David Pinto is the author of the very successful blog, Baseball Musings. Baseball Musings is a general baseball blog and doesn’t cover a specific team. David provides updates from around the majors on a very regular basis – often times making more than a dozen posts a day during the season. Basically, if you want to know what’s happening in baseball, and only have time to read one blog then Baseball Musings should be your pick. In addition to the regular updates, Pinto has also created two very useful tools. One is the Day by Day Database, which allows users to look at a player’s performance over a given period of time, or compare players over a set time period. The second is an advanced defensive measure called the Probablistic Model of Range. In short, PMR controls for a handful of variables, and based on batted balls calculates how many balls a player should track down.
If you’re wondering how Pinto has time to do all this, it’s because he doesn’t have a pesky day job to get in the way. Approximately one year ago, David made blogging his profession.
David has generously agreed to be interviewed as the first Blogger Profile.
BB: When did you become a baseball fan? What attracts you to the sport?
DP: I became a baseball fan in 1969. I’ve always been a person who liked numbers, and baseball offered a slew of them. We had an old World Almanac at that time, and I used to go through the baseball records. I marveled at the number of records held by Yankees and the Yankees team. I’d go through the boxscores and leader boards every day in the paper. It’s a fantastic game for someone who likes math.
BB: You’ve been a professional blogger for a year, is life as a professional blogger as good as it sounds?. What is the most challenging part of the job?
DP: I guess it depends on your definition of good. For me, I get to do what I love, think watch and write about baseball all day. I had long commutes for most of my working life, so avoiding those is a real plus. At the moment, it’s not very lucrative, but my hope is that as the blog and internet grow, income will grow to the point where I can live off the site.
The most challenging part is the business side. Finding ideas for posts is easy. There are so many game, stats, stories and transactions that there’s never a lack of material to write about. Turning this into a business is the tricky part for me.
BB: In addition to the probabilistic model of range and Day by Day database are there more tools coming, and when can we expect the 2005 PMR numbers?
DP: I don’t know when I’ll be getting the 2005 PMR numbers. I hope to make an arrangement soon to get access to the data. I am working on additions to the database, but I’ll keep them quiet for now. You never know if these things are going to work.
BB: While the tech bloggers can be “slashdotted” the closest baseball equivalent is probably getting a link on your site. What is your philosophy about linking to other sites, and how do you find the items you link to?
DP: If you write a baseball blog and ask for a link, I’ll usually post one. If I’m surfing for baseball stories and come across a good site, I’ll add the link. Although there are exceptions, I try to keep the blog roll to people who are writing about some aspect of baseball.
Finding items for posts is done mainly through my rss reader. Almost every team has a major newspaper with an RSS feed now. Almost every blogger has an rss feed. So I spend a lot of time looking for stories that way. Sometimes I just go to google news and type in the name of a team to see what’s happening.
BB: I remember at one time you expressing interest in obtaining a Baseball Writers Association of America membership. Have you had any progress? How long do you think it will be before independent cyber-journalists are accepted into this group? Is there any hope?
DP: I’m still interested. I believe the bloggers at MVN have some kind of credentials. Last year I noticed newspapers were starting baseball blogs during spring training. The Cincinnati Post started a blog in spring training and ended up keeping it going throughout the season. As more reporters blog as part of their writing process, we’ll become more accepted. However, private clubs like the BWAA tend to exist to keep people out, not let them in. My guess is that over time we’ll develop our own group. There is an IBWA, but I haven’t done much with it. One of the first things we ran into was who to allow and who not to allow. I’m for very loose rules for inclusion. So, I’m afraid if a IBWA did get going, it would end up like the BWAA.
BB: Do you have any tips or advice for bloggers in regards to building an audience/making money/developing content
DP: All I can tell you is what worked for me. First, write a lot. There are blogs that I love, but the authors don’t write everyday, so after a while, I get out of the habit of visiting. So give peopel a reason to read your site every day.
Second, try to get linked. The best way I found to get links was to link to the other site first. I’d then send them an email of the form:
“I really like your blog and linked to it from my site, www.baseballmusings.com. Keep up the good work.”
That wording almost always got me a link.
I’m still trying to figure out how to make money.
As for content, there is always an angle left out of a baseball story. Add value to the story by finding that angle and arguing the point. Instead of yelling at the announcers on TV, put it in your blog.
BB: Before you became famous as a blogger, you were a researcher for ESPN Baseball Tonight. What was life like at ESPN?
DP: It was hectic but fun. Like any job, it had its ups and downs, but the ups were much more common. ESPN attracts a lot of would be sports journalists, more than they could ever employ. So the sports network gets the cream of the crop. Everyone there is very knowledgeable about sports. All the anchors write their own copy. The people there just live, eat and breathe sports.
BB: What are your:
Favorite player(s) of all time
DP: My favorite player is probably Rickey Henderson. Henderson did everything well. I also have a soft spot for players the press hate.
Best game you attended
DP: The best game I attended was Roger Clemens’ 1-hitter against Cleveland in 1988. I brought a colleague from England. He had never been to a baseball game before, so not only did I get to watch one of the best pitched games of Roger’s career, but I got to introduce the game to a complete novice. At one point he asked, “Does anyone get to second base? It seems so hard to get to first.”
DP: Stadium is a tough call. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I really liked Dodger Stadium; easy parking, cheap food and good seats. The view at Coors is hard to beat. Jacobs Field is best for broadcasting a game. They have an underground garage for the TV trucks. You drive in, plug in, and you’re good to go.
Favorite baseball moment
DP: There are three moments that stand out in my mind. The first is the Yankees winning the 1976 ALCS. They came back from a 1-2 series deficit and came back late in game 5 to win the series. Freddy Patek, who was hailed throughout the series for his fundamental baseball skills, ground into a DP to end the game. The KC fans stood there in stunned silence as the Yankees celebrated on the field, and Patek sat alone in the dugout with his head hung low. Just an incredible mix of emotions.
The second is the Bucky Dent home run in the 1978 playoff game.
The third is Jeter diving into the stands for a ball in that great extra-innings game between the Red Sox and Yankees on July 1, 2004. At the time I thought I had witnessed the greatest regular season game I had seen. I wrote:
“Anyone who tells you baseball is a boring game should be forced to watch this one. Almost anything that could happen in a ball game did. Heroics by hitters, heroics by pitchers, heroics by fielders, managing, maneuvering, you name it. Both teams played like the entire season rode on this game; it was much more important to the Red Sox, but the Yankees didn’t let up. I wish they all could be like this.”
Many thanks to David for taking the time to do this, and please read Baseball Musings – it’s one of the best out there.