Friday, September 2, 2011

What Can't Grantland Rank? We Rank Grantland's Rankings

By Finesse

If you're like me, then you wake up at least 3 times per week in a panicked sweat wondering, "How am I going to decide who is better between Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston?"  Thankfully, Grantland.com is dedicated to devising numerical ranking systems to rank things that aren't numerical and that no one wants ranked.

Always <3
For example, Jay Caspian Kang's "Diva" rankings (created for a different website in 2010 to settle Aretha vs. Whiteny once and for all) have been brought to Grantland to help us understand just how Adele could let the opportunity to surpass Lady Gaga as the world's #1 pop star slip through her fingers at the VMAs.  And thanks to Katie Baker's "NUPTIALS" scoring system, we now know that it is better for an Asian to marry a blonde (3 points) than for a Jew to marry an Asian (2 points). Or consider Chuck Klosterman's "Rock VORP," a baseball-statistic-inspired way of teaching us that Thin Lizzy was better than The Stooges because Thin Lizzy is a 0.88 and The Stooges are only 0.84.

But that's just scratching the surface.  The one-named "Carles" organized NBA players by degrees of self-awareness.  Chuck Klosterman used 2,000 words to dissect "Edgar Winter's Finest Nine Minutes," which sounds like a porno.  Dave Jacoby has a Reality TV Fantasy League Scorecard which is actually kind of funny, but still leans heavily on the arbitrary points system as a crutch.  Harris Wittles gave us a "power ranking" of Twitter's all-time most egregious Humblebraggers and promises us that he will supplement this list monthly.  (We're holding you to that, Wittles).  And if you've ever needed proof of Adam Carolla's theory that America doesn't have any real problems despite all of the negative things you read about in the paper, someone named Steve Kandell wakes up every Monday morning and ranks Breaking Bad, Larry David, and Louis CK.


You get the point.*

There's only one way to make sense of all this.  A rankings system.  We've created the W.A.S.T.E. Algorithm to determine once and for all what the best rankings are on Grantland.

Explore the ranking system after the jump....


"W"ords

Brevity is of no moment on Grantland.

< 1,000 words = -10 points.  Why even bother?
1,000 to 1,250 words = 0 points
1,251 to 1,600 words = 3 points
1,601 to 2,000 words = 8 points
2,000 - 5,000 words = 15 points
> 5,000 and you're hired as a full-time writer.

The first 10 footnotes are each worth 0.5 points, but every footnote after the 10th is worth an additional point.  A footnote within a footnote counts as 2 points, but the original footnote retains it's normal score.  Mistakes caught by Deadspin do not count toward the total word count.

R"A"ndomness

Ask yourself, why did this person rank this?  If your answer is "I have no idea" then award 20 points.  For every person or entity in the rankings who you've never heard of, award 5 points per person/entity.  If there is video involved, award 5 points for every minute of the video that you haven't ever seen before, but subtract one point for every minute of the video that you are able to watch without closing the window.

Random guy.  Let's rank him.
Uselessne"S"s

The Usefulness category is designed to answer the question, "what am I supposed to do with these rankings?"  With that in mind, award points as follows:

- Help you better understand something you are going to watch on TV: -10 points
- Give you a piece of information you can quote to your friends: -5 points
- Assist you in blindly stereotyping people from their wedding photos: 10 points
- Print them out just so you can throw them away: 20 points
- If you don't want the rankings and cannot possibly for the life of you fathom why someone is ranking these things: 50 points.

Concei"T"

Here we're measuring how much smarter the writer feels than you.

- Writer high-fived him/herself in the mirror after coming up with the rankings: 1 point
- For every use of the word genius, savant, virtuoso, brilliant, or ingenius: 3 points per word
- Writer kissed himself in the mirror: 5 points


- Writer resents people who use a Mac because he had one first: 6 points
- Writer used to use a Mac but doesn't anymore because it's too trendy: 12 points
- Writer is wearing ironic glasses frames: 15 points (2 point bonus for beard)
- Guy writing about humblebraggers humblebrag-tweets about his humblebrag column: 20 points
- The rankings column loses it's rhythm midway through because the author stopped to smell his own farts: 25 points



Untim"E"liness 

One steadfast rule for rankings: the older and less relevant, the better.  That's why Jonah Keri's baseball trade deadline power rankings were so annoying -- they were made, like, right at the trade deadline.  We prefer obscure songs from 1973.  Subtract the year of the things you are ranking from 2011.  If the rankings span more than one year, take the average of all the years and subtract it from 2011.

But if you're Katie Baker, and you're ranking the wedding section of the New York Times, just stop.  Because you win.

*In response to the inevitable, "hahah, idiot, you're obsessed with Grantland" response, here's the response. We haven't actually read a single one of these "rankings" columns.  We just notice how often they show up, so I ran a search for "ranking" on the site.  Does not having read these columns we're criticizing diminish the credibility of this post?  Yes, it does. Thank you.

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