Jocks, Losers and the Blurring Line Between Old and New Schools

Baseball blogs were my introduction to this medium and among my favorites is young Aaron Gleeman (he of “Free Johan Santana” fame.) Last week Gleeman evaluated ESPN’s blogging efforts:

As of yesterday, ESPN.com now hosts blogs written by Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark, in addition to Buster Olney. It used to be that people within the mainstream media would focus on the negative aspects of blogging, like not having an editor and not having a code of standards in place. These days the focus of those same people seems to have shifted to the positive aspects of blogging, like being able to speak to an audience in a much more informal manner and being able to publish immediately.

I used to become annoyed reading Olney’s columns, in part because I felt his analysis was often lacking. However, since he began blogging last season I see him in a somewhat different light, as his personality is able to come across more and his strengths as a writer are more apparent. Blogging allows him to show a side to his audience that being an old-school columnist kept hidden away. (Olney told a story on his blog about Deion Sanders earlier this week that’s a perfect example of this.)

The main reason I enjoy reading blogs is not just that the writing is good, it’s that the writing is good and it comes along with a personal touch. I quickly grow tired of cookie-cutter articles that you can get in the average newspaper, and my favorite bloggers are the ones who are able to go well beyond that. They are able to speak to their audience like human beings, rather than like writers or columnists or reporters or whatever label you want to slap on them.

But, like so many before them, it seems as though ESPN is joining the party half-way:

as far as I can tell none of the dozen or so blogs ESPN.com hosts actually link to other blogs…. embracing the blogosphere is an essential step if they’re going to call what Gammons, Stark, and Olney are doing “blogs.” ….Right now ESPN.com is like a high-school jock who has the guts to join the drama club because he truly loves acting, but still makes jokes about the “losers” in the club to his buddies on the football team. You’re either in or you’re out, and if you’re in then you can’t be too good for the club when it suits your needs. I’m proud of ESPN.com, but it’ll be even better when they really make the jump….

The line between old-school and new-school is blurring all the time and I commend ESPN.com for accepting a relatively new medium when many of their fellow mainstream outlets have been amazingly resistant to do so. We’re not quite “there” yet, but for now being able to call myself a “blogger” and have Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark be included in that same club is pretty cool. Even if they probably still call us losers behind our backs. 

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