From the Northern reaches of Minnesota, Seth Stohs blogs about the Minnesota Twins, the Vikings, and pretty much everything else that interests him. His blog, Seth Speaks, has been online since May 2003. He’s done several appearances on the Twin Cities sports talk circuit, and the friendly, conversational nature of the blog has earned him 375-450 visitors per day.
BB: When did you become a baseball fan? Did you have a favorite player, a favorite team?
SS: I have been as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are hanging out watching my dad play baseball and softball. I was playing catch with him when I was about 5. As a Minnesota boy, Kirby Puckett was my hero. His major league debut happened when I was eight, and I think it was his name that attracted me to him. I would follow his stats daily, and was so excited when he became a power hitter. I remember watching Game 7 of the 1987 World Series in the basement, by myself, because I was just too nervous to watch it with anyone! 1991 was much the same way. Game 6 was the kind of game that made Puckett more than a hero and put him into the legendary status. I was a Twins fan through the lean years in the late ’90s, rarely missing a game on TV. And it was fun again to watch the Twins become successful the last five years.
BB: What made you start blogging?
SS: I live in a very small town. One day I did a google search for “Minnesota Twins Geek” and it brought me to the Twins Geek site. From there, I learned of the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum, and that brought me to Aaron’s Baseball Blog. Reading those sites opened my eyes to just how much I was missing. I mean, I was a huge baseball fan before, but so many of my previous ideas were being put into words and supported with new statistics. I realized then that I had enough thoughts and opinions that I could put together a site. I wanted a site that I would want to read, and I wanted people to realize that I’m not just one-dimensional and could intelligently discuss multiple topics. Baseball, football, basketball, TV, movies, politics, anything. Well, the site has now become about 85% baseball and 15% other things, but I am still glad that I started doing it.
BB: You’ve done a number of Q & A’s with various Twins prospects, how have you gone about making contact? Have your subjects been receptive?
SS: I’ve actually gone about it in different ways. A couple of the players have had their own websites, so I just e-mailed them through that and asked if they would be interested, and they were. A few minor leaguers have e-mailed me to thank me for providing updates on the Twins affiliates, and were very receptive to a Q&A. Toward the end of last year, I sent a letter to one hitter and one pitcher from each Twins minor league team (except the GCL Twins as their season was about done), so 10 letters. I heard back from three of the ten. Other times, relatives of players have e-mailed me and after awhile conversing, I would just present the idea, and they helped me out. It’s been a lot of fun and I would really enjoy doing more and more.
BB: You’ve been very well received in the mainstream media with scheduled appearances on sports talk radio and segments on Twins pregame shows. Are these opportunities you sought out on your own? Do you have advice for other bloggers for gaining acceptance in mainstream media? Do you have any interest in trying to make a career of this?
SS: I have been so lucky in this area. I started in May of 2003, and when the playoffs started that season, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune included the links to my blog (And three other Twins blogs). The following year, again as the playoffs started, the Tribune did a big two-page article on the Twins bloggers that appeared in the Variety section. One day during the 2004 season, I had an e-mail from the producer of an all-sports station in the Twins Cities asking if I would like to be on a segment with Rita Maloney. That was a lot of fun, and I did that again with her later in the season. When she moved to WCCO, she continued to schedule me to talk on air from time to time. Before this 2005 season, WCCO decided to rotate four Twins bloggers for a feature in their Saturday Twins Magazine Show. It would be called the Bloggers Minute. Well, I know mine always ended up going about two minutes so they called it the Bloggers Moment instead. The highlight of that was they invited the four of us to appear with them live at the State Fair with former Twins All-Star Ron Coomer and others. That was a lot of fun! So, I haven’t in any way sought out these opportunities, but I am absolutely thrilled to do them. First, I figured it may send a few people to my site, but secondly, it’s just such a different opportunity. Being on air live, not knowing what the next question will be, is really a lot of fun.
As for how to be accepted by mainstream media, I don’t really know if there is a definite answer to that. First, I just have to say that if you’re at all interested in doing any of these types of things, and there is any opportunity, just say yes! I know I was nervous the first few times, but it is something I knew I would enjoy, so I just stuck iwth it. Don’t be afraid to e-mail your favorite team’s beat writers sometimes, or even other media members. It’s funny, my initial opportunities were just totally out of the blue, but once you put yourself out there, only good things can happen, and you don’t know what will happen for you next.
As far as making a career of it… absolutely. The concept of doing something for a living that you have a complete passion for is something that I think everyone strives for. To be paid and make a living by either writing about baseball and talking about baseball would be wonderful! The fact is that I know that I’m not good enough of a writer or speaker to probably do that, but again, if the opportunity presents itself, I would not pass it up!
BB: You have a fairly fixed posting schedule and each post is quite lengthy, have you experienced writer’s block and how do you get past it?
SS: I write too much everyday, I know that. People have told me that. It is a tough thing some times because once I start, there are certain topics that I just want to cover. Sometimes I just keep thinking that there are a lot of readers who take the time to stop by my site every day, so I just have to have something new for them every day or they won’t come back. I know that isn’t the case, readers are generally pretty loyal as long as you’re fair to them.
During the offseason, I have done a few things to help me with this. I just don’t want to spend alot of time every night. So, I will write on Mondays about plenty of topics from over the weekend. But Tuesday is a Q&A day. Wednesdays I have come up with a Why Baseball series in which readers of my site write the day’s article for me. They discuss what it is about baseball that drew them to the sport. It is fun to read other perspectives. Thursdays, I have had a few guest writers write an article for me which again, really helps me. I am able to just format and post their articles with a few “Other Thoughts” of my own. Then on Fridays again, I just cover a number of topics and post my football panel’s picks (which is fun because the panel includes several bloggers and then one Twins pitcher and one Twins minor league pitcher).
But there are some days that I just don’t feel like writing, and I do one of two things. Either I just start typing and see what comes out. Maybe it peaks an interesting thought that I can expound upon. Or secondly, I am more willing to just take a full day off. I am comfortable with my audience understanding that sometimes I just have to do that to maintain any sanity.
BB: You seem to have a pretty interactive relationship with your audience, including guest columns and contests, yet you don’t have “Comments.” What is your rationale for not providing a comment section?
SS: That’s a really good question, and as you’ve figured out, I can’t just answer it quickly. First, the best part about having my site is the interaction with readers. Whether the e-mailer agrees with me or disagrees, I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts. Sometimes I learn far more from a well-written, intelligent response that differs from my opinion. As for why I haven’t included Comments, there are a couple of reasons. First, I’m a writer for my site. With how much I write, I don’t give myself a lot of time to do much “other” stuff with the site. The overall look of my page is pretty straight-forward (read: not aesthetically pleasing!). I haven’t taken the time to do anything about that. I also have not taken the time to learn how to include a “comments” section. It definitely is not because I don’t want it or fear what people will write. Hopefully your website will teach me how (hopefully) easy it can be.
BB: What content management system/software do you use for your site?
SS: I use Microsoft FrontPage to update my page. I really like it because for content and updating, it is very user-friendly. But again, based on my previous answer, I haven’t even taken time to find out what more it can do for me.
BB: What are your favorite blogs (sports and/or non-sports)?
SS: I have a pretty set pattern of what I read. Each morning, I go to Aaron’s Baseball Blog and Stick and Ball Guy first. After that, there are four or five other Twins blogs that I check to see if they’ve updated anything. I check out Pat Neshek’s site to see if he’s updated. Pat is pitcher in the Twins system. He was just added to the Twins 40 man roster. I also check on The Baseball Savant site which is one of the best, even now when he’s in Medical School and writes less frequently. Oh, and of course I’m really enjoying John Sickels’ Minor League site.
BrentNet is really the only non-sports site I read daily, and it does discuss Minnesota sports from time to time. He covers pretty much everything. Brent is a guy that I actually coached in baseball when he was young. He’s got an excellent site.
I’d like to thank Seth for taking a little time out of his blogging schedule to answer some questions. Seth can be found at SethSpeaks.net.