Zen blogging

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 fun. 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 providing walltowall 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 of 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 so often.

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 due to 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.

17 thoughts on “Zen blogging

  1. I was doing a good job of zen baseball until Posada threw the ball into CF and then it all went out the window. I'm proud that I mostly maintained it through the horrible baserunning.

  2. Crazy game from Jorge — obviously the solo jack was great, but the baserunning and overthrow were horrendous.

    I like that Jorge apparently thought he might have a chance at third base despite the ball and Tejada being maybe 15 feet away from him.

  3. I think you and Moshe seem to believe that bloggers should try to "check [their] emotions at the door when writing about the team they've loved for their entire life," but I disagree with that basic premise. Some bloggers do that because they're trying to present material that more strictly adheres to journalistic standards, but there is certainly a place in the blogging world for more personal, less polished opinions.

    I said this to Moshe when he first tweeted about that blog-post yesterday… Disagree with the post, don't read the blog, whatever… But that guy has every right to write what he wrote, and I'd go so far as to applaud him for doing so. I may think he's stupid, but that's one of the best things about blogging, isn't it? Isn't the point that we get to hear different voices and that the fans have a voice and a way to share their thoughts with other fans?

    Frankly… I appreciate that people at sites like RAB and TYU try to be objective and keep emotion out of their writing, but that's not what I want from a smaller blog. I don't think those guys are worth much to the reader if they're not providing some sort of interesting opinion. I wouldn't go to a smaller blog like that for a game recap or the kind of analysis I'd get from RAB. If the guy's not giving interesting opinions, he's useless to me.

  4. Oh I definitely agree — I personally didn't have a problem with what Greg wrote, and it would be terribly boring if every Yankeee blog were completely devoid of emotion and/or the occasional hyperbole.

    I do appreciate when bloggers are able to take the high road, and it's something I strive to do myself, but you raise a great point — the diversity of opinions and discussion are what make the various sites I choose to read interesting and keep me coming back. If everyone provided the same content in the same style it'd get repetitive pretty quickly.

  5. @Mondesi

    You make GREAT points. Around a year ago, I'd be completely on the side of Moshe and Larry. Now, I've realized that too many bloggers are trying to take the passion and fun out of being a fan.

    I disagree with Greg and I don't like his blog, but it is completely within his rights. I find his huge excerpts of other people's work a bit offensive (and totally another argument for another day), but at least he's coming to the table with some raw emotion and representing a large portion of the fan base.

  6. "But that guy has every right to write what he wrote"
    Mondesi – that's fantastic. I'm going to evolve that into a tag line for Bomber Banter.

    When you blog, I think there is a line, and calling somebody a 'gutless bitch' is crossing it. I thought NoMaas' criticism of Chan Ho Park also crossed the line, but that's sort of their niche… yet, they've had Javy's back (as do I) – so I guess everyone's own precedent is different. I read Yankeeist and RAB daily, but that's abuot it. i dont read any of the beat writers anymore as I feel they are habitual line steppers and provide a brand of coverage that just dosn't do it for me… for example, check out the NY Post: George King opens with ARod apparently letting his kid down… yeah, referencing ARod's kid in an article about a baseball game is crossing the line.


  7. First of all, I didn't want to get attention, I'm a fan, writing a fan blog, expressing an opinion, that's it. That's my right and I would never try to stop anyone else from doing the same. The fact that other bloggers are making such a big deal of this and wasting their own blog spacec is sad and shows that some are taking themselves a little too seriously.

    Mondesi makes a great point when he says:

    "Now, I've realized that too many bloggers are trying to take the passion and fun out of being a fan."

    I'm not here to sound professional, because I'm not a professional nor would I ever claim to be. I'm doing this for fun because I like to talk about the Yankees, in my way, not the way the blogger police see fit.

  8. Greg,

    Well said, and I'm not looking to beat a dead horse here, just thought it was an interesting topic.

    Even if few others ripped Vazquez that strongly I'm sure a lot of people at least felt that way.

  9. I respect your opinion and you're article above, which is a lot more than I can say for Moshe's tweet. That, to me, is more out of line than anything I said. We have freedom of speech and I would never try to take that right away from anyone.

  10. By the way, Mondesi, I had been running my blog by myself for a long time and I don't have the time others do, so to get the info I want out I have to take excerpts. It's nothing different than what many other blogs do. However, now that we have a bigger staff I've been trying to cut down on it.

  11. Greg – Just a minor nitpick… That quote you attributed to me was actually Ross, not me. Please correct your post at your blog, which contains the same mistake, accordingly.

    And, actually, one more nitpick, since I can't help myself. Your First Amendment rights protect you from government censorship, not from other bloggers criticizing you. Moshe's tweet had nothing to do with your freedom of speech.

  12. I do believe in freedom of speech. Mine as well as anybody else, which i believe gives me the right to say i think someone went to far. I also think there is a right way to call somebody out when you think they crossed the line, and Moshe's tweet was not the right way.

    Anyway, blog on, Greg. About a zillion other people feel the same way about Javy, so while I may not agree with that take, its hardly a minority opinion and has a place in the discussion.


  13. Greg, I'm sorry you feel slighted by that quote, and to be honest, I backed off of it very quickly. If you had gone back to look at the conversation, you'd see that. That quote was at 6:34. Then came:

    6:40: Sliding Into Home. Greg seems like a good guy, but his recap of yesterday's game was drunk fan type reaction.

    6:53: Ok, maybe that was strong. But that's clearly the kind of stuff that gives bloggers a terrible name.

    Today: I already said that comment was harsh. Its not a discussion of whether to blog, but how best to blog, and that depends on your goal.

    As I said on Twitter, you have every right to blog, and I shouldnt have said that you shouldnt be blogging. I do think that it gives bloggers a bad name, but you are entitled to do things the way you see fit.