More baseball stuff: blogs and sportswriting
One of the major components of my Baseball and American Culture class will be student blogs. That’s nothing special, of course, as blogs have been in classrooms and classes for years. And, of course, the blog form is dead now (several times over). Nonetheless, the blog form has transformed the way in which we write, talk, and think about baseball, with the bloggers being the proverbial barbarians at the gate the poor old beat and feature writers must hold off lest we discover that David Eckstein was at best a mediocre baseball player. The tragedy that would be.
In any case, in addition to reading three novels (DeLillo’s Underworld, Coover’s The Universal Baseball Association. . ., and Roth’s The Great American Novel), two non-fiction baseball books (Moneyball and the recently published Cambridge Companion to Baseball), and one book of theory (Barthes’s Mythologies), we will be reading lots of sportswriting. Students must use Google Reader (or a similar RSS Reader–and if blogs are dead, what about RSS, amirite?) to follow blogs, mainly of their own choosing. I have required them to follow four particular blogs, listed here, and made suggestions on several others.
This list is not at all comprehensive. In fact, it’s rather idiosyncratic. There is much here that is quibble-able, but as always it’s place to start.
So here are the instructions.
Here are some suggestions for blogs to follow in Google Reader. You should subscribe to the “Required” blogs and feel free to pick and choose among the rest and find blogs on your own to follow (eg blogs related to your favorite team; try using Google to find other blogs, or ask me if you have an interest in a particular team). Links here often go directly to the blogs RSS or Atom feed. Plug them directly into Google Reader’s subscription function.
Note: you do not have to read every post of every blog you subscribe to. You should read several per day from these various blogs in order to become familiar with contemporary discourses on baseball and to generate ideas for your own blog writing.
- Joe Posnanski: http://joeposnanski.si.com/feed/
Sportswriter extraordinaire. Posnanski publishes several times per week, often about baseball (but also about golf, football, and other topics). He is conversant with stats, but is more interested in telling good stories that conform to the record (rather than creating myths based on nostalgia). Posts are very long, but are often among the best writing you will see on a given day.
- Baseball Think Factory News Feed: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/rss_2.0/
Not really a blog. Users submit links at BBTF and thereby generate a place for people to congregate to discuss the news of the day. You can find most of these stories written at or linked from other blogs listed here. The real value of this feed is the comments section at each story, which is almost always intelligent and provides a great deal of insight into various baseball stories from widely divergent points of view (including wdiely diverging statistical points of view).
- Circling the Bases: http://bases.nbcsports.com/atom.xml
Group blog hosted by NBC. Some stats, but mainly discussion of the news of the day. Comment section can be interesting at times. Craig Calcaterra and Aaron Gleeman are not to be missed. Multiple posts per day (sometimes up to 25) on all aspects of baseball news.
Neyer was one of the very first baseball writers to work in an online-first capacity. He posts multiple times per day (and also forwards other posts from the MLB part of SB Nation that he finds interesting). Covers most aspects of MLB. Statistically oriented, but not a statistician. Neyer is more interested in thinking about baseball narratives and how numbers can refute or suppost those narratives.
- Baseball Anaysts: http://baseballanalysts.com/index.rdf
A statistically oriented blog for statistically minded readers. Publishes at most once per day long, often essay-like posts.
- Fangraphs: http://feeds.feedburner.com/FanGraphs
Statistical coverage on a day to day as well as a long term basis. Stories about individual players, teams, contracts, general baseball business, etc. Publishes Multiple posts per day, so short and others medium to long.
- ESPN’s Sweetspot: http://espn.go.com/blog/feed?blog=sweetspot
Formerly Rob Neyer’s baby. Similar to Fangraphs, but less wonky with regard to stats. Multiple posts per day, often short to medium length. Covers all aspects of baseball.