Thursday, May 8, 2008

Things Change

Chris Needham's recent decision to go emeritus on us has me thinking about blogger longevity. It's a tough business doing this every day, especially considering almost none of us gets paid. Burnout, I imagine, is a constant concern, and at some point you just run out of ways to describe your team's latest disheartening loss, stupid transaction, or insufferable announcers.

Four years ago, Josh Levin of Slate did a survey of "The Best of the Baseball Blogosphere." Setting aside the quality of his choices -- he missed an awful lot of good blogs that existed even in 2004 and some that he did include were questionable -- it's interesting to note just how much has changed in the past four years. A handfull remain. Others have moved or morphed into something else entirely. Some are simply no more. Levin's links:

Rob & Rany on the Royals: Now defunct following hiatuses of various lengths, though Rany still carries the torch;

Redbird Nation: Brian Gunn's Cardinals blog hasn't been active for years;

Big Red C: This Cubs blog has been dark for several years now. Warning: don't follow the redirect from its old blogspot location; I'm still scrubbing the trojans from my click-through to the now-NSFW landing pad;

U.S.S. Mariner: Long one of the best team-specific blogs, Zumsteg and Cameron are still going strong;

Al's Ramblings: a Brewer blog, is still humming;

Yagottabelieve: Appears to have been a Devil Rays blog, but is nowhere to be found today;

Twins Geek : Still exists, but Levin referred to it as being in-house at the Star-Tribune, which it clearly isn't anymore. Same blog, or just the same name?

Seth Speaks: Seth Stoh is still blogging the Twins;

Will Young: Also still firing away.

Aaron Gleeman: Needs no introduction here. His empire includes work at The Hardball Times, Fox Sports, USA Today, Rotoworld, Insider Baseball, and of course, NBC.

Bronx Banter: still exists, though it is now at Baseball Toaster rather than all-baseball.com (which was bought out by MVN several years ago);

Mike's Baseball Rants: Likewise at the Toaster;

Sabernomics: JC Bradbury hasn't gone anywhere, except on book tours and stuff.

Doug Pappas: Sadly, Doug passed away just over a month after Levin's article;

Scott Rex: His prospect ratings at On Deck Baseball is no more, with the URL now going to an aggregator of baseball-related commercial links;

The Transaction Guy: Still happening and, like some other former all-baseball.com sites, is now at successor company MVN;

Baseball News Blog: There's still something going by that name, but it's a very different beast than, and does not appear to be related to, the one Levin was talking about. As far as straight news aggregators go, Ballbug has displaced it in the minds of many (including me);

Score Bard: Score Bard has, like many of the others, evolved into Baseball Toaster, and obviously does far more than poetry these days.

Baseball Widow: The old site is dark. Now this is up. Same widow? I don't think so, because scanning the two sites reveals husbands with different names. Of course, if she is literally a baseball widow, that would make sense.

Management by Baseball: If you had asked me to look at Levin's list and guess which of the blogs he cites is not still humming, I would have said this one, which seeks to dispense daily business lessons based on baseball observations. Shows you what I know, though, because Jeff Angus is still doing it four years later. He has even written a book based on the idea. Of course, someone recently wrote a book adapting the lessons of a murderous dictator to business, so the bar there isn't set all that high.

Tiger Blog: Still roaring.

A mixed bag to be sure. Lessons? Well, the obvious one is that on the Internet, four years may as well be forever. Aside from that, it strikes me that quality endures, because with only one or two exceptions, the ones that are still going were simply better blogs in 2004 than the ones that are not (and the years of experience since have only enhanced that quality).

Personally, I think the baseball blogosphere is still early in its maturation process. New blogs still bloom every spring, only to peter out by Memorial Day. While the team-specific blogs have certainly settled on some established patterns (in-season game recaps, transaction analysis, and off-season historical retrospectives), the general blogs are still all over the map in terms of quality, content, and frequency of posts. There is still so much more to explore online.

And I think that's why I remain excited about doing ShysterBall, even more than a year after firing it up.

9 comments:

Daniel said...

Craig do you (or any of the other readers here) know of any good Angels' blogs? I'm a big fan of a lot of sports blogs and if there isn't an Angels one, I would think about starting one. If anyone knows of any, a heads up would be appreciated.

jeff angus said...

A quick Management by Baseball observation...did you know that during the Comrade Mao era, the Red Chinese diffused baseball throughout the country to increase revolutionary consciousness.
I'm not kidding.


Here's the ironic part. That nation didn't devolve to the Home of Stalinist Plutocracy until after baseball was expunged by Mao's successors. I suspect Baseball and Stalinist Plutocracy are mutually exclusive.

Jake said...

My favorite now-defunct blog was bat-girl.com.

I'm not even a Twins fan, but I used to read it every day.

Jake said...

wow... going back there now, I can't believe it's been almost a year, already...

Joey said...

you're the best Shyter, but my favorite Yanks blogs are LoHud (Pete Abraham) and River Ave Blues. I also frequent Jason's IIATMS (different takes, good analysis, etc... but not updated as often as the first 2), but I get my daily Yanks info from the first 2

Jason said...

Good stuff, Craig.

Joey, unfortunately, I'm just one guy with the sort of job that keeps me from as many entries at the team at RAB or the professional at LoHud, both of which produce great work! I'm nowhere as prodigious a writer as CC here, but I try to come up with at least one interesting thing per day. And believe me, that's often a challenge.

I have specifically chosen not to cover the day-to-day game summaries (enough people do that already). Besides, I cover the Yanks (and O's and Giants) daily for the fantasy baseball site http://www.fantasybaseball.com

Craig was a major inspiration to me in finally kicking off a blog of my own and for that, I am grateful.

Remember too, most of us are merely fans who just wanted to exercise a bit of free speech and creativity, so frequent all the blogs and don't be afraid to comment. We dig it. even if it's a criticism (but put in the form of a compliment, naturally). And we do it mostly for free.

Sorry for taking up the space here but what the heck.

Joey said...

of course I know that Jason, which is I keep visiting IIATMS to see the posts that go up. RAB has the 3 guys which helps them, and Pete, well, it's his job. You write some great stuff (the story about your catching kid was as cute and entertaining as anything else thats been written about the Yanks this season) and I'll be back daily. Especially love how you examined the Wanger (over and over), love that stuff

Burroughs PTA said...

Bat-Girl.com was the bomb. I miss her. If you're a fan of her writing, you might try checking out some of her novels. Her name was Anne Ursu, and some of her children's books are quite popular.

BTW, I'm the Twins Geek, and TwinsGeek.blogspot.com is the same Twins Geek that was mentioned. The gig with the Strib ended when the writer's union filed a grievance.

I then started something called TwinsTerritory.com, and attempt to build a blogger community, ended when the software crashed the ISP. That is now carried on over at TwinkieTown.com, one of the Sportblogs group. It's another good site.

I'm still trying to blog a couple of times per week at my own site, but most of my time is spent writing and editing GameDay, an independent program and scorecard that we sell outside Twins games.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Thanks for stopping by, Burroughs! Glad to hear things are still humming.

But seriously: writer's union? And they worry about blogger putting them out of jobs?