My name is John Gasaway, and on behalf of Kyle I want to welcome you to a week of highly worrisome temp help here at The Mid-Majority.
Kyle's in Vancouver to partake of what Viktor Gustaf Balck
hath wrought. If I know my K-Dub he's already pounding out 3,000 words on the ineffable je ne sais quoi of the Japanese women's curling team, an underfunded but indomitable competitor who's truly the SWAC of these Games. But fear not, it's going to take more than an Olympiad to still the clanging gong back here at TMM.
Like all temps I'll be shaky at the beginning, and indeed you'll note that Kyle had the eminent good sense to schedule my first day on a Federal holiday, when readership is at its smallest. And so I'm going to steal a sound bite I had occasion to deploy quite often on the book tour
. Let's just ignore all these empty chairs and gather in a little circle here up front. Here's the thing.
It's been almost six years now since The Mid-Majority was loosed on an unsuspecting and quiescent college hoops world. And though Lehman Brothers may crumble and Billy Packer may tumble, Kyle's been as constant as he is indefatigable in his devotion to hoops outside the "power" conferences. His mid-major love is here to stay.
Or it was up until this week. (Har!) Tomorrow I'll dive into that mid-majordom with all the questionable and late-acquired street cred I can marshal, but today by way of introduction I want to say a word or two about the site.
When Kyle asked me if I'd step in for a week, the first thing I did was hack into my old Yahoo! mail account. It'd been almost three years since I'd checked that particular In box, and so I found that I have 1,432 unread messages. This made me feel enormously busy and important, but actually I was there to unearth the very first email I sent to Kyle so many seasons ago, back when Nick Fazekas still roamed the WAC
. I've long held some vague notion that this was the only email I've ever been moved to send on the spot, after looking at a website for the very first time.
Turns out my memory, for once, was on the money. From me to Kyle, November 13, 2004:
Hi. I have an eight-day-old blog that will as of this moment include a link to yours. I've just looked at The Mid-Majority for the first time and it's outstanding.
Good luck with your project. You have the correct priorities.
As the date makes clear I had just read The Beautiful Season
, but that particular acorn is less important than the mighty oak that immediately took root and shot up there. Starting that day the world as I knew it had TMM in it. And I knew in an instant that Kyle's was the best solution for a challenge that will tolerate no solution, how to "cover" 250-odd D-I basketball teams.
Well, you can't cover 250-odd D-I basketball teams. But you can go to 100-odd games per year, talk to a few dozen coaches, rub elbows with a few hundred players, and tack into the delicious wind created by the transient yet durable energy in all those barns, bowls, and bandboxes. You can pen a Bally cartoon
and name an MMBOW
each week. You can interview authors
and do guest-shots
. You can even spend the night at the Palestra
In other words the number of teams below the Red line
is smaller than the number of ways TMM has found to limn them. To the world at large I would declare Kyle to be the Evan Turner of college basketball writers. But regular readers of this site will understand instantly when I say that K-Dub's body of work is a lot like what we saw Lester Hudson do last year at Tennessee-Martin.
If you're like me, this site's annual rhythms have long been part of your personal autonomic hoops clock. Every college basketball season begins on November 1, when The Mid-Majority awakes with a series of scene-setting think-pieces that will never be faulted by Pete Thamel for excessive waving of pom poms
. In fact I once jokingly suggested
to Kyle that this annual weeklong exercise in j'accuse!
could be conveniently labeled "(Noun) Sucks." I've also told him that when I read these season-framing Pensees I sometimes imagine he's speaking to me in the voice of Grandpa Simpson. But of course the truth is that Kyle's on top of his game when he's handing down bills of indictment. I wouldn't have TMM any other way.
That a gimlet-eyed iconoclast who could unsheathe a serenely sweeping piece of kulturkrieg like The Sports Bubble
would himself possess more entrepreneurial moxy
in his mouse finger than any ten Wall Street bankers can claim is part and parcel of what I call the TMM dialectic. (Which I realize translates literally as "the The Mid-Majority dialectic." Look, I'm perfectly willing to play the "I'm just a temp" card.) I don't have any merchandise to hawk, but this week I'll do my best to ape Kyle's versatility in miniature with posts that, if I'm doing this right, will touch on anything and everything except rebound margin
In a manner of speaking this is actually my second appearance at The Mid-Majority. Back in the 2005-06 season Kyle had a podcast up and running, and he had me on as a guest. I'm sure we must have talked about college basketball at some point, but to be honest the only exchange I remember went like this:
KYLE: On the one hand you use all these stats and you're obviously comfortable trafficking in numbers, but on the other hand you use big words like "diaspora." Do you ever feel like a split-personality?
JOHN (awkward pause): Well that's rather pejorative.
KYLE (laughing): Hey, I....
JOHN: I prefer "Renaissance man," something less clinical.
Believe me, I realize it's in spite of and not due to that earlier appearance that I've been asked back for another go.
Joyce was once approached by an eager fan who rushed up to him and said, "I must shake the hand that wrote Ulysees
!" With his hand remaining firmly in his pocket the author matter-of-factly responded, "No, it's done other things too."
Kyle has assured me that The Mid-Majority has done other things too and that even a temp can't possibly harm the place too much in just one week. So let's get to it. As I told the man himself when I said yes, we'll have some fun.Tomorrow: John makes mid-majors an offer they can't refuse.