June 6, 2007

The Answers (Part 1: Random Questions)

Opening the floor up for questions last week led to over 100 being asked in the comments section and another three dozen or so being sent in via e-mail. Responding to all of them would be pretty tough, but I'll tackle as many as possible by breaking up the answers into two entries. Below you'll find the first installment, which covers questions that I'd classify as "random." That means stuff about this blog, my personal life, and basically anything that's not directly related to the Twins.

Where do you find your stats?

I use Baseball-Reference.com and The Hardball Times most often, but also find plenty of numbers at Rotoworld, Fan Graphs, Retrosheet, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Cube, ESPN.com, MLB.com, and MiLB.com (plus several other places that I'm probably forgetting).

Do you own a Twins jersey? If so, who's name is on the back?

My only baseball jerseys are retro ones of Joe Morgan, Tony Gwynn, and Bo Jackson (the latter of which you can see me wearing in Sports Illustrated). One of the only bad aspects of losing nearly 100 pounds is that all three jerseys are way too big for me to wear now.

Does everyone at Rotoworld work for NBC now or is NBC just a Rotoworld sponsor?

NBC purchased Rotoworld last year, so we're all NBC employees. I even have business cards with the peacock logo on them.

How is the "Top 40 Minnesota Twins" series coming?

Slowly. My intention was to start cranking them out again and I started to do that by posting two in the same week (No. 20 Camilo Pascual and No. 19 Dave Goltz), but that was way back in February. It's difficult to write them during the season, because covering current events becomes the focus and I'm often too busy with my Rotoworld/NBC Sports duties to have time for proper research. With that said, I've recently been working on the next installment and No. 18 should be ready relatively soon.

Any insight as to who has the inside edge for Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com?

Jenna Fischer and Keeley Hazell remain the leading candidates to follow Heidi Klum, Jessica Alba, and Elisha Cuthbert as the fourth Official Fantasy Girl in AG.com history, but at this point I'm willing to leave the throne vacant until a clear titleholder emerges. It's not a decision to be taken lightly.

Have you discovered any desperate housewives in your new neighborhood?

I've yet to discover any Eva Longoria look-a-likes within a 50-block radius of my front door. So far at least, my neighborhood is extraordinarily quiet. I've said at most a total of 25 words to two neighbors, although I have met Abby, the Bichon Frise that sits outside all day across from my house.

Do you think it's time for another blogger-reader gathering?

Absolutely. I'm not much for doing the planning to actually set stuff like that up, but I'm always willing to promote it and attend. The last one was a lot of fun.

Have you gone out on a real date recently? If you did, would you tell us about it?

For better or worse I've always been willing to share an awful lot of personal stuff on this blog, from bloody ears and buying real estate to getting rejected from a college newspaper and losing a pet. But date recaps, complete with bullet points and play-by-play? That's just not happening. If you want to read about my dates on a blog, your only hope is that I start dating a female blogger who feels more like sharing.

We get weekly updates on the fantasy girls, but barely any on the real girls in your life. Are you seeing somebody currently? Or are you just dropping your "I was featured in Sports Illustrated" card at clubs and bringing home groups of beautiful women every night?

The day I start to bring home "groups of beautiful women every night" is the day I stop wasting my time blogging. Or watching baseball. Or using the computer.

Does it disturb you that readers (presumably male) have an unnatural interest in your sex life?

Not really. Plus, there were far more disturbing questions submitted.

What's your address? I'm tired of hearing about this great house, I want to drop by for a beer and see it.

See what I mean?

Any suggestions for an aspiring sports blogger?

I'm asked some variation of this question on a near-daily basis and, while I have all kinds of thoughts on blogging and could probably fill a book with advice, I always start with three suggestions. The first is to write as often as possible. The second is to let your personality show through in your writing. And the third is to involve yourself in the blogging world by reading and linking to other blogs. If you do those three things and have some writing talent, with any luck you'll eventually gain a good-sized audience.

How much time does it take you to do your blog?

It varies, but the average is likely multiple hours per day if you count all the things that go into writing the blog and maintaining the site.

How do you make money from a blog?

Some bloggers get paid to blog, like Will Leitch at Deadspin or the boys over at AOL Fanhouse (or Joe Christensen and LaVelle E. Neal III at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I suppose). Other bloggers, like me, blog for free and generate revenue through advertisements.

How much money do successful bloggers earn?

This depends on your definition of "successful." In my mind, blogging success relates more to the size and scope of someone's audience than the revenue their blog generates. In that sense, my guess is that most "successful bloggers" earn little to no money. Of late a lot more opportunities to make money from blogging have popped up, although the number of people generating enough income from blogging to call it even a part-time job still represent just a small fraction of bloggers.

Any thoughts on the travesty that is Lindsay Lohan topping Maxim's Hot 100 list? Unbelievable.

A lot of people seem to be outraged by the selection and she's certainly not at the top of my list, but I'm amazed by how good Lindsay Lohan is able to look despite seemingly doing everything she can to ruin herself physically. Seriously, if I'm ever lucky enough to have a bunch of gossip blogs write about me checking into rehab or the police finding cocaine in my car following a DUI arrest, I'd be thrilled to look half as good.

What's the best Italian food in the Twin Cities?

Before they closed up shop downtown near the Target Center, my favorite Italian restaurant was Cafe Di Napoli. Apparently they recently opened up in another location, but I haven't been there yet.

How often do you attend Twins games in person? Do you think that will increase with the new Twins stadium on the horizon?

I usually go to about a half-dozen Twins games per season, but I've yet to go this year. I despise indoor baseball and the Metrodome is particularly bad, but the bigger reason is that as odd as it sounds, my job at Rotoworld makes going to games in person difficult. A big part of my job involves watching as many innings of as many different games as possible each night, and then writing about all the action the next morning.

Armed with the MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV, I often flip back and forth between seven or eight games at a time while checking in on certain at-bats and taking various notes. Going to the Metrodome to watch the Twins means that I'm not watching all the other games, which makes it difficult to do my job well. With that said, when the Twins start playing outdoors in 2010, my plan is to be a regular at the new ballpark if at all possible.

When you go to games, do you get media credentials or sit in the stands with "the people"?

This is one of the questions that I've been asked most since starting this blog and my answer hasn't changed in five years. I sit in the stands and the only time I've ever gotten media credentials of any kind was at the Winter Meetings in Florida this winter. That access came courtesy of NBC, and allowed me to do things like interview Ron Gardenhire while playing the role of reporter alongside guys like LEN3, Jayson Stark, and Ken Rosenthal in the "media room."

I'm fairly certain that I could get a press pass to Twins games at this point and perhaps some day I'll give it a try just to write about the whole experience. However, as a day-to-day thing I continue to feel that watching the game in the press box alongside Sid Hartman and then heading to the locker room afterward to ask Torii Hunter questions is not necessary for what I do here. The jobs LEN3 and Christensen do for the Star Tribune are tough ones and they do them better than I ever could.

As a young, single, male homeowner, have you hosted any poker nights at your place?

Not yet, but I'm planning on it eventually. My dad has had a poker game with a group of friends he grew up with every week for the past 40 years or so, and I'd love something similar at some point. Inviting random blog readers over to my house probably isn't a very good idea, but hosting a tournament for the local bloggers might work. Unfortunately, I'm lazy and hate organizing things, so who knows if it'll ever happen. What I probably need is someone else to plan the event at my house, which is pretty pathetic.

How's the ear? Any more gross pictures to share with the rest of us?

The ear looks good, at least as far as ears go. Because of the surgery it now looks a bit different than the other ear, but it's close enough that it doesn't really matter. If you feel like seeing for yourself, watch my latest "Gleeman Report" video on NBCSports.com and guess which ear was sliced up.

How's the weight-loss program going? I recall you had some staggering numbers and said basically that it was an eat less, exercise more program. How much and what type of exercise do you do? How little do you eat?

I've more or less stalled on the weight-loss program. I'm currently down about 90 pounds from where I started and I've been in the 85-95 range for quite a while now. I'd prefer to continue losing weight, but given that I've slacked off on the exercise, maintaining the 90-pound loss for several months is also encouraging. It took me nearly a decade to find the motivation to begin the program, but I'm hoping that it won't take nearly as long to find the motivation to start it up again.

My "program" isn't actually very interesting or revolutionary, which is a shame given all the diet books out there. When I was in full-fledged weight-shedding mode, I rode an elliptical machine for 45-60 minutes per day. Along with that, I simply ate less and cut out most snack-type food while going cold turkey on all desserts. I've heard countless overweight people suggest that they became fat without eating a lot, but I find that difficult to believe. If you eat less and exercise more, you'll shed pounds.

Do you listen to sports talk radio?

I used to listen to KFAN quite a bit, but likely haven't tuned to the station for more than 15 minutes at a time in several years. One of the nice things about working from home is that there's no commute involved, so listening to a 45-minute radio segment about the Vikings' fourth-round draft pick becomes a lot less appealing. I've always enjoyed Dan Barreiro's show and Chad Hartman (and his producer Doogie Wolfson) have been nice enough to mention my work on the air every once in a while.

I've always loved radio and over the years I've regularly listened to guys like Barreiro, Tony Kornheiser, Howard Stern, Adam Carolla, and Bubba the Love Sponge. One of the things about television that frustrates me is the need to add bells and whistles to everything. ESPN has sort of taken that approach to extreme levels, with many of their shows turning what should be interesting discussions into little more than shouting matches accompanied by flashing graphics and annoying sound effects.

Talk radio appeals to me for the exact reasons why shows like Around the Horn on ESPN rub me the wrong way. Radio is long form and casual, and for whatever reason seems far more personal. I'd love to eventually get involved in radio, although my tendency to shy away from call-in interview requests makes that tough. Something about phone-ins freak me out even though I do them every week for NBCSports.com now, but the idea of doing shows from the studio doesn't scare me. It's weird, I know.

How do you create such insanely good teams in Diamond-Mind?

This question came from Will Young, who happens to be in both of my Diamond-Mind keeper leagues. There's a long answer involving all kinds of strategy and theories, but that's boring and I'm not about to share my secrets with him anyway. The short answer is that when you literally get paid to do things like "create insanely good teams in Diamond-Mind," it's easy to be good at your job.

Are you going to the SABR convention in St. Louis this summer?

Of course. Aside from the annual SABR convention, I don't think I've taken a non-working vacation of any kind since going to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday (which is pretty sad, now that I think about it).

With the last name Gleeman, are people ever taken a back by your often critical opinions thinking that you should be a man full of glee?

I've never revealed this before, but Aaron Gleeman is just a pen name. My real name is actually Johan Criticalman, but I had it legally changed just to mess with people.

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

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