State of the RABBy
Fellow dwellers in the series of tubes:
As we near the three-year anniversary of River Avenue Blues, I’d like to take a few moments to greet and thank everyone who has visited and supported us since our inception in February of 2007. We’ve come a long way since then. Our posts have grown greater in number and deeper in thought. Our audience has grown from few and quiet to many and loud — through not only comments, but emails, instant messages, our web form, and even in real life. For those of you have ambled by here recently, and even for those who have been here for years, this is who we are.
While this particular site launched in 2007, Ben, Mike, and I go back a bit further than that. We all started up our own baseball writing projects in the mid-00s, just because we loved writing about baseball. Sure, at times we each had aspirations of attracting a large audience, but none of us really expected it. It was more a form of catharsis, a way to deal with the day in, day out stress of the baseball season. The players get to vent that stress through physical performance. For us less athletic types, writing sometimes does the trick. It does for us, at least.
The baseball season is, thankfully, fast approaching, and changes will come with it. This seems to happen every year. A certain percentage of the audience checks out after they stop playing games, only to return six, but hopefully only five, months later, just in time for Opening Day. Some readers, intrigued by our non-stop hot stove coverage, tune out during the season, opting to enjoy the game for itself and not getting caught up in the tangle of daily analysis. We do keep many of those who discovered us during the hot stove, and that means the composition of our audience will change.
That won’t change the content. We’ll continue to write stories that interest us. Sometimes that involves a prospect. Sometimes it involves breaking down data. Sometimes it involves comparing players with various statistics. If you particularly like something, but especially if you don’t, email us and let us know. We also appreciate emails in regards to typos and other small errors. We aren’t to the point of hiring a full-time editor — hell, we don’t even really pay ourselves — so any corrections from the crowd are appreciated. If you have an issue with the data we used to analyze an issue, or a conclusion we drew from the data, that’s perfect for the comments section. It might make us think of the topic in another way, perhaps making our posts more complete in the future.
What will change, undoubtedly, between now and Opening Day is the comments section. Again, it happens all the time. It’s happened over the past year, and it will continue to morph and evolve. We have an excellent core of commenters who not only know baseball, but also know how to lighten the mood. As we get more and more comments, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor them. We want nothing more than a robust baseball discussion, but unfortunately there are others who do not. Allow me to elaborate.
Baseball incites argument. That’s good. We can all learn a lot from people whose opinions differ from our own. But, contrary to what many people think, not all opinions are created equal. The opinions which count for the most are those which are supported by evidence. As Tango likes to say, an opinion without evidence is bullshit. You can still hold said evidence-less opinion, but don’t expect it to garner much respect among our commenters.
If you hold an opinion and cannot back it up with evidence, we ask that you not act like a jackass about it. Accept it as just your opinion, with no basis in fact, and move on. There’s plenty to discuss. If you do continue to post evidence-less opinions, well, good for you. If you feel the need to do that, again, we just ask that you not act like a jackass about it. That’s the most important point, as you can see.
For the core commenters, we’re asking a bit more. By responding to jackasses, you’re legitimizing them. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen plenty of this — ashamedly, have been part of it once. It takes the focus off the baseball discussion and puts it onto the jackass. We do not want this. It generally leads to everyone acting like a jackass, and the comment thread devolves into an unreadable mass. Remember, we’re here to talk baseball, not act like tough guys on an internet message board.
As we specify in our commenting guidelines, we really appreciate you keep comments true to the topic of the post. If a conversation moves a certain way, keep it within that particular thread within the comments. Even then, we ask that it not get too far out of hand. For off-topic comments, we have an open thread every evening. We’ve also added an off-topic thread, which you can find in the navigation bar, and by clicking here.
To our readers who don’t use the comments section, we thank you every bit as much as our regular commenters. You’re welcome at any time to drop in and add to the conversation. We hope our threaded comments layout makes it easy to follow different conversations within the thread. We’re also working to make improvements on the layout, including re-adding the ability to see unread comments. Again, if you have any suggestions please contact us. We make it ridiculously easy to do so.
We’ll leave this post up overnight. Baseball will be back in the a.m. Thanks again for reading.