December 10, 2003
I bet you guys think it's easy, this whole blogging thing. You probably think I just sit down once a day and start typing, and stop when my fingers start to go numb. Let me tell you, it's tougher than it looks. Not a lot tougher, but it's tougher.
The main blog-related thing I do everyday, aside from the actual writing, is scan ESPN.com, Rotoworld.com and Baseball Primer's "Clutch Hits" section, looking for news stories and articles from across the country. Then I scan all those great blogs that are listed on the left side of this page.
One of the great things about being a baseball fan right now is that there are so many places where you can read stuff about baseball. You've got all the local newspaper websites from across the country, an ever-growing list of team-specific and general baseball blogs, and the always reliable sites like ESPN.com and Baseball Prospectus.
I try to keep up-to-date on what's going on, not just with the Twins or with the biggest stories in baseball, but with the little stuff too. When Matt Stairs signs a one-year deal with the Royals for a million bucks, I just might write about it. You never know what will catch my eye and turn into a 3,000-word blog entry.
Typically, when I find a story that I find interesting or one that makes me think of a possible topic for a future entry, I "bookmark" it. Then, if I'm ever struggling to find something to write about, I take a look at the stuff I've saved and I can usually find a good topic or two.
Lately though, I must not be having much trouble thinking of stuff to write about. It's probably because of all the action going on this off-season and the fact that the Twins are changing almost everyday. Whatever the reason, I haven't had to use many of the potential topics I have bookmarked this month, which means they have been piling up, growing everyday.
So, today I'd like to run through some of the stuff I have bookmarked and see if I can't clear some space while also touching on some interesting topics...
This article was from the end of November and it was all about Kazuo Matsui, who had yet to sign with the Mets. It talks about what type of player he is and includes some quotes from Robert Whiting, whom the article describes as "the widely respected author of the definitive book on Japanese baseball, 'You Gotta Have Wa.'"
I really enjoyed the article and most of what Whiting had to say about Matsui. I did think one thing he said about Matsui was particularly "interesting":
As for his fielding, Whiting says, "He reminds us of Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez."
"His comedy reminds us of Richard Pryor or Carrot Top."
"His acting reminds us of Al Pacino or Jenna Jameson."
Going by what Whiting said, Mets fans can expect Matsui to either be the best defensive shortstop in the league or the worst. So at least you've got a good idea of what to expect.
Any fan of Bill James is no doubt familiar with his "Manager in a Box" feature, where he answers a series of questions about a manager to learn more about him. I have always been interested in that sort of thing, because, unlike players, it is amazingly difficult to judge a manager's performance. Sure, you've got wins and losses, but how much does that really tell you? A guy who wins 90 games a year is probably a good manager, but what if a guy wins 75 a year with a team that should only have won 65?
With the Manager in a Box you don't really come closer to finding the true value of a manager, but it does make you think about what he likes to do and what he doesn't, what he does more than most managers, what types of players he likes in what types of roles, and so and so forth.
Over at Redbird Nation, the best St. Louis Cardinals blog out there, they did a four-part Manager in a Box on Tony LaRussa. It's from a few weeks ago, but I remember really enjoying it. In fact, in looking at my bookmarks, I see that I bookmarked both Part One and Part Two, which means I must have really loved it.
Here are the links to each part:
LaRussa is one of the more unique and interesting managers out there, which makes his Manager in a Box particularly good. I also think similar Manager in a Box entries would be great ideas for all those team-specific blogs out there. Heck, I might even do one for Ron Gardenhire, if another Twins fan doesn't beat me to it.
When this article was published, back in the middle of November, I actually meant to devote an entire entry to it. It was in response to Alex Rodriguez (finally) winning the AL MVP award and it basically consisted of Jayson Stark trying to define the word "valuable" so that it fit his belief of who should win the award. The thing that really bugged me an incredible amount about the article was that Stark used the word "we" about 1,000 times.
A few examples pulled from the first few paragraphs of the lengthy article:
- "You'd think, after watching 12 dozen MVP awards get handed out, we'd have some idea by now what that magic word "valuable" means."
- "Because we can think of many words to describe A-Rod: "smooth" ... "dependable" ... "multitalented" ... even "great." But "valuable"? In some ways, sure. But in the context of this award? Sorry. We don't see it."
- "We came to the conclusion that if you were trying to determine what the word "valuable" meant, you ought to ask yourself two questions..."
Anyway, it goes on like that for quite a while. I'm not exactly sure why that bugged me so much, but it did. Every time I would read another "we" I just kept throwing my hands up, wondering what group of "we" Stark was including himself and his entire audience in. Certainly not the group of "we" that voted Alex Rodriguez the MVP of the American League.
The logic in the article is often very confusing and I find most of it to be quite ridiculous. Of course, it is no more ridiculous than someone who thinks Shannon Stewart was the MVP of the American League, which Stark does.
The reason I never wrote about Stark's article is basically that I like Jayson Stark. He's been nice to me and my blog and I generally enjoy reading what he writes over at ESPN.com. We are about as far apart on our thoughts of who the MVP of a league should be as two people can get, but that's not the end of the world. There are plenty of people who think like Jayson does and, thankfully, a lot of people who think like me.
Anyway, the ship has long sailed on discussions of this year's AL MVP being interesting, but I just thought I'd link to that article, so I could explain why I didn't rip it apart at the time and also to give everyone who didn't read it a chance to do so. Believe me, if you are of a similar mind to me in regard to the MVP award, you'll be able to find plenty of "interesting" things in Stark's article without my assistance.
I check ESPN.com's front page about 100 times a day. On this particular day (November 19th), there was a front page headline that read: "Sosa's MVP goes to Pujols, not Bonds."
I clicked on the article, expecting to find some sort of story that would justify it being on the front page. What I found was an article that began like this:
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- If Sammy Sosa had a vote for the NL MVP, he would've picked Albert Pujols over Barry Bonds.
I don't really have anything brilliant to say about this, but I just wanted to make it known how confused I was when I saw that. First of all, why is that a front page story? What possible reason is there for that being considered top news on ESPN.com, even on the slowest sports news day of all-time? I don't even know that it's a story at all. I mean, why is it important to ask Sammy Sosa about the NL MVP? Why not Vladimir Guerrero or Gary Sheffield or Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Piazza?
My favorite Sosa line:
"No player in the National League stood out more than Pujols in 2003," Sosa said.
Uh, yeah. There was this one other guy who hit .341 / .529 / .749...nevermind.
One of my blogging buddies, Dick Allen (no, not that Dick Allen), did a little study on baserunning, where he used how often players scored when they were on base to assign them letter grades for baserunning. It's an interesting study, but that's not the reason why I am linking to it.
No, the reason I am linking to it is that, in response to his study, Allen received an email from Bill James himself. How cool is that?
I would just like to say that I have been writing this blog since August of 2002, which is like...hold on, my math stinks...17 months, and I have gotten a total of about five emails from well-known people or even semi-celebrity types.
I know you're out there. Yes, you. You're reading this blog right now and you're a famous person. Drop me an email. It won't hurt. I promise not to mention your name and the fact that you are a reader, unless you want me to. C'mon, it'll make my day!
If Curt Schilling is logging onto the Sons of Sam Horn message board at 2:30 am on Thanksgiving day, there's gotta be at least a couple of players who read this blog, right? In case you're wondering, I am hoping (praying?) that Luis Rivas doesn't own a computer.
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