Saturday, February 24, 2007


Even A Broken Clock Is Right Once A Day

We're anxiously awaiting the start of the season here at PAB, being that our only real comfort zone is making jackass remarks during the course of ballgames and then choosing a saviour or goat to praise and/or bury after the contest. It is to say, making small talk and throwing around spring training anecdotes infringes upon our non-sequitur line of commentary. And with columnist-cum-bloggers like La Velle E. Neal start providing us with such nuggets as a media softball game, replete with everything including Terry Ryan-taunting (did this really happen or is this a journalist's version of A Nightmare On Elm Street ?), how is a lowly blogger, who's main source of Twins info is other blogs, to compete? Well, if you're still reading and got this far, we must have something. Ragnarok? Likely. Or maybe it's that we're bringing Sexy Back .

That's also likely, if not downright certain. That said, here's my somewhat serious thoughts (since I reserve my flippant ones for gametime) on the surge of blogs being put out by your ostensibly friendly Twins Cities columnists as of late:

It's important to remember that folks like Mr. Neal III are indeed paid by, and may in fact be, corporate suits. Their mostly uncriticized step into the wild world of blogging, I think, ought to be met with more hesitancy. We in the blogosphere have benefited from the fact that we have the ability to publish, at a whim, at any time of the day and on any subject. And most importantly, in whatever format that rocks our boat the most. This attracts readers, and for some, like Mr. Gleeman, this can assist in parlaying our blogga-craft into gainful employment. Without question, the Strib and PiPress's wave of blogs, in all spheres of their news coverage, is a desperate move to recuperate lost readership, ad revenue and the like. And who can argue that this is a situation that was in part created by blogging in the first place?

One would hope that corporate blogs do not create a sort of Wal-Mart effect in cyberpsace, where major newspapers have seen non-mainstream blogs corner certain aspects of the market and are now poised to pounce on what was once theirs. Or what they think was once theirs. Let's be real--the fact that the Twins beat writers chill at Spring Training and get taunted playing softball by Terry Ryan puts us at a disadvantage. Moreover, their close proximity to the action (and the fact that it's their job to write) will certainly push certain blogs down the totem pole. Granted, most of us do not do this for notoriety. But the truth is that knowing you are connecting with a significant amount of readers provides an impetus to produce informative and entertaining posts.

How does this cut readership of non-mainstream blogs? Easy. People like hearing about angry phone calls Torii Hunter gets from Denard Span. Not good enough news to make it to the paper, but intriguing enough that I'd go to Lavell Neal's blog before all others and check it out.

All in all, I believe that this phenomenon may create, paradoxically, a situation that precludes a meaningful plurality of voices and sustained treatment of baseball topics in the Twins blogosphere. I will be the first to admit that I've been reading Joe Christensen and Jason Williams' blogs non-stop, but some of it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Christensen's series of questions regarding burning Twins topics in today's installment of his blog was mostly coverage of things that have been analyzed and developed by Twins bloggers all off-season.

Anyways, it's still nice to feverishly read about Souhan ripping La Vell Neal's ability to dribble a basketball. While it's nice to be linked to things such as A Fan's View , I'm not completely sold on any dubious attempt by columnists-cum-bloggers to link to "non-mainstream" blogs and feign interest in them. The uptick in traffic is indeed nice but it kind of seems like when Embers bought a slew of economically-starved family diners, slapped their logo on the signs, and pretended to be sympathetic to Joe Q. Entrepeneur. You're not sure whether to feel patronized or complimented.

And by the way--Jason Williams' incessant swipes at the traffic in Fort Myers sure seem petty when it's your job to write about baseball and you get to spend a part of the Winter in Florida while Mother Nature is berating Minnesota with a foot and a half of snow.

The long off-season has made us crabby, we'll resume comedic relief duty soon.


Interesting post, Mr. WV.

I should first disclose that I don't blog. I've thought about starting a blog probably once a week for the last three or four years, but every time, I've decided that I'd rather just keep commenting on the blogs of others.

Clearly, the beat writers- and columnists-turned-bloggers have an advantage over "pure" bloggers in that the former have access to information that the latter simply do not. This advantage may parlay into reduced readership for the pure blogs.

One of the great things about the rise of blogging has been the spread of information outside the channels of the mainstream media. People of all views and most income levels can make their thoughts known to the world. Those that can provide the most unique and insightful information thrive. Others do not, though their goal may not be a large readership.

If the MSM bloggers can get us more information, I think it's a good thing. It may decrease the readership of some blogs, to be sure. But perhaps there won't be a Wal-Mart effect, or at least not such a severe one. After all, most of the MSM bloggers are in the blog "market" of providing inside information, and perhaps not detailed analysis or sass (though RandBall specializes in the latter).

People substitute shopping at Wal-Mart for shopping at mom-and-pop stores because Wal-Mart has both more and cheaper goods. It's about money and convenience. In contrast, I think the MSM blogs will only corner a part of the "marketplace" occupied by blogs. I think the inside information from MSM blogs will only do so much to push out the pure blogs.

Of course, the major constraint is the time of the readership. If a person only has time to read four or five baseball blogs a day (probably what I read, and I'm sure I'm on the high end), the blogger who is the fourth or fifth on the person's list will be pushed out. But that blogger is presumably low on the list because their blog doesn't provide as unique or interesting of information as those higher on the list. So is this a bad thing?

I hope this stream-of-consciousness analysis makes some sense!
A broken clock is correct twice a day
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