January 2009

Taking a Super Bowl handoff – and running with it

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090201&content_id=3790698&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Millions of baseball fans at MLB.com
are football fans, too, and I liveblogged the Super Bowl from pregame
to postgame on the MLB.com homepage. Thank you to MLBlogs friends here
who joined me on the comments there! Let’s just say the ladies took
over — and if you want to know how far American football culture has
come, just witness that.<p>

The Super Bowl is not only a
great time for the typical fan, but it also marks that ultimate
transition from wintertime to the pastime. It’s our turn after the
clock runs out, and that’s what the liveblogging will be all about. We
do this every year, but this was the first time we did it in a liveblog
format a la MLB Network launch.

Thanks to our special guests,
club presidents Derrick Hall of the DBacks and Frank Coonelly of the
Pirates, for joining us during the game. Their comments said it all:
Baseball is there for affordable entertainment in any economy, a
much-needed salve. And who knows, maybe the Pirates can celebrate the
30th anniversary of their last World Series title by doing what they
did back then — immediately following (and preceding!) a Steelers
championship.

No? You haven’t been paying attention to the Majors this decade if you’re in the “no” camp.

I
was the only one on Earth in 2007 who picked the Rockies to go to the
World Series. They did. You could argue that those Rockies and the 2008
Rays had the foundation in place and the Pirates don’t. But that would
assume you are using logic.

Logic doesn’t mean a whole lot in the rollout of baseball champs these days.

Indians
fans, your equipment trucks are out on the road, since Friday was Truck
Day at Progressive Field and they’re bound for Arizona. Red Sox fans,
your Truck Day is this coming Friday. Big rigs are headed for the
interstate to Spring Training, filled with goodies like bats and balls
and uniforms and groundskeeping equipment and all those things that
rock our world. Red Sox Truck Day is this coming Friday. You can feel
it now! My Sure Signs of Spring article also is on the MLB.com homepage. What are your sure signs of spring?

For the record, I picked Kurt Warner and the Cardinals
to win, 33-28. I don’t hate my pick. What an incredible Super Bowl. Get
ready for an incredible year in baseball.

— Mark

Jblog School Course 2

Wow, it was a pleasure to see such positive reaction to our introductory course for Jblog School here last week. Glad you made it back to class, especially those of you who have been impacted by weather-related power outages, beer bongs, Halo3 or MLB Network all-nighters. We are back with more help for today’s MLBlogger who never went to Journalism school.

jBlog_logo2 (2).gif
Seek out William Strunk’s legendary book Elements of Style. It has been a standard little fact of life in Journalism classes for decades. I am pleased to see its contents on Bartleby.com.

Get to know Bartleby.com — seek out literature in all ways, including that one. It is a fine reference for those on deadline.

Have you tried more than one writing structure since our last class? Please tell us about it in the comments, with your link. Again: Standard news inverted pyramid style, list (ie top 10), categories (ie best players by position), Q&A, Jane Heller-esque with descending photo/caption/photo/caption, essay, 3-dot notes, standard columnist, vignettes, Shakespearean tragedy by acts, famous quotes each topical to your subject and each followed with your pithy comment, long-format feature, movie review, news item/reaction/news item/reaction, or a Faulkner monster-graf post. Ah, there are too many to list. Invent one. It need not even be writing. We are starting to see more vloggers, such as the Miserable Cubs Fan, who follows in the wake of legendary October Gonzo. If you are in our Official MLBlogs Twitter crowd already, then you might have met Kerel Cooper, who I am trying to recruit to our community after enjoying his excellent vlog (help).

The author of A Misplaced Astros Fan just introduced a blog in a unique way: Everything you want to know about the MLB Draft. That falls under the writing structure of Facing Forward.

Find the glaring mistake in this paragraph:
     When informed that the $80,000 dollar salary he received in 1930 was $5,000 more that that of President Hoover, Ruth was reported to have said, “I had a better year than he did.”

(See below for error.)

Because MLBlogs is “Official Affiliate/Unofficial Opinions” with MLB.com, there is an umbrella here that pretty well covers us for photography. But please be careful in some cases, and in some cases it would be good form to add a credit somehow within your text. You do not need to credit AP for an action shot of Ryan Howard, for example, but there was a case this month where former Major Leaguer Bill Werber passed away at age 100, and I saw an MLBlog with the same black-and-white picture of Werber that had accompanied my 2003 MLB.com article on Bill after I interviewed him (and a 2007 MLB.com article that referenced him). In both cases, we explicitly included the words “Courtesy Baseball Hall of Fame” in the caption under that black and white photo. There was a reason for that. It meant: We thank the Hall of Fame for providing that and will be sure that they are credited. No such credit was used when this image was Googled for use after Bill’s passing, even though it was obvious in the caption the person found after Googling. Please be careful and look at captions/credits if it is from MLB.com. As a general rule, please just be mindful of how you would feel if you were the photographer of an image out on the Internet and someone posted it freely onto their personal MLBlog. There are a lot of photogs who went to Journalism school, too.

Similarly, I just found an MLBlog that was basically one of our MLB.com correspondent’s articles strung together, one after another. It was hard to find a case where the blogger actually linked to our site. Just to be clear, you do not have the right to do that here. That is bad form at best, really looked down upon among journalists, and at worst it is a copyright  violation. Again, there is more leeway having an MLBlog. No one is shouting and whining. Just understand why the courtesy exists. If a news outlet goes to the trouble and expense and effort to report and publish a story, you can site it but extend them the courtesy of sending someone there for the full article. It is not hard to link. I would never repost an entire article, either; just excerpt part of one and link the reader to that origin site for the full body.

The Golden Rule is the best rule to follow in those cases.

(Error above: “$80,000 dollar” is redundant. You do not need the word “dollar” there.)

Also note that the period goes inside and not outside the parenthesis in the previous paragraph. That is the case whenever there is at least one full sentence within the paragraph. If it were a parenthetical clause within a sentence, the period would not go inside the closing parenthesis. Worth noting also that “parentheses” is the plural of “parenthesis.”

After reading rockymountainway‘s statement about editing with red ink in the comments under the previous Jblog School post, I was reminded of something worth sharing. It was back at the IDS (Indiana Daily Student) in the 1981-82 school year. I was writing a column as managing editor. I tried to use every big word I possibly could find. We had an Associate Publisher appointed by the faculty, and this person’s job entailed posting the school paper on a bulletin board and critiquing it with red marker from front to back. It looked like a bloody mess, especially my column. He wrote in the margin: “Newman, put down the Thesaurus!” I thought we were supposed to cultivate our vocabularies then. Turns out we were, but not by trying to impress others with big words. Write conversationally. Write like you talk.

Nevertheless, here is the Thesaurus.

Spell out contractions. I know, I have told you to write conversationally. Just try this the next time you have an “it’s” or an “I’ve” in your text.

Protect the language. It is under siege. It is great to show you are current and put a buzzword such as “pwn” in a headline, as I just saw on MSNBC.com. Balance that, though. Expand your lexicon by reading words that already exist, not merely by intake of cool words we invent each day through Halo3.

“Such as” is preferable to “like” when comparing. See previous paragraph.

Let’s talk about “me” for a while. Me, myself and I. This has been perhaps one of the greatest distinctions between what we have perceived as a gulf between blogs and traditional media. A typical newspaper always had very clear rules on this matter. You write in narrative if it is a news story. You write in first-person if you are a columnist with your own face on a column sig graphic, or in the extremely rare case that it helps the voice of a powerful story to include first-person. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to put on chain-mail to try to include myself within an article, only to be crushed underfoot by one of Hannibal’s elephants or jabbed through the heart with the mighty pen. “No, you cannot say that here! How could you even think to ask such an offensive thing!” It would be wise as a blogger for you to at least be aware of that Law of the Land in past centuries of journalism. You have the freedom to write pretty much whatever you want in whatever style and voice you wish. You are your own publisher, editor, writer, copy-desk clerk, fact-checker, distributer and marketer. Alas, the day may come, when you dare to mount a rebel charge and include the word “me” or “I” within an article that reaches into this foreign and sovereign soil, and you should know what you are getting yourself into. I am just warning you. Sometimes war is hell.
Sometimes you may write a complete article and try so hard to insert your own pitiful identity into it and be rebuffed and sent back to your homeland, wimpering and defeated, blood all over your chain-mail, a mere narrative writer by law.

From my Digital Media Daily Wire: “Social news aggregation site Digg announced on its blog on Thursday that it will effect a round of layoffs…” I am more concerned about the job of the person who wrote that with “effect” as a verb. I have seen “effect change” from time to time, but as a general rule in the English language, it is “affect” if you are talking about a verb and “effect” if you are talking about a noun.

“Going to” is preferable to “gonna” every time, but I generally leave “gonna” in if it is within a quote. Sometimes it is worthwhile to “clean up” quotes, as you can show good form by not making someone look bad in print, but more often than not, you do not want to go there after you transcribe.

BLOGGING TRAFFIC TIPS

Journalists who blog also are self-promoters. If you are not, then you will have a teeny-tiny audience not really deserving of the word “audience,” but more like “Mom.” Here are four easy ways to get MLBlogs traffic: (a) comment cheerfully on other blogs here and elsewhere, always leaving your full URL as a breadcrumb; (b) post a profile pic of yourself and thus you will be considered for the Featured Blog spot on http://www.mlblogs.com; (c) feel free to comment on the community blog anytime you post to summarize what you’ve blogged, again leaving your URL, so we might consider you for the bottom of the MLB.com homepage; and (d) join us on http://www.twitter.com/mlblogs and leave a short tweet there whenever you post with your URL so people can find you that way.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Read the late John Updike’s seminal 1960 essay from The New Yorker about Ted Williams’ final appearance as a Major Leaguer. Play against the best and you will be a better baseball player. Read the best and you will be a better writer.

MLBlogs Domains

Our friend and fellow national MLB.com writer Tom Singer just started a new MLBlog a few days ago called Change for a Nickel — so I decided to ask him how he decided on the title.

“As the subhead says, ‘Change for a Nickel’ simply means I’m giving readers my two cents’ worth, so they get change back for their nickel,” Tom replied.

It got me thinking about MLBlogs domains.

Like, is this the longest one? http://captainjacksparrowplaysfortheorioles.mlblogs.com

Let’s talk about MLBlogs domains, starting with some general housekeeping.

Effective with our relaunch to the Movable Type platform last April, there is a Provisions plug-in here for superuser admin with a massive list of reserved domains. These include all 30 club names as well as 40-man rosters, so they are reserved for clubs and players. Examples of such usage are tigers.mlblogs.com and bengiemolina.mlblogs.com

For anyone who may have maintained an MLBlog on the old Typepad platform prior to last April, there is no further login access to said blog and it will be scraped if/when needed. If you have one of those, you are advised to scrape and copy the contents of those yourself, as they could disappear at any time.

The Provisions list is inherited from Six Apart, and in scanning it I noticed a lot of bizarre semi-celebrity names as well as words like “buzz” for reasons that might have made sense for the MT developer. So if you find an MLBlogs domain unavailable and want to create one, feel free to leave a comment here requesting it and I can remove something from that Provision plugin if necessary.

mlbtest1.mlblogs.com is not available, but it is a great place to go if you need the standard Latin placeholder text for Internet development. That actually was not the first MLBlogs domain. The first several were Six Apart test accounts. The first MLBlog domain visible to the public belonged then — and still belongs today — to the great Tommy Lasorda. You know you are an icon when you only need your first name as an MLBlogs subdomain. I hope you keep Tommy’s comments going strong at http://tommy.mlblogs.com

I see that our good friends Jane Heller and Joe Torre are having a Yankee book war now, with books each coming out on the same day. I mention them because both use their own names as their MLBlog subdomain. Jane titles her blog with the same name of her new book: Confessions of a She-Fan. (I linked to her Amazon page rather than her B&N page because Amazon is currently marked down to $16.47 as opposed to B&N’s $16.83.) Joe blogged for the 2008 season, and it was named New Life. New Lifestyle.

The MLB.com writer with the longest-running active MLBlog is my good friend Jesse Sanchez. But while he launched with his firstlast name as the subdomain, it was changed that first year to http://js.mlblogs.com for some strange reason. Ask Jesse.

Murray Cook didn’t use his name in reserving his domain shortly after we launched back in 2005. He went instead with his occupation: http://groundskeeper.mlblogs.com — and you can see his most recent posting about the tragic building collapse at that Barcelona ballfield.

It is usually easier when you make the subdomain the same as the title, but sometimes it cannot work that way. There are some examples of that in this current MRA:

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com
http://insidethedodgers.mlblogs.com
http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com
http://bigpoppiirvine.mlblogs.com
http://trsullivan.mlblogs.com
http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com
http://okieranger.mlblogs.com
http://imbringingdiamondback.mlblogs.com
http://legends.mlblogs.com
http://alyssa.mlblogs.com
http://bombersbeat.mlblogs.com
http://valduno1959gmailcom.mlblogs.com
http://snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

The penultimate MLBlog domain on that list is the only one to my knowledge that uses “gmail” within the subdomain.

Mets’ Main Man has the same title as subdomain except for the apostrophe.

Last October, we had at least one player MLBlog going for every club in the playoffs. The only one of those who was not firstlast name in the subdomain was http://diningwithdre.mlblogs.com because Andre Ethier wanted to keep a good thing going.

I am curious what thought process everyone put into creating her or his own MLBlog. What is the funniest MLBlog domain? What is the coolest? What is the dumbest? Which one always makes you say: Ooh, I wish I had that one. How do you feel about your own? I think this would be a fun topic to comment on and I will join you in the comments.

Remember that you now can also follow us on Twitter @mlblogs or go to http://www.twitter.com/mlblogs

Latest Leaders – Jan. 16-22

Latest Leaders in the MLBlogs Network by page view, for the period from Jan. 16-22:

MLB PRO BLOGS

Twins pitcher Glen Perkins debuts at No. 30 on the charts — and that doesn’t include his Caravan posts that got Twins Confidential into the top 10. Don’t look now, but here comes MLB.com Fantasy 411 — with a brand-new style. Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier rocketed to No. 19 after blogging about the Mexican food at Fry Bread House. We’ve been impressed with how Around the Horn in KC
has elevated lately; Royals fans are getting fired up. Can’t wait to
see their good-as-new, totally remodeled ballpark. Jump on that 2009 Reds Winter Caravan!

1. Hot Stove Blog
2. Bombers Beat
3. Inside the Dodgers
4. MLB.com Fantasy 411
5. Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
6. CastroTurf
7. Postcards from Elysian Fields
8. Brownie Points
9. Twins Confidential
10. Beck’s Blog
11. Inside the Giants Clubhouse
12. The Baseball Collector
13. Around the Horn in KC
14. *touch* ’em all
15. Newberg Report
16. MLBlogosphere (lol)
17. kevin slowey’s (offseason) blog
18. Phillies Insider
19. Dining with ‘Dre (Andre Ethier)
20. Red Sox Insider Blog
21. Bally’s Blog (Collin Balester)
22. Tommy Lasorda’s World
23. Inside the White Sox
24. B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful
25. Twins Ballpark Update
26. MLB.com Organizational Report
27. Major League Bastian
28. Ben’s Biz Blog
29. 2009 Reds Winter Caravan
30. Perk’s Place (Glen Perkins)
31. Vine Line’s Cubs Club Blog
32. Friar John’s Blog
33. MLB Urban Youth Academy
34. got milb?
35. Comerica Park, 48201
36. Brian Anderson’s House of Blogs
37. Siguiendo a los Mets
38. MURRAY COOK’S FIELD BLOG
39. A ‘Braves’ New World
40. Down the Line with the Phillies Ballgirls
41. Yankee Stadium Memories
42. It’s a Kind of a Family. It’s a Kind of Insanity.
43. Behind the Mask (Bengie Molina)
44. Shane Victorino’s Postseason Blog
45. Scorpion Tales: C.J. Wilson’s trek across the blogosphere
46. Inside the Chiefs
47. Extra Innings with the K Crew
48. MLB.com Geeking on the Draft
49. Reds Crew Official Blog
50. A’s Thru Z

This just in: My MLB.com veteran colleague Tom Singer, another Hall of Fame voter, has just joined MLBlogs! You can find him here, and please be sure to say hello and comment for a longtime baseball writer.

FAN MLBLOGS

And here comes Ranger Rumors! We also saw a quantum leap by Statistician Magician,
who will provoke you to comment with that 5 Best First Basemen entry!
How would you like to be the eighth-most-popular fan MLBlogger when you
are only in sixth grade? Eat, Sleep, Baseball can make that claim (along with a 62-mph fastball). Baby Paul is back in the top
40 after riding some bulls at the rodeo! OK, he didn’t really ride them
— but he blogged about them. We’ll be lookin’ for eight when they pull
that gate, Baby Paul!

1. Red State Blue State
2. Confessions of a She-Fan
3. Ranger Rumors
4. Julia’s Rants
5. The ‘Burgh Blues
6. Rockpile Rant
7. Statistician Magician
8. Eat, Sleep, Baseball
9. Prince of New York
10. Rays Renegade
11. FutureAngels.com
12. Phillies Phollowers
13. The Future Blog of the Red Sox
14. THE BOSTON RED SOX BLOG
15. Baseball, The Yankees, and Life…
16. Life Outside the Diamond is a Wrench
17. Rocky Mountain Way…Outside Coors looking in
18. Go Redlegs!
19. Blogging Dodgers and Baseball
20. A Diatribe from a Law Student: Baseball Edition
21. I Live for This
22. Unfinished Business
23. DIAMONDS ARE A GIRLS BEST FRIEND
24. Baseball’s Hottest Wives
25. King of Cali
26. Baseball Cleats & Shoes
27. Bruce Markusen’s Cooperstown Confidential
28. All Baseball All The Time
29. Hardball
30. Bringing Diamond Back(s)
31. Yogi Brewer
32. Cambios y Curvas
33. Plunking Gomez
34. Yankees Chick
35. LA NACION MEDIAS ROJAS
36. Phillies Red Pinstripes
37. Yawkey Way Yaker
38. The Rumor Mill – MLB Rumors
39. Baby Paul’s Baseball Blog
40. We’re talkin Homer, Blue Jays and MLB
41. Made In San Diego
42. Pick Me Up Some Mets!
43. Love of The Game: Through 2 Different Pairs of Eyes
44. Cardinal Girl
45. Diamondhacks
46. The Happy Youngster…Brew Town’s Ballhawk
47. Perfect Pitch
48. Baseball Bats
49. District Boy
50. The Yankees Baseball Whisperer

Be
sure to put yourself on this list! It’s more easy traffic, because
people will click these and find you. You’ll find that one common trait
of many of the Latest Leaders is their love of commenting on OTHER
MLBlogs, always leaving their full URL wherever they go. This brings
you page views, it makes you part of a community, you make friends,
people read what you write, and you know you are making someone else
feel better.

The Official MLBlogs Twitter is buzzing at http://www.twitter.com/mlblogs – or just follow @mlblogs if you already are on Twitter. Leave your tweets there to promote your MLBlog.

Sorry to see the passing of Bill Werber, 100, the oldest surviving former MLB player. I interviewed Bill and wrote an MLB.com feature on him in 2003, when he was 95, for our World Series 100th Anniversary area launch. That article will be back on MLB.com with his obit.

Around the Sphere

I have a question. The Trade Talk blog was a big success, featuring short posts from our 30 MLB.com beat writers up until the last Trading Deadline. The Hot Stove Blog
came next, again with constant and concise posts from our 30 MLB.com
beat writers throughout this offseason, accounting for 80 percent of
all MLBlogs traffic and a must on the average blogroll. What would you
suggest our beat writers do between Opening Day and the offseason, in
terms of one powerhouse MLBlog that everyone would have to see on a
regular basis? I am going to make a suggestion and would love your
input as great bloggers.

Congratulations to the new president of the United States and incoming White Sox fan in the White House. I don’t know about you, but my own personal favorite “moment” today was when the glass doors were opened and Barack Hussein Obama, following the herald trumpets, was introduced to that sea of humanity on the Mall. What was your one “moment”? Here’s to dusting ourselves off and picking ourselves up, just like Obama said in his speech. I wrote a news story on MLB.com, and also a story about our fellow MLBlogs pioneer, Scott Reifert, who was right by the stage and called me during the parade with a unique view. What an unbelievable day filled with pride, regardless of party ties.

This MLBlogger has a good idea if you ask me.

I am speechless sometimes over commenters who question why something other than actual baseball would dare to be covered on MLB.com. These must be people who have not paid attention to our sites over the past decade. MLB.com is teeming with actual humans, and we have a First Fan who proudly wears his love for baseball with his cap often. Our philosophy always has been to write about major news stories, to tip our caps and show perspective — not to be a toy department. Every story is a baseball story. Everything has something to do with baseball. It is an important fabric of our life and I am happy to make any story a baseball story, whether it is Pluto being thrown out of the stellar lineup or a White Sox fan being hailed as the new chief. Those same commenters should prepare themselves for my Super Bowl story coming soon. I am interested in how you cope with loons.

Welcome to new MLBloggers including Tripleplay’s Twins Territory, maintained by Rich, a 26-year-old student in Liverpool, England. He has a lot in common with Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, because they started an MLBlog at about the same time. Give it up for the Twins, because they have more club-maintained MLBlogs (five) than any other team — unless you count all of those MLBlogs we created in 2007 for the candidates running for Red Sox Nation President. It is always a good day when you have to break away from doing something important because a Major League club requires some help starting a new blog. I am excited about 2009 because blogs are relentlessly more important here at MLBAM.

I especially love the Perk and Kevin Slowey blogs because they do their own thing whenever they feel like it. That makes it kind of tricky to know when to tell you they posted, so you might want to subscribe to their RSS feed on the blog’s side panel.

Thanks for all of the great feedback to our first Jblog School post. We will be back soon with the next class and guest lecturers. Latest Leaders also coming soon.

Just got a sneak-peek at our friend Jane Heller’s new book, “Confessions of a She-Fan,” and she had me at “A-Rod’s eyes are the color of pistachio.” That is the first sentence in the book. I really wanted to read every page right then but alas I had to forward it to our reviewer here at MLB.com. I do encourage everyone to order this book now and as usual say hi to one of our top MLBloggers, although you probably get comments from her already.

Jane’s latest post made me think about being at big events, specifically the World Series. Here are the Fall Classics I have attended and what I think of:

1990 (Schottzie slimed me on the elevator, damn dog), 1992 (I mostly think of Neon Deion), 1993 (Carter’s HR landed right in front of me), 1994 (oh wait a minute never mind), 1995 (Chop, Chop, Chop), 1996 (glad to leave Fulton Co. Stadium behind), 1997 (snowed on my keyboard in RF aux box in CLE, then the next game humidity of FLA forced me to emergency room with acute asthma attack so I missed the finish), 1998 (fish tacos in San Diego), 2003 (Clemens being saluted by both dugouts), 2004 (sitting in the right-field power alley at Busch and watching Red Sox fans celebrate for two hours while I wrote), 2005 (Steve Perry soaked in champagne and singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” right next to me in the White Sox clubhouse at Houston), 2006 (David Eckstein being forced by Scott Spiezio to take a swig of whiskey after winning the yellow Vette), 2007 (spending six innings of Game 3 on Coors Field first-aid stretcher due to altitude sickness while marathon training), 2008 (cowbells in FLA and riding the lead vehicle in Philly’s long-awaited parade). That’s 13 Fall Classics.

Where will the next World Series be played?

That’s why we’re all here, right? All of these Caravans, Conventions, Winter Warmups, FanFests and the like are about to converge, and it is a time when you really start to feel it. A new baseball fan is in the White House, and a new Spring Training is just around the corner. It is on the countdown clock on our homepage all the time. It looks like most of you are feeling the excitement now, too. It is like an internal clock, isn’t it? Our friend Susan at Perfect Pitch said she just got her tickets to Florida and I know how jazzed she is.

Please be sure to join our Official MLBlogs Twitter if you haven’t already! If you already are on Twitter, then follow us @mlblogs and tease your MLBlogs postings with tweets there. It is an extension of this community and will grow and grow in importance.

We are continuing to look into the commenting-permission issue that sporadically is reported around here. I expect this matter to be resolved soon. The default setting for the entire community was for no restrictions whatsoever on commenting anywhere, but there seems to be a bug in our system somewhere, and we are communicating with Six Apart on it.

Have a nice Inauguration Night, and congrats and best wishes again to the new Chief. It’s time for a comeback.

Welcome to Jblog School

First of all, congratulations to our friend Jen at A Diatribe from a Law Student for winning our Latest Leaders Identity Contest in the previous post. Her prize was being the first paragraph of this post and thus billions of people knowing to click on her blog. Kudos also to King Yankees for giving it a pretty good run. We’ll have another Latest Leaders before month’s end.

jBlog_logo1 (2).gifI am going to do something today that I’ve always wanted to do since blogging became a growing movement. I am going to offer journalism help for bloggers.

You may not care, and that’s cool, so read or disregard. But I am frequently asked about credentialing, and I can tell you that no one without a journalism background is going to be credentialed for a Major League clubhouse anytime in the near future, save for an occasional experiment. Do you know libel law? Have you studied up on journalism ethics? Do you know the difference between “off the record” and quoting an anonymous source? Fairness? Reporting 101? Do you have a nose for news? We are generally blogging in this community about content surfaced from those at the source, usually reporters with J-school backgrounds, and reacting.

I am all for the movement of Consumer Creates Content, which I believe is surpassing Company Creates Content across the board in society now and forever blurring the lines of old communication. In some ways, not having a J-school background is a good thing for bloggers. In some ways, that is a bad thing. I went to Indiana University back when it was considered the No. 1 J-school in America and because I have been at this media career since starting at The Miami Herald in 1982 (I’m old!), I can teach you a few things. In other ways I continue to learn from you. The diversity of perspective in the MLBlogs community is powerful. So here goes, and I will invite guest lecturers and gradually add to this and occasionally post about various subjects that offer help to bloggers — my Jblog School. You can enroll here for free.

Buy an AP Stylebook.

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How are the most important words to you. If you address all of them within your post, then I am more likely to keep reading you. If you are writing a news story, then it is not optional to exclude one.

Surprise your readers. Write with different formats and styles. Lists, Shakespearean play structure, Jays from A to Z, photo captioning, inverted pyramid (normal news style), essay, etc. I keep going back to writers who surprise me. Frank Deford was always one of my favorites for this reason. I just tried to do that in writing: a bowtie story on the MLB.com homepage every day for five consecutive weeks from the homestretch of the regular season through the Phillies’ parade; 22 holiday shopping articles for the MLB.com and club homepages from the World Series to the day after Christmas; and our countdown series of articles leading up to and through our launch of the MLB Network. When you write all the time, you have to take chances and try new formats, and that starts with being well-read. Sometimes you will stink and sometimes you will shine. It also keeps you fresh as the author.

Pujols.jpgNever write the word “awesome” unless you mean it. (Pictured, for example.) Edwin Pope (“The Pontiff”) was someone I looked up to while working at The Herald, where he was an institution as columnist and former sports editor. A month into my postgrad internship, I asked The Pontiff for advice on my career. That is the first thing he said. He told me how long he had gone between usages of the word “awesome.” I dare you to try it. It will have more impact.

“Whether or not” should be simply “Whether” — self-editing is important. “Think about whether those extra words are necessary.” As opposed to: “Think about whether or not those extra words are necessary.” I see blog postings all the time that have content that would be heavily edited and perhaps half as long after editors with journalism backgrounds got hold of them.

Time-date-place. In that order. “They play at 8 ET tonight at Safeco.” Not “They play at 8 p.m. ET tonight at Safeco.” Often you will see both “p.m.” and “tonight” in advertising text simply because they want to pound the point home into submission. In journalism, that is redundant. It is conventional to follow the exact order of TDP, not “tonight at 8 ET.” The accepted usage of “ET” as the default time zone in American journalism is one of the greatest true examples of East Coast bias that exists, but it is accepted nonetheless and I also have to use it. Again, it’s AP Style. Few media outlets fight AP Style. TDP, TDP.

Know your audience. Who are you writing for with each post? I write every MLB.com article for one baseball fan, easily envisioned from interviewing one after another at Wrigley or Fenway or Dodger Stadium or Coors Field. As a blogger, there is one big difference. I always was taught and always went out of my way NOT to write for other writers. I always believed you are an idiot if you write for another writer. In blogging, that is mostly your audience, I would guess. In this case, certainly I am writing for other writers. The typical blogger wants other bloggers to comment on her post.

Try using “her” instead of “him” — just so you don’t sound so 1800s. Respect and fight for diversity. Whatever your gender, use the opposite in such generic third-person references. The former Dean of the Indiana School of Journalism, the late Richard Gray, was the first person I ever saw do that. At the time, roughly 1980 in the Heartland, it seemed so strange and forced. I get a sense that it is about 50/50 female/male here at the MLBlogosphere.

T.A.N. A popular writing coach once told me to avoid the dreaded “T.A.N.” at all costs. It stands for The-Adjective-Name. “The 34-year-old Jeter…” should be simply “Jeter, 34,…” College sports broadcasters are the worst at this. “The 280-pound Smith…” Actually this is sort of a dumb topic for Jblog School, but because he hammered it home so often, I feel compelled to mention it here.

Your lede (first graf) is the window to your story. But if you sit there forever and try to think of the perfect lede, you will never finish on your own deadline. Feel free to work on the body first and then come back to the lede. Make it sing. Write the best lede ever.

Have a deadline.

Quote literature. Teach people something. Inspire them.

crash2.jpgSometimes a picture really does say a thousand words. Post a blog entry that is nothing more than a photograph. And remember to always keep a digital camera around, even if it’s just your mobile phone. I took these pics of two seats that washed up next to me shortly after the Miracle on the Hudson plane crash.

Numbers are spelled out through nine and then digits starting with 10. The exception is your typical book, where it is style to spell out all numbers for some reason I do not yet understand.

Read up on the Alien and Sedition Acts and understand journalism’s importance, at least in America if not everywhere. The same checks and balances required for government exist for your favorite sports team. One of our long-term MLBloggers here told me yesterday she was stunned that no one had asked a single probing question after her college’s powerhouse team was stunned by another team this past week. Journalists not only have to be willing to be the one person in a filled room who raises a hand and asks an offensive/uncomfortable question, but actually kind of lives for it.

The average blogger does not need to feel this way, and does not need to aspire to be a journalist at all. But there are many lessons from a journalism education and career that I am certain will be of use to other bloggers, and these are just a handful. The bell has just rung, and not rang. I think. Journalists tend to debate things like this, which is the homework assignment today. Talk about writing with others, including in comments here. Class is dismissed. All MLBloggers are guaranteed A’s anyway.

Professor Mark

P.S. – Have you joined us yet on our Official MLBlogs Twitter? We now have more than 40 followers, so we’re growing fast. It is Major League Baseball’s first-ever official presence on Twitter (and the only one in existence as of now). It is your way to promote your MLBlog, by posting tweets in 140 characters or less and including your full URL. Be an MLBloggs Twitterer as well, all part of the biggest baseball blogging community. If you already are on Twitter, then just follow @mlblogs

P.S.S. – Thanks to my MLB.com colleague Cate in Design for spontaneously (our world) whipping up a suite of Jblog School graphics, starting with the chalkboard above!

Latest Leaders 2009

UPDATED WITH LATEST LEADERS IDENTITY CONTEST AT BOTTOM!

Here are the Latest Leaders by page views across the MLBlogs Network, for 2009 to date. Will add more links shortly. Please be sure to comment on as many of these as you can, leaving your own blog’s full URL, as a great way to drive traffic to your own page.

FAN MLBLOGS

1. Red State Blue State
2. Confessions of a She-Fan
3. The ‘Burgh Blues
4. Julia’s Rants
5. All Baseball All The Time
6. FutureAngels.com
7. Prince of New York
8. Rockpile Rant
9. Rays Renegade
10. Cambios y Curvas
11. King of Cali
12. Yogi Brewer
13. Yawkey Way Yaker
14. We’re talkin Homer, Blue Jays and MLB
15. THE BOSTON RED SOX BLOG
16. King Yankees
17. Baseball, The Yankees, and Life…
18. Baseball’s Hottest Wives
19. The Future Blog of the Red Sox
20. Blogging Dodgers and Baseball
21. The Rumor Mill – MLB Rumors
22. Baseball Cleats & Shoes
23. Unfinished Business
24. Bruce Markusen’s Cooperstown Confidential
25. Rocky Mountain Way…Outside Coors looking in
26. LA NACION MEDIAS ROJAS
27. Phillies Phollowers
28. Eat, Sleep, Baseball
29. Yankees Chick
30. Hardball
31. Love of The Game: Through 2 Different Pairs of Eyes
32. Bjarkman’s Latino and Cuban League Baseball History Page
33. Diamondhacks
34. Cardinal Girl
35. The Brewer Nation
36. The 1 Constant…Baseball
37. Phillies Red Pinstripes
38. Pick Me Up Some Mets!
39. Baby Paul’s Baseball Blog
40. Statistician Magician

MLB PRO BLOGS

1. Hot Stove Blog
2. Bombers Beat
3. Inside the Dodgers
4. CastroTurf
5. *touch* ’em all
6. Brownie Points
7. Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
8. Postcards from Elysian Fields
9. MLB.com’s Fantasy 411
10. Around the Horn in KC
11. The Baseball Collector
12. The Pulse
13. kevin slowey’s (offseason) blog
14. Beck’s Blog
15. Newberg Report
16. MLBlogosphere lol
17. Inside the Giants Clubhouse
18. Phillies Insider
19. Tommy Lasorda’s World
20. MLB Urban Youth Academy
21. Red Sox Insider Blog
22. Major League Bastian
23. Ben’s Biz Blog
24. Inside the White Sox
25. MLB.com Organizational Report
26. got milb?
27. Dining with ‘Dre
28. B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful
29. Vine Line’s Cubs Club Blog
30. Bally’s Blog
31. Twins Ballpark Update
32. Behind the Mask
33. Trade Talk
34. Yankee Stadium Memories
35. Siguiendo a los Mets
36. Down the Line with the Phillies Ballgirls
37. A ‘Braves’ New World
38. MURRAY COOK’S FIELD BLOG
39. A’s Thru Z
40. Shane Victorino’s Postseason Blog

AROUND THE SPHERE

Screech just took off again after posting. Thanks, Screech!

Thanks to everyone who has joined our Official MLBlogs Twitter so far!
We’re up to around 40 followers, and it’s a great new place to promote
your MLBlog and meet other MLBloggers. Go to
http://www.twitter.com/mlblogs or just follow @mlblogs if you already
are on Twitter. Leave your tweets and I encourage you to use
http://is.gd to shrink your MLBlog URLs when you mention them on
Twitter. Tell your friends: It is Major League Baseball’s first Twitter
foray.

Congrats to my friend and our baseball blogging colleague Alyssa Milano. I wanted to get it straight from the horse’s mouth after reading about it in Perez Hilton’s blog, and yes, she is engaged and “the happiest girl on the planet.” We are happy for her here.

Offseason welcome to MLB Throwdown, Nasty Nats Live Here, Girly Baseball Chick, I’m Not A Headline Guy, LC Braves Blog, The Best Sox Blog, A Diatribe from a Law Student, Dodger Talk, Confessions Of A Baseball Fan
and all of you who have joined the largest baseball blogging network.
Feel free to leave a comment here anytime briefly summarizing your
latest post with a full URL to bring more folks to your blog. If you
just started, introduce yourself here!

Mark DeRosa actually finished No. 12 overall in the above Latest Leaders, but since we’ve had to help pretty much disconnect that wildly popular MLBlog due to the small matter of him no longer being a Cub/blogger, we’ll just mention it here instead. Hopefully he will want to blog as an Indian.

Speaking of the Indians, pretty impressive showing by our MLB.com colleague Anthony Castrovince — fourth overall, and the team he covers for us is the Indians. Something tells me the DeRosa deal had something to do with the spike…but keep it up, AC.

Hope you have had a chance to check out Inside the Giants Clubhouse. It is written by Joan Ryan, generally regarded as one of the best writers in the Bay Area. I had the pleasure of working with her when I covered the Giants for the San Jose Mercury News and it’s cool to see her blogging regularly right here. That’s destined to be a high-traffic blog this season.

Also let me know if there is any further difficulty with getting into dashboards, leaving comments, etc. Have had a hiccup or two along the way over the holidays, it looks like. Special thanks to Hardball for showing patience while yours truly was on vacation.

Just added “p*s*ed off” to our profanity filter. We rarely ever deal with that filter given to us by our Six Apart partners, but will make changes as needed, and feel free to email if you see anything that seems obviously in need of attention there. All you need to know is that an 11-year-old made the Latest Leaders. We’ll keep it family-suited here without being overbearing about that. Apologies to the Cub fan who now has a title full of asterisks as a result, but we understand (I covered each of the last two NLDS sweeps, trust me) and we get the message without it being in the title.

So maybe you noticed that today we posted our annual report on how MLB.com’s resident Hall of Fame voters cast their ballots. I voted for three: Rickey, Big Mac and Lee Smith. I see that I have less and less company on the second of those votes, which surprised me quite a bit. I have to be honest with you. I read that article and each BBWAA voter’s reasoning, and I give big ups to my colleague and friend Marty Noble, who voted for just one guy. That is usually my modus operandi — it’s the elite of the elite — and I feel like he nailed it. Just Rickey. I still don’t believe Jim Rice’s plaque belongs on a wall near that of Ted Williams, and I think it’s disgusting if the Year 15 Sympathy Vote was the reason (it was).

Special request: If you know of any baseball hits that are mentioned in music lyrics or poetry verse or in non-baseball-book literature, can you please email the info to me at mlblogosphere@yahoo.com? Thanks. Also, always feel free to use that email account with questions/comments you would rather pose without public view.

I think the Reds are going to be a running machine and that Dusty’s guys will surprise some people in 2009. No, they have not replaced Adam Dunn’s offensive numbers. But at least five guys in the lineup are base-stealers. I look for the Runnin’ Reds to make noise this summer.

Glad to be back from vacation and looking forward to a huge 2009 for MLBlogs and Major League Baseball in general. Gearing up for the World Baseball Classic.

Latest Leaders Identity Contest

OK, here we go again. Your latest opportunity to try to out-hunt Rays Renegade to reveal the identity of all 12 MLBlogs featured in our latest 480 panel now promoted on MLBlogs.com and presented right here again:

In comments below, be the first to correctly list all 12 URLs, and be sure to state which direction the rows and columns are listed so we can follow you. The winner gets some extra publicity here at MLBlogs.

480bloggers011309.jpg

Join our Twitter community!

I’m currently on vacation, but in the meantime make sure you join MLBlogs’ community on Twitter. It’s a great way to meet other MLBloggers and publicize your blog!

Just surf over to http://www.twitter.com/mlblogs or if you’re already on Twitter, start following @mlblogs.

MLB Network Launch Liveblog

http://www.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090101&content_id=3731108&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

I have been liveblogging the historic launch of our MLB Network all day and night, so join us there and add some comments with your full URLs, like others did.

You might want to do the same, and if you are, please leave your full URL in comments here and on the liveblog itself. I first reported there that Bud Selig was going to deliver the historic “first pitch” and it has been everything I was hoping for and more. Having a blast watching the Don Larsen perfect game, and especially the Gillette commercials!

Mickey Mantle rocks! And I want that “fact-filled baseball encyclopedia absolutely free!”

What a day! Lots of great bowl games, but USC-Penn State is a dud so not really even going back and forth. Focused on Larsen. Cool to see Jackie playing third. You will probably be up in arms by the location of the final “strike” that sealed the perfecto. It’s an incredible event, some really cool new stuff here in the national pastime.

Back to my MLB.com stories. Happy New Year!

– Mark

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