LOVE OF GAME DRIVES METS FANS TO BLOGOSPHERE

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Ed Ryan entered the baseball blogosphere baggage in hand – emotional baggage. As a retired Marine, he endured the psychological effects from service in Operation: Desert Storm. After returning home to New Jersey he started a career in law enforcement and more stress: September 11.

“For about a year we were going to funerals back to back to back, that was numbing,” said Ryan. “I was fried. I needed an outlet a healthy one not drinking, drugs or women.”

He needed a distraction.

Blogging became his outlet. Ryan reconnected with his love of baseball, specifically the New York Mets. He began surfing the web and interacting with Mets fans through forums and message boards. In December 2006, he launched MetsFever.com.

Joe Janish needed a friend.

“When I was in college, I was hell bent on playing professional baseball,” he said. “I managed to dislocate my ankle in a pickup basketball game right before the draft.”

After that, the scouts disappeared, contract talks dried up and Janish was forced to regroup. He earned his college degree and began writing for the world’s largest publisher of animal books. After three years, he moved on to public relations and began drifting away from his passion – baseball.

Growing up in Weehawken, New Jersey, Janish and his friends would eat, sleep and breathe New York Mets baseball throughout high school and college.

“When you get older your friends move away, get married and have kids, you lose that conversation about baseball,” he said. “There’s no one I can call and talk to about the Mets. My wife, she tries, but after a while she’s just not interested. God Bless her.”

Frustrated and “ticked off” by the Mets poor play, Janish published his first baseball blog, OnBaseball.com, in 2002. One Mets post led to another and in 2006 he launched MetsToday.com.

Chris McShane needed to vent.

McShane, a state worker who lives in the Bronx, launched the blog Metsimistic.com, just as the Mets season began spiraling. “It was out of frustration,” said McShane, recalling his first post titled An Ode to John Maine published on July 26, 2010.

For Edison, New Jersey native and Mets blogger Kerel Cooper, the explanation is simple. “I just love talking baseball and I wanted a place where I could express my opinions,” he said, explaining why he created the video blog OntheBlack.com. “It’s a way to talk baseball and get different perspectives from anywhere in the world. That intrigues me.”

According to Baseballblogs.org, no other team in Major League Baseball has more bloggers than the New York Mets. The site lists 77 Mets blogs, while a simple Google search of “New York Mets blogs” returned 470,000 page results.

The Mets haven’t been to a World Series in 10 years. Fans are still waiting for Carlos Beltran to swing at the curveball Adam Wainwright threw in 2006. They’re also trying to purge the September collapses of 2007 and 2008, followed by the disastrous last two seasons.

But, instead of disappearing into the Citi Field night, Met fans are speaking louder, cheering harder and writing more – on message boards, forums, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Why?

“My short answer is, misery loves company,” said McShane, who is now a contributing writer for Amazin’ Avenue, one of the longest running and most respected Mets blogs. “It’s an interesting phenomenon. The nature of the pain lends itself to the Internet. Yankee fans, from our perspective, are spoiled. We are this underachieving, big market team. Even other cities that have two teams don’t have the same dynamic.”

The irony is, the more team turmoil, the more Mets fans come to the blogging community to view the wreckage, explains Janish. “When things are going bad and the brass ring is getting further away, but it’s still kinda in reach, that is when my traffic numbers go through the roof.”

ESPN noticed his unique perspective on the game and offered to partner with Janish, placing his blog in the fan-based “Sweet Spot” category. According to Janish, since teaming with ESPN his site traffic has multiplied four times.

Cooper said November 2010 generated his highest traffic numbers since he launched OntheBlack.com two years ago.

In August, the Texas Program of Sports and Media at the University of Texas at Austin surveyed 127 professional baseball teams to measure the level of trust between media relations and the media. The independent blogger ranked last on the “trust scale.”

While the research reveals the industry disconnect with online media, what it doesn’t take into account is, independent bloggers aren’t necessarily motivated by the prospect of a professional career change. In fact, you can count the number of paid, independent bloggers on one hand. For the hundreds of others, blogging is a form of personal entertainment and an opportunity to connect and debate with other fans.

“I’m not looking to make this a career,” explained Cooper, who is employed as a director of advertising operations for a media company. He has been working in the industry for 11 years and enjoys his career.

“It’s just something I enjoy doing,” added Janish. “I can’t leave it. I may not have a large audience, but it’s a loyal audience that I enjoy. These are my new friends, virtual friends.”

Finding a voice in an already overpopulated Mets blogosphere is no easy task, but for this group of Mets bloggers each has cut through with a unique perspective.

“The way I watch a baseball game and evaluate players is from a perspective and a coach,” said Janish. “I played Division I college baseball and semi-pro baseball and I use that perspective in most of my writing.”

OntheBlack.com is an exclusive video blog Cooper records and produces from the friendly confines of home. “I chose video because there are a ton of Mets blogs, very good one’s too,” said Cooper. “I wanted a way to stand out. I’ve become known as the Mets video blogger, which isn’t a bad thing.”

“My niche is an op-ed page from a fan point of view,” added Ryan. “I don’t break news. I research articles I wanted to write – and I use the word ‘article’ loosely – because I don’t consider myself a journalist at all. I am a blogger, who posts.”

Ryan went searching for an outlet, and four years later, is now realizing he got much more. Ryan said he uses the knowledge he picks up from writing and researching on MetsFever.com and shares it with his 10-year old son.

“We go to Mets games and he asks me about things that I wouldn’t otherwise know if I hadn’t been researching stuff for the blog,” said Ryan. “It’s awesome, because I can remember at his age, being with my grandfather, sitting in front of a black and white TV. The Yankees were on Channel 11 (WPIX) and the Mets were on Channel 9 (WWOR). Both of my grandfathers would give me blow-by-blow.”

His Mets blog has turned into a modern day father-son game of catch. Ryan said he’s planning on letting his son write a guest post after father-son games in 2011.

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About the author

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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