A couple of days ago I wrote about the origin of MLBTR. Today let’s discuss the first several months of the site.
I started off as a kind of wannabe Gammons with questionable journalism skills/methods. I wanted to break rumors, signings, and trades. I have to admit I emailed a few radio and newspaper personalities, received inside info from them, and posted it with attribution but without asking permission. Yikes. That was a long time ago though. I also invited strangers to email me with rumors, using mostly just my better judgment deciding whether the source was legit. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes, and I think I was the first to post the Cameron/Nady trade. Everything that went on the site made it through my BS filter, and I even caught interesting rumors like this one.
The looser standards made for a good tabloid-type read, while also creating enemies quickly. Some folks were convinced I was making stuff up, because I hadn’t done much to establish credibility. At that time I also allowed people to comment without logging in, creating a sort of Wild West where I had to delete obscene things all the time.
I liked it when people didn’t have to log in to comment; I’d prefer not to have that barrier to contribution. However, the tipping point came on April Fool’s Day last year. I knew many of my readers were Cubs fans, so I created a somewhat believable Carlos Lee-to-Chicago rumor as an April Fool’s joke. I even monitored comments to delete any calling it out as an April Fool’s joke. To me, this was funny, but in the end it created an unprecedented amount of venom from some people. So I made logging in required.
Gradually the site evolved and I focused more on passing along published rumors with my own analysis. The site became a one-stop shop for almost all legitimate trade and signing rumors, while also providing a place to speculate wildly in the comments with other rumor-junkies. You may have seen me still using my own sources once in a blue moon over the past couple of years; rest assured I have 100% confidence in those folks. I’d love to have a huge network of sources one day as the big guys do, but that takes years of paying dues. In the meantime I’m content to stick with the current approach.