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Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Baseball Analysts: Leitch: A New Way To Look At Baseball Journalism

or why Will Leitch of Deadspin...Can’t Stop the Blogging.

Like probably most of the people who read this site, I spend way too much time reading about baseball online. These days, my job requires it, but even before that, back in the angry, scary, dead-fluorescent-light of office life, the vast majority of my time was spent ignoring spreadsheets and pouring through this site, and Baseball Prospectus, and Hardball Times, and Baseball Think Factory, and even, if I was feeling frisky, Tommy Lasorda’s MLB Blog. I can’t get enough, and I suspect you can’t either.

I liked to imagine little personalities for all my favorite online writers. Jim Baker seemed like the overeducated grad student who was smarter than everyone else in the room but also was cool enough to tell me what I’d missed on Conan the night before; I envisioned him wearing tweed. Joe Sheehan, inexplicably, seemed like a leather-jacket wearing badass, a guy who would either break down Torii Hunter’s flaws or crack some guy’s skull in a bar fight, doesn’t matter which, bring it on, whaddya rebelling against, whaddya got? It was quite the shock to see him talking to Brian Kenny on ESPN News and learn that he’s the bearded, scholarly type. People always look different on television, I guess.

Well, at least Neyer was the way I thought he’d be.

Repoz Posted: February 09, 2006 at 01:58 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mister High Standards Posted: February 09, 2006 at 02:17 PM (#1855901)
I own a blog... in fact I've own'ed two over the years. The First had a great name "Four Aces"... I loved it... then life got in the way.

Now I rarely ever update my blog. I'm going to blog a lot during baseball season I think.
   2. salvomania Posted: February 09, 2006 at 02:20 PM (#1855905)
Game stories on blogs (at least the ones that you've come to recognize do it well) are far more interesting and enjoybale to read than those in the traditional media (even "on-line" traditional media).

So many times I've watched a game that seemed, in my mind at least, to turn on a crucial 7th-inning match-up, or a great base-running play. That same game may feature a 3-run homer from the star player, so the traditional game story will focus on "Pujols' blast leads 6-3 win," when maybe the blast merely padded a hard-fought 3-2 lead.

The blog will focus on the stomach-churning match-up, and will assess in a depth the traditional media never would.

I don't think I'd miss it too much if I never read another after-game player quote.
   3. Free Rob Base Posted: February 09, 2006 at 02:43 PM (#1855922)
Just finished reading an oldy but a goody, "The Worst Team Money Can Buy" about the 1992 Mets. Written by two beat writers covering that team. In addition to what Leitch is talking about -- the beat writer's stories are always so boring because of deadlines, usually a couple of hours after the game. Sounds like a lot of times the story is written before the game is over -- and then player quotes are just stuck in later after interviews. Also, because the beat wirters have to hang out with the players every day, its really hard for them to write anything critical of the players or they will be shunned or threatened. (For example, Simmons would be persona non grata in the Knicks locker room right now). The book is a classic example of what Leitch is talking about, it's behind the scene take is way more interesting than any story those guys wrote over the course of the season.
   4. Mister High Standards Posted: February 09, 2006 at 02:51 PM (#1855931)
What did Simmons actually do that was so bad? I guess I've seen references but didn't actually get the story.
   5. Free Rob Base Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#1855938)
He lambasted Isiah Thomas (Knicks GM) -- fairly and accurately I might add -- who later threatened to beat him up while on an ESPN talk show.
   6. Steve G. Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:04 PM (#1855940)
Whatever Simmons did, it compelled Isiah Thomas to threaten to kick his ass on Stephen A. Smith's radio show. I'm not sure if that's more of a reflection on Simmons or on Thomas, though.
   7. KevinApps Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:07 PM (#1855942)
Pffft...Simmons hasn't done anything that bad. He's pointed out that a lot of Thomas' moves have been shortsighted and that he has built an incredibly flawed roster filled with shoot-first swing men, undersized bigs, and the rookies. He's also pointed out that Thomas actually has a very good track record in the draft, but his trades and FA moves outweigh that. Isiah reads those criticisms of his moves as personal attacks.
   8. Moe Greene Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:31 PM (#1855975)
Well, Simmons has dropped the gloves now. From his newest column:

"First, I have a scoop for you: A well-placed source tells me that Isiah Thomas is prepared to trade Channing Frye and Penny Hardaway to Denver for Kenyon Martin and Earl Watson, but only if Martin agrees to an MRI on his surgically repaired knee. If Martin's knee is in good shape, the Knicks are calling off the deal. If the knee is in rough shape, the deal is on. If the knee is in such terrible shape that the doctor says something like, "Wow, there's a good chance K-Mart might walk with a limp for the rest of his life," the Knicks will throw in an unconditional No. 1 in 2009 as well as Nate Robinson and $3 million dollars. So stay tuned."

Funny stuff.
   9. AROM Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:45 PM (#1855996)
Thomas is no Joe Dumars. As for post-playing career, Dumars is the new Jerry West.
   10. Chris D. Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#1856004)
Wow. Newspaper writing is different from blogging. Go figure.

This piece doesn't seem very well thought out. It sounds like Leitch is just trying to make up a reason for how a blog written by someone without player access could be as entertaining as one written by someone who has access.

Sure it's possible -- if the blogger without access is a better, more entertaining writer. Given two equal writers, however, I'll always be more interested in reading a blog by someone who has taken into account the insights of the people who were actually involved in the event.

His existence as a baseball blogger without access doesn't need justification -- just an audience.
   11. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: February 09, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#1856015)
In addition to what Leitch is talking about -- the beat writer's stories are always so boring because of deadlines, usually a couple of hours after the game. Sounds like a lot of times the story is written before the game is over -- and then player quotes are just stuck in later after interviews.

Actually, it's rather fortunate if you get a solid hour between the end of a game and deadline.
   12. Shredder Posted: February 09, 2006 at 04:20 PM (#1856056)
Game stories on blogs (at least the ones that you've come to recognize do it well) are far more interesting and enjoybale to read than those in the traditional media (even "on-line" traditional media).

When I do it, I try to just write about my impressions of the game, but I almost always have to have the boxscore or play by play in front of me, because invariably I'll get the inning or the number of outs or something wrong. I don't take notes or anything, but while I'm watching, I'll see things happen that I know I'll want to write about when all is said and done. I think most of us watch enough baseball that you can pick up on things that aren't going to make into a traditional media article. For example, I'll mention that Lackey looks like he's afraid to challenge hitters or something. I don't expect the guy that covers the Angels to write about that, mostly because it's opinion, I guess.

Ultimately I think it's best when blogs and traditional media complement one another. I'm obviously not going to have player comments or anything. I still think get too deep into recapping what happened, which I imagine is kind of boring for a reader who watched the same game. I mean, the 15 or 20 people who know my blog exists have likely just watched the same game, so they aren't reading me to find out what happened.

Now I rarely ever update my blog. I'm going to blog a lot during baseball season I think.

There's kind of a weird dynamic. On the one hand, there are days where I just don't want to write anything, but I feel like if I don't write for a few days, I'll lose readership. It's stupid, since I don't have much of readership to begin with. Ultimately, though, I do it because I want to do it, and I'd probably do it even if no one was reading it. But I imagine that it's harder to write a one sport or one topic blog when there isn't much news on that topic. I write about stuff besides just the Angels, so there's usually something to write about. Heck, Will Leitch even linked to my recap of the UCLA-Stanford basketball game last month.

It's a lot more fun, though, if you add a counter to the process. I've discovered that I probably get more hits from people looking for pictures of Sharin Foo and Echobelly than just about anything else.

And to bring it back to Will Leitch, I reccomend checking out his "Life as a Loser" series, which is pretty entertaining. Also, there's a nice little interview with him over at Illini Wonk (Will is a Illini grad).
   13. Mister High Standards Posted: February 09, 2006 at 05:49 PM (#1856165)
Shredder what is your blog?
   14. Shredder Posted: February 09, 2006 at 05:52 PM (#1856168)
Shredder what is your blog?

L.A. Seitz of Chicago
   15. bob gee Posted: February 09, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#1856252)
i've disliked isiah for a lot of reasons. his knicks debacle is classic. yes, he was a very good ballplayer, and he's got a good draft record. i'd hire him to be in charge of scout/drafting, and that's it.

there's an article in sunday's ny daily news which reports that isiah 1) was a terrible businessman with the cba (one of the reasons i dislike him, and which i had heard long ago before he ran it into the ground) 2) isn't very nice behind closed doors (gasp!). the funny part is that isiah now is going to make trades based on what larry brown wants - which isn't a bad idea IN THE OFFSEASON, and would be better if brown didn't have a track record of asking his gms to trade almost everyone on his team.

shredder - echobelly? i thought their first album was classic, second was pretty good, but i really haven't found anything fine about them since. lustre was a complete bore, and their more recent stuff never caught my fancy.
   16. Shredder Posted: February 09, 2006 at 07:18 PM (#1856303)
shredder - echobelly? i thought their first album was classic, second was pretty good, but i really haven't found anything fine about them since. lustre was a complete bore, and their more recent stuff never caught my fancy.

I actually like Lustra a lot. People Are Expensive was very good as well, and maybe my favorite album of theirs. Their most recent one, however, was kind of a letdown. I kind of doubt that there will be another.
   17. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: February 09, 2006 at 10:56 PM (#1856683)
While I agree that blogs are usually more INTERSTING than newspaper stories, I don't know if that should be the only criterion. I mean, O'Reilly is more interesting the Lehr, but that doesn't mean he is any better. The point of a newspaper isn't to tell you how YOU felt about the game, but to give a condensed account of the major events of particular stories. If blogs say what people already think, then what's the point?

Not that baseball is in the same league as politics, but I think the general switch from information/reporting to entertainment/commentary in the long run is detrimental to the major responsibility of a newspaper, which is to inform it readers. If that sometimes means providing dull quotes instead of commentary, so be it. Besides, blogs are for the most part reactionary, without all those boring beat writers, we'd loose half our topics. Personally, I couldn't imagine forming an opinion of the PHillies without Hayes as a whipping boy!
   18. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: February 09, 2006 at 10:59 PM (#1856689)
oops, that should be "Lehrer"

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