February 23, 2006

Ask and You Shall Receive

Last Friday I wrote about Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark becoming bloggers at ESPN.com. I said mostly good things about it, like "I'm glad they're willing to take what is a pretty large leap for a major media outlet." I also laid out my one criticism, which was that "as far as I can tell none of the dozen or so blogs ESPN.com hosts actually link to other blogs." Then, in one of my many convoluted analogies, I wrote:

Right now ESPN.com is like a high-school jock who has the guts to join the drama club because he truly loves acting, but still makes jokes about the "losers" in the club to his buddies on the football team. You're either in or you're out, and if you're in then you can't be too good for the club when it suits your needs. I'm proud of ESPN.com, but it'll be even better when they really make the jump.

Gammons' "reading" page includes a link to The Hardball Times (which was quite a thrill for me), but what I'm talking about is linking to a good Dodger Thoughts entry when Jon Weisman has something interesting to say about Ned Colletti or turning readers on to USS Mariner when David Cameron breaks down the greatness of Felix Hernandez after King Felix puts together a string of brilliant starts.

The line between old-school and new-school is blurring all the time and I commend ESPN.com for accepting a relatively new medium when many of their fellow mainstream outlets have been amazingly resistant to do so. We're not quite "there" yet, but for now being able to call myself a "blogger" and have Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark be included in that same club is pretty cool. Even if they probably still call us losers behind our backs.

Much to my surprise, Stark not only linked to an actual blog yesterday, it was this blog. In fact, he responded directly to what I had written:

Memo to fellow blogsmith Aaron Gleeman: I've never called you a loser, pal. We live in a media world now with virtually no limits, and that (we're pretty sure) is a great thing. Thanks to the blogosphere, we get to read all kinds of new voices who actually spend way too much of their lives devoting way too much creative thought to baseball, for little or zero compensation. Aaron Gleeman is one of those voices. Now that I've plunged into the futuristic dimensions of blog-o-space, I feel a newfound bond with my fellow bloggers. All 8.7 billion of you.

Aw, shucks. Thanks, Jayson.

Of course, for some reason I feel the need to point out that the link Stark provided was simply to AaronGleeman.com, rather than the specific entry he was responding to. So people clicked on it expecting to find something about him calling me a loser, and instead went to my review of The Mind of Bill James (the most recent entry). But I suppose that's picking nits.

I appreciate Stark's link, and even more than that I appreciate that he deemed my criticism important enough to respond to. Now that I'm reading and linking to the ESPN.com blogs and they're reading and linking to my blog, I can truly welcome Gammons and Stark to the blogging community. (Whatever the hell that means.)

To slightly modify one of my favorite quotes from Seinfeld: "We're all winners!"

* * * * * * * * * *

I had an odd experience Tuesday night, and this blog is always as good a place as any for an odd experience. At around 9:45 I was doing a "chat" that is supposed to be published on another website in a couple weeks. We were about an hour into it, so I was essentially typing like a madman and trying my best to say intelligent things really quickly.

The phone rang and I could hear my mom, who was dead asleep, fumbling around trying to answer it. She eventually did and it was clearly not someone she knew, because I heard stuff like "okay" and "uh huh" instead of some sort of high-pitched greeting. Then I heard my mom say, "Hold on one second," and she came into my room.

She told me, "There's someone claiming to be a relative of a Twins player and they want to talk to you about writing something about him." Now, this isn't the sort of thing that makes sense to a person the first time they hear it, but it was tough to get clarification given that a) my mom was holding the receiver of the phone with her hand so that we couldn't be heard, and b) she was still like 94.8% asleep.

So I said, "Tell them to call me back in a little bit or e-mail me, because I'm still doing this chat." My mom relayed that message, at which point the woman at the other end of the line apparently said, "No, I'll just contact the newspaper" and then hung up.

In retrospect I should have dropped everything and taken the call, but I was too surprised to think clearly and certainly didn't expect the person to react like that to the idea of calling me back. I mean, if you call someone at 9:45 on a Tuesday night, can you really expect to have their full attention immediately?

At this point my curiosity is damn near killing me. First and foremost, I wonder who the person was and which player they were claiming to be related to. Beyond that, I wonder how it is that they got my phone number (since it's not listed in the phone book under my name), why they were so against calling me back, and what exactly they wanted to talk to me about.

"They want to talk to you about writing something about him" could be taken any number of ways. Is it Tony Batista's wife, wanting to yell at me for "writing something about him" that was negative? Is it Johan Santana's mom, wanting to thank me for "writing something about him" that was positive? Could it have been Francisco Liriano's sister hoping to convince me to "write something about him" to promote his case for the fifth-starter job?

The possibilities are endless, especially given the fact that I'm now kicking myself for having declined the call.

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