May
29

How blogs have changed the way we follow our beloved team

By

Thankfully, I have this piece by Larry K. from Save Phil Hughes.

Although I was into baseball as early as seven years old (I actually still have all 792 baseball cards of the Topps 1988 set in an album in storage somewhere), and I have vague memories of occasionally watching the pitiful teams of 1989-1991, my rabid devotion to the Yankees didn’t fully develop until closer to 1993/1994.

I vividly remember my heartbreak in August 1994 upon reading in the Daily News that the players had indeed gone on strike after threatening to do so all year, especially given that the Yankees incredibly had the best record in the American League, and Paul O’Neill was leading the league in batting average. (Joe’s note: I was at the final game that season. Sadness.)

The 1995 season is the first I can recall really getting hardcore into Yankee games on a regular basis. It was also the year I’d attend my first playoff game, and boy was it ever a classic — Game 2 against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium. My childhood idol Donnie Baseball blasted a home run in the bottom of the sixth, and Jim Leyritz would go on to hit a walkoff shot in the bottom of the 15th, the first of many of The King’s legendary playoff moments. Unfortunately, like every Yankee fan, I’ve never been able to purge that horrible image of Ken Griffey, Jr. rounding third and sliding into home with the winning run in Game 5. Thankfully the following season was one for the ages, but I don’t need to reminisce about 1996 here. We all know how it went down.

As I became crazier and crazier about the Yankees in the mid-90s, my intellectually curious self sought to augment my enjoyment of the games with supplemental material, like any good baseball fan would — and the only avenues available at the time were New York’s daily newspapers. I quickly discovered that the Times’ sports section was a routine disappointment and the Post’s — while an improvement over the Times — still felt lacking.

And so it was the New York Daily News that became my holy grail of Yankee coverage. Everything about the News’ coverage of the Yankees felt superior — the game recaps, the columnists, the analysis, the secondary stories, the notebook. Even to this day, on the rare occasion that I pick up a physical copy of one of the dailies, I always gravitate towards the News.

Of course, as anyone reading this knows, these days the mainstream media has essentially become irrelevant. I first discovered Bronx Banter, the granddaddy of all Yankee blogs, during the 2004 season, and was instantly hooked. Alex Belth’s analysis and perspective seemed so fresh and advanced, and was only bolstered when Cliff Corcoran came along and truly upped the ante.

Now once any junkie gets hooked, they always need more, and fortunately the Banter provided a plethora of links to other insightful folks blogging about the Yankees. Shortly thereafter I discovered the brilliance of the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog and the Pinstriped Bible and Blog, and it escalated from there. Steve Goldman’s careful and critical sabermetric analysis of the team in particular really started to change the way I watched the game, as a greater understanding of advanced statistical metrics significantly enhanced my enjoyment.

Later on Peter Abraham’s Lohud Yankees Blog hit the scene, providing fans with an unprecedented level of updates and access, and to this day remains the pinnacle of mainstream media coverage of the team.

As I continued to devour these and several other Yankee blogs on a daily basis, eventually I came across a new site that quickly established itself as the new go-to Yankee site for me: the one you’re reading right now, River Ave. Blues. Right off the bat I knew I had found gold, as these were three guys who just got it. They’re an incredibly intelligent, even-keeled trio (their eternal optimism even during this latest stretch of offensive ineptitude is something every Yankee fan should strive for), and their multiple daily contributions have truly become essential reading for any informed Yankees fan. It’s gotten to the point where just about everything Ben, Joe and Mike write is almost exactly what I’d say about any given Yankee topic myself, essentially rendering my opinion useless. (ed. note: I accepted this guest submission before reading this paragraph.)

Anyway, getting to the point I’m trying to make (and yes, I do have one) is that all of the terrific amateur work being done online by these highly informed and astute Yankee fans has truly rendered the mainstream media useless. Outside of Pete Abe and maybe Tyler Kepner at the Times, there really isn’t a single writer in the mainstream media worth reading. I used to have respect for Mark Feinsand, but the Daily News has made sure to strap its baseball dunce cap tightly on his head. And it’s kind of appalling that the people who are actually paid to report on the team are one-upped multiple times every day by folks who write about the team free of charge. If there were any justice, perhaps one day we’ll see our boys at RAB getting paid to do what they do best.

And Bill Madden, who back when I first starting reading the News in the 90s seemed like the most knowledgeable and best baseball writer in the city, has resorted to spewing inane drivel like this column, in which he incredibly believes that Joba Chamberlain is far more valuable as an 8th inning setup man as opposed to a starter. I mean, this argument has been rehashed to death. If you understand the value in moving Joba to the rotation (which, thankfully, the Yankees do), then congratulations, you actually have a brain, and have a decent understanding of how baseball works.

Categories : Guest Columns

37 Comments»

  1. Pete says:

    Joe, your experiences sound a lot like mine – only difference is that I was at Game 1 of the ’95 ALDS. The first playoff game in 14 years and there’s no way I waiting any longer to be there. :)

    >> I came across a new site that quickly established itself as the new go-to Yankee site for me: the one you’re reading right now, River Ave. Blues >>

    Agreed, I especially love the minor league summaries. Stats are nice and commentary is too subjective to rank any one site above another, but these guys seem to have a great mix of everything…

    If only we could somehow combine this site with the Photoshops over at nomaas.

  2. ben (different one) says:

    what a great column. and its not just lovey drivel either, this site constantly keeps me ahead of the game with its analysis and exposure to so many levels of the yanks. my fellow fans are always amazed how far ahead i am in the knowledge department just from reading and responding here. i haven’t checked espn or si.com for yanks updates since i started reading this!

  3. Will says:

    Joe -

    Great post. Larry makes great points about something I’d never really given much thought until now–namely, the (extremely satisfying) transition many of us have made from spotty mainstream media coverage of the Yanks to much better, more focused, and more user-driven content provided by the many blogs now out there. Great thoughts and a great read.

    I was curious, though: what ended up happening to the “Yankees Universe” column by Billy S.? Obviously it was pretty far off-base, so did you just can it given the response it got? Again, just a curiosity, given the fact that RAB is still in the early stages of guest writing and I’m interested to know more about how you guys go about handling issues like that.

    • Joseph P. says:

      Indirectly, it was the responses. Or, rather, the responses led to a truth that wasn’t realized by the author, nor myself. Big, big lesson learned in that regard. I only deleted it because readers from RSS could still read the original and click over and comment — no need to pile it on at that point.

  4. Lenny says:

    I am surprise you guys didn’t bring up WasWatching? That’s always been a top yankee blog for years.

  5. Brian says:

    nice post.

    hey i was just doing math. when joba starts next week, we’ll have 105 games left. he has pitched 23.2. Let’s say 24. 150 innings (if that’s what they’re shooting for w/ Joba) minus 24 equals 126. 126 innings divided by 21 possible starts (in the next 105 games, every fifth day) equals 6.
    Six innings per start. Assuming we can’t assume the playoffs are coming, this just sounds like Cash’s original plan. Well done, Yanks.

    • steve (different one) says:

      no no, ignore the “math” and “logic”. this was a panic move forced upon Girardi and Cashman by Hank.

      that’s what Francessa told me anyway.

  6. Yankees=warriors says:

    What a wonderful post! Though I didn’t start following the Yankees until 2005, I can relate to how he felt. Newspaper came first, then I discovered the amazing world of blogs and never looked back.

    The first blog I ever read was “Baseball & The Boogie Down”. Though that kind of blog is fun to read, it lacked something deeper…information and professional analysis. Then I came across “WasWatching.com” and thought I had found the ultimate blog. Not so as, in time, I started to feel the arthur was not subjective enough…or should I say his analysis makes no sense to me.

    Eventually, I got here, and was surprised at how good you guys are! Your analyses are convincing and professional-like, and, of course, there’s the depth of your coverage…I finally started to follow the minor leaugers on a daily basis.

    Curently, “RiverAve.Blues” is the only blog I’ve put on my “Favorites” list and I check it several times a day. I just wanna say: great job, guys, keep it up! Really appreciate your efforts~

  7. Jamal G. says:

    It’s funny, the first blog I ever stumbled upon was RAB’s old blog “In George Steinbrenner We Trust” (I believe that was the name), and I read all the old prospect profiles and ended up switching over here to RAB. I’ve been hooked since. I’ve been playing baseball since the T-Ball Leagues but I didn’t start watching it religiously until 2003 actually. I remember I was laying in my bed with a Yankees ST jersey on staring at the TV intensely as that Tim Wakefield Knuckleball just gravitated towards the sweet spot of Aaron “Bleeping” Boone’s bat. Greatest moment ever as a baseball fan for me.

    I ended up following the links on RAB and gravitated more towards the Yankee blogs that focused mainly on the minor leagues other than general Yankee topics.

    The thing that is kind of bittersweet for me is that due to a mugging incident just 3.5 months ago I am no longer able to play baseball but that extra free time has allowed me to put a lot of time into gaining knowledge on things of great interest to me in the world of baseball such as sabermetrics, prospect observation and Hot Stove proceedings.

    Hat tip to all the Yankees bloggers across the globe. Who knows, maybe I with some of the Latino members on this site can start the first ever bilingual Yankees blog :D

    • steve (different one) says:

      jeez, that sounds horrible. sorry to hear about your misfortune.

    • Jamie says:

      Jamal – with the influx of Latin talent in the system, you could do a blog just on that and concentrating on the Dominican league or something and our specific guys.. its an interesting dynamic..

      I feel with scouting we are really at a cross roads because every team has some sort of home base or clinic in the DR/Carribean…. diluting the talent you could say..

      like most of my comments here, i just contradicted myself. So yeah. Don’t listen to me.

      • Joseph P. says:

        That would be an excellent idea…and we would link to him constantly. The problem is getting information about those players. It would take a lot of first hand reporting that simply doesn’t exist now (or only exists behind the iron wall of Pinstripes Plus, not to be disseminated to the public).

    • Mike A. says:

      In George We Trust, that popped my blogging cherry. Don’t those profiles anymore, way out of date now.

  8. Manimal says:

    Unfortunately I was very young when the yankees were on their World series streak(I was only 9 in 200) and I went hardcore Yankee fan about 3 years ago. But this year was when I discovered MLB Trade Rumors and some how I clicked a link that led here(I think its Joe’s stints there). Ive got to be honest, I go to Lohud’s Yankee Blog for updates and I go here for great conversations(in-game and open threads), different opinions and the DotF.

  9. Mark Feinsand says:

    As readers of mine and of River Ave Blues know, I love Yankees blogs and frequent many of them. I find it funny that this piece on SavePhilHughes.com rips me for using the term “garbage-time”to descibe that homer.

    I understand that they probably found this to be a rip on A-Rod, which it wasn’t. But in a game that is 10-0, how do you describe a two-run homer? Was it a game-changing home run? No. The game had been decided. Had Giambi, Abreu, Jeter, Cano or anybody else hit it, I would have written the same thing.

    But because it’s Alex, people think I’m piling on. It was garbage time in the game, period. It’s an expression. Nowhere in that did I say that the home run itself was garbage. I applaud Alex and every other player for not giving up no matter what the score is, but on a night that the Yankees played by far their worst game of the season, to describe that as anything else would be an injustice to my readers. They know what they’re seeing when they see it.

    As for the idea that bloggers are one-upping the reporters paid to cover the team, that’s silly. We serve different purposes. I can’t remember the last time a blogger without access broke a story about the Yankees, just as I can’t remember the last time I provided a sabermetric analysis of the bullpen. We do different things, and they are both worthy and valid. I’m the farthest thing from that lunatic Buzz … I love many of the blogs out there, and the idea that bloggers and newspaper guys can’t co-exist is ridiculous.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Jamal G. says:

      If it’s really you Mr. Feinsand I have to ask, how is Mike Lupica perceived in the media circle? I understand he must be well respected as a long time reporter with accolades to his craft but how is he viewed, such as do those in the media get a little tired of his constant bias against the Yankees?

    • Joseph P. says:

      Unfortunately, Mark, that’s the dynamic between blogs and MSM outlets these days. Clearly, the relationships will evolve. But as we stand right now, the Internet media is still pissed that the MSM continually rips on A-Rod, even if they don’t really any more (one of your colleagues — and I don’t mean Lupica — who will remain unnamed at this site, is the exception).

      So any criticism of A-Rod, valid or not, will be generally ripped in the blogosphere. You know it’s wrong. I know it’s wrong. But I think we’ll move out of this phase in due time.

  10. Mark Feinsand says:

    That’s fine, and I understand that. But I think fans look for media to rip on Alex, so the slightest comment is usually taken out of context like the garbage-time thing. If I wrote, “As usual, A-Rod added a garbage-time home run,” that would be a rip on him. But saying a two-run homer in a 10-0 game is hit in garbage-time is simply stating fact. It wasn’t a criticism of A-Rod at all. In fact, I wrote that the homer saved the Yankees from the additional embarrassment of being shut out. If anything, it was a backhanded compliment saying he did the one positive thing on the team all game.

    • Adam says:

      Mark, reading your posts here, I truly believe that you didn’t mean anything by it, but still I find it very hard to believe that had Derek Jeter hit that home run instead of A-Rod, the wording of that sentence would have been exactly the same.

  11. Mark Feinsand says:

    Fair enough. We’ll have to wait until their next stinker to find out for sure :-)

  12. Larry says:

    Mark,

    My apologies if I misinterpreted what you meant. The only reason I even wrote that post in the first place was because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a lot of your Yankee coverage dating back to when you were on the beat at Yankees.com, and the “garbage-time” comment felt out of place for you. However, I do see where you’re coming from, and I’ll continue to enjoy the good work you do every day.

    All best,
    Larry
    Save Phil Hughes

  13. Mark Feinsand says:

    Thanks Larry. Appreciate the feedback. Keep up the good work.

  14. Tyler Kepner says:

    I guess I should thank Larry that he rated me a “maybe” as someone worth reading. I check out this site and several other blogs every day, and I even mentioned Yankees bloggers in a note the other day about Chris Britton. It’s very useful to me to know what well-informed fans are thinking.

    However, the mainstream media to a large degree still sets the agenda. Without our access, our writing and our reporting, fans would know a whole lot less about the teams. I agree with my friend Mark tFeinsand hat we serve different purposes, and there’s no reason bloggers and mainstream media can’t co-exist and applaud each other’s work.

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