I ran my own site in the early '00s and I made contacts with Scott Engel, Tristan Cockcroft and Michael Fabiano -- three of the original SPLN Fantasy content guys. Engel helped me get my foot in the door and eventually grab a seat to replace Marlon McRae, who had moved back to New York. Dan Dobish had taken a job with the group, about six months before me, to work nights and write the hockey content.
We worked on the east side of the building at that time, which was secluded away from everyone in the building. No one claimed us -- and we were happy about it. We were able to act however we wanted without worries about who was walking around the corner.
So I thought I'd offer up a review of some of the people that have worked here during my tenure. The following are the owners that worked with me on the East Side of the building.
Scott Engel was the first of all Fantasy content writers at SportsLine, dating back to the mid-'90s, writing both Fantasy Baseball and Football. He was also a KISS freak, to put it mildly. Whatever you do, don't accidentally mention that you like KISS or else he will give you an impromptu air guitar concert for the next hour. He actually dressed up like Ace Frehley frequently (I think he was in a KISS air tribute band -- seriously). He also sat extremely close to his monitor. And whenever he did his cataclysmic sneezes, Dobish would say, "Ya get speckles on your screen?"
Engel was a good guy with a good heart, but he and Fabiano just couldn't get along. Have you ever worked with people that argued every day? They were like that -- but we (Tristan, Dobish and myself) thought it was great comedy. Fabs, who isn't the tallest of Fantasy writer, was ripping into Engel one day, and he remarked that he needed some Tic-Tacs for his breath. To which Engel quipped, "At least I can't fit into a Tic-Tac box." That joke still stands among one of the best in the group's history. Dobish laughed for two hours after that argument.
Here are a couple excerpts that I wrote about Fabiano after his going-away party in July of 2006. "His metrosexually clean cube looked like a model cube we use as a showroom to sell other cubes. You know, like with fake furniture and the cardboard TV? Nothing but right angles and an anally clean desktop" ... "Fabiano likes (and I'm not kidding): Dallas Cowboys, N.Y. Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Notre Dame football, North Carolina basketball and Italy's World Cup team ('Dood, I'm Italian!') He likes all of these teams despite the following facts: He's not from New York or Los Angeles. He's not Irish. He's not from Tobacco Road and the last time he watched soccer might have been the first time. I also hear that he's also a big fan of the Roman Empire, the lions (vs. the Christians), big banking conglomerates, big brother (Orwell's not Julie Chen's) and gravity. I think the last underdog he rooted for was Jesus Christ -- but even then -- it's the son of God, how much of an underdog is that?"
I'm happy to say that Fabs and Engel don't hate each other anymore. They're both good guys that helped me through my early stages.
Speaking of helping me in my early stages, no one mentored me more than Tristan Cockcroft. From the first day I joined the group, he taught me how to do just about everything. Writing updates and columns isn't exactly rocket science, but he taught me some of the nuances of both. I always thought he would have been a great manager for the group, but he, along with Engel, ended up going to the worldwide leader in 2004.
Now, let's make fun of him. He had a large, bulbous head that could have been a Macy's Day parade balloon. And there were few things funnier than seeing him angry at something. He's such a good guy that when he got angry -- really angry -- about something, it was almost cartoon-like. He'd smash his fist on the table and stomp his feet. And the only thing that smelled worse than his farts was the coffee candle that he would open up to mask the smell of his recently released fart. The mix of aromas made it smell like Juan Valdez's bathroom.
"TIOTSTIOOOOONIAN" has since had a child with his lovely wife Marlaina -- and he still thinks Don Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame. Emack and Tristan are the only two other baseball writers I've worked with at SportsLine, and I can honestly say they are the most knowledgeable baseball guys I've ever dealt with.
Dobish left SportsLine last fall. He was the guy I worked with the longest -- one of the last of the old group. When we started here, things were much different. We both worked weekends, and he worked nights to my days. Dobish and I were also the only two that were assigned all four Fantasy sports. Now, Sergio, Hurc and Ross are capable 4-sporters. While Dobish was easily the most cantankerous of the group, he was also one of the funniest. The day he left was one of the saddest for me at SportsLine. I still see him often because we play softball together, and I'm hoping it will be the same with Emack and Jamey once I leave here. Dobish pitches and I catch -- which means he'll one-bounce a pitch off the plate into my chin a couple times a night. When he's not walking in three runs a night, he's a pretty good softball guy.
So those four guys made up the Fantasy content group when I joined it. Our manager at the time was Mark Swanson, who I also hope to keep in touch with down the road. Our weekly staff meetings would have made for a great webcam show. Swanny would come in and tell us what we needed to know from a content standpoint, then we'd discuss assignments and things we'd like to write about. We'd each chip in thoughts and ideas for the other sports in a roundtable discussion. At some point, Engel would do an impression of someone, Fabs would make fun of Engel, Tristan would look at me and shake his head, and Dobish would make an off-color comment. It was the circle of Fantasy life. Then Swanny would go around the table and ask anyone if they had something to say, and I'd wrap the meeting up with interesting quotes made throughout the week by everyone. So I thought I'd wrap up this blog in that same tradition. The quotes below are from the early days -- and I had to cut a bunch of them to make this a relatively clean blog.
Early SportsLine Quotes
- Dobish: "Hey, this is the first time I've ever eaten a pickle on Christmas Day!"
- Dobish: "I wish I had a urinal in my bedroom."
- Gonos to Dobish: "Hey, your mom wants you to give her a call."
- Dobish: "I'm going home to get me some sausage -- that's the highlight of my Friday night."
- Fabiano: "Dood, play something cool like Hall & Oates!"
- Engel's Thai order every time: "L3 Beef, No Vegetables."
- Dobish to Tristan: "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaatever dude, I just farted in your cube."
- Fabiano: "Gonos won his wife in a cheeseburger-eating contest."
- Dobish: "So I was talking to my racist uncle the other day ..."
- Fabiano to Engel: "You eat Snicker-bar salads."
- Dobish: "I don't believe in people having names like Jonathan Johnson, or names that rhyme."
- Fabiano: "The 49er's used to have a burrito for a mascot?" (after reading they once had a burro as a mascot.)
- Dobish: "You know me, I love a midget."
- Engel's Subway order every time: "Foot-long white, with salami, tomatoes and mustard. That's it."
- Dobish: "I wake up in the morning and have a little poll with myself ..."
- Fabiano: "Man, I could go for a hot teabag!"