Take Me Out To The Blog Game

A growing legion of Orioles bloggers slice, dice team from various angles

April 07, 2009|By Andrew Ratner | Andrew Ratner,andrew.ratner@baltsun.com

Probably no sport is more romanticized than baseball. And what could epitomize that romance more than bloggers who, as a labor of love, write every day about their favorite team, even if that team has had 11 losing seasons in a row?

The 2009 season for the Orioles is under way, and there are no fewer than a dozen and a half blogs to help you follow the team.

The most-visited are tied to the biggest media, such as Peter Schmuck's The Schmuck Stops Here at baltimoresun.com and Roch Kubatko's School of Roch at masnsports.com, the Web site of the Orioles TV network.

But the independents have their own unique slices and dices on the O's, including the nostalgic Roar from 34, a reference to the zany section of Memorial Stadium where Wild Bill Hagy held court, to NumerOlogy, which specializes in stories behind the players' uniform numbers.

Rankings of the top 100 blogs in baseball are heavily represented by blogs about the big-market Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Cubs. But also among them is Camden Chat. That O's blog was valued at nearly $135,000 last year by DN Scoop, which attempts to value Web sites based on traffic, links and other factors. Many of the O's blogs, however, have little or no revenue, fueled solely by the writers' passion for the team and the freedom to use a capital "O" whenever it pleases them.

Here's a rundown. The bloggers provided some of their blog descriptions and their predictions for the Orioles this season. The "Web gems" are what we liked best:

Summary: It describes itself not as a blog but as a daily online newspaper that covers the Baltimore Orioles and their farm system. Its coverage of the Orioles minor-league system, dating to 1996, is considered its staple.

Web gem: Unlike what they do with the other sites, the Orioles issue this one a season credential like other traditional media.

Traffic: 40,000 unique visitors a month.

Prediction: "There is no way to candy coat this season with anything other than it's going to be a long one. That's not to say this team won't have some exciting moments, and once Matt Wieters is promoted, Orioles fans will have a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate to root for. Unfortunately, they will need every run they can muster because the starting rotation looks to be a mess at best. The pitching cavalry is coming [from the farm system], but Orioles fans will just get a preview this season as the Orioles hope to avoid the cellar in 2009."

Summary: Describes itself as "a place to talk Baltimore sports (particularly the Orioles) that's a little more in depth and reasoned than a lot of other sites." The name comes from the words of Orioles radio announcer Joe Angel, who says at the end of every game, "And this one is in the (blank) column." More often than not in recent years, the blank has been filled by the word "loss."

Web gem: Life's not all baseball; this blog often veers into chatter about TV, food and music.

Traffic: About 10,000 visitors a month.

Prediction: "Leaning towards 76 wins. I think they'll be a fun team to watch and will probably pull off some surprises and upsets, but the starting pitching just isn't there yet."

Summary: Describes itself as "a haven of sanity in a world of hyper-serious O's bloggers who apparently have not yet come to the realization that the team has now supplanted the Cubs and Phillies in baseball's 'lovable losers' department."

Web gem: Mini-polls ask questions like, "What is best name for new season?" (Winning entry: "Miracle in prOgress.")

Traffic: "Number of unique users monthly depends on whether you count people linking to John Waters' mustache photo (thousands) or actual readers (hundreds)."

Prediction: "Team has upgraded over last two years at every defensive position and has best defensive outfield in American League. In fact, Nick Markakis in right-field is going to put up MVP-caliber numbers this year if he can control his strikeouts. Team also will have little trouble scoring runs and has a stronger bullpen. But, the starting rotation is just completely untested. .500 is possible this year and likely next year."

Summary: : NumerOlogy is an unofficial uniform number history of the Orioles. There's an all-time Orioles roster sorted by uniform number, as well as a biography section to shed a little light on the players who have worn each number.

Web gem: : The site answers little mysteries such as when did Boog Powell wear No.8. (OK, only little mysteries that baseball fanatics care about.)

Traffic: : 1,600 to 1,700 unique users monthly.

Prediction: : "It's going to be a long season, with the pitching staff taking its lumps to protect the developing young arms in the farm system. The offense should be able to win some high-scoring games, but the O's will be hard-pressed to avoid another last-place finish. Matt Wieters should be in Baltimore by the All-Star Break at the very latest, and that's what I'm most excited to see in 2009."

Summary:: BirdsWatcher is a fairly new blog with three writers.

Traffic: : Unknown.

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