Baseball and blogging are a perfect match. Each day of the 162-game season brings a new torrent of information—another round of at-bats, boneheaded managerial moves, minor-league games, and scoreboard dot races—that requires instant analysis. There’s also a huge body of baseball knowledge on the Web, ready to be mined for cross-referential links: local papers, statistical encyclopedias, analytical clearinghouses, other baseblogs. For fans living far from their favorite team, and without the time or inclination to order MLB Extra Innings, a dedicated blogger is local color—a friend who can’t help but complain about the local TV announcers and a beat writer who doesn’t lard his copy with boring player quotes.
On the most popular sites in the baseblogosphere, game recaps and scapegoat-bashing transcend team affiliation. In the hands of the best basebloggers, the parochial becomes universal. Fans of the national pastime are united by our compulsive love of miscellany. You don’t have to gnash your teeth over the results of Miguel Asencio’s MRI to hit refresh on the obsessive Kansas City Royals blog written by hometown fans Rany Jazayerli and ESPN.com baseball columnist Rob Neyer. As true fans, we have our own Miguel Asencios, and we understand.
Like the political blogosphere, the same sites—Redbird Nation (St. Louis Cardinals), the Big Red C (Chicago Cubs), and U.S.S. Mariner (Seattle Mariners)—show up in blog roll after blog roll. But no matter which team you root for, even if it’s the Milwaukee Brewers or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, there’s a beat blogger working hard to keep you up to date. If you’re looking for a blog that covers your favorite team, BaseballBlogs.org is the best place to start.
Minnesota Twins fans, for instance, can follow every hangnail and torn meniscuson no fewer than five Twins-centric Weblogs. In the third inning of the Minnesota Twins’ second game, local-boy-turned-super-prospect Joe Mauer tore cartilage in his right knee while chasing after a foul ball. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s beat writer wrote with a kind of composed distress—”What Mauer and the Twins must be concerned about is the prospect of a 20-year-old catcher suffering an injury that could lead to chronic arthritis”—but the paper’s in-house fan blogger, Twins Geek, took the news a little harder. “What does this mean for a catcher who relies so much on his knees??!!?? What about a 20-year-old??!!?? Does it mean we’ll have to start thinking about moving him to a new position?!? WILL THINGS EVER BE THE SAME????”
Despite Twins Geek’s tone, the Twins blogs aren’t the screeds of brainless rooters who reflexively beat the drum for the home team. As part of a nearly 2,000-word post on last Tuesday’s 15-inning game, Seth Stohs pondered whether the stickiness of the Metrodome’s new turf contributed to the recent spate of Twins injuries. On his Twins page, Will Young pored through nine years of transactions to see if General Manager Terry Ryan deserves his reputation as a master executive. And Aaron Gleeman keeps fans up-to-date on the not-so-high-profile negotiations to get Victory Sports, the Twins’ version of the YES Network, onto local cable systems.
The baseblogosphereisn’t just a way for fans to follow specific teams, though. There are plenty of sites for baseball generalists, especially those with a post- Moneyball hankering for the Bill James-ian side of the game. (Check out Bronx Banter for an interview with the legend himself.) In the week since Opening Day, the site Sabernomics has featured posts on whether putting in a defensive replacement is a good strategic gambit and a new study that shows that labor strikes haven’t affected attendance. Mike’s Baseball Rants, one of the 10 excellent blogs hosted by the domain all-baseball.com, includes a review of what the leading minds in baseball analysis think about competitive balance and a list of the best Japanese players who’ve yet to play in the major leagues.
Some sites come in especially handy when you’re trying to win an argument with a baseball nerd. On his business of baseball page, Doug Pappas, a lawyer who has chaired SABR’s business of baseball committee for 10 years, offers salary data going back to 1977 and ticket prices to 1950. At On Deck Baseball Prospects, the obsessive Scott Rex ranks the top 500 prospects in minor league baseball. The Transaction Guy stays on top of every roster move, and the Baseball News Blog offers links to the top stories of the day.
Then there are the oddball outliers. The Score Bard pens limericks about wayward outfielders: “Such talent, the young Milton Bradley!/ It seems he can sometimes play Vladly./ But he’s brittle and lame/ And his last childish game/ Got him fired for acting so badly.” The Baseball Widow pines for a wayward husband: “I love my husband. My husband loves baseball. Welcome to our coping mechanism.” And perhaps the oddest of them all, Management by Baseball, dispenses a daily business lesson learned from observation of the national pastime: “If you’ve managed in enough groups, sooner or later you’re bound to run into what I call a Mike Moore situation.”
If nothing else, baseblogs increase your rate of baseball digestion. Even though the season has just begun, I’ve already filled up on a couple lifetimes’ worth of trivia. Over the past couple of days, I’ve learned that Jeff Weaver’s little brother Jered has a 1.13 ERA for Long Beach State, that Brewers reliever Jeff Bennett doesn’t curve the bill of his cap “so he can check runners on base,” and that the 5-1 Detroit Tigers were 3-25 at one point last year. Once Detroit’s inevitable slide begins, the team’s fans can take comfort in the fact that they can still turn to Tiger Blog for game-by-game updates—on the progress of the World Series champion 1984 Tigers.