10 things I didn’t know about THT last year: 2011 edition

Well, it’s the end of the year. For me, that means it’s time for some THT navel gazing—looking back at the year for this site and my personal memories of and contributions to it.

Let’s get into it.

1. Who wrote what: Full-length articles at THT

The whole annual article concept began due to insomnia. One night, years ago I couldn’t sleep and decided to start counting things to make me tired, so I went online and counted articles written by myself and others. Now I update the list every year.

If you’re curious, below is a list of everyone I could find who has written at least 10 full-length articles for THT over the years, ranking from most on down as of Christmas Day 2011:

Name	        2004	2005	2006	2007	2008	2009	2010	2011	ALL
Steve Treder	33	44	51	50	51	28	23	25	305
Brian Borawski	1	37	53	42	31	37	40	37	278
Dave Studeman	47	72	53	39	25	4	1	3	244
Aaron Gleeman	133	80	20	0	0	0	0	0	233
John Brattain	0	46	51	51	79	6	0	0	233
Chris Jaffe	0	0	1	37	42	49	42	47	218
Rich Barbieri	0	0	0	45	39	41	43	40	208
Ben Jacobs	104.5	31.5	11.5	7	5	0	0	0	159.5
Jeff Sackmann	0	0	28	50	9	19	29	0	135
David Gassko	0	17	42	29	19	10	6	0	123
Bruce Markusen	0	0	0	0	0	28	48	45	121
Geoff Young	0	0	2	21	18	32	37	3	113
John Barten	0	0	0	0	23	26	27	27	103
John Beamer	0	0	0	46	20	4	1	1	72
Harry Pavlidis	0	0	0	0	0	32	25	12	69
Josh Kalk	0	0	0	9	45	11	0	0	65
John Walsh	0	2	21	19	14	6	2	0	64
Larry Mahnken	40.5	13.5	2.5	2	0	5	0	0	63.5
Matthew Carruth	0	0	0	15	22	23	1	1	62
C. Constancio	0	0	37	24	0	0	0	0	61
Rick Wilton	0	0	30	23	0	0	0	0	53
Sal Baxamusa	0	0	10	27	11	2	3	0	53
Max Marchi	0	0	0	0	0	15	16	16	47
Craig Burley	21	12	13	0	0	0	0	0	46
Brandon Isleib	0	0	0	0	21	19	4	0	44
Craig Brown	0	0	1	0	26	15	1	0	43
Dan Fox	        0	28	12	0	0	0	0	0	40
Matthew Namee	26	3	0	2	2	2	0	2	37
Vince Caramela	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	24	34
Colin Wyers	0	0	0	0	2	32	0	0	34
Bryan Smith	29	1	0	1	0	0	0	0	31
P. F. Sullivan	0	0	0	0	0	0	7	23	30
Dave Wade	0	0	0	0	0	0	6	21	27
Brian Gunn	13	8	4	1	1	0	0	0	27
Evan Brunell	0	0	0	0	4	22	0	0	26
Maury Brown	0	7	18	0	0	0	0	0	25
Steven Booth	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	14	24
Jeff Moore	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	23	23
Alex Eisenberg	0	0	0	0	15	1	6	0	22
Sean Smith	0	0	0	6	7	8	1	0	22
Carlos Gomez	0	0	0	21	0	0	0	0	21
Joshua Fisher	0	0	0	0	0	1	18	0	19
Victor Wang	0	0	0	0	10	9	0	0	19
Kevin Lai	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	18	18
Robert Dudek	15	2	0	0	0	0	0	0	17
Bryan Tsao	0	1	13	2	0	0	0	0	16
Mike Fast	0	0	0	0	7	1	7	0	15
Lucas Aposoleris	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	14	14
Dan Turkenkopf	0	0	0	0	0	13	1	0	14
Tom M. Tango	0	0	5	0	8	1	0	0	14
Brad Johnson	0	0	0	0	0	0	2	11	13
Myron Logan	0	0	0	0	0	0	5	7	12
Jim McLennan	0	0	0	5	2	1	1	2	11
Lisa Gray	0	0	0	6	2	1	1	1	11
Paul Nyman	0	0	0	0	11	0	0	0	11
Paapfly	        0	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	10
Jeffrey Gross	0	0	0	0	0	0	5	5	10
Joe Distelhiem	0	0	0	1	3	4	1	1	10
Adam Guttridge	0	0	0	0	1	9	0	0	10
Mitchel Lichtman	0	0	3	2	3	2	0	0	10

Well, Steve Treder finally did it, becoming the first person to ever write 300 articles for THT. It’s no surprise. Not only is he one of the site’s original writers, but he’s its greatest warhorse. He wrote at least 50 articles for the site for three straight years. No one has done it even once in any of the last trio of years.

Even now, with Treder only a semi-regular with this site, he’s still one of our more prolific authors. Since going off a regular schedule with the site three years ago, only five people have written more for THT than Uncle Treder.

This year’s leading writer for THT was yours truly, with 47 (48 with this article). I take some pride in that because it can be a bit of a grind getting them out. Looking it up, the last time I missed a week was early September. Yeah, but that was Labor Day weekend and I write for Mondays, so that’s only sort of a missed week.

Excluding that, I last missed a week in late May. Well, that’s the same thing now isn’t it? That’s Memorial Day. Aside from that I last missed my weekly turn on… March 14! Jeepers. That’s gotta be a personal record. That’s positively Treder-ian. (Well, except that I only did it for nine months, not three years).

2. I’ve been around a while

Looking at the list, it brings home that this site has been around for a while, and I’ve been here for most of its run. Ignoring a guest column I wrote in the summer of 2006, I’ve been here for almost five full years. This place has been a part of my life for a longer time than college. It only makes sense that I’ve risen up the ranks of THT’s most prolific writers.

What really gets me is what should happen next spring. In another 15-16 columns I’ll tie then pass Aaron Gleeman and John Brattain. Gleeman is merely the site’s co-founder and driving force in its start-up years. Brattain is the last man to write more than one column per week for the site. He was a great guy, and sadly I have to use the past tense to describe him as he died in 2009.

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who joined THT after it was already a well-established force on the internet, so it’s really jarring to see myself on the verge of passing up some guys who made it an established force.

3. 2011: The year I keep ripping off Boss-man Studes old approach

Each year has some themes and trends in THT. One year I wrote a bunch of columns on the Hall of Fame. Another year I got into making a bunch of lists. This year was also a strong year for writing lists, but it’s actually a bit more particular than that.

This year I kept going back to a motif engineered by Boss-man Studenman. He started out as a THT writer with a regular piece called “10 things I didn’t know last week.” It’s a nice hook and a great column title, and I’ve ripped it off on occasion for years – but never as much as I did this year.

By my count, this column you’re reading is my tenth “10 things I didn’t know” article of the year. Back in July, I wrote three straight such pieces. I still do lots of other lists, but this has become a fall back way of organizing a column for me.

Lists can be a different sort of column from one that analyzes a single idea in depth. But on the other hand, it isn’t so much the column itself that’s changing, just how it’s organized. The only difference between writing a piece called “10 things I didn’t know about Tony LaRussa” and “Reflecting on the career of Tony LaRussa” is I don’t have to spend as much time on segues between items I’m analyzing.

Besides, people like lists. It’s easier to gnaw on 10 bite-sized items than one big course – even if it turns out that 10 bites equal a big course.

4. Who wrote what: THT fantasy edition

Of course, aside from the main site articles, one stable of THT-dom is the fantasy section. Here’s another list – people with 10 or more fantasy articles for THT since it’s founding in 2007 to Christmas this year:

Name	        2007	2008	2009	2010	2011	ALL
Derek Carty	149	146	67	24	11	397
Paul Singman	0	25	68	40	19	152
Derek Ambrosino	0	0	18	50	44	112
Matt Hagen	0	0	34	51	12	97
Jeffrey Gross	0	0	0	38	46	84
Jonathan Halket	0	6	33	26	16	81
Josh Shepardson	0	0	0	24	43	67
Michael Stein	0	0	0	0	24	24
Ben Pritchett	0	0	0	1	23	24
Dave Shovein	0	0	0	0	20	20
Josh Smolow	0	0	0	7	12	19
Brad Johnson	0	0	0	8	10	18
Nick Fleder	0	0	0	0	17	17

I don’t have too much to say about this as I don’t write the articles and don’t play fantasy baseball. Suffice it to say there’s some pretty impressive coverage here, and it’s especially neat to see that everyone who ever wrote double-digits for THT fantasy all wrote double digits for THT fantasy this year alone.

5. Who wrote what: THT Live edition

One last big list – the most contributions to THT Live, the little bits that sometimes go up on the side of the site in response to what’s going on currently or is particularly timely in the world of baseball:

Name	        2004	2005	2006	2007	2008	2009	2010	2011	ALL
Dave Studeman	134	52	31	42	378	128	55	29	849
Chris Jaffe	0	0	0	1	7	54	33	142	237
Bryan Tsao	0	0	7	2	136	1	0	0	146
Matthew Carruth	0	0	0	5	112	8	0	0	125
Evan Brunell	0	0	0	0	0	64	18	0	82
Mike Fast	0	0	0	0	26	26	25	0	77
Matthew Namee	74	3	0	0	0	0	0	0	77
Kevin Dame	0	0	0	0	0	7	54	6	67
Dan Novick	0	0	0	0	0	41	21	0	62
Alex Pedicini	0	0	0	0	0	35	25	0	60
Pat Andriola	0	0	0	0	0	24	31	0	55
David Gassko	0	0	1	13	14	5	14	5	52
Bruce Markusen	0	0	0	0	0	9	12	29	50
Steve Treder	2	2	3	2	5	3	14	9	40
John Burnson	0	0	0	0	0	40	0	0	40
Nick Steiner	0	0	0	0	0	32	6	0	38
Brad Johnson	0	0	0	0	0	0	23	14	37
Jeff Sackmann	0	0	1	2	1	23	9	0	36
Mat Kovach	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	32	32
Colin Wyers	0	0	0	0	0	32	0	0	32
Greg Simons	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	32	32
Aaron Gleeman	23	5	0	0	0	0	0	0	28
Max Marchi	0	0	0	0	0	2	9	16	27
Anna McDonald	0	0	0	0	0	0	22	4	26
Sal Baxamusa	0	0	0	3	21	0	0	0	24
Brandon Isleib	0	0	0	0	8	8	6	1	23
Harry Pavlidis	0	0	0	0	0	0	11	10	21
J. Greenhouse	0	0	0	0	0	14	7	0	21
Joshua Fisher	0	0	0	0	0	1	19	0	20
Chris Neault	0	0	0	0	17	2	0	0	19
Craig Burley	12	4	2	0	0	0	0	0	18
Dave Wade	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	5	15
Sean Smith	0	0	0	0	0	5	10	0	15
Lucas Aposoleris	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	14	14
Jeffrey Gross	0	0	0	0	0	0	9	4	13
Chuck Brownson	0	0	0	0	0	6	7	0	13
Ricky Zanker	0	0	0	0	0	0	12	0	12
Vince Caramela	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	10	10
John Beamer	0	0	0	5	2	3	0	0	10

Most of these are current, but mine are almost all historical. They qualify as timely because they deal with events celebrating their anniversary or “day-versary” on that particular day.

I started doing this stuff at THT Live last year, but this April really expanded it. Instead of just noting one item having an anniversary, I mention one particular item and then go and list a bunch of other baseball bits having an anniversary or day-versary on that day.

The whole thing is just an outgrowth of a computer file I created upon first receiving Excel maybe 15 years ago. For no good reason, I just created a file and lumped in a bunch of historical dates to it. There are times I’ve ignored it for months or years at a shot, and other times I’ll add in numerous items every day for months and months on end. Upshot: I’ve now got a file with over 30,000 baseball events, and over 46,000 other items.

I never had any clear notion that adding to this list served any good – but it sure comes in handy here.

6. Career accomplishments

I found another use for my historic events file this year. In May, when Harmon Killebrew died. I wrote a column about him, and in researching it I checked the events file and found out a bunch of neat nuggets about him. In fact, I found out so much, that I couldn’t put it in the one column that reflected upon the man and his career.

So what to do with all the extra nuggets? Here’s a thought – just pile up a list of them and his other top career accomplishments and put a separate entry in THT Live as “Harmon Killebrew career accomplishments.” It worked so well that shortly after when Jim Northrup and Paul Splitorff died, I gave them the same treatment.

Then Matt Stairs retired and I realized I could get one of these career accomplishments things out without needing someone to die. As the Hall of Fame induction ceremony approached, I figured I could do career accomplishments pieces for them also.

These things are just a lot of fun to put together, so expect to see more of them for retirements, deaths, and Cooperstown inductions in the future.

7. My whole approach has changed

Looking back on the nearly five years (and counting) I’ve been here at THT, there’s been a definite shift in how I approach baseball research in general.

If you’d look back at my first batch of columns in 2007, you’d see the first slew of pieces were all based on the same research project I did. It was a huge research project – and that’s how I used to approach things. When I first discovered Retrosheet about a decade ago, my modus operandi was to spend months of research on one thing, and really dig into it.

That isn’t the case now. There is still research that goes into it, but just having a weekly deadline has refocused how I do things. The work and prep is continual, but it’s more bite-sized projects than one massive thing. Some things take more than a week to figure out, but there are few months-long projects.

That said, I still have some big projects. I have written a book since I’ve been at THT. There are occasional research bits that go on in the background – hey, most of the 30,000-plus baseball items in my event file have been added in the last 18 months – but they can never occupy all my baseball time. That’s different from my pre-THT existence.

8. Errors on the year

Every year I make mistakes in my pieces for THT. In fact, virtually every thing I’ve put up at THT features some mistakes (and I’m just including the word “virtually” in this sentence to make my ego feel better). Normally these mistakes are pretty minor. For example, in the list of baseball events having their anniversaries, I’ll sometimes type the wrong year in – 1924 when I meant to say 1925.

I had a fun one last week when I noted that Jeff Bagwell’s Astros had a poor record in the ALDS. Um, ALDS? I’m getting a little ahead of things – Houston still plays in the NL. Still, that’s a pretty minor error.

Bigger errors? Well, one that comes to mind is my preseason “Five questions: Chicago White Sox“. Actually, it was a good piece. I made my points, backed them up with some analysis that I thought – and still think – made sense. There was just one problem – it was all wrong. The entire thing was badly off the mark.

I said Adam Dunn’s arrival would help the offense. Hmmm – not quite. I thought the starting rotation would benefit from a full year of Edwin Jackson. He neither helped the quality of the rotation nor was there the full year. I thought young infielder Gordon Beckham would regain the mojo that made him look like such a hot prospect in his 2009 rookie season. Eh, no. Adding it all up, I thought the Sox were pennant contenders. Nope.

OK, so I swung and missed on the White Sox, but at least the article made more sense than one I pushed out a few months later on the Cubs titled “Know hope.” As the title implies, it was a sunny view of what the Cubs could do this year. Within a few weeks of writing that article, I wanted to bury it forever more. It just missed the mark, and missed the mark badly.

9. Personal high points on the year

Yeah, there were errors, but there good moments. Fortunately, I think the good more than outweighs the bad, or I’d be less inclined to keep it up.

There are occasional spells where the good ideas for columns pile up faster than the columns come about. Those are nice times. I get to pick and choose the better ideas and have a string of pieces come out I’m really proud of.

I went through a nice stretch like that from late September to mid-November. Mostly it was just one or two ideas that got multiple columns. First, I wanted to track the best, worst, and weirdest career-ending performances. Well, that’s three columns right there. In the middle of it, an idea came about to try to rank postseasons by a formula. That was another nice pair. Along the way, I also stuck in items on Tony LaRussa and Robin Ventura. Yeah, that was a nice stretch.

I also had a really nice stretch at the beginning of the year, writing up a pair of pieces on the worst endings to games ever, a “10 things I didn’t know” piece on the late Chuck Tanner that worked far better than I expected it to, and last but not least, my favorite column of the year – my annual column predicting how the BBWAA Cooperstown vote will go.

10. It’s nice to have readers

Years ago, I had my own blog, and it was a big occasion if I got as many as 30 readers in a day. It’s nice to think back on that.

When I try to think why I end up spending as much time putting out stuff for THT, it comes down to the fact that it’s nice to have people read and respond and link and like what I’m doing. I can’t imagine writing what I do if I only got minimal response.

So thank you dear reader. And have a Merry Christmas – well, hope you had a Merry Christmas. And have a Happy New Year while you’re at it.

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Comments

  1. Geno k said...

    I just recently discovered THT and love the site.Keep up the great work and the opinions and insights are sure to help me this season in my Dynasty Leagues.I hope to be able to contribute in the future.

  2. Chris Jaffe said...

    By the way – I completely botched up the fantasy chart.  I thought it was weird how all the guys with more than 10 articles wrote in 2011.

    Yeah, that’s badly wrong. 

    People not listed who should be there:

    Micahel Street (42)
    Rob McQuowan (39)
    Eriq Gardner (34)
    Patrick DiCaprio (33)
    Troy Patterson (30)
    Victor Wang (26)
    Chris Neault (24)
    Mike Silver (23)
    Alex Zelvin (20)
    John Burnson (20)
    Marco Fujimoto (15)
    Michael Lerra (13)
    Jeremiah Oshan (12)
    Jonathan Sher (11)

    Sorry for the mess up.

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