Believe it or not, this is actually my 100th entry for PH8. So, how am I going to commemorate such a monumental accomplishment? By breaking down the previous 99 and converting them into a batting line, of course. Isn’t that what all bloggers do?
Somewhere out there at least 1 of our 3 dedicated readers is wondering not-so-quietly…..”Is this guy serious?”
As I started to write with greater frequency, I began to realize that I needed a quantitative method for analyzing the quality of my writing. The method needed to be completely independent of feedback mechanisms such as page views and unique hits, because I didn’t want to steer my writing in a specific direction with the unintentional goal of pandering to a certain audience.
1. Is the article worth 5 minutes of someone’s time? Anybody can blog, and quantity does not necessarily mean quality. The article must have some “meat” to it and not consist of just fluff. It cannot be summarized content from other sources, and it must be minimally informative – at least to the point that the information supports conclusions drawn. To get credit for a “single”, I have to make it worth reading, no matter how long it takes to read. To make it worth reading, I expect to meet at least 4 of the following 5 criteria:
- Proper punctuation, decent grammar, and correct spelling
- Main idea must be obvious to nearly all but the most obtuse people who read the blog
- Sources credited when information isn’t generally known
- Supporting information must form valid logical relationship – coincidental causal relationships do not count
- Article should be structured in a way that maintains good flow to improve readability
2. Did I effectively and efficiently get my point or points across? To be credited with a “double”, I have to first get a “single”, and then I need to evaluate the message delivery. Since this technically is the equivalent of putting a man in “scoring position”, its relative importance to the “single” is considered when making the judgment call. A tendency to be overly verbose keeps a lot of my articles at 1st base, because they fail to meet 3 of the following 4:
- The main idea must be painfully obvious, and a neatly formed conclusion really helps with this
- Every paragraph should be evaluated to determine whether or not a simple re-wording would improve it
- Semantics – If the choice of words isn’t the best it can be, then the writing can be improved
- Was an obvious point of debate, line of thinking, or parallel idea omitted?
3. Did the reader learn something or find something of entertaining value? Yes, it’s really hard to score a double in this system. As in real baseball, a triple is darn near impossible, and they are very rare indeed, because they must meet 3 out of the following 4 conditions:
- Informative – Must be an informational tidbit so good that the reader will want to remember it and will impress others with their knowledge by recalling that tidbit in a baseball-related conversation at a later date. Ex: Knowing that the new names that appear on the baseball HOF ballot are selected by a screening committee that consists of 6 members of the BBWAA – 2 of whom must nominate a newly eligible player for their name to make the ballot.
- Entertaining – Really funny works. Not just “ha ha” funny but “oh crap, I can’t believe he wrote that on the internet” funny. That’s a pretty high standard.
- Litmus test – reader will walk away thinking that they just read something that they wish that they had thought of first
- Originality – an idea that is rational and completely ahead of the curve
4. Did I include a notable element worth telling others about? If the article is so well-written that you want to tweet about it, comment on it, or pass it along to others in addition to meeting all the other criteria, then it’s a home run in my book.
Very few are home runs, and I don’t try to hit a home run with every swing. It’s sheer folly to try, because I would simply end up very frustrated as a writer all the time. I usually focus on putting the ball in play for a base hit, and I hope the ball finds a gap. If I happen to get into one from time to time, then that’s great.
Note that this method of converting to a batting line is still somewhat independent of the feedback loop that I use regarding topical content and ideas.
So, how did I arrive at a batting average of .720?
- Outs – 28
- Singles – 37
- Doubles – 19
- Triples – 6
- Home runs – 9
You can probably figure out what some of the “outs” were? What about the home runs? It’s pretty easy to list all 9 of them here.
- I’ll Take Ginger Ale Over Champagne Any Day – A simple plea for alcohol to be eliminated completely from clubhouse and on-field celebrations. Oh, I also suggested that tobacco products should be banned from stadiums as well. Busch stadium rules ban guests from using tobacco products, yet players are allowed? This is wrong. Published 10.18.2010.
- 2010 NL Gold Glove Predictions – Thanks to the trusty “Abner Doubleday Predict-o-Matic 3000″ I successfully predicted 7/9 Gold Glove winners for the NL. After doing some searching, I was unable to find anybody else with more than 6/9. That’s reason enough to celebrate in my book. Published 10.29.2010.
- Ron Santo and the HOF – I attempted to put Santo’s career in proper context and perspective by comparing him to Ken Boyer, Dale Murphy, and Brooks Robinson. Santo had a lot stronger HOF case than I think most people realized until it was too late. That’s a shame. What is most definitely not a shame is that a Cardinals fan wrote the piece. Respect. Published 12.03.2010.
- All Your Dumb Trade Ideas Are Belong To Us – I try to dispel some of the dumbest trade ideas ever put forth on sports forums while simultaneously comparing Colby Rasmus to Justin Upton. Yes, that’s the same Upton with the huge contract that runs through 2015. It just might be a preview of what Colby will be expecting to be paid. Published 12.30.2010.
- Mr. DeWitt, Let’s Set A World Record – Fill up Busch Stadium for a pre-season game, give everybody multi-colored shirts that read “Stand Up To Cancer”, and have everybody put on the shirts and stand during 7th inning stretch. Let the folks from the Guinness Book of World’s Records handle the rest. Proceeds go to MLB’s SU2C campaign. Published 01.10.2011.
- Mang Overboard – Definitely one of my better tongue-in-cheek efforts to make light of the contract extension crisis. Can we survive in a world in the year 1 AP (After Pujols)? Sure. I also point out the impact to overall payroll of keeping Pujols at $30M / season. Published 01.13.2011.
- I Pledge My Allegiance – I pose a hypothetical scenario in which someone with Michael Vick’s background, history, and reputation joined the Stl. Cardinals. What would you do? Published 01.31.2011.
- Dan Lozano – Super Genius – Wile E. Coyoto and Dan Lozano? Why yes, yes I shall. Published 02.14.2011.
- Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright – After being misunderstood by national media folks for several weeks, I had to vent. With a little help from Bob Marley, I did just that on behalf of our 3 loyal readers. Published 02.16.2011.
TIDBIT: I never set out to turn my accidental blogging experience into a batting line, but it seemed like a good way to measure my work. I don’t have many specific goals other than to raise my batting average to over .800.