February 16, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune named a new editor this week, promoting deputy managing editor Nancy Barnes to the position after former editor Anders Gyllenhaal left for the Miami Herald. It remains to be seen how much influence Barnes will have on the newspaper's content, but so far at least she's on the right track, with one of her first stated goals being to "develop new ways to reach readers through the Star Tribune's website."

    Along those lines, someone at the Star Tribune tipped me off to the fact that the newspaper will soon have both of its baseball reporters blogging. The Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LaVelle E. Neal III, has a blog called "Twins Insider" that appears to still be in the developmental stages, while Joe Christensen's "Around the Majors" blog looks to be up and running (or at least walking briskly). Even knowing LEN3 just a little bit, I'm confident that his blog will be a must-read if he lets loose at all.

    The Star Tribune is the only newspaper I read on a daily basis and I've developed relationships with a number of its employees over the past few years, so I'd like to see it do well. I'm hopeful that Barnes agrees with me that newspapers will be better off long term the less they continue to rely on the actual paper version of their product and the more they begin to think of themselves as one of many websites competing for an online audience that doesn't need their content delivered to them.

    I often go months without reading the physical version of a newspaper, but include several newspaper websites in my weekly reading rotation, alongside dozens of sites without print versions. There are still tons of people who read what gets delivered to their doorstep each morning, but there's little doubt that the numbers are skewing more toward my usage patterns with each passing day. A large portion of the newspaper industry has taken to fighting that change, whereas the smart move is to adapt with it.

  • Meanwhile in the significantly less popular newspaper on the other side of town, columnist Charley Walters is attempting to pass off stuff like this as secret-worthy information:
    Because of shrewd investing, Twins catcher Joe Mauer, 23, was financially set for life even before signing a four-year, $33 million contract this week.

    Like much of Walters' columns, that sounds noteworthy until you think about it. Between a $5.15 million bonus in 2001, over $1 million in big-league salaries, and various endorsement deals, it's likely that Mauer earned in excess of $7 million "even before signing a four-year, $33 million contract." Walters may actually think that being "financially set for life" with $7 million before the age of 24 takes "shrewd investing," but I'd suggest that it'd only be noteworthy if Mauer was unable to do that.

  • On a semi-related note, Star Tribune blogger Michael Rand--yes, another one--pointed out how much more interesting things would have been if Mauer had dated 2006 Miss USA Tara Conner, rather than 2005 Miss USA Chelsea Cooley. There's still time, of course. He is, after all, very shrewd.
  • Controversial as it may be, I've decided to keep the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title vacant until someone special emerges from the rest of the pack as the clear choice, even if it means another three months with the throne empty. Keeley Hazell and Jenna Fischer remain the leading candidates, although a viable third-party choice has emerged in the (ridiculously nice) form of Marisa Miller. Rumor has it that she's a really big Rolling Stones fan and loves listening to her iPod.

    Despite that, her overall taste in music seems somewhat flawed. For one thing, she replied "I don't know a lot about him" when asked about Gnarls Barkley. "Him" is actually two guys who essentially look like complete opposites, which is a fact that Miller would know if she wasn't busy posing instead with the human hat-rack known as Kenny Chesney. Of course, needless to say I'm willing to overlook all of that, or at least look at these 47 pictures of Miller in Sports Illustrated instead.

    As a wise man once said: "Suddenly, a new contender has emerged."

  • In addition to the aforementioned tremendous photo galleries from their annual swimsuit issue, SI.com also posted an excellent interview with Baseball-Reference.com creator Sean Forman. I've had the pleasure of hanging out with Forman on several occasions--even going out for sushi with his family in Seattle last year--so I can safely say that he's an even better person than he is a website designer, which is really saying something.

    Baseball-Reference.com is without question the most essential baseball site in existence and I use it constantly. Not only can you find almost any piece of information within seconds because of how well Forman presents the immense content, it's incredibly easy to get lost for hours in the never-ending pages of interesting "stuff." If I was somehow stuck on a desert island with access to just one website, B-R.com might be my pick (assuming MapQuest wasn't going to get the job done, obviously).

  • In most weeks either of these videos would run away with Video of the Week honors, but they'll have to settle for a first-place tie this time: The Berenguer Boogie and Joe Rogan vs. Carlos Mencia. Actually, the truth is that as good as the Rogan-Mencia video is, it can't possibly compete with The Berenguer Boogie when it comes to inexplicable ridiculousness. What kind of life am I leading where something like that gets made in the 1980s and doesn't flash in front of my eyes until 2007?
  • I know absolutely nothing about playing guitar, but as a big fan of both John Mayer and Derek Trucks' wife, Susan Tedeschi, I enjoyed reading Rolling Stone's article on "The New Guitar Gods." The accompanying video is worth watching too. Of course, none of it will keep a certain segment of the population from writing Mayer off as nothing more than the "Your Body is a Wonderland" guy, although he apparently put the song's theme to good use while in Minnesota this week.
  • Nationals bloggers, I know all too well how you feel. My only advice is that if you close your eyes and pray--which, incidentally, is how Tony Batista approaches at-bats--it'll all be over soon enough. My favorite part of the whole thing--aside from Batista simply being some other team's problem this year--is MLB.com's Bill Ladson reporting that "Batista can also play shortstop and second base" in addition to third base. That's actually selling Batista short, because technically he could pitch too.
  • Most fantasy baseball sites seem to be overwhelmingly populated by twenty-something "experts" like Yours Truly, but long-time fantasy veteran Lenny Melnick also has a blog and accompanying podcast that's worth checking out.
  • One nice side effect of my ongoing Top 40 Minnesota Twins series is that after I profile someone from the 1960s or 1970s--for instance, Zoilo Versalles or Camilo Pascual--my baseball-loving uncle calls me to excitedly discuss the player in question. The discussions often veer off into random parts of Twins history, with my uncle providing the memories and me providing the facts and stats. Last week, our talk someone got into Walt Bond's one season in Minnesota.

    After discussing the tragic end to Bond's career and life--the basic story of which I wasn't aware--my uncle said, "You really should do some research on Bond and write it up on your blog." I put it on my ever-expanding to-do list, with a target date right around the time the Twins' new ballpark figures to open. Thankfully--and in what is an incredibly odd coincidence--Steve Treder of The Hardball Times wrote an excellent piece on Bond this week that's many times better than I ever could have done.

  • Sure, the Star Tribune has joined the mainstream-going-blogging frenzy, but the ongoing bloggers-going-mainstream movement also claimed another victim in True Hoop's Henry Abbott. Welcome to the club, Henry.

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