The Definitive Washington Post Sports Columnist Power Rankings

Kevin Reiss, who is a guy I follow on Twitter, asked something interesting the other day:

How did Mike Wise come to be the best, sorry, least worst, sports columnist at WaPo?

He then went on to rank the Washington Post Sports columnists from “least worst” to worst. It was an exercise that was relevant to my interests.

So I set out to get a larger group’s collective opinion, first asking our Mr. Irrelevant staff for their rankings and then throwing it out on Twitter and Facebook too. Some notes about that:

– We included the Post’s five full-time columnists but not contractor or syndicated columnists.

– We didn’t include the Post’s other sports reporters, because if they’re not going to label them as columnists then we aren’t either.

– The Mr. Irrelevant staff includes me, Chris Mottram, JP Finlay, Matt Terl, Jack Kogod, Rob Abbott, Todd Davis, Brad Parker and Andy Peden. We are all 20-to-40-something white males.

– We had 40-50 respondents on Twitter and Facebook. I have no idea who most of those people are, let alone how old they are or what they look like.

With that out of the way, here’s what I got back …

Mr. Irrelevant Staff Rankings

1. Thomas Boswell
2. Sally Jenkins
3. Jason Reid
4. Mike Wise
5. Tracee Hamilton

Boswell ran away with our staff vote, and there was little separation between Jenkins, Reid and Wise.

Mr. Irrelevant Social Rankings

1. Thomas Boswell
2. Sally Jenkins
3. Mike Wise
4. Jason Reid
5. Tracee Hamilton

Again, Boswell won the social vote in a landslide, and Jenkins, Wise and Reid were closely bunched together.

Because so many people weighed in and both sets of rankings are very similar, I feel pretty good about the results. I’d like to see how this stable stacks up against other big papers across the country and also against WaPo Sports columnists of yesteryear. Those are exercises for other days, though.

Thanks to everyone for weighing in.

23 thoughts on “The Definitive Washington Post Sports Columnist Power Rankings”

  1. I don’t know why Barry Svrluga isn’t a columnist yet. He’s been on the Nats and Skins beats at the Post, contributed to Caps coverage, apparently covered the Carolina Hurricanes, plus college basketball.

  2. Boz may be a homer, but if you think he’s the biggest around, then I suggest you never under any circumstances read the.Sports columnists in Boston or Philadelphia, as it might induce a stroke.

    Also, Svluga or Shenin for columns, ASAP please.

  3. Boswell is a homer, but at least he can write well. Jenkins is also often dishonest but again she can write.

    There is absolutely no reason to have someone who can neither write nor be pithy as a columnist. Tracee Hamilton is so obviously the worst that I can’t think of a reason they keep her besides she’s a female sportswriter and fills a quota. Please tell Steinberg to grow some hair so he can pass as female and then they can move him onto a full column.

  4. Jenkins being so totally in the can for Lance Hamilton should put her down right next to the talentless Hamilton. She has ridden her great father’s coattails forever.
    Wise deserves to be above Reid because Wise at least can write some. Reid is just a reporter who got a column, possibly in the Wilbon-Clarence Thomas slot, but doesn’t have the talent to do anything with it.

  5. Really, it’s Boswell and Jenkins as bona fide columnists. Even though Boz is a homer and Jenkins is a Lance-fluffer, they are at least decent writers.
    I can’t remember reading anything from Jason Reid that resonates.
    Mike Wise has turned into Dances with Wolves and his columns on Agent 0 were particularly annoying. He’s at his best when he isn’t writing about sports (just like Weingarten is at his best when he isn’t trying to be funny. But that, too, is for another day).
    Tracee Hamilton, there are no words. She seems like a nice enough person, but as a columnist she makes a great editor.

  6. Boswell: This football game can be explained by an old baseball anecdote. Is drunk.

    Wise: can write, chooses not to.

    Hamilton: a couple great (personal) stories, a lot of bad stories.

    Jenkins: lives on Long Island. Appeals to readers who exist only in the minds of editors. the lance thing.

    Reid: Really looked bad on RI when he replaced LaCanfora. Opinion pieces apparently aren’t edited.

    Steinberg: without internet, is pumping gas. with internet, will not age gracefully.

    Sheinin: likeable chap

    Maske: inscrutable.

    Svrluga: good pieces when they appear.

  7. Sad that I grew up reading Kornheiser and Wilbon and this what we’re left with (minus Boswell).

    Say what you will about Wilbon now, but in the 90′s he was a great writer.

    Jenkins is a good writer, but she too often has an axe to grind with the Skins. Not that the Skins and Snyder don’t deserve it, but she seems bitter even when they’re playing well.

  8. I’m not sure what happened to the WaPo sports section, but it’s definitely not the must-read that it used to be. The only writers worth reading over there are Svrluga, Kilgore, Sheinen, Steinz, Michael Lee, and Boz. If not for those dudes, I’d never read the Post.

    Maybe George Solomon took the eye for talent with him when he retired?

  9. Boswell and Wise the only two worth reading, even though Wise is an idiot and a Johnny-raincloud. Jason Reid writes like a 3rd-grader.

  10. It’s a sorry bunch to choose from, sadly. Too bad Feinstein isn’t considered a columnist, as he’s the only one who puts thoughtful pieces together. I think the mark of a good reporter is being able to do a good piece on a sport like hockey, which is terribly hard to do on a nuanced basis if you’re not overly familiar with the game itself. On that basis alone, the above crew is abysmal. It’s gotten to the point where I ignore the columnists in favor of the beat reporters (I like Reid as a beat reporter, but he tends to come across as jumbled in large pieces).
    On a closing note; Tracee Hamilton is the Bleacher Reports of sports cloumnists. Her name attached to an article is an automatic no-click.

  11. Wow, pumping gas > selling cheese was a poor choice. Absent this job, I would be doing something tree-huggerish. Not pumping gas.

    But I agree that it will be hard to age gracefully in this profession. Anyone hiring?

    (Also, Sally doesn’t live on Long Island.)

    (Also, Sally’s web traffic would appear to indicate that she does not appeal to readers who exist only in the minds of editors, unless editors are furiously hitting refresh on all her columns from IP addresses outside 15th and L.)

  12. Wise writes some dumb columns sometimes, but at least he can be both provocative and, in some of his profiles of athletes, pretty moving. I can’t believe anyone who read his piece, for instance, the day after Chris Cooley retired could put him behind Jason Reid as a columnist.

    Boz can be entertaining and occasionally enlightening, but particularly with the Nats the past couple years, he’s become such a homer, it’s become problematic. The fact that he never once wrote anything last summer at least grappling with the arguments for not shutting Strasburg down, or spacing out his innings differently, instead of just dismissing them out-of-hand, was a disservice by the top baseball columnist at the paper. And he’s often wrong: He wrote that Joe Gibbs would stay another year a few years back, the day before he resigned again, and last year he wrote in a chat that Dale Hunter would obviously stay another year, as Dale Hunter was resigning–just to give two examples. But his historical perspective on Washington sports is valuable.

    I love to see Jenkins tear into people like Dan Snyder, but really–after her repeated defense of Lance Armstrong and her failure to in any way apologize for it or admit that she had been enabling and glorifying a sociopath, it’s hard to take her seriously when she goes after someone now.

    Glad to see everyone agrees that Hamilton is a solid fifth.

    As for historically, in his heyday–pre-PTI days–Kornheiser was better than any of the current columnists.

  13. Been reading the Post since I was a kid and I gotta say, here’s my power rankings over the last 20 years:

    1) Mr. Tony (hasn’t written a column in years and still the unquestioned GOAT)
    2) Boz
    3) Wilbon
    4) Sally Jenkins
    T5) Angus Phillips (j/k)
    T5) Badger Len Shapiro (very underrated)

    Post the Kornheiser-Wilbon era:

    1) Steinz
    2) Feinstein
    3) Boz (just a total homer these days)
    4) Jenkins
    5) Norman Chad (lol?)

    Reid, Hamilton, Wise and everyone else is absolutely brutal. Where are the Jasnos?

    I guess it’s not surprising that the precipitous drop in quality for Post sports columnist mirrors the paper’s overall drop in quality. This is from someone who grew up worshiping the Post.

  14. Well, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But even John Wall knows when to ignore the trolls…see what I mean, re: gas pumping? Seems like I hit a nerve. You just became a bit real to me, and I apologize, it is probably clear i am not a fan and should have refrained. Bur really, responding on here, to this thread in particular, is somewhat pathetic, and foisting web stats to which I have no access, well, that is exactly why I don’t like you.

  15. This sounds a lot like the SNL debate we hear every 7 years or so. “It used to be so much better!” “Adam Sandler and Chris Farley are terrible!” “Who is this Will Ferrell? He sucks!” “Kristin Wiig is an unfunny troll!”

    Steinz does a great job reporting on offbeat things and is internet funny. Boz does a great job writing about baseball. Tracee, Jenx and Reid are all good columnists. Wise gets a bit troll-y at times, but he’s trying to be DC’s resident bomb thrower. The market spoke fairly loudly when he was removed from 106.7 and they let homophobic know-nothing Holden Kushner keep his job.

    Let’s just thank God we the Post doesn’t have a stable of writers like the Boston sports scene (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2013/01/boston-sportswriters-awful/). Those guys haven’t had an original thought in 20 years.

  16. Reid is a hack, and I’ve never understood what Hamilton did to get the job. I like Steinberg a lot, and don’t understand all the hate he gets. I actually think Wise can be ok. Boz is the only one left on the staff with any real gravitas. Letting LaCanfora go was a mistake. But what do I know? I’m just Snyder’s bitch.

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