JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Skip Bayless

As I sit here waiting for the Ramada shuttle bus, listening to some groovy elevator music, I started to think about Skip Bayless, the ESPN TV personality. If you go over to my NEWS section, you’ll see that Rich Deitsch over at SI.com made note of my flogging of Bayless within the pages of “Boys Will Be Boys.”

I wrote a small passage on this blog, saying I have nothing personal against Bayless. But now, listening to elevator music, I want to slightly switch that. While I don’t personally have any beef with ol’ Skip, I do hate what he’s become as a journalist, and what many of my peers are starting to become as well. Once upon a time Bayless was of the truly great talents of the industry—he wrote wonderfully; knew an excellent subject matter when it presented itself; took the right tone, RE: soothing; scathing; etc. He was a legit up-and-comer; a potential heir to the Jim Murray throne.

But then something went wrong. This is sort of a guess, but I think Skip saw that yelling and condemning and slamming gets a helluva lot more attention than reason. So that’s what he did—he yelled and condemned and took controversial, seemingly illogical positions for the sake of being, well, Skip. Was he wrong to do so? Maybe not. Now Skip is one of ESPN’s top yellers—he can be seen screaming on television quite often, whether the subject is the Yankees’ pitching staff or pee-wee football. He yells and yells and yells and yells—and gets paid well to do so.

Personally, I can’t stand it. I’ve been asked to take part in televised yells fests in the past, and I’ve refused. Yeah, it’s OK to have opinions, and to express them passionately. But, generally speaking, I’m a fan of the pen, not the mouth.