Download God Save the Fan: How Preening Sportscasters, Athletes Who Speak in the Third Person, and the Occasional Convicted Quarterback Have Taken the Fun Out of Sports (And How We Can Get It Back) PDF

TitleGod Save the Fan: How Preening Sportscasters, Athletes Who Speak in the Third Person, and the Occasional Convicted Quarterback Have Taken the Fun Out of Sports (And How We Can Get It Back)
File Size2.4 MB
Total Pages307
Document Text Contents
Page 153


This is one of the more famous stories to emerge from my little
Web site. The legend begins with an e-mail we received from a

baseball reporter who recalled hanging out in a bar one spring

training night in the late ’90s. As reporters in bars on the road are

wont to do, he had been chatting up a woman. She happened to

be wearing a leather jacket. The reporter chatted with the woman

for about two hours and thought he was doing well; he was even

thinking of asking her to come back to his hotel room.

Then, with a whoosh and a clatter, the door to the bar burst

open to reveal ESPN’s portly “personality” Chris Berman. As

high on life as ever, Berman waddled up to the woman, pointed

at her, and bellowed, “You’re with Me, Leather.” And it worked.

She smiled.

I told this story on the site, thinking it would be a fun little

one-off and no one would think all that much about it. I was

wrong. Within twenty-four hours, the phrase had taken off,

with mock T-shirts, Photoshop illustrations, and constant ref-

erences littering my site and others. A catchphrase was born.

Within a week, Tony Kornheiser had mentioned it on his radio

show—he claimed he’d use it as a touchdown call on Monday

Night Football—and he was followed by Keith Olbermann

on his cable program, Neil Everett on SportsCenter (allegedly

Page 154


earning him a brief suspension), and, most insanely, MTV Total

Request Live host Damien Fahey, who displayed a “YWML”

T-shirt to a confused smattering of fourteen-year-olds. Eventu-

ally, the television show Las Vegas dramatized the incident,

complete with an older gentleman successfully courting a

woman at a bar with the line.

Why did YWML take off so fast and go so far? I certainly

can’t take credit for it; the phrase has become so huge that most

people don’t even know Deadspin originated it, and it has a

Wikipedia page that’s twice the size of Deadspin’s. I think it’s

because it sounds like an ESPN catchphrase—“You’re with Me,

Leather” is the perfect way to describe a shortstop snagging a

ground ball—and, in a roundabout way, it became a way to sati-

rize the ESPN-ization of sports in general. You want catch-

phrases? Here’s a catchphrase. It was a way of mocking ESPN

without actually having to say the call letters.

As for Berman himself, he’s only acknowledged the story in

public once, at a golf outing, when he said it was something that

happened “years ago” and that he’s only out to make people

happy, or some such Disney nonsense. His on-the-road exploits

are epic and constantly recounted—I found a photo of him get-

ting a lap dance before the Super Bowl in Jacksonville a few

years ago, and it’s even scarier to look at than you think it is—

but rather than embrace his exploits, Berman continues to run

from them. I’ve always thought it would be smart of Berman to

make this all an in-joke, maybe introduce David “You’re with

Me” Weathers on Baseball Tonight or something, but that would

require a modicum of self-awareness that I’m not sure exists in

Berman’s melon. At this point, it’s obvious that “You’re with

Me, Leather” will end up on Berman’s headstone, and some-

times I fear it’ll be on mine as well.

Page 306


GOD SAVE THE FAN. Copyright © 2008 by Will Leitch. All rights

reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright

Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted

the non-exclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of

this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced,

transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in

or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any

form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known

or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of

HarperCollins e-books.

Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader January 2008

ISBN 978-0-06-156951-7

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Page 307


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