Guest Post: Zen Blogging

This is a guest post from Larry Koestler of the excellent Yankeeist blog. It was inspired by a Twitter discussion that Larry and I had, and Larry was gracious enough to allow TYU to reprint his work. It is a highly recommended read. The original post can be found here.

On Monday morning TYU’s Moshe Mandel and I had an interesting back-and-forth that began on Twitter and spilled over to e-mail. The crux of our discussion was Moshe’s initial contention that Greg Cohen of Sliding Into Home “probably shouldn’t be blogging” for his “gutless bitch” comment re: Javy Vazquez, which ended up getting a fair amount of attention (thereby supporting Greg’s reasoning for writing it in the first place).

This got me thinking somewhat about my own reasons for blogging about the Yankees, and the level of difficulty a passionate blogger can face when trying to check his or her emotions at the door while writing about the team they’ve loved for their entire life.

I’ve greatly enjoyed authoring Yankeeist since last fall. I don’t get any monetary compensation out of doing so; this is strictly a labor of love. Quite simply, I’ve found that I love chronicling my experience watching the Yankees, and if others enjoy what I have to say about them, then it makes it that much more enjoyable. Of course, the idea that I might be able to connect with a larger audience of like-minded fans has always been very appealing, but with so many options for the average Yankee fan to choose from, it’s hard to grow our readership base past the few dedicated folks who like to come here every day. Especially when there are already so many excellent Yankee blogs providingwall-to-wall daily coverage of the team. It’s an overly saturated market, and that can make it tempting to try to say something outlandish every now and then in an attempt to lure visitors. I’d actually never read Sliding Into Home prior to Monday, and have no idea if the “gutless bitch” comment is the kind of thing that Greg routinely does, or if it was just a momentary lapse of better judgment.

Not that we as bloggers necessarily need to be held to such lofty standards — everyone gets into it for their own reasons, and oftentimes the anger/joking tack makes it far easier to digest a loss. I’m certainly guilty as charged. While I do try to be as objective and measured as possible in my write-ups and analysis (and I think I did a reasonable job of this during the 2009 playoffs, which is obviously the hardest time off the year to stay objective and measured), I’ve always been an intensely passionate Yankee fan, and will from time-to-time succumb to negative, stereotypical spoiled Yankee fan tropes myself.

I don’t think anyone is necessarily immune to this. Ben, Joe and Mike at River Ave. Blues do an exceptional job at remaining semi-objective while providing well-reasoned thoughts and detailed analysis on their favorite team, which is likely a big reason why they’ve been able to generate the impressive following that they have and become the go-to Yankee blog. But I think they’re more the exception than the rule. While many of the Yankee blogs I read every day (see the afore-linked sites above) are very measured and seldom revert to “the sky-is-falling” panic and/or blatant homerism, at the end of the day we’re people with an insane and unconditional love of the New York Yankees, and there’s still going to be the occasional frustrated comment or post popping up every now and then.

I think it’s near-impossible to be a Yankee fan, follow the team on a daily basis 365 days a year and want to write about the team without letting emotion come into play from time to time. And I also think that’s a good thing. You can’t write about the Yankees and not actively root for them or be annoyed by their failures unless you’re a beat writer. If Yankee bloggers were writing about the team and providing completely dry accounts, what are we adding to the conversation that the people who get paid to cover the team aren’t already providing?

None of this is to say that I am advocating comments like Greg’s, just that I understand where that comes from. People read Yankee blogs to share the joy of a great win and the pain of a tough loss — and they also read Yankee blogs for some perspective. Before I started Yankeeist I knew the likes of RAB, Bronx Banter and RLYW would calm me down after a bad loss and make me realize I was likely overreacting.

I also think the hand-wringing on the parts of some Yankee bloggers in the early going of the 2010 season is the fact that the Yankees, in addition to winning it all last year, spoiled Yankee fans even further by getting off to an uncharacteristically terrific start this season. As I mentioned to Moshe on Monday, not being used to excellent play in April has, to a certain extent, made their losses sting perhaps even moreso than they ordinarily would.

Ultimately, given our collective passion for the team, it can be hard to keep our emotions in check, but I do believe it’s very important to try our best to do so. This is also easier to do when one takes a little time to properly digest and analyze a given game. Last night’s loss to the O’s probably rubbed some people pretty poorly, but as I took the time to think about it, I found I wasn’t as upset about it as I might have been had I written about it immediately afterward, and I was pleased with the calm manner in which my recap reads (I also figured the O’s would win at least one of the current three-game set, so that certainly contributed to my acceptance of the loss).

Yankee fans look to Yankee blogs for rational, even-keeled analysis, and I’ve long admired how the guys from RAB (Ben K. inspired the title of this blog post), TYU and many others prevent their emotions from getting the better of them when discussing the team. It’s a tough act to follow, and I’m happy to be called out if I ever come across as less-than-rational. We all need a reality check every now and then.

0 thoughts on “Guest Post: Zen Blogging

  1. Jim

    How in the world does a guy sitting at a computer, far away from his target, get off calling anybody “gutless?” If Cohen walks up to Javy in a dark alley sometime and calls him gutless, then maybe I’ll buy it.

    Great job on TYU, guys. You are right up there with the RAB boys for insightful, rational comment.

  2. Uno Cinco

    Please, whatever you do, keep it about the game and not about your exploits in the world of blogging. I use to enjoy RAB, but after the blog grew I got tired of reading about the author’s personal triumphs and there personal biography, like they felt they needed to have a Yankee Biography about themselves, lol. The best thing you can do is remember this. It’s not about you the author! It’s about the fans that need to get away from the daily grind and read about the game or even about your take on a prospect or trade. NO one really wants to read about the author’s climb to top of blog nation. If you can keep to that your blog will grow three fold, I guarantee it!

  3. [...] hard, particularly when you are blogging about the most minute details of each game (as Larry highlighted in a follow-up to Ben’s post). I know a number of other fans who ditched Zen Baseball at some [...]