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MLBTR Basics Rumors
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.
Inspired by this post over at ProBlogger, I’m going to slip in the occasional post to fill newer readers in on the basics of MLBTradeRumors.com.
First question: why did I start writing this site? For that we have to backtrack to 2005. During the early part of that year, I discovered online poker. This was a time before I lived with the woman who would become my wife, and it was kind of bachelor-ish. I’d played poker with my buddies regularly but online was different. It’s addictive and ridiculously fast-paced. The money seems less real. There are many debates on whether it’s rigged for new users; I seriously doubt it. But I won some money early on and was hooked.
I don’t have an addictive personality, but I do love to gamble. Online poker was really engulfing every second of my free time. I would eat meals while playing a hand at the computer. I thought about trying to play at work. If I made $100 in a day I dreamed about quitting my job. I only lost a few hundred bucks over the long-term, but regardless it was just a colossal waste of time.
Sometime in June of ’05, a coworker and I were chatting. He suggested I write a blog about fantasy baseball, because I loved that game and enjoyed writing. I didn’t even know what a blog was at the time. Another motivator is that my wife-to-be moved in with me, providing good reason to lay off the online poker and find a reasonable hobby. So I started up one of those free Google blogs with the aim of writing every day. I chose the name RotoAuthority after seeing that RotoDoc and RotoGods and RotoWhatever were all taken.
Desiring a more easily typed-in domain name, I switched over to the TypePad blogging service in July. Here’s my first RotoAuthority post, a fairly arrogant one. Since the trade deadline was in July, a lot of my fantasy coverage crossed over with the hot stove. I also began writing (for free) for a site called Addict Fantasy Sports in an effort to get more exposure. Here’s an example of that. I did my first Top 50 Free Agents List in October and got some decent linkage to that.
As more and more of my writing on RotoAuthority drifted towards the hot stove, I decided it needed to be kept separate. I chose a different-looking, cooler black and white TypePad template and kicked things off with a Torii Hunter rumor. For the name of the site, I just wanted something straightforward and somewhat memorable. Also I’d learned from my RotoAuthority traffic referrers that "MLB Trade Rumors" or some similar variant is commonly typed into search engines during hot stove season.
I’d worked pretty hard at promoting RotoAuthority, emailing other bloggers and posting on all kinds of message boards with the link in my signature. MLBTradeRumors was different. It just spread virally, getting decent traffic almost instantly. This site has a broader audience and lends itself to linking more.
Tomorrow we’ll talk a little about the Wild West early days of MLBTR.