Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

All Yankees, all the time

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An airplane flight

Nothing new today. Just got in on a late flight from Florida. I’ll be bringing you four new columns starting Tuesday night. This week, I’ll start previewing the season. I’ll have a book review, and I’ll follow up on those announcements I talked about last week.

Happy Presidents’ Day

There’s nothing brewing here today, folks. Sorry about that. Join me this week starting Tuesday for a look at Cuban baseball from various angles. I’ll explore the popularity of Cuban béisbol on the island and Cuba and the WBC. Meanwhile, for those of you with a day off, enjoy the Presidents’ Day holiday.

Stark’s blog not really a depature from anything

As part of their expanded coverage for the 2006 baseball season, ESPN.com introduced two new blogs today. Regular contributors Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark got their very own slice of the web behind the Insider wall.

Stark’s blog was so unique, I feel compelled to give it the Fire Joe Morgan treatment. While I enjoy some of Stark’s Rumblings and Grumblings columns, I can’t help but think that ESPN may not have given Stark a choice in this blogging matter. Let’s take a look.

Well, this is it. A lifelong dream realized.

Finally, I’ve arrived. I’m a blogger.

It’s really not that hard to start a blog these days, Jayson. Color me skeptical, but this sounds slightly sarcastic. Not a great way to win over your target audience: Other bloggers.

OK, so technically, it wasn’t a “lifelong” dream. But only because it’s hard to dream, as a youth, of something you only heard of until, like, six months ago.

So “dream” wouldn’t really work here, either. Would it? “Hallucinate” is probably a more applicable term.

But those technicalities don’t matter now, because it’s time. Time to blog.

So, like, six months ago, I was totally browsing the Internet, and I, like, came across this weblog thing. And I realized people called it, like, a blog for short. And OMG, did you know that some of these people have been blogging since, like, 2002.

Now seriously, a journalist for ESPN covering baseball ought to know by now that baseball blogs are widely popular. Even I’ve been blogging on various sites for over two years now, and some baseball blogs are among the most popular sites on the Internet. These blogs have fostered incredible discussions and some incredibly in-depth analyses of the game. They’ve even launched a career or two. Baseball writing can extend beyond Useless Information into, well, Useful Information.

We have plenty of serious blogging going on at ESPN.com. So it’s my intention to make this blog a little different. A little lighter. Possibly even borderline goofy some days.

This is, after all, a sport most of us love, or at least follow, for fun. So my goal is to make this fun. And to get you involved when that seems possible. Those invitations aren’t in the mail yet, however. So more on that later.

Oooh. That’s good. The ever-popular “more on that later” line. That’s the second time in two days Stark has pulled that one off. (The first was in his column announcing a blog.) Meanwhile, for someone who hadn’t heard of a blog, like, six months ago, he seems to know that ESPN has blogs. Funny thing too because Stark’s colleague Buster Olney has been blogging on ESPN since June. That was…let’s see…8 months ago. Surely, Stark new about this.

Meanwhile, it took only six “paragraphs,” but Stark finally told us what his blog is going to be about. It’s a look at the lighter and borderline goofy side of baseball. Now, where have I heard this one before? Oh right. It’s his column – Useless Information – that he seems to pen two or three times a week during the regular season. Could it be that Stark’s blog will just be his regular writing on a so-called blog and for a charge? Is ESPN pulling a fast one on its loyal readers? Tricky, tricky.

Stark goes on in the blog to talk about some Useless Information. He discusses odd clauses in player contracts and ends with a stat on closers who inherited the fewest runners. In the end, it reads like just another Jayson Stark column: one paragraph sentences, some random information, and a trivia-like stat. I can’t say I expected better.

Stark, and to a lesser extent Peter Gammons, have a tough act to follow. Now that he has put the productive outs debacle behind him, Olney and his blogging have emerged as must-read writing for the baseball community. Olney’s site serves as a clearinghouse for baseball information. He features on story usually culled from his extensive Major League Baseball contacts and then provides links to the important and sometimes obscure stories in the media. During the regular season, he doesn’t link to game coverage but rather to the news behind the scenes. It’s a great resource.

Gammons fits nicely into the blogging culture. This off-season, Gammons produced more columns than ever before. While he isn’t as critical as he could be considering his depth of knowledge, he has acknowledge the good work available on baseball blogs throughout the Internet. By releasing just a few tidbits of gossip, Gammons-style, every day, his blog could develop an extensive readership.

But this Stark venture has me confused. His style and scope are better off in column format. Unless he is going to offer something new to his readers, his blog will be just mirrors of his columns, and it won’t be nearly as vital a read as Olney’s blog has become. In my opinion, Stark didn’t get off on the right foot, but maybe he’ll get better. It’s really all about offering unique content and making people think, and Stark’s first blog post didn’t really do either.

MLB.com’s MLBlogs tries a corporate approach to baseball blogging

The cyber-world of baseball blogs has become a very successful cottage industry over the past few years. Baseball blogging is, by far, the most vibrant of any sports blogging community. In fact, baseball blogging seems to rival political blogging in terms of its popularity.

This revolution in amateur commentary and analysis has brought about a growing awareness of cutting-edge statistical analysis in assessing players and teams. It’s tough to imagine the Moneyball Era without popular bloggers and Baseball Prospectus leading the way. I think it’s safe to say that the increased attention paid to baseball and all facets of the game is one of the greatest stories illustrating the benefits of the Internet.

Today, baseball blogging gained yet another measure of legitimacy as MLB.com announced the creation of MLBlogs.com, a pay-per-blog service established by Major League Baseball to create a more interactive community under the auspices of MLB’s Web site. For $4.95 a month or for $49.95 a year, potential bloggers get a site address of http://something.mlblogs.com, and they have the opportunity to sound off on the game.

For MLB.com, this represents another example of the site rushing headlong into the Internet’s unknown future. MLB.com already has the best real-time game-tracker on the Web. They have long offered fans the opportunity to listen to every game of every day for a flat rate of $14.95 for the season. And last year, they introduced MLB.tv, giving fans the chance to watch many games online for only $79.95 for the entire year. This is cutting-edge exploitation of the Internet’s multimedia capabilities.

I wonder, though, if Major League Baseball may be overestimating the potential of blogging. While baseball blogging is pervasive on the Internet, the idea of paying for a blog may not appeal to many casual bloggers. Those that are interested in paying for a blog have already purchased their own domain spaces.

One of the best aspects of blogging is how the only cost is time on the part of the blogger. If I were to use Blogger, as I have done in the past, then I would be blogging for free. Many popular baseball sites are hosted on Blogger. Considering their popularity, these sites wouldn’t gain much from a move to a pay-per-year blogging service.
A quick glance through MLBlogs.com reveals a service trying to address two distinct ideas. First is the one I’ve already mentioned. Major League Baseball wants this new site to develop into a blogging community for fans. Whether this can be successfully accomplished while charging a fee is up in the air. The second function is more in the spirit of other corporate blogs such as those hosted by major media outlets. MLBlogs.com will provide baseball figures with blogging spaces of their own.

In introducing MLBlogs.com, MLB.com’s Mark Newman wrote about some of the more prominent baseball officials and personnel joining MLBlogs.com. Included in this group are Tommy LaSorda, Brewers broadcaster Daron Sutton, and a groundskeeper. The site also features blogs from many of MLB.com’s reporters.

For me, these blogs are the draw of the new site. Hopefully, these “celebrity” blogs will contain interesting insights into the way the game is played and manage. Those of us who blog from the outside looking in often do not recognize the complex economic equations that baseball teams must consider when constructing a team. We don’t have the behind-the-scenes look at baseball that these baseball guys may share with us.

I don’t think MLBlogs.com will be a financial success in the same way that MLB.tv or Gameday Audio is. I think bloggers still like the opportunity to blog for free or on their own domains. I’ll tune in to MLBlogs though to see what those baseball insiders have to say about the sport, and I hope these new venture adds to the already-vibrant discussions that take place within the baseball blogging community.


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