SAN DIEGO, CA—Bleacher Report analyst Eric Gomez was slouched over his computer keyboard, glazed eyes nearly pressed against a computer screen that constantly refreshed, obeying the constant, nearly melodic tap of Gomez's finger.
"Still at 46 reads," said Gomez in a monotone, nearly inaudible voice. "I don't understand it."
Standing over him, a blond-haired man seemingly filled the role of cheerleader. "Buck up, bro! It's still way early! You only published this like two days ago."
The man presented himself as John "The Manoog" Manoogian, "barista/life coach/spiritual guru/journalistic article title generator."
"I'm like a jack of all trades. Except my name is John. 'John' of all trades. But not like a hooker's 'John.' Regular John. Of all trades," explained Manoogian, who had been hired by Gomez to come up with a phrase to preface all of his articles.
"I figured that way people would recognize my articles sooner, they'd look at the title before the title and go 'Hey yeah, that's that guy who writes good articles.' I brought John on to help after he gave me a discount on my coffee last week," said Gomez.
But the sad truth was the Gomez/Manoogian venture did not go quite as planned.
After crafting an article detailing the struggles of the US Baseball Team in the recent World Baseball Classic, Manoogian took it upon himself to title the article.
"Check it, after taking a T/O, that's 'timeout' by the way, I came up with 'I love amERICa' for his title after careful seconds of consideration...and then I added the actual article title, in this case 'US sucks at baseball' so that it was 'I love amERICa: US sucks at baseball'. Duality, baby."
Despite several positive reviews from editors (and several requests to change the article title), Gomez's piece did not make the splash he expected, and received only one comment.
"It was a request from someone else to read an article about amateur cricket," explained Gomez.
"So we tried again, this time we wanted to go below the mainstream, you know? Under the bleachers," says Manoogian, who constantly interrupts himself to field telephone calls from his mother, "So this time Eric wrote about hockey."
The newest article was about a recent losing streak that the Montreal Canadiens had suffered. Again, after receiving praise from editors, Gomez was confident that the article would take off.
This time, it did. Although Gomez wishes it hadn't.
"I love amERICa: Canadiens terrible at hockey" received 143 comments and 12,393 views, prompted a response from Montrèal's mayor: "No we're not," and earned Gomez several death threats and questions as to whether he was related to Scott Gomez.
"I am not," he answered.
"Hey, we were just joshin' around. And so, here we stand man. By the way, you want a cookie or something? Brain food for writers. And sweet food for us," explains Manoogian.
And what is this latest article about?
"The internationalization of the PGA tour over the years," explains Gomez.
"Yeah, so check it out. I asked him what countries the players come from, and I came up with this title: 'I love amERICa: Spaniards, Argentinians, South Africans, Englishmen, Swedes, Norwegians, and others play golf but still suck compared to Tiger, who is American.'"
"I guess people don't give a crap about custom titles that preface articles," says Manoogian, looking pensive as he wipes cookie crumbs off his shirt.
"Come to think of it, maybe writers should just focus on writing better content instead of wasting time on clumsy titles. I'll go tell Eric that."
Eric Gomez is an analyst on Bleacher Report who doesn't really scarf down cookies while he's writing.