Blogging .720 With 9 HR

by on February 18, 2011 · 5 comments

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?”

Yes.

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.

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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{ 4 comments }

E.E. RIPPER February 18, 2011

Hello, I’m a new reader/follower (that sounds a bit creepy doesn’t it?) & had to play catch up on your “home runs”. After reading said posts, I would say that you’ve hit about 7.75 homers.Here’s why.
“I’ll Take Ginger Ale…” This thing..I don’t quite where to begin. It seems to me that you’re riding a fine line between good intentions and the proverbial High Horse. All right first of all I’m 40 yrs old and began using tobacco when I was around 15 or so. I did not start smoking because of any ballplayer, actor or musician. I started because my dad smoked. I started experimenting with alcohol around the same time. Fortunately, this experimentation didn’t lead to any problems. The alcohol use wasn’t the cause of any ballplayer, actor or musician either. When there was a family get together most of the adults enjoyed a few drinks.Hence an implicit acceptance of drinking in social situations. I’m sure you remember Charles Barkley on television saying, “I’m not a role model”. Now any intelligent person knows that what he said wasn’t to be taken as a literal truth, but rather that parents should be where kids receive their guidance.
The next point is one of simple observation: And that is that since I’ve been watching baseball, the use of chewing tobacco has greatly decreased. Today players use bubble gum & sunflower seeds far more often than chewing tobacco. Next, ballplayers, coaches & managers use some of the most foul language during the course of a game. Every team has a bat boy or bat girl of a fairly young age. I think all adults would agree that the use of such language in front of children is not a good thing. Should there then be a ball club censor in the dugout so the bat boy or girl isn’t exposed to vulgarity? In short, if we are that concerned with ballplayers influencing our kids into bad habits then the question one has to ask is..Where are the parents??? Now THAT would be an article worthy of your talents…
On a more upbeat note..
“2010 NL Gold Glove Predictions” You hit the main crux of the selections or lack of selections with the reputation factor as well as the west coast/ east coast factor. But the one thing that screws up the voting nearly as much as the reputation/geography issues is the offense. Now I admit things have gotten a bit better over the last few years, but it always seems that when there is ever any doubt, the award automatically goes to the player with the big bat. So my “criticism” is very, very small I just think you might have addressed this issue since you were on the topic…so I’ll give you 3/4 of a homer on that one LOL!!
Peace!

Dennis February 18, 2011

Thanks for going back and reading. I’ll gladly take 7.75 hr out of 9, though. The tobacco/alcohol isn’t so much about players as role models as it is about creating a connection between “celebration” and “booze”. It’a not so much looking at the negative as looking at the opportunity to create a huge positive.

Tobacco is a different issue. To me that’s simply a matter of what’s “good for the goose is good for the gander”. If fans can’t use it in the stands, then I don’t see why anyone in the stadium should be allowed to use it.

I didn’t have the opportunity to follow up the comments on the Gold Glove post properly, but I agree about the offense. There’s that old joke about “not hitting well enough to win a GG”. I still think Zimmerman was deserving and will win won at some point. Ike Davis is worth watching as well.

easy February 20, 2011

Loved reading the Santo article again. The comparisons more than make the HOF case for me.

Dennis February 20, 2011

Glad you enjoyed the Santo piece. I enjoyed writing it, and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on it (even from Cardinals fans). :)

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