Post Season

ON BLOGGING

Ravens bloggers are delighted to keep their purple prose flowing

January 06, 2009|By ANDREW RATNER | ANDREW RATNER,andrew.ratner@baltsun.com

For Ravens bloggers including Derek Arnold, writing about Baltimore's football team this season has been a joy they did not expect.

"Everything about being a Ravens fan is more fun this year than last, and blogging is no exception," wrote Arnold, who writes at bmorebirdsnest.com, in an e-mail. "The turnaround by the team has been incredible to watch, and a blast to cover compared to the dismal season last year. Now if only we could get those 'orange birds' to do a similar 180 ..."

Ravens blogs come and go, but there's at least a half-dozen or so dependable ones that post regularly. Some of them are "mini-me" versions of large media, mostly linking to other football sites such as The Baltimore Sun's Ravens coverage. Bmorebirdsnest.com is probably one of the most authentically voiced, infused with a big helping of raw emotion.

While a more even-handed outlet such as, say, this newspaper or sports talk radio explain the valid reasons why baseball slugger Mark Teixeira opted to take $40 million more to play for the Yankees instead of the Orioles, for example, bmorebirdsnest is more apt to tell the aforementioned player what he can do with his $40 million more. Its most popular Ravens post of the year was a poll weighing which team its readers hate more: the Steelers or the Redskins. (A blogger for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette linked to the post and it drove a ton of traffic from Steeler Nation.) And its contest for a pair of free tickets to a Ravens-Raiders game last October was won by, surprise, a woman who e-mailed a photo of herself in a bikini top.

Arnold, of Pasadena, said he's been thrilled with the Ravens' success, which has helped bump unique visitors to his site to about 600 a week, up from 250 earlier this season. An advertising deal with MASN, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, brought in a little bit of money, but the blog is definitely a "labor of love," said Arnold, a 26-year-old environmental scientist.

Sunday's game "was a blast to watch, for sure," said Arnold, who posted during his lunch break yesterday. "I thought the Ravens did exactly what I thought they would do, which is beat up on an inferior team. Now, the same cannot be said about the Tennessee Titans, so I expect a good deal more nail-biting on Saturday." (The Ravens play the Titans in the next playoff round at 4:30 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn.)

Later this week, he plans to blog about the respective rushing tandems of the Titans and Ravens. "I'm going to compare the LenDale White/Chris Johnson combo to the Willis McGahee/Ray Rice/Le'Ron McClain trio," he said. "Needless to say, I'll do so in a way that the purple boys come out ahead. As for the game itself, the usual pregame will be up on Thursday or Friday, then the victorious post mortem on Monday."

Arnold is not complaining about the success of this year's Ravens, but he acknowledges that blogging about the current team lacks some of the exhaustive fodder for discussion and drama that defined the Brian Billick-Kyle Boller Ravens. Billick, the former coach, was almost Palinesque, someone with a forceful personality who engendered strong reactions.

"A couple weeks ago it occurred to me, and I had remarked to those around me, that writing about the team this year has been noticeably different than it was last year. Last year, with Billick and Boller, and all the losing, there was so much criticism to throw around, and the writing pretty much did itself at times," Arnold said. "Now, I'm certainly not complaining, but it was definitely an unexpected problem. I don't want to just be writing, 'Well, that was awesome,' every week, but at times, there hasn't been much more to say.

"You give praise to the players and coaches, and then the next week they deserve more of the same. As fans, we tend to get ahead of ourselves all the time (think how many people in Baltimore were already predicting playoffs when the team was 2-0), but I'm superstitious enough that I don't want to write Super Bowl previews in Week 10. It's been interesting, that's for sure."

He and Nick Onorato, 27, of Columbia, who takes most of the photos for the site, generally watch games at Arnold's father's house or at Beefalo Bob's, a Pasadena bar where their Ravens' Roost club gathers. He used to try to take notes during the games after he began blogging in 2007, but found it's better to set his digital video recorder for note-taking afterward and just to focus on the game as much as possible. Research and writing take up to five hours a week.

Local sports blogs have taken hold more than the national ones, although maybe that will change. AOL Sports yesterday unveiled Jay Mariotti, a former columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, as its new full-time commentator. The news was viewed as the latest tremor in the shift from old to new media.

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