May 9, 2008

Link-O-Rama

  • Finally, an in-depth breakdown of Win Probability Added from the one-game playoff in Major League.
  • In this case, batting 6-for-100 is pretty damn impressive.
  • Alex Belth asked 55 "historians, biographers, columnists, beat writers, screenwriters, novelists" for a list of 10 "essential baseball books" and I'm in complete agreement with the most popular pick.
  • As a Julio Franco fan it saddens me that he couldn't quite make it to his goal of playing in the majors as a 50-year-old, but he did manage to put off retirement until three years after one of my columns at The Hardball Times marveled at how well the "old man" was playing. One of my favorite Franco facts is that he was the featured prospect in a five-player trade package for Von Hayes a month before my birth.
  • Hopefully my all-time favorite announcer is just as willing to put off retirement.
  • Former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Elisha Cuthbert celebrated checking another name off her list of NHL players to date by wearing a different bikini every day this week.
  • As a rare straight, male John Mayer fan, I've long wondered about his song-writing process:


    Seems like a lot more work than I'd imagined. "Thanks, Kristen Bell!"
  • Randy Moss was photographed taking snaps under center recently in what serves as a convincing argument against the shotgun formation.
  • Not only did Buzz Bissinger agree to chat with one of those nasty things that he despises so much, he actually came across as legitimately contrite about his appearance on Costas Now. Of course, you might be too after making a fool of yourself on national television.
  • Michael Schur/Ken Tremendous/Mose Schrute appeared on a podcast recently to discuss blogs, baseball, Bissinger, The Office, neck beards, and his television cousin. It's an hour very well spent.
  • Patrick Reusse's most recent column carried a sky-is-falling "Who'll gather news when internet is all that there is?" headline and the Minneapolis Star Tribune's resident blog-hating curmudgeon spent most of the piece talking about how great it was working at newspapers in the good old days, before finishing with what is now a familiar refrain:
    And don't kid yourself: A doesn't-cost-a-nickel, stand-alone Internet site is not going to have the quality of resources the Star Tribune has mustered for a rich sports section that lands on a doorstep.

    Why would a "stand-alone internet site" that "doesn't cost a nickel" be expected to compete with a huge company employing a staff of hundreds? And exactly who suggested that it could, other than the poor strawman that Reusse has decided to pummel? A one-man, no-budget site isn't even in competition with newspapers, but why can't the growing number of well-staffed sites that cost more than a nickel produce "newspaper-style" content and reporting? Because the words don't rub off on your fingers?

    The fact that the Star Tribune "lands on a doorstep" means nothing to me and a rapidly growing part of the population, yet old-school writers like Reusse continue to assume that content appearing as ink on a page automatically makes it special. Meanwhile, Reusse's latest pro-newspaper, anti-internet piece never would have found my eyes in the first place if it weren't available on the Star Tribune's website. Good content is good content as ink or pixels, and that's not a winnable fight for guys like Reusse.

  • Reusse probably won't read it because it's not going to land on his doorstep, but his longtime Star Tribune colleague Steve Aschburner offered an even-handed response to his column on the same day that it was published, showing off the advantage of immediacy that comes with not having to hand deliver content after printing it on a page. Aschburner called Reusse's piece an "unprovoked defense" of newspapers and added that it "read like someone protesting too much" before concluding:
    Contrary to Reusse's claim, a "doesn't-cost-a-nickel, stand-alone Internet site" can offer a high percentage of the stuff that matters most to sports fans: Analysis, speculation, predictions, opinion. It might not be the first to tell you about a rumored free-agent target or a sordid Lake Minnetonka boat cruise, but it can pile on soon thereafter with the best of them.

    One more thing: If the worst-case scenario for journalism happened and all newspapers succumbed tomorrow, the thing that the culture and a democratic society would miss most — whether it realized it quickly or not — would be the hard news, the investigative reporting and the watchdog journalism. The lack of proper funding and institutional muscle to cover the competition at right cornerback when the Vikings open training camp in July wouldn't be, by comparison, much of a problem at all.

    When landing on a doorstep each morning ceases being a major selling point, then newspapers must compete with everything else in the vast universe of "content," because the Star Tribune's "rich sports section" simply shows up on my computer screen exactly the same way that ESPN.com or MLB.com or MinnPost does. Taking the method of content delivery out of the equation makes it a whole different ball game and people like Reusse don't seem interested in playing.

  • On a related note, the Star Tribune may be in financial trouble while hemorrhaging print readership.
  • On this week's NBCSports.com "Fantasy Fix" show, Tiffany Simons chats with me about unheralded players who make for nice fantasy pickups, including Kevin Slowey:


    Slowey returned from the disabled list yesterday afternoon and cruised through four scoreless innings before serving up a pair of homers in the fifth frame.
  • Unfortunately, Slowey losing yesterday's game took a backseat to Pat Neshek suffering what may be a serious elbow injury. Hearing words like "snap" and "pop" associated with what he felt suggest that surgery may be in Neshek's future, but hopefully he can avoid going under the knife. Good luck, Pat.
  • Chris Needham has been blogging about the Nationals since before they were even the Nationals, but decided to hang up the keyboard this week over at Capitol Punishment, saying: "It's time to move on." I've never been especially interested in the Nationals, but still made sure to check out Needham's blog on a regular basis, which is one of the best compliments that a team-specific blogger can receive. Thanks for all the hard work and good writing, Chris.
  • In light of Needham's retirement, Craig Calcaterra dug up an old Slate article that surveyed the "Best of the Baseball Blogosphere" back in 2004 and looked at what has happened to the sites since then. Of the 21 blogs featured by Slate four years ago, 13 are still alive today. Amazingly, not only were there four Twins blogs among the 21 named in 2004, all four of them are still going strong. Per capita, no fan base has been better represented by bloggers than Twins fans.
  • Finally, in honor of Franco calling it quits this week's AG.com-approved music video is Neil Young doing a live version of "Old Man":


  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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