Over the past couple years and in the various incarnations of this blog, I've said things about bloggers and in nearly every case, I've gotten blasted far and wide. Of course, that implies that I care about most of this blasting, which couldn't be further from the truth. I have two jobs - generate content and generate interest. It's best when I can do both, but doing one or the other has some value as well.
A couple years ago, at the Winter Meetings in New Orleans, I said something over beers that stuck: "There's only ten good bloggers at any one time." I meant that in any given space, there's really only ten worth reading. The incestuous nature of the 'sphere makes most things roll down with the lesser bloggers linking to the bigger bloggers, a weird loop that only feeds the distancing.
With low barriers to entry, anyone can blog, but not anyone can get the feedback they need. (Brief recap: all bloggers do it for feedback, whether that's praise, readers, comments, or money.) We've seen conglomerations, networks, ad models, and solo shops all fail to find a real sustainable economy. Gawker and Weblogs Inc have come close and All-Baseball/MVN, Sportsblogs, and Toaster have a nice niche, but aside from David Pinto, I don't know any full time bloggers.
Some quit, like Brian Gunn or Ed Cosette, and some pop up, like Marc Normandin or Will Leitch. Some come and go, like Aaron Gleeman, who's output is still prolific and appeals to me in phases. People think I don't like Aaron - even Aaron sometimes - but I do. I have high hopes for him.
More of the top ten move up, either to bigger and better things like Bat-Girl and her occasional Page 2 outings, or Toaster's own Alex Belth who now has a pic of him doin' the Rockaway up at SI. Jay Jaffe is in an odd netherworld of being both a really good blogger and a regular at BP.
I was charged with a "guest writer" program at BP this off-season and for the most part, it's been a miserable failure. I looked at the list of the top ten and aimed for all ten, plus some people from outside the sphere. I got nearly nothing. Jeff Angus and Jon Weisman did nice work, but both didn't like being behind the wall, an odd sensation for bloggers. Others weren't broad enough to make it outside their niche and still others simply didn't bring their A-game.
So I looked again. I'm not sure that right now I could name the ten best baseball bloggers. Maybe my eye for talent is miscast. What I don't see right now is the next Jaffe, Belth, or Gleeman, but what I do see is what feels like the start of a sea-change in blogs. We're shifting from revolution to evolution and the use of the blog metaphor by ESPN, newspapers, and even teams could well supercede the bloggers by mere weight of marketing and distribution.
I think that at this time next year, the ten good bloggers had better be doing what Belth and Jaffe did.