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November 22, 2005

Meet The Bloggers

I recently threw out nine questions to several Yankees-bloggers - to see what they had to say. Four of the recipients were kind enough to get back to me: Alex Belth of Bronx Banter, Patrick O'Keefe of Yanks Blog, Brian MacMillan of Off the Facade and "YanksFan" from Yanksfan-vs-Soxfan. Here are the questions and answers. For the heck of it, I threw in my own answers - just for another point of comparison.

Why did you start doing a Yankees-related blog?

Patrick O'Keefe: I am a diehard Yankees fan. I also run and manage websites. I had talked about the Yankees a bit on my personal blog, so it all fit together.

Alex Belth: I felt compelled to start writing about the Yankees in '98-'99 simply because I didn't know what to do with myself. I had never rooted for a team that was on a run like that and I just felt I had to record some of my feelings. For someone my age (34) I was hopelessly behind the curve when it came to computers and I didn't really begin to discover the Internet until the 2002 season. When I discovered that blogs were essentially free, I thought, boom, here is a great way to practice writing regularly about something that I love.

"YanksFan": My interlocutor (SoxFan) and I had been having a perpetual debate about the Yanks and Sox (and other baseball matters) via email. When blogging software came along, we decided, in our hubris, to make that discussion public.

Brian MacMillan: I started a blog on LiveJournal for my friends to check out. The first week or so I wrote a bunch about baseball and the Yankees and a friend suggested I create a second blog just for that stuff because he wanted to read about my non-baseball/Yankees stuff and it was hard to wade through and find it. So I did and things took off from there.

Steve Lombardi: I do a lot of thread/topic starting over at the NetShrine (Baseball) Discussion Forum. And, I began to get some mild heat about being too Yankees-centric in my posts. So, I just decided to start a new forum for those Yankees thoughts. It's not a very sexy origination story. But, it's the truth.

What one thing surprised you the most about doing your blog?

Patrick O'Keefe: Nothing really comes to mind. I've been around a bit. Feel free to surprise me, though!

Alex Belth: Probably the amount of new friends and colleagues that I've met since I've been doing Bronx Banter. Early on, I knew that I would be able to find a comfort zone because there are so many angles to take when covering the same sport. But it's been really cool to meet so many different people--even the ones I know strictly through e-mail. Also, the fact that I've got readers in Japan and Europe really blows me away--the power of the 'Net to connect people was something I discounted for a long time.

"YanksFan": How much I've come to enjoy the repartee with some of our posters.

Steve Lombardi: For me, it was the traffic that my site started to get pretty much right out of the gate. I owe most to that to kind people mentioning it in their blogs and providing links. Alex at Bronx Banter was one of the first to do it and that really got the ball rolling. Any success that I have, traffic-wise, is in part of that inital kindness from him.

Brian MacMillan passed on the question.

When did you become a Yankees fan? What got you hooked?

Patrick O'Keefe: I was born a Yankees fan. It was natural for me to like baseball. I started playing closer attention around the beginning of the Showalter era. I've just always liked baseball and always been a Yankees fan. Always will be.

Alex Belth: I was born in '71 and only vaguely recall the '77, '78 'World Serious'. My old man was a Brooklyn Dodger-turned Met fan, but didn't care passionately enough to steer me away from the Bombers. I grew up on 103 and West End Avenue and my uncle was a big Yankee fan, so it seemed like a natural fit.

"YanksFan": From birth. My father was born in the Bronx. I came of age in the '70s, when the team was in its championship run. But, boy, were the '80s tough.

Brian MacMillan: The Yankees of the late '70s. Munson, Dent, the Goose. Flipping baseball cards and wanting to collect all the Yankees. Watching games on WPIX all the time with Scooter and Bill White.

Steve Lombardi: I became a Yankees fan a few months before my 11th birthday in 1973. No one pushed me - although my father and his father were Yankees fans. In fact, I didn't even know that my family were diehard Yankees fans until after I decided that the Yankees were my team. I guess it was just a moth to the flame type of thing. Actually, I've found many become fans of teams that are doing well at the moment they became fans. For example, a lot of 28-year-old guys now are probably Mets fans because they started following baseball in 1986. When I think of this, and how the Yankees and Mets were in 1973, I'm happy that I didn't allow that follow-the-leader thing to take root with me.

Who is your all-time favorite Yankee? Why?

Patrick O'Keefe: Don Mattingly or Derek Jeter. Don Mattingly was my first favorite player, Derek Jeter is my favorite now. I liked both of them so much, it's hard to say. I'm a huge fan of Mo, Bernie and others, as well.

Alex Belth: This is a tough one. I don't know that I've got just one. Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera have been my favorite contemporary Yankees, and I felt attached to Mattingly and Winfield as a teenager. But I don't know if I've ever worshipped anyone more than Reggie, though if I had to model myself after anyone as a kid, my two favorites would have been Randolph and Guidry. I loved their steady demeanor's and cool professionalism.

"YanksFan": I don't have an all-time favorite. It's hard not to love Derek Jeter. I've always enjoyed watching a toughtful pitcher. Tommy John, Jimmy Key, David Cone have all been favorites at one time or another. Roy White was my first.

Brian MacMillan: I have three: Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson, and Don Mattingly. I was not around to see Mantle play but I heard about him from my family who did and when I was younger I read a lot of books about baseball history. Munson because I went behind the plate when I first started playing baseball and liked his gritty persona. Mattingly was the man when I was in the prime of my childhood baseball years.

Steve Lombardi: I've always been drawn to the Munson-Mattingly-O'Neill types. I like guys who are leaders, work hard, play with passion, not afraid, etc. On the current team, I would have to say it's between Hideki Matsui and Mariano Rivera. I'm amazed that I don't say Jeter or A-Rod, but, maybe I'm telling myself something subconsciously in the fact that I'm not picking them.

If you could offer one piece of advice to someone wanting to do a blog, what would it be?

Patrick O'Keefe: Be responsible. People get online, put a mask on and run their mouth. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Treat people with respect, treat people's property with respect and realize that everyone - players, bloggers, everyone - is a person and is human. Treat them that way. Again, be responsible.

Alex Belth: Try and find your own voice and write often. There are so many different kinds of approaches to take that I think there really is room to do something creative. One thing that I've noticed is that blogs tend to come and go. I've become a bit jaded now and feel that no matter how much I like a new one, it has to keep it up for a good while before I can rely on it and consider it one of the elite.

"YanksFan": Choose one subject, have a point of view, and post, post, post.

Brian MacMillan: Enjoy it. Write about what you want to write about. Don't take harsh criticism to heart. Pay attention to constructive criticism. Work on your writing (mine is not that good and it dictates the structure of my blog - mostly quoting other news sources with small amounts of my own comments).

Steve Lombardi: Besides saying ditto to what everyone else said here, I would say to always remember that not everyone who you meet on the Internet (through your blog) is who/what they seem. And, that sometimes, it might be years before you know the truth. Proceed carefully with everyone that you decide to interact with because you just don't know. Of course, this is pretty much a Golden Rule for Internet usage as a whole.

In reading someone else's blog, what do you like to see? What do you hate to see?

Patrick O'Keefe: I like to see good grammar and paragraphs. I'm kind of busy, so I like to see entries that I can read and understand without having to spend 20 minutes of my time. I don't like to see personal attacks or vulgarities.

Alex Belth: Clean, succinct writing, insightful analysis, and a sense of humor. Trashing other writers, particularly beat writers or mainstream columnists, is boring to me, unless the critiques are substantive. Talking garbage about other people, especially professionals, is a real turn-off. But well articulated criticism or even parody is another story. Also, I find myself getting turned off to exceedingly long posts. That's just my taste though. Often, when something is really long, I'll print it out and read it on my subway ride home. But if it is long I feel that it has to be really good--and some writers excel at that kind of thing--otherwise it strikes me as self-indulgent. And there is nothing that irks me more than that.

"YanksFan": Posts shouldn't be novels. They should have one concrete idea or argument, and present it in a concise way. Navel-gazing and sloppy writing are definite no-nos. On baseball blogs, personal and ad hominem attacks on players are especially bothersome.

Brian MacMillan: It depends on the topic of the blog. Good writing makes it easier to read. Some blogs I enjoy because the person's personality comes out in their writing. Other blogs I rather read only about the topic and not about the author's daily life. I hate seeing opinions that are not backed up with information. I do not like to read a lot of negativity (I think there is too much of it in blogs and the media in general). I hate name calling.

Steve Lombardi: It's pretty basic needs for me: I like to be entertained and/or informed without being bored. Whichever way someone can pull that off is fine. Usually, it means don't be long-winded and try to inject some humor. One thing that I hate, in a Yankees-related blog, is blind worship. There are people out there who believe that you have to "support" everyone on the team "no matter what" because their on the team "if you want to be a true fan." I cannot do that. As a Yankees fan, if someone is tanking it, I'm not going to pretend like I still love them no matter what. Just because someone wears pinstripes it doesn't mean that they have earned my unconditional love. Also, if you're going to do a blog, do it. There's nothing worse than going to a site and seeing that it has not been updated in weeks or months.

What Yankees-related moment will you always remember?

Patrick O'Keefe: You keep asking me definitive questions, Steve and I don't like them! heh. Seriously, I'll give have to give you a few. Of the one's I have actually seen live: The Flip, Boone's home run, the Wetteland pile after we won in '96, Rivera's 3 innings in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Jeter doubling to start the big rally in that same game 7, Jorge pumping his fist during that rally... is that enough? Sorry.

Alex Belth: Reggie Jackson hitting a home run against Ron Guidry in his first game back to the Stadium after he signed with the Angels. Then the stadium chanting "Steinbrenner Sucks" afterwards. I'll never forget how revved up I was that night watching that game.

"YanksFan": My memory isn't that great. The World Series victory celebration on 2nd Avenue and 88th Street, in front of whatever the bar was called at the time, in 1996. After beating Atlanta, the team gathered there for its private party, but word got out, and fans from the neighborhood closed down the streets. It was a purely jubilant time. I was with my future wife and best friends, lifelong Yankee fans who had spent the 80's suffering in the bleachers back when the bleachers weren't an "institution." It seemed like that victory would never come. It was great.

Brian MacMillan: There are so many. In my grandfather's den when Bucky hit the homer in '78. At my aunt's for a Fourth of July picnic when Righetti throw his no-hitter. George Brett freaking out in the pine tar game. Mattingly's 6th grand slam and his homer in his 8th consecutive game (both in 1987). George Frazier losing 3 games in the 1981 World Series. Mattingly's home run in the 1995 wild card Game 2. Jim Leyritz's home run in the 1996 World Series. Aaron Boone's homer in the 2003 ALCS.

Steve Lombardi: Overall, it comes down to dates. I will always remember the dates 8/2/79 and 10/2/78. So, I have to say it's Munson's death as an off-the-field thing and the Dent HR at Fenway for an on-the-field thing. If it's a was-there-in-person thing then it would have to be Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS - out of many great moments that I was lucky to see at the Stadium.

If the Yankees did not exist, what major league team would you root for and why?

Patrick O'Keefe: I can't answer that question. I can't see myself rooting for anyone else.

Alex Belth: This is a really hard one. Part of me likes to think I'd just be a neutral baseball, or a cherry-picker, shifting around, like a Roger Angell. I find myself doing that in basketball, even though I'm a Knicks fan, all the time. I just move around based on the personalities a team has on a given year. Even though I love baseball more than any other sport, I also love the Yankees more than any other team so it's virtually impossible for me to imagine what I'd do if they weren't around--they are so much a part of my make-up as a fan.

"YanksFan": I'd stick to the Knicks--the Mets are not possible. But I've always kind of wished the Giants had remained in the city. (I'm from Manhattan.) If they had, I would be a Giant fan, like my grandfather before me.

Brian MacMillan: Tough one. Maybe the Reds. When I was a kid, my favorite color was red and I had a Reds cap. Johnny Bench was on the Baseball Bunch and a catcher.

Steve Lombardi: Probably the Orioles. Nice ballpark. Good history. I like the bird on the hat. The owner leaves something to be desired though. Perhaps the attraction is because the Yankees started out as the Orioles? Not really sure.

In your wildest dreams, what would you like to do beyond doing your Yankees-related blog?

Patrick O'Keefe: Live a good, complete life.

Alex Belth: Making a living writing about baseball. My ultimate dream would be to be to produce a baseball highlight program/magazine show like "This Week in Baseball" but one that would borrow more from the NFL Films sensibility than anything baseball has ever turned out. Baseball coverage on TV is so incredibly disappointing, and I'd be able to use my film experience--I used to work in editing--my love of music, history, documentaries and great performers to do something that hasn't been seen before. It's a pipe dream, of course, but it's a nice fantasy to have.

"YanksFan": All I ask is a decent 3-bedroom apartment in NYC for under A-Rod money.

Brian MacMillan: Owning the Yankees (or if I had to settle, another MLB team).

Steve Lombardi: Some sort of baseball-related job where I could work from home (at least some of the time) and make enough money to maintain the lifestyle that I'm accustomed to now.

Thanks to all the guys who took the time to answer. It was fun and interesting to see where some were on the same page and where there were differences.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at November 22, 2005 09:14 AM


I haven't the time to read it all quite yet, but quickly glossed over it. I do enjoy reading your interviwes.

I'll check out the post during my lunch break

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 11:35 AM

That last question answer is kind of lame/sappy on my part, I have to say. "wildest dreams" I suppose I should shoot higher...


Thanks for having me, Steve.

Posted by: pokeefe [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 11:43 AM

Great article Steve (:

We may not see eye to eye on everything, but I appreciate the time and effort you put into Was Watching, and Netshrine.

As for the others, time constraints prevent me from checking your blogs regularly, but someday I'll visit.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 23, 2005 10:30 AM