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ON BEING A BLOGGER

[November 26th] -- Hello again, everyone. Here's hoping that one and all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Mine was a typical Idaho feast, light on the turkey but heavy on the potatoes.

Are you as surprised as I am at how little news is coming from the Nationals these days? I try to comment on what's really happening and not just make things up to fill space, so things are really slow right now. This time last year, there were a myriad of rumors that could be 1] scoffed at or 2] hoped for. I've mused over Rocco Baldelli, Elijah Dukes and the small chance the Nationals have of signing any significant free agents. And there's not much I can say about the whole relocation situation from 2,500 miles away.

So, until something happens -remember, the winter meetings begin next week -I'd like to take a moment and discuss blogging.

Someone left a message over at ballparkguys.com telling the group that Banks of the Anacostia had resumed blogging after a seven month hiatus. Personally, I think that is a great thing; jammingecono is a wonderful writer and an avid fan.

Many left messages listing there favorite blogs. Nats320, Nats Farm Authority and Capitol Punishment were mentioned as some of the best. One kind poster appreciated my site along with "Banks."

Several, however, seemed to believe that many of the Nats' blogs are not worth reading. One person referred to the "other" blogs, those not listed among his favorites as "substandard puffery."

First, he coined a great term. I'm trying to come up with a way to use it in my masthead. Second, it's perfectly acceptable for fans to denigrate blogs they don't like. No hurt feelings here. That said, I do wonder if blog readers understand why it is we do what we do. I mean, it's easy to scoff at things you don't understand.

I started this blog a month after the team's move became official. I had no desire to become famous (or like El Guapo, infamous) or to watch a site counter spin like my brother's speedometer on his 1971 GTO. In fact, I assumed that no one would ever read the blog.

Why blog then?

I blog for me. Certainly, I try to present the most interesting and polished product that I can, and I am gratified when my readers leave messages indicating their appreciation for my work, but in the end, I write about what interests me. I also write a lot of "I remember when" stories about both the Senators II and my time growing up in Northern Virginia in the 1950's, '60's and '70's. They have been some of my most read work.

The biggest mistake a blogger can make is when he/she begins to write for the readers. When that happens, both the tone and tenor of the blog changes for the worse. That happened to me a year ago. I was garnering 180-200 hits a day (a number that still stuns me by the way) when over a couple of months, I was able to interview both the general manager of the Vermont Lake Monsters as well as mlb.com's Bill Ladson. Suddenly, my site visits doubled and I soon became consumed with site traffic and began to write what I thought you wanted to read rather than what I wanted to write.

It wasn't too long before The Beltway Boys shot up to #6 on striketwo.net, the site that measures all of the Major League Baseball blogs. It couldn't last, however. Burnout, coupled with poor health, turned The Beltway Boys dark for several months. That and my family's resistance to the amount of time I spent at my computer.

Blogging is very time consuming. Typically, I spend 15-20 hours per week writing, editing, proof-reading and researching my stories (assuming I blog seven days a week), pretty much every spare moment I have to myself. Sometimes, we just have to take some time off to reconnect with our lives or risk losing some of those things we love so dearly.

Substandard puffery? I guess it's fair to say that each of us who blog have from time to time written stories that were short on substance because of a lack of time, or talent, or desire. But I will say that each and every team blog fills a niche in my Nationals' appetite. One makes me laugh. One makes me mad. Another has access to the team's front office. Each by itself does a decent job of covering the team, but together, in unison, the Nationals' blog-o-sphere does an excellent job of covering the team, both inside and out. When one blog has a down day, or week, the rest of the sites are there, ready to pick him (or her) up.

So, dear reader, I say that it's fair to fault us for our -- well -- faults. But remember, we spend hundreds of hours each year churning out stories that, for the most part, you can't read anywhere else. We may not always be right, but we at least do our best to cover the team and provide you multiple sources for your Nationals' news.

And we do it for free.

You don't have to like us, but please understand when we sometimes go dark for awhile because life demands we be honorable fathers and husbands, or that we sometimes produce a story that seems rushed or nonsensical because we had only 10 minutes between soccer practice and movie night with our sweetie. We're not writers. We're salesman and students and sometimes - more often than we like to admit - we're just too tired to spend two hours writing a story that too few of you read. Some days 6 of you stop by, other days it's 600. Either way, we have to be prepared for your visit.

I appreciate all of you who take time out of your busy lives to visit the Nationals' blogs. Remember, we write because we love the game, and we love the Nationals. You won't find Barry Svrluga's writing ability here, but then you won't find our passion on the pages of the Post or the Times.

Be it "puffery" or "perfection," we're here for you. We report. You decide.

Where have I heard that before???


Comments:
The guy who made the "substandard puffery" line is someone who plays the role of online blowhard and likes to get a rise out of people. Pay it no mind. Do what you do because you like to do it; no other reason is necessary.
 
No, no, don't do it for yourself, do it for *me*! :~) Okay, that's a little egocentric maybe. Still, I do enjoy and appreciate what you write, and can WELL appreciate how much work it is, to say nothing of how much emotional energy one can easily pour into a labor of love project like this. God knows, I don't have what it takes to be a Nats blogger! It's good work you put out here, my friend, and for damn little appreciation. Thanks!

Glad your Thanksgiving was a happy one.

Best,
SBrent
 
Thanks, Basil, and Thanks SBrent for the kind words over at Ballpark guys. I've requested twice in the past two years that I be allowed to post there, but as of yet, no luck.

Perhaps I'm just not ballpark guys material?
 
What do you mean you can't post there?! That's bizarre! I didn't realize there was any limitation on registration. What a crock! Guess I was just lucky enough to get in relatively early, because there was certainly no kind of limitation or screening when I signed up.
 
Farid I agree with you on this topic. It takes a lot to have a blog and report on stuff. On top of that I also do all the photography for my site as well as MiLB and MLB. All of which takes time - which you noted.

Visit my site and send me a e-mail. My site is covering the Nationals - Double-A affilate Harrisburg Senators.
http://senatorsfansunite.blogspot.com/
 
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