Allow us to Reintroduce Ourselves

Welcome back. We’ve changed a couple of things (via Claire P.).

Welcome back. We’ve changed a couple of things (via Claire P.).

You know how some of us don’t pay attention to batting average and RBI anymore? You know how Brian Kenny has been campaigning to stop assigning wins and losses to pitchers? We’re in both of those camps, because there are better, more accurate ways to measure ballplayers. We have wOBA and Runs Created. We have WAR and Win Shares. We have alternatives that are more descriptive and insightful. These are good things. In fact, let’s add one more statistic to the Discard Pile: Earned Run Average.

It’s time to retire ERA. Baseball analysts have put a lot of work into separating the true distinction between pitching and fielding by developing stats like FIP and Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. So why are we clinging to a statistic that does a poor job of separating the two? Why don’t we just replace ERA with RA, for all pitchers from now on?

Oh, sorry. That’s not what we actually wanted to write about today. It’s just that we’re baseball nerds—we can’t help ourselves. Let’s put a pin in that discussion.

What we really want to talk about is what you’re looking at right now: the new Hardball Times website. We wanted a new website design and structure that is easier on the eyes and more in line with current Internet standards. More importantly, we wanted a site that is focused on what we do best: write about baseball. We also wanted a site that highlights the nature of our deep complementary partnership with FanGraphs. We think this new design does all that and more.

Take a look around. At the top of the page, you’ll see that our primary navigation now includes a direct link to our bookstore. We’ve published 10 Annuals and several other books, and you can now find those more easily on the site. We’ve also made space on the top of the page for “Who We Are,” which includes our description and a list of authors.

There is also a link for “Tools,” which contains our world-renowned glossary, a list of reference articles and an archive of past THT blogs. The Tools section will grow. For instance, it will soon include the WPA Inquirer that was on the old site. Look for more features there, too. When the new season starts, we also plan to have a simplified set of in-season statistics for your pleasure.

Don’t worry. You’ll still find THT Live and THT Links on the home page. We hope you’ll like the new style, which has a classier font and graphics and a simpler layout. Most importantly, the layout emphasizes our new editorial approach, in which we now publish just one article per day.

In the past, THT has published several articles a day. We covered the gamut of baseball, from current events to history to fantasy to sabermetrics and what-have-you. From now on, we will be most focused on what we do best: singular articles that probe in-depth on a particular baseball subject. We plan to leave current events and fantasy topics to our partners at FanGraphs. In fact, many of the folks you have grown accustomed to reading here have already migrated over to FanGraphs, and you’ll find a list of the most recent FanGraphs articles on our home page.

On our site, you’ll find analysis, commentary and historical research as well as some fiction, infographics and poetry. We won’t try to cover the news; we’ll give you a fresh perspective on a timeless baseball subject each day. That’s our goal, and it’s not really different from our previous approach. We will just be more focused from now on.

Many writers who have been contributing to THT will continue to do so. Frank Jackson, who was just nominated for a SABR Analytics Award for this piece, will continue to contribute his terrific historical pieces. Azure Texan, soon to be known by his real name, will continue with his humorous take on things. Bruce Markusen, Shane Tourtellotte, Greg Simons, Jason Linden, Kyle Boddy, Brad Johnson and James Gentile also will stay on.

In addition, we’re going to be bringing over some of the writers you’re used to reading at the internet pages of FanGraphs. Bill Petti, Jeff Zimmerman, Steve Staude, Bradley Woodrum, Alex Remington, Patrick Dubuque, David G. Temple, Dan Farnsworth, Eno Sarris, Blake Murphy, Max Weinstein and others are going to be contributing here regularly.

We won’t be stopping there, of course. After a brief hiatus from both FanGraphs and THT, Matt Swartz is going to be contributing at THT once again, and we’re very excited about that. Derek Carty is coming home to THT, as well, and the incomparable Amanda Rykoff will be dropping knowledge for us whenever she is able. And there are definitely more surprises in store. We’ll find guest spots where we can. Our first–from Warren Corbett on the demise of Connie Mack’s ownership in Philadelphia–is a doozy. And we’re still recruiting, so if you have a pitch, hit us up. We’re not hard to find.

To kick this first month off, we’ve got some pretty neat stuff. Jeff Zimmerman is coming through with a breakdown of the new hang time data we have from Inside Edge. Matt Swartz is going to take a look at the new Japanese posting system. Bruce Markusen will check in with his a deluxe version of his Card Corner series, on a prominent former player turned manager. Steve Staude and Bill Petti are going to continue their work on statistical correlations and hitter volatility, respectively. Max Weinstein will seek to find a simpler, but still just as effective, way to calculate xBABIP. Patrick Dubuque wonders what became of a certain forgotten Moose, and David G. Temple will ruminate on the power of labels. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What we’re perhaps most excited about is that for the first time in THT history, we’ll be debuting a baseball novel here on the site. Longtime THT writer and editor Jason Linden is going to take you on a journey, and each installment will be accompanied by an original illustration from friend of the site, Brooke Howell. We’d say that we hope you’ll be as excited about this as we are, but that’s simply not possible.

Of course, this all didn’t just come together overnight. First and foremost, we have to thank David Appelman. He rarely steps out of the shadows, but FanGraphs’ president and founder is always busy behind the boards, striving to put forth the best product possible. Second, we have to thank our amazing production team, Mike Petriello (yes, that Mike Petriello, he is one talented dude), who produced and developed the site, and Stephen Caver, who provided a fantastic design. We asked them for some very specific things, and they delivered every time. Actually, “asked” might not be the right word–“pestered,” “badgered” or “harangued” are probably more accurate. And finally, a big thank you goes to our writers and especially to the site’s editors, Joe Distelheim, Greg Simons, and Jason Linden. This has been a major project, and it wouldn’t have happened without their devotion.

On some days, we’ll have posts that delve into the deepest realms of sabermetrics. On others, we’ll have more light-hearted fare, or work that is fictional in nature. On still others, we’ll have biting and/or insightful commentary, or explorations through baseball’s history. Some articles will be many of these things at once. But no matter the topic, it is our goal to continue to provide you with the same thought-provoking content that we’ve provided you with since 2004. Baseball. Insight. Daily. Our focus has changed, and we have a fresh coat of paint, but the mission is unwavering. See you tomorrow.

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  1. said...

    Can’t wait to start contributing to the new site. This is exactly what I envisioned THT would become years ago and how I always loved to consume the content here.

    Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

      • Joe said...

        It’s true, 300-win pitchers are probably all good but a win does not represent the true picture of how a pitcher performed. A win for a pitcher is entirely too dependent on the team behind him and how many runs they score for him. A pitcher could give up 5 runs in 5 innings, a bad performance, and still get the win because the opposing pitcher gave up 8.

  2. aryeh carmen said...

    not a big fan of the new font. its kind of difficult to read. some of the letters (e.g. o and a) look like they were written with a dying pen. i really liked the simplicity of the old format. it was classy and simple. i’m sure i’ll get used to this format, but i’m not so sure about the font. it made me feel a little dizzy skimming through this article.

    • rj said...

      Choosing a font set is super, super hard. Lots to consider, from how the different fonts relate to each other on a page, to how they appear on mobile. I’m sure if they get enough complaints they’ll look into a change.

      • Lee Ambolt said...

        Excited about the new site but I have to agree, this font is HORRIBLE. It’s not even debatable is it? Really dreadful, unclear, letters that run together and the “dying pen” look. I really recommend trying some alternatives sooner rather than later. it hits you like a brick round the head as soon as you see it. Sorry guys, the site deserves better than this which looks amateurish and worse still is not at all functional either.

  3. George said...

    Yeah, the site looks good but can you please change the font? I am using Chrome and the font is not easy to read.

  4. J. Henry Waugh said...

    Quick first thoughts…….compared to old, the overall brightness and sharpness reminds me of a wall of display HD/Plasma TV’s at Best Buy. Like that and background color. Focus groups must have said readership is skewing to all AARP members, as type size is nice and large. Do find text size in Comments section a tad too big, especially the commenter’s name. Navigating around site seems ok. While the old site gave an impression of “here is some interesting/out of norm things to ponder” the up-date at first glance say’s here’s another baseball site….but most know better.

  5. Philip said...

    Clicking through 1063 pages to find articles is not something I find enjoyable.

    HardballTimes used to have a very easy index system for find archived articles. You were able to either search by year/month at a time or select from an author’s name and then, again, also have a year/month option.

    Like, others above noted, find the pages more difficult to read and all the white space wastes even more paper when printing them.

      • Philip said...

        Thanks, Dave. I hadn’t noticed it; the grayed out color of it perhaps makes it easy to overlook. That is a nice feature.

        Glanced at the site on an iPhone. Much easier to read there than before (although, personally, I much prefer using an old fashion desktop or laptop to web browser).

  6. Michael (@ballsteidhe) said...

    Though I really loved the simplicity of the old design, the new one does appeal to me. Especially the header and the background should work pretty well with sabermetric articles as well as the history of the game.
    As for the font issues some people seem to have; I’ve visited the site on Chrome as well as Firefox and haven’t had any problems reading the font on either of them.
    On the other hand, I do have a big issue when I’m trying to read on my Smartphone. It’s utterly unreadable, mostly because of the menu “sidebar” that keeps poppin’ up from the left even when I pushed it back a couple times already. But I don’t know if it’s a issue with the site itself or just caused by the overall inferiority of my wonderful One V…

    • Andrew said...

      Dave, I’m also having the menu issue on my mobile device (Android, not iOS, on a Samsung). Any movement read as a swipe from left to right causes the menu bar to come out from the left side, which means that it often happens when trying to scroll up or down, if it is not a swipe that is perfectly up and down.

      Otherwise, the site looks great.

  7. John Paschal said...

    Kudos, dudes. The site looks fantastic. All that’s missing is a swim-up bar.

    Seriously, congrats! It’s a great way to begin the new year.

  8. toppleprone said...

    I would love to see a text resizer for the article pages. As someone that has terrible eyesight even with reading glasses, this would go a long way for me.

    I also think that in the page of scrolling articles, you could help condense your material and add more articles per page by changing the layout to 2 or 3 articles in a row. Currently you’re only using a headline and subhead as your call to actions so real estate on the page shouldn’t be too limited in this format. Essentially changing to the layout that is on the landing page.

    The site is great and I love that your developers were smart enough to make it responsive as I’m starting to consume more and more of my content while on my phone.

  9. bucdaddy said...

    I’m going to second the opinions of those who find the text a little hard to read. It appears fuzzy to me, perhaps because it’s gray rather than black, and gray tends to vibrate in the eye. I might suggest a switch: Don’t change fonts, but change what’s a nice solid black (“bucdaddy said …”) to gray for the contrast, and switch what’s gray (the text) to a nice solid black.

    Now that I’m looking at it in the COMMENT box, it’s VERY hard to read what I just wrote, because it’s a medium gray type on a light gray background. It nearly disappears.

    Thanks for listening, guys.

  10. cass said...

    The changes sound positive (though I imagine part of this will be some of the longer articles on FanGraphs moving to HB Times) and I like the layout other than the font, which I do not find easy to read.

    Any reason for choosing a Mets vs. Nats game from 2009 for the picture? Given the quality of those teams, this seems a bit inauspicious. Moving forward a year and back a day to June 8th, 2010, the most memorable regular season game in Nats Park history, which might have been a little more auspicious. The nitpicking has commenced. I do like that you gave credit on the photo though.

  11. agcohen said...

    Count me among those who liked the old site design better. In addition to reasons already mentioned by others, it had its own look. This new site design looks like MANY other internet sites I occasionally browse, at least in general layout, making it seem generic. On the old site, I knew I was reading the Hardball Times.

    I also dislike the limit of one new feature article per day. Why is this limit an improvement? There is less incentive to visit the site if there is less information of potential interest.

  12. Jfree said...

    As someone who has generally clicked thru to here via FG, I like the changes. The page is clearly intended to be read rather than a portal to somewhere else with gobs of navigation/miscellany around the side to distract the eye. And that fits your intended goal. Congrats.

  13. Brian Standing said...

    Hmmm…. OK…. I’m wary. I mean, I guess I like the new font and all, but only one article a day? That’s hardly going to meet my in-season fix. When I dive into basebal lore, I want to BINGE, not sip delicately. I’m also a bit nervous about your comment about no more “news.” Do we still get “And That Happened?”

    • said...

      We won’t be publishing And That Happened anymore, but you can still read it over at Hardball Talk. We totally understand your need for a baseball fix and Fangraphs provides that with a punch. They usually have 8-10 articles a day. Think of us as The New Yorker, and Fangraphs as The New York Times.

  14. Sabertooth said...

    The font looks fine on my phone.

    Can’t move my cursor between words in the reply field, only to the beginning or end of a line, which makes editing more difficult.

    Don’t understand the reasoning behind the one article per day limit. If an explanation as to why this is an improvement has been offered, I’ve missed it.

    Dislike the new logo. There are already too many Coca Cola style logos in baseball.

    • said...

      Thanks, Sabertooth. The Coca Cola thing is something that came up when we were trying different banner approaches, but we wound up liking it anyway.

      Regarding one article a day: think of THT and Fangraphs as one site. Fangraphs has many stories during the day, most are shorter “blog” types of posts that deal really, really well with current baseball events. THT is the more in-depth part of the two-sited site, featuring an article that goes into detail about baseball in a timeless manner. By dropping the “current” content from our old site, we saw that we averaged about one article a day. And focusing really well on one good article a day seems like the best way to do our thing successfully.

      Obviously, we’re not going for eyeballs on the new THT site. We’re going for something that makes the Fangraphs/THT partnership a real asset and combined site for all baseball fans.

  15. Joe Dimino said...

    This article read great through my iPad reader app, Pulse. In Safari on the iPad it looks great too, both natively and when I’m in reader mode. On my laptop, in Safari it looks great too.

    Congrats guys, I like the new look a lot.

  16. Jason said...

    I, too, like the old site better. It’s not that the re-design is bad, but it is, as has been pointed out, too generic. The old site stood out precisely because it didn’t feel the need to conform to “current Internet standards.” Those standards are, quite frankly, utter crap, and I think you’ve lost a bit by feeling the need to abide by them.

    Also, what’s with all the ads? I don’t remember nearly as many (if there were any at all) on the old site. The first thing that caught my eyes this morning wasn’t your baseball insight, but ad banners. Granted, they’re only static images, but still….

    • said...

      About the ads, you’re right. I had pulled all ads from the old site in preparation for this new one. Unfortunately, we have to make money to pay the bills, so even if we hadn’t changed over, there would have been ads.

  17. Grandpa Boog said...

    I was born in 1925. We had outdoor “facilities.” Have you young-uns heard the expression about someone who has fouled up in some way, “I reckon that he just sh^t too close to the house”? That expression came from the outdoor outhouse days during the winter when people (men, usually) had to take a dump in the middle of the night during freezing cold weather. Instead of walking all the way to the outhouse, which was 25-30 yards away from the house, he squatted and dropped in the snow maybe five yards from the house. Then when the spring thaw came, guess what Momma saw. Then the real sh^t would hit the fan.

    Also, I remember when Mom and Dad got their first telephone, the on-the-wall-hand-cranked-party line technology of that era. So, I can adjust to the new setup here. Your old setup was simpler for me to use, but that was because I was used to it.

    –Stay tuned.

  18. Jack Cooney said...

    New font looks good. The content is good as always.

    Unfortunately the navigation menu pops up randomly on my iphone, making the content unreadable.

    Is there some gesture I am doing accidentally while scrolling? Is there a way to disable this?

      • said...

        Wanted to let everyone know that we have turned off the “swipe left” portion of our mobile site. Now you just tap on “Menu” at the top to get the menu. This should take care of the random left menu popups. Thanks for pointing it out.

  19. hopbitters said...

    I’m not a big fan of the changes, but the annoyances are minor and I understand why you’re doing it. I do miss the comment counts, though. Part of the appeal of THT is discussing the articles with like(or not)-minded folks and sometimes a quick scan of the comment counts will tell you there’s something good going on in an article you might not have otherwise read. At least for me, anyway. Your mileage may vary.

    • hopbitters said...

      I see the counts are there if you go directly to the article listing. I think I might just make that my bookmark instead of the busier main page. All this scrolling and clicking. I need a nap.

  20. Matt S. said...

    I’m sure this was said, but can the “Recent Articles” section be expanded so that I can continuously scroll down and read past articles in chronological order beyond the six fixed articles that are already there? It’s a bit antiquated to have to click on search by month.

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