How blogs have changed the way we follow our beloved team

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.