We don’t like pop-up ads, auto-play videos, the “pivot to video” or all of the other things that are making our online experience worse. We wanted a site with really good sports writing; interruption-free sports stories and features from creative writers. But quality writers don’t (and shouldn’t) come for free. Enter the subscription site: for the amount you’d tip a server after a meal, you’ll get in-depth coverage of the Rangers, Stars, and Cowboys, with Mavericks coverage coming very soon.
THE WHOLE STORY
At first glance, one might think “The Upset” an homage to the aggrieved or the angry. But no, this website was named after the other kind of upset: emphasis on the first syllable, not the second. It’s the kind of unexpected occurrence that makes for a great story. It’s the Miracle on Ice. It’s the ‘04 Red Sox, Braddock over Baer, Bengie Molina hitting for the cycle, or–at the risk of putting too fine a point on the thing–a horse named Upset.
To properly tell the story of Upset, you must start by invoking none other than the great Babe Ruth. In 1920, Ruth hit 54 home runs in his first season with the New York Yankees, (shattering his year-old record of 29). Ruth batted .376 that year, finishing the season with an OPS of 1.379. Not only was that the highest OPS mark of his career, it was also a record that would stand for 82 years.
But even as Ruth put together the most dominant season baseball had ever seen, the New York Times decided that he would share the Outstanding Athlete of the Year award with a horse: Man o’ War, who–despite having sat out the Kentucky Derby–utterly dominated the Preakness Stakes. When Man o’ War crossed the finish line at the Belmont stakes less than a month later, he did so twenty lengths ahead of the second place horse.
There was no third place horse; so dominant was Man o’ War that no one else had even bothered entering.
Staying home was likely the wisest move: the 2:14:20 time that Man o’ War set at the 1⅜-mile distance that day would stand until 1961 (the same year Roger Maris would overtake Ruth as the single-season home run king). By the time Man o’ War retired, his record in 21 career races was twenty wins, and a single loss.
That single loss? It came on August 13th, 1919 to a horse named Upset.
Man o’ War had a fractious start at Saratoga that day, and Upset held on to an early lead to win by a neck. It was the sort of unexpected, miraculous, out-of-nowhere gift that sports will deign to bestow upon its followers once in awhile, reminding us that—in sports—sometimes even the inevitable gives way to the impossible.
Upset has a third meaning, as well. When you overturn or tip over something that had previously been in order. “Upset the apple cart,” is a well-known adage, and paints the picture quite well: usually, there is something of a mess in the immediate aftermath of this particular type of upset.
In this vein, sports writing is in the process of an upset. As websites struggle to monetize the written word, many have pivoted to video to maintain ad revenue, abandoning writing altogether. Readers, meanwhile, just want to read the story without the interruption of full-page, hard-to-close ads, or an unexpected video violating the silence of the room.
So we built one: The Upset, a subscription-based website committed to good writing, accurate reporting, and engaging storytelling. Here’s our promise: you’ll never see any pop-up ads, and you’ll never ever encounter any auto-play videos (we’ll still have video content, but you’ll only see it if you decide to click ‘play’).
We launched on December 1st, 2017 with writers covering the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars full-time. On January 1st, 2018 added coverage of the Dallas Cowboys. Mavericks coverage is next, and–should we find the right people to tell the story–FC Dallas, the Wings, and the smorgasbord of college sports in the region as well.
Heck, maybe you’ll even get the occasional horse racing story.
Why a paid subscription when sports coverage has been “free” online for so long? For the reasons outlined above. It was never free, it was paid for by advertisers. As that experience grows more arduous for the reader, we believe that the hassle-free experience of in-depth sports coverage and world-class storytelling is worth at least what you’d tip your bartender or waiter, and so our price is a reasonable $4.00 per month, or $40.00 for a year.
Before we finish, let’s go back to the horses for a moment:
Upset and Man o’ War met six more times after that fateful afternoon in 1919, and Man o’ War won all six. We’re under no false pretenses that this website is going to single-handedly change the world of sports writing. We’re not the first subscription sports site, and we’re not the first to try something new in sports storytelling. In fact, we consider our predecessors and mentors something like the world thinks of Man o’ War: traditional sports writing has given us some of the greatest stories ever told, most of them printed in the pages of newspapers and magazines. If anyone can weather the storm of an industry change, I believe in the writers to do so.
We’re just trying to get our Upset in before 1920 arrives.