10 things I didn’t know about THT last year, 2010 edition

Ah, the end of the year: holiday week. Since it’s the last week of 2010, this is as good a time as any to take a look back at the year that was at THT. Let’s get to it.

1. Who writes how much here?

This annual column has one main highlight: the list of who’s written how many articles for THT.

I should note this looks solely at full-length articles. Fantasy pieces, THT Live blurbs, shysterball, Tuck’s toons, and various other things ain’t included, so this list ain’t perfect. It also ain’t perfect because I’m not double-checking my counts (except for my own articles, because they’re mine, dammit), and it’s hard to tell the difference between fantasy pieces and main site articles.

Enough of that. Here’s everyone with at least 10 articles in site history (through Christmas 2010):

Name	        2004	2005	2006	2007	2008	2009	2010	ALL
Steve Treder	33	44	51	50	51	28	22	279
Dave Studeman	47	72	53	39	25	4	1	241
Brian Borawski	1	37	53	42	31	37	39	240
Aaron Gleeman	133	80	20	0	0	0	0	233
John Brattain	0	46	51	51	79	6	0	233
Chris Jaffe	0	0	1	37	42	49	41	170
Rich Barbieri	0	0	0	45	39	41	43	168
Ben Jacobs	104.5	31.5	11.5	7	5	0	0	159.5
Jeff Sackmann	0	0	28	50	9	19	29	135
David Gassko	0	17	42	29	19	10	6	123
Geoff Young	0	0	2	21	18	32	37	110
John Barten	0	0	0	0	23	26	27	76
Bruce Markusen	0	0	0	0	0	28	47	75
John Beamer	0	0	0	46	20	4	1	71
Josh Kalk	0	0	0	9	45	11	0	65
John Walsh	0	2	21	19	14	6	2	64
Larry Mahnken	40.5	13.5	2.5	2	0	5	0	63.5
Matthew Carruth	0	0	0	15	22	23	1	61
ChrisConstancio	0	0	37	24	0	0	0	61
Harry Pavlidis	0	0	0	0	0	32	25	57
Sal Baxamusa	0	0	10	27	11	2	3	53
Rick Wilton	0	0	30	23	0	0	0	53
Craig Burley	21	12	13	0	0	0	0	46
Brandon Isleib	0	0	0	0	21	19	4	44
Craig Brown	0	0	1	0	26	15	1	43
Dan Fox	        0	28	12	0	0	0	0	40
Matthew Namee	26	3	0	2	2	2	0	35
Colin Wyers	0	0	0	0	2	32	0	34
Bryan Smith	29	1	0	1	0	0	0	31
Max Marchi	0	0	0	0	0	15	15	30
Brian Gunn	13	8	4	1	1	0	0	27
Evan Brunell	0	0	0	0	4	22	0	26
Maury Brown	0	7	18	0	0	0	0	25
Alex Eisenberg	0	0	0	0	15	1	6	22
Sean Smith	0	0	0	6	7	8	1	22
Carlos Gomez	0	0	0	21	0	0	0	21
Joshua Fisher	0	0	0	0	0	1	18	19
Victor Wang	0	0	0	0	10	9	0	19
Robert Dudek	15	2	0	0	0	0	0	17
Bryan Tsao	0	1	13	2	0	0	0	16
Mike Fast	0	0	0	0	7	1	7	15
Dan Turkenkopf	0	0	0	0	0	13	1	14
Tom M. Tango	0	0	5	0	8	1	0	14
Paul Nyman	0	0	0	0	11	0	0	11
Steven Booth	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	10
Vince Caramela	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	10
Lisa Gray	0	0	0	6	2	1	1	10
Adam Guttridge	0	0	0	0	1	9	0	10
MitchelLichtman	0	0	3	2	3	2	0	10

Original THT writers Larry Mahnken and Ben Jacobs used to co-write a series of articles together, which is why they have so many half-articles.

Only three men have written an article THT every year, and they’re the trio on top. Makes sense. The two immediately below them, John Brattain and site co-founder Aaron Gleeman, won’t be returning here anytime soon. Gleeman had to leave when NBCsports.com hired him away, and Brattain died last year.

At the very top, Steve Treder supposedly went on a semi-hiatus about a year and a half ago, yet he’s still as active as most people. Only eight people wrote more articles in 2010 than THT’s veteran warhorse.

On a purely self-interested note, I’m now in sixth. And I’m not bloody likely to move up any time soon, judging by the gap ahead of me. Instead, I’ll be hard pressed to stay ahead of that Richard Barbieri person.

Last year I led THT in columns written, but this year that title goes to Bruce Markusen. That isn’t too surprising. Before coming here, Bruce had gotten into a regular rhythm writing for other sites, such as Baseball Think Factory and Baseball Toaster. Makes sense he knew how to keep the pace up when he came here. I came in third, just behind that blasted Barbieri. This was the only the second year none of use made it to 50 columns in a year.

Since arriving on a regular basis in 2007, I’ve written 169 articles—more than anyone else. Just behind me in that time period with 168 is that dang Barbieri person again. I can’t shake him, can I?

2. My month off

Actually, it’s pretty impressive that I churned out as many columns as I did given that I took a month off. After writing a column for the second week in April, I didn’t produce another until the second week in May.

This wasn’t so much planned. I was just burnt out. If there’s one thing writing for THT has taught me, it’s to never take for granted any columnist or writer who has to write several things a week. Yeah, they do it full time while I just get to do it in my free time, but always having to write something can be a real grind.

So I took a break. I figured it wouldn’t have to be too long of a break, but I intentionally didn’t tell the powers that be here at THT how long, just because I wanted a break from any deadline. Sure enough, I came back and soon got right into it. After Memorial Day week, I had a column almost every week. Technically I missed five weeks, but on two occasions I wrote two columns the week before my week off, so it evened out. Another two were holiday weeks.

3. A year in review

If there was a theme to this year, it was writing columns for late, lamented ballplayers: Robin Roberts, Ron Santo, and Bob Feller all received that treatment from me. On a related note, I wrote a piece on Frank Thomas after he announced his official retirement. I did more memorial pieces that year that all previous years combined.

In terms of quality, I had some personal highs and lows. At the bottom end were the columns right before my month off. They weren’t bad, but I think my need for a vacation came through. They were just rather “blah.”

On the plus side, I had a nice start to the year before burning out. I’m proud of my Frank Thomas tribute article back in January, and a pair of articles I did about bullpens and starting rotations in March just before my torpor set in.

I got into a nice groove by mid-summer. After sitting on a bunch of research on the history of doubleheaders for a year, I finally knocked out a nice trio of articles and then stayed in a good stretch for the next few months. Personal favorites include an article on Buck Showalter, the least likely cycles ever, and pieces on the coolest homer hitters and gopher ball pitchers ever.

4. What we as a nation care about

Behind the scenes at THT, there are tracking mechanisms that let us know how many hits come to various columns. (Fun fact: I didn’t even know this existed until two years after I showed up. Tells you how much attention I pay to things).

I don’t want to get too much into the details here, but I’m glad I knew it existed this year, because I had by far the best year I ever had, or likely will have, thinking up eyeball-attracting columns. I shattered my previous record for most widely-read column early in the year, and then later on saw that mark left in the dust. Now, getting the biggest readership is never the point of any column, but it is nice when there’s an occasional spike.

The first record breaker was, happily for me, my single favorite column idea I’ve ever had. It wasn’t a brilliant idea—in fact it was kind of dumb—but it was a fun one: ranking MLB team nicknames. I thought it was fun and apparently many of you out in reader-land agreed.

It also contained my favorite link ever. Some website (can’t remember who) posted a link and snarkily noted: yup, it’s official—we’ve run out of original ideas. This column by Jaffe sure is an original idea, but dammit that’s the sort of original idea you come up with when you scrape the very bottom of the barrel of new ideas. It’s the grizzled gunk of new ideas. The column was worth it for that link alone. Just like the column, it was fun.

I wish the nickname column remained my highest read, but no, I had to go and write a column comparing teams to characters from The Simpsons. As noted in that article, it was based on a recent football column. What I didn’t know was that several years earlier a different site had already done the baseball version of it. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have written this one. But I didn’t, and not only has no other column of mine topped that piece’s reader total, no MONTH of mine tops that one single article.

Apparently, people like The Simpsons. Glad I could clarify that.

5. Who wrote what for THT fantasy

While the articles are the bread-and-butter for THT, there are many other components. So, for Lord only knows what reasons, I decided to go for broader coverage in this year-end column than with previous ones. The fantasy writers at THT do as much work as anyone, and if I’m go to highlight the main article writers, I may as well look them up too.

In that spirit, here are the top writers for fantasy baseball in THT history:

Name	        2007	2008	2009	2010	ALL
Derek Carty	149	146	67	24	386
Paul Singman	0	25	68	39	132
Matt Hagen	0	0	34	50	84
Jonathan Halket	0	6	34	28	68
Derek Ambrosino	0	0	18	49	67
Michael Street	0	0	27	15	42
Rob McQuown	0	0	26	13	39
Jeffrey Gross	0	0	0	36	36
Eriq Gardner	0	0	34	0	34
Pat DiCaprio	31	2	0	0	33
Troy Patterson	0	0	22	8	30
Victor Wang	0	19	7	0	26
Chris Neault	0	18	5	1	24
Josh Shepardson	0	0	0	23	23
Mike Silver	0	0	20	3	23
Alex Zelvin	0	0	19	1	20
John Burnson	0	0	20	0	20
Marco Fujimoto	0	2	13	0	15
Michael Lerra	0	5	8	0	13
Jeremiah Oshan	0	0	0	12	12
Jonathan Sher	0	0	0	11	11

By and large, fantasy pieces aren’t as long or as research-intensive as main articles, which means more can be produced. At least I like to think that because otherwise this chart indicates that main article writers like myself or that Richard Barbieri person are a bunch of worthless slackers. Few people, if any, have given as much time to the site since 2007 like Derek Carty. In 2010, however, Matt Hagen and Derek Ambrosino were the mainstays.

I should note there are some times a main article gets counted as a fantasy piece. It’s impossible to tell the difference just by looking at a person’s author main page. You need to go through a click on all the articles. I did that for a few people who I knew have done both types of columns, but there’s no way I’ll do that for someone like Carty. Even I don’t want to waste that much time.

6. Who wrote how much for THT Live.

OK, one last little exercise in needless counting. A third key element at THT is the little Live blurbs that go on the top right margins. These are not intended to be particularly big or huge, just something worth noting that can be pushed on the site relatively quickly. I’ve contributed a few of these and figured I might as well see how everyone ranks over time. (As an added bonus for me: when scrolling through author pages, these ones are easy to spot.) Here it is, the all-time top THT Live-rs:

Name	        2004	2005	2006	2007	2008	2009	2010	ALL
Dave Studeman	134	52	31	42	378	128	53	818
Bryan Tsao	0	0	7	2	136	1	0	146
Matthew Carruth	0	0	0	5	112	8	0	125
Chris Jaffe	0	0	0	1	7	54	33	95
Evan Brunell	0	0	0	0	0	64	18	82
Mike Fast	0	0	0	0	26	26	25	77
Matthew Namee	74	3	0	0	0	0	0	77
Dan Novick	0	0	0	0	0	41	21	62
Kevin Dame	0	0	0	0	0	7	54	61
Alex Pedicini	0	0	0	0	0	35	25	60
Pat Andriola	0	0	0	0	0	24	31	55
David Gassko	0	0	1	13	14	5	14	47
John Burnson	0	0	0	0	0	40	0	40
Nick Steiner	0	0	0	0	0	32	6	38
Jeff Sackmann	0	0	1	2	1	23	9	36
Colin Wyers	0	0	0	0	0	32	0	32
Steve Treder	2	2	3	2	5	3	14	31
Aaron Gleeman	23	5	0	0	0	0	0	28
Sal Baxamusa	0	0	0	3	21	0	0	24
Brad Johnson	0	0	0	0	0	0	23	23
Anna McDonald	0	0	0	0	0	0	22	22
Brandon Isleib	0	0	0	0	8	8	6	22
Bruce Markusen	0	0	0	0	0	9	12	21
J. Greenhouse	0	0	0	0	0	14	7	21
Joshua Fisher	0	0	0	0	0	1	19	20
Chris Neault	0	0	0	0	17	2	0	19
Craig Burley	12	4	2	0	0	0	0	18
Sean Smith	0	0	0	0	0	5	10	15
Chuck Brownson	0	0	0	0	0	6	7	13
Ricky Zanker	0	0	0	0	0	0	12	12
Harry Pavlidis	0	0	0	0	0	0	11	11
Max Marchi	0	0	0	0	0	2	9	11
Dave Wade	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	10
John Beamer	0	0	0	5	2	3	0	10

My God—did Boss-man Studeman even leave the house in 2008? By far the most jolting result of any of these lists is his utter domination of THT Live. Until two years ago, he personally accounted for a majority of all THT posts. Granted, that’s partially because THT Live was semi-dormant for several years. Still, his lead here looks like the 1921 AL home run race with Boss-man Studes in the role of Babe Ruth.

Actually, the most surprising part of the list isn’t first place, but fourth. That’s me. THE. HELL? I never saw that one coming. I would’ve guessed I had 60 Live posts, not 95. I had a couple nice spurts last year and some history-related stuff this year, but that’s about it.

But that’s enough to come in fourth apparently. There are a few guys who dominated it for periods of time, but what’s fun about this list is how wildly different it is from the others. Old warhorse Steve Treder finds himself right around one-year wonder Colin Wyers (though, to be fair, Colin was wonderful that year). Site founder Aaron Gleeman is buried below Nick Steiner. You remember that Richard Barbieri person? He doesn’t even make the list—not a single Live post from him. HA! Finally found a place where he isn’t right on my tail.

7. Counting days: the new, one-man trend in nerdiness

My contributions to THT Live, especially this year, stem from an odd hobby I’ve engaged in on and off for nearly 15 years. I collect historical dates and put them in an Excel file. It used to be Big History stuff, but a few years ago I decided to loosen up and put a bunch of baseball and lighter stuff in. Currently, the event file contains 64,790 items (!), a third of which is baseball.

Several months ago I randomly decided to add a new twist: tracking days since a particular event. Then I can note some of the best ones. You guys get some of the baseball ones, and I deluge people on Facebook or other places with others. (Example: today is 80,000 days since the Bill of Rights went into effect, 30,000 days since Black Sox Series fixer Arnold Rothstein’s death, and 4,000 days since David Letterman’s heart surgery.) It’s pointless, but it’s fun.

You should see more of this in the future. Consider yourself warned.

8. Mistakes, I’ve made a few. OK, maybe a little more than a few

Adding reader comments to articles is one of the best changes that have come to THT in my time here. It allows for good feedback, some interesting ideas, and evidence that readers actually exist. Also, it’s a good way to find out when you made an error. Every year, you’re guaranteed one thing when you write for the general public: you’ll screw up.

It would take too long to discuss all my boo-boos. Here are some of my favorites:

I wrote an article on the greatest managerial finales, in which I stated that only one noteworthy manager ended his career in a meaningful game (Fred Haney). Eh, no. As some readers noted, Burt Shotton’s career ended in a good game that came at the end of a tight pennant race.

A column on the best boomerang players—those who began and ended their career with the same franchise—put Fergie Jenkins on the pitching staff. That seemed reasonable, as some of my first memories as a young Cub fan are of Fergie Jenkins pitching for the squad at the very end of his career. It seemed like such a good fit that I didn’t bother to make sure if his career began with the Cubs. It didn’t. He came up a Phillie and shouldn’t have been on the team.

No list of errors would be complete without the piece that set a personal record for most errors per word: a Live piece on the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams’ last at bat. I said he homered in the season’s last game, but nearly had another at-bat, as a late Boston rally had his slot due up when the game ended.

First, it wasn’t the last game of the season. It was just the last home game. Williams sat out a few road games at the end. Second, while his slot was due up, Williams was removed from the game for a pinch hitter right after his final home run. I even got the article’s title wrong. Famous author John Updike was in Fenway for that home run, and he said of Williams’ refusal to tip his cap after his last home run trot, “Gods do not answer letters.” Going from memory, I called the piece “Gods don’t answer phone calls.” Hey, I’ve had better days.

9. My favorite mistake

I’m actually relieved by one mistake in a column, because it tried to correct an error I thought I had made in my book, Evaluating Baseball’s Managers. In it, I noted that John McNamara had the worst record in extra-inning games of any manager. However, more detailed research led me to believe McNamara didn’t have the worst extra-inning game records, but Jimy Williams did. This error was worth a column to walk back because: 1) I said McNamara’s extra-inning record stemmed from his bullpens, which were the worst of any major manager in the last 50 years, and 2) Williams had the best bullpens. So I wrote my column.

Guess what? I looked at it again and noticed a problem with the column’s info: I gave McNamara credit for managing an extra season with the Reds. Take that out, and McNamara is again the worst in extra-inning games. So, the info in the book is right.

That said, I stand by much of that column. The key elements of that column remain valid. Namely, I do think there’s a connection between bullpen quality and record in extra-inning games, that does necessitate explaining Jimy Williams’ 10th-inning difficulties, and I wish I’d explained that last part in my book.

But at least I was right in my book when I said McNamara had the worst record in extra-inning contests.

10. The worst mistake was one you never saw

My biggest mistake I caught in the nick of time, so none of you found out what a moron I am. Until now.

It was for a column about Jamie Moyer. The column’s point was pretty basic: not only has he had an incredibly long career, but he’s lasted forever despite never fitting the profile you’d expect for a pitcher to last a long time. He wasn’t great when he was younger. He never had a very good strikeout rate. He wasn’t a southpaw. He didn’t even throw one of those trick pitches like the knuckler or a spitter.

So after writing that up, I decided to add a photo of Moyer, but there was something weird about the photo. He was pitching with the wrong hand. What’s he throwing left-handed for? Is this some sort of reverse-image reproduction of a photo? He can’t actually be a lefty, can he? Let’s double check Baseball Reference for a second to make sure I’m not crazy.

Uh-oh.

Yeah, uh, it’s news that I’m sure isn’t news to 99 percent of you out there in reader-land. It turns out Moyer is in fact a southpaw. WHOOPS! You have to realize, I’ve been aware of Moyer his entire career. I remember him as a young rookie with the Cubs. I’ve watched him pitch several times. I even saw him pitch live in the ballpark. He’s been around for frickin’ ever. Yet somehow, someway, I managed to completely miss the part about which arm delivers the ball each time he throws it. Oops.

The best analogy I can make is to an old Far Side cartoon. In it, a bunch of cows (it’s Far Side, so of course it involved cows) are grazing, when one cow lifts his head up, spits out the grass from his mouth and shouts “Hey, this stuff is grass! We’ve been eating grass!” to his stunned brethren cows. Uh, yeah, of course it’s grass. What did you think it was? Of course Moyer’s a lefty.

So … I went through and tweaked the column as needed. It still worked because Moyer remains a very unlikely pitcher to last as long as he did, but if you read that column, there are a few parts that would work even better if he was right-handed.

image
“Hey—this is grass! We’ve been eating grass!”

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: TUCK! sez: Looking ahead, 2011 (Part 1)
Next: Inside the rules: the strike zone »

Comments

  1. Richard Barbieri said...

    “Instead, I’ll be hard pressed to stay ahead of that Richard Barbieri person.”

    You’re going down Jaffe, and you’re going down hard.

  2. Jason B said...

    Richard, he’s already out to an early lead on you in that all important category: articles involving both Jamie Moyer AND “Far Side” cattle. 

    One-nil. Your serve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *