Hits Galore

Baseball blogs make a successful pitch for legitimacy.

Matt Philip, author of the sabermetrics-based Cardinals blog Fungoes (stl.sabr.org/fungoes), will attend as well. "Whereas a blogger might have once been considered a crazy fan typing alone in his basement, suddenly you have any number of reputable baseball blogs doing serious research," says Philip. "Their ideas and suggestions have a lot more merit and are perceived as being more serious, and therefore, worthwhile."

In turn, adds Dave Cameron, blogs have helped move the language of sabermetrics into the mainstream. "Two years ago if someone said 'on-base percentage,' I'd be happy," he says. "Now it's common."

While bloggers are still banned from major league press boxes and clubhouses, it has become increasingly common for front offices to develop relationships with them that sometimes rival those they maintain with traditional news outlets. Beane, for example, holds several question-and-answer sessions each year with the authors of Athletics Nation, one of the first and most successful team-based baseball blogs. Mariners GM Bill Bavasi has appeared at many U.S.S. Mariner functions. (Other sports have even begun granting game-day access for bloggers. In June, for example, the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League made headlines for creating a "Blog Box," a press box specifically for local bloggers.)

Mark Andresen

Meanwhile, in an effort to keep pace with the blog boom, most beat writers at large daily newspapers now maintain a blog of their own, as a means of keeping up with fans' insatiable demand for coverage. The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker says more people read his Mariners blog these days than click to see his game recaps. "A beat writer can't get away with rampant boosterism," adds Baker. "If you go in there blindly and repeat what the team wants you to repeat, you're going to get ridiculed by legions of fans."

Baker believes the outlook for sports blogs is bright. "In the future I think [blogs] will be read by players, the front office and coaches," the beat writer says. "I think they'll be paying a lot more attention than they were, say, two years ago."

Maybe even in St. Louis. Though Borowsky's position on Anthony Reyes is getting no traction with the Cardinals' manager, Jeff Luhnow, who manages the team's farm system and draft, occasionally exchanges e-mails with Viva El Birdos and other Redbirds-centric blogs.

And Luhnow, who was hired by the Cardinals in 2003 to "streamline" their scouting organization and develop the team's presence in Latin America, is a stat-head himself.

The protégé of Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Luhnow has seen his own influence steadily increase in his four years with the organization. His rise, coupled with rumblings about Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty's unhappiness in St. Louis, have led to recent speculation that the statistics-minded Luhnow, who holds economics and engineering degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, might be next in line for Jocketty's post, though the team has repeatedly denied the rumors.

Whatever transpires, Borowsky will continue blogging. "In the end, nobody knows it all," he says. "The fan know-it-all and the sabermetrics guy don't know it all. Neither does the guy in the uniform. Everyone takes their best guess. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes they look like a complete idiot."

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