Haven't done one of these "mixed bag" posts in a while, and I feel like ass today, so you're just going to have to deal with my subheadings, capisce?
Item the first: Football SABRmetricians?
That's exactly what Football Outsiders is trying to be, and I must say they're doing very well. To someone starved for the kind of cerebral content that's already widely available about baseball in the realm of football, this site is a godsend. Take, for example, their analysis of the Patriots-Bills game:
Aaron Schatz: This was an ass-whuppin’. It’s hard to tell if the Patriots defense is finally coming around or if we’re just seeing the result of playing two very bad offenses. I think the answer is both the former (front seven) and the latter (secondary). Healthy Richard Seymour was a monster today. I’m not sure there was a single play in this game where the Patriots only rushed four — it was five and six on every down. They know that if you put any pressure on Losman whatsoever, he’ll pull the ball down and get the happy feet. And if you try to run the ball, all those guys you send will hit McGahee. Before he got injured, McGahee had a magical THREE YARDS on EIGHT CARRIES.
Buffalo’s one huge play was a 58-yard pass to Lee Evans that had nothing to do with the blitz. Evans put it into an extra gear as the pass was coming down and ended up a couple steps ahead of both cornerback Asante Samuel and safety Michael Stone. Impressive. In the book, I said that Evans was either going to end up a perennial 1000-yard receiver or like Chris Chambers, always making a few highlight plays while he wants for a good quarterback to finally come to his team. At this point, it’s looking like he’s on Chambers’ career path.
The Pats offense was interesting. Tom Ashworth started at LT for the injured Nick Kazcur and was much better than the rookie. He kept driving Aaron Schobel back and around Brady, and Brady was getting more time in the pocket than I can remember in any game this year. His rushing TD was basically a coverage sack where the line blocked and blocked and blocked some more while Brady sat there for ten seconds looking for an open receiver and then discovered there was open space between him and the end zone. The announcer (Randy Cross) noted that the Patriots RBs always improve in December when it gets cold and the games get important. This sounds like typical announcer BS but it is actually true. In 2003, Antowain Smith suddenly woke up in December after being terrible for three months, and last year Dillon was very strong down the stretch. The Pats offense is also much better with Kevin Faulk available to catch those screens, especially on third down.
Did Charlie Weis come back for a visit with the Notre Dame regular season over? The Pats ran a fake end-around and then a reverse on consecutive plays, wacky calls straight out of the Charlie Weis playbook.
Pat Laverty: Good line from Phil Simms today in BUF-NE game after the Bills got two false start penalties in three plays (at home): “Usually there’s a beeping noise when you back up like this.”
I especially love the point about Ashworth. That's the kind of subtlety I've been scouring the Web for.
Next he'll be on the cover of "Chin Dimples Weekly"
Our two-headed monster GM's names are Jed and Ben. Hereinafter they shall be referred to as JednBen. Otherwise I have little to say about this other than I'm really hoping someone wakes me up from this Red Sox nightmare soon.
Things are getting really freaky, and I'm thinking I shouldn't have had those nachos before I went to bed, because right now I'm having this dream that the Sox might be signing Roger Clemens to pitch in 2006, and that's just not possible, because the last time he was new to the starting rotation, I was in first grade, and also because the last time we liked Roger I was a freshman in high school. And because honestly I think if that happens I'm going to have to set my own hair on fire just to distract myself from the pain of the cognitive dissonance.
I really wish this dream was more like the other one I had recently where I ran into Curt Schilling at Bed, Bath and Beyond and hugged him and then suddenly there were racks of game-worn authentic player jerseys and I bought the Keith Foulke one from the World Series and he signed it and hugged me too.
P.S. I think Annette really hit the proverbial nail's head with this remark re the press conference:
I like how they didn't put the Theo rumors to rest. Because now I can keep on hoping and just not move on at all. It is both healthy and good for my mental health.
I am so totally, totally in exactly the same place. Annette and I are fighting for the same chair in that place.
So, basically, I hate this. I hate this a lot.
I guess I was kind of hoping they'd be all, "Ta da! Theo's back! He was never gone!" and I could go, "Oh, ha! I knew I was probably smoking crack this entire time!" and we could Never Speak of it Again.
I'm still hoping he'll come back. I'd love it if he were given the Prez job over LL and LL got the boot as one rumor stated. I'd love it if he was really pulling the strings and made a dramatic comeback. Heck, I'd even be willing to haggle with you if he was really pulling the strings and JednBen were hired to be figureheads while he worked behind the scenes because the real problem was the media hassle and not the job itself so he's really the Shadow GM (and yes, this possibility is one I have seriously considered in my desperation).
Basically? I can't handle it. I can't accept that he's gone. Especially when he seems to not really be gone.
When you can take the mouse from my hand, little blogger...
So recently I was pitched another baseball blog by a reader-turned-blogger. I won't say who right now, as what I'm going to launch into here isn't personal to them...just more a general set of concepts I started thinking about because of the pitch. This new blogger also asked my advice for getting started and getting traffic. So I thought I'd vomit them forth here, for future reference. Please note the usual fine print: my opinion only, no, I don't hate you, and no, I don't think I'm better than you, just more experienced and for fuck's sake hear me out.
First, most new bloggers go about things backwards--they pitch their URL to me, Red / Denton, Sam, whatever established bloggers are out there, without any actual content living there yet. At the very least, have your site finished before you pitch it to someone. If it still says "edit me" in your link sidebar. add those links, son! And don't just throw my site up there and SG and the usual suspects--put up some sites none of us have heard of.
That's the trick, if your goal is blogdom fame and fortune: a niche. A different viewpoint. Getting your work circulated around the Web, in my experience, happens organically. There'll be one piece in particular that gets picked up. It's a bit of a tricky thing--you have to stay true to your own style and opinions but write something that hits a niche or takes a different viewpoint.
In other words, don't be JASB--Just Another Sox Blog. There's very little room left on that bandwagon if you want your blog to get good traffic, and let's face it, none of us are going to compete with Surviving Grady and The Soxaholix as pure Red Sox blogs. That's why I have the Patriots content, too, and work the "chick blog" angle. You have to have something--there's always going to be approximately 3 million other Red Sox blogs out there, 1.5 million of which are better, more popular, and better marketed than ours.
Which leads me to another point--bloggers don't get taken very seriously, but it is an activity which requires committment. Updates are necessary at least two to three times per week, although daily is ideal. It's easy to get caught up in the novelty of a new blog, but quit when you hit the "daily grind" phase--hence the fact that in my experience so far, most blogs don't last more than 90 days.
This is why I generally don't link brand-new blogs for at least a couple of months, and I try very hard not to link a blog just because I like the person as a reader. I made the mistake of linking new blogs because I liked the blogger far too many times--even when I started testing out new bloggers for a week or so before linking them, they'd still fold more often than not. So please don't take it personally if I give you a few months to really establish yourself before I link you--linking too much to new blogs that fall apart hurts *my* credibility, and unlike the blogger who quits, I'm still out here trying to establish it. So there's not a lot of upside for me in that situation.
Anyway, I was helped by "big bloggers" myself, and I'm not trying to be a bitch. If you pitch your new site to me, I will give you pointers. I will put your site on my Kinja and be checking in on it. But the best advice I can give to anyone trying to start a sports blog--especially, God help us, a Red Sox blog--is not to pitch the site when you first register the URL but first to write and write and write until you establish your niche, until you know what angle you want to cover things from, until you get comfortable with your own voice. In the beginning the goal is not to get your name out there or to publicize before you have content--that's backwards. It's just like launching a business--develop the product and THEN market it.
Anyway, I'm done babblin'. For now, anyway.