secret?
and maybe the secret was the readers saw what I saw: Funky Cold truly loved the game, was earnest, wasn’t full of shit, and was personable.
and for two years straight his numbers were consistent with the kings, the Kams.
Mark was so friendly that when Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) first retired from the Lakers he gave a shout out to Funky Cold.
Today Mark announced that the San Jose Mercury is hiring him to cover the world champion Warriors.
Last night he called me to tell me he was going to announce it all today. He thanked me for the help I gave him at the Times.
But the truth is, he wrote everything, he did 60+ hour work weeks, he studied film, he worked as hard as anyone out there.
I am Very happy for him. Boring as that team will be to cover, at least he will get to go to a few more postseason games than if he was stuck covering the Lakers.
Give em hell Mark!