The rest, though, are garbage. Some are little more than clearinghouses filled with links from mainstream media sources, including The Star. Others are dominated by the writings of people who hide behind ridiculous pseudonyms like Big Blue Shoe and Deshawn Zombie.
It's like this: You will be taken seriously, and should be taken seriously and should be given credentials to cover the team, when you stop hiding behind silly names.
Bill Simmons doesn't hide. Will Leitch and the folks at Deadspin don't hide. The thousands of newspaper bloggers out there don't hide.
I don't mind personal criticism in the least; if you dish it out, you take it. Some of it is kind of funny, if I'm being honest. But who are these people writing in Stampede Blue and 18to88?
To begin with, I can understand Bob's angst. He's getting kicked around town by an anonymous blog that reveals on a frequent basis how many mistakes he makes. I can understand that would be frustrating. Unfortunately, Kravitz also reveals an incredible lack of understanding about the internet.
Our story here at 18to88.com is simple. One day, my brother called me and said, "We are starting a blog". We spent a lot of time sending each other links and commenting on stories anyway. I said, "Ok." The result was borderline hilarious. We had no aspirations, no goals. We were (and are) two brothers talking football. There's only one catch...we have a profound understanding of the Indianapolis Colts. We came by it honestly. For nearly 20 years we went to the games. We'd race home and immediately watch the same game over again. We knew our stuff.
People started to read, aided largely by our Star Wars piece, people found us funny and occasionally insightful. Before we knew it, we had grown a small, but loyal and wicked smart audience. When we picked goofy screen names, we didn't intend for it to be anything more than a record of our own thoughts. Then we did 88 Reasons to Hate the New England Patriots. We got a lot of hate mail; some of it was nasty. That's when we realized that it was good thing we used aliases.
In today's weird world where everyone loves free speech, and no one is allowed to actually practice it, we realized that our jobs might be at stake because of a blog that we do for free in our spare time. Demond owns a business. Not all his clients would like his opinions or his posting of a 'Jason' mask today. I work with a lot of people who would actively disapprove of what I write here on a moral level. Even though I think most of you will agree that this is pretty tepid blog in terms of cursing, I do use words like "effing", "ass", "hell" and "damn". I'm not embarrassed by anything I write, but others might be; so for their sakes, my name isn't published. Since this blog doesn't provide me any money (it costs me money), I'm not going to publish my name without a reason. I don't think that makes me a weenie, nor am I to blame for Mark Cuban yelling at KMart's mom.
He also fails to distinguish anonymity from accountability. We are here every day. I respond to every email. I answer every negative comment, often with long and involved responses, even when it's not deserved. We are accountable for the things we write. Just because you don't know my real name, doesn't mean I duck things when I'm wrong. In fact, here's a list of things our readers know about us:
- I live in Argentina
- I have two kids, with a third due Tuesday
- Demond has a son named Clark, a daughter and a wife.
- I work with the urban poor
- We went to Pike High School
- Demond owns a business
- We are Irish
- You know about my religious beliefs
- Demond is conservative, I'm more liberal
- Demond went to IU
- Our grandfather passed away
- You know what our favorite movies and TV shows are
- You know how to contact us at any time, and if you've not gotten a response from us, it's only because your message wound up in the spam folder
This is a very personal blog. I would argue that our readers know more about us than anyone knows about Bob Kravitz. You don't know our names...but you know us. You know what we care about. You know how we think. In a weird way, many of us have become friends.
Kravitz sits on high, and the reader can't interact with him. They can't debate and argue with him, unless they listen to 1070 (and even that only happened within the past 18 months). I show up and bring it all the time (except on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week when I'll be in the hospital with my wife).
Here's the deal, readers: I'm writing a book. I'll be done with the rough draft in a few weeks. When it comes to print (and it will, even if I have to self publish), I will tell you all my name. With my name, you can find literally everything there is to know about me, down to my address, because I've made it all public info for my job. In other words, where it is in my economic interests to publish my name...I will do so. I think that is fair.
It's not fair to compare us to Simmons and Leitch...they make money on their blogs.
It's not fair to lump our site in with with others who just repost stories from other sources. We do plenty of our own work (see the Fixtures and Articles side bar. Check out the Vince Young Files or the Eyes in the Backfield Archives). We provide accurate commentary that called for Manning to win the MVP last year, weeks before anyone else. We based it on the stats and the upcoming schedule. Kravtiz told you the Colts should stomp the Chargers. We told you they'd lose a close game after Gates went wild and the Colts wouldn't be able to put it away with the run. We know our stuff. We are sometimes funny. We interact with you personally. I'm pretty sure that's why you all come here.
Kravitz can whine about his access all he wants, but he blew the Ed Johnson story. He called it a sea change in the Colts, missing the real change going on at the same time with the retirement of Moore and Mudd. Access doesn't mean you are getting things right. We don't 'break stories' around here. We deal mostly with analysis. We prefer the regular season, because we have a level playing field because we can go to the games and then watch the tape. I'd love to have the time to take advantage of access. I chose to do something with my life other than sports journalism, and I'm very ok with that. That limits us sure, but that's why we've been on the forefront of pushing Phil B and Oehser's blogs. I'd like to think we 'work together' to provide a richer experience for the Colt fan. Maybe I'm just full of myself, but I do know those guys are better sources than me, and while I can't be them, Demond and I are still valuable (I think).
Here's my challenge to Bob. Drop your day job. Start writing anonymously on the net with little self-promotion other than a few links on Colts fan sites and interviews with radio guys. Within two years get an audience that numbers in the tens of thousands. Do it in you spare time, solely on the strength of what you write, while holding down another demanding job. Without the Star as a platform, would anyone read Bob Kravitz? We have no inherent advantage...now the big guys are scared of us.
Do that Bob, and you can call 18to88.com garbage. In a couple of years, one of us will be out of business. The other will still have readers.
Anyone want to bet on who wins?
Demond's response to Kravitz's column: Holy crap, DZ. That felt like a neck punch. As usual, I will have a much shorter and less well thought out response to Kravitz's column, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents. Bob Kravitz seemed to hit on two main points in the Star and on the radio today. First, that bloggers shouldn't be taken very seriously because they don't use their real names. Second, that they shouldn't be taken very seriously because they don't have access to the locker room. I think both points are wrong, but the second is more wrong.
Our real names: Who cares what my name is? I don't get paid to put my name to what I write on here. DZ and I get paid $0.00. We write because it is fun. The only thing I ever ask in exchange for writing for 18to88 is that someday I get to randomly meet Peyton Manning and he'll say, "I love your website." And I'll say, "Well... I love you." And after an awkward pause he will tell me all about how he and Marvin still hang out and play catch sometimes and how they are best friends and would I like to come and play backyard football and eat Oreos with them sometime? And... since I think today our site is at an all-time high exposure level, at least locally, allow me to say, on the off chance that you are reading: Peyton, you are a football genius.
But seriously, does anyone out there care what our real names are? I barely care. Here's all you need to know about me: I'm unbelievably successful at life, I have a really hot wife, and I drive a Dodge Stratus.
Our non-existent access: Bob's access take really bothers me. Let's be clear: This is an opinion site. Is the team good? Does the team suck? We'll be happy to tell you. Rarely do we attempt to post news stories and we never attempt to break news. You don't need access to offer a correct opinion. You just have to be paying attention. And we have been paying attention for a very long time.
The fact is, we do the exact same thing Bob Kravitz does: we comment on the facts regarding the Indianapolis Colts. Over the past two years we've been better at it than him. We aren't looking to replace Chappell or Phil B or Oehser or whoever reports the facts. We aren't looking to replace Kravitz, either. Actually, I kind of love Kravitz right now. But if websites like ours were going to replace somebody in the traditional media it would be the local opinion columnist. My access to the Colts is Section 616, Row 8, Seats 1-4 of Lucas Oil Stadium. And that's enough access to be very right... very often.
My name is Luke (like you give a flip) and I'll leave you with an all-too-real and in-no-way-staged photo of me snuggling with a stuffed Wookie that I had recently purchased at a flea market in Madison, Indiana:
Links: Still working on finding the 1070 interview, but Derek Schultz came through with the XL 950 one. Listen above or download. VERY different tone between the two...obviously.
Pat sends us this amazing auction with Polian. Get well soon, Dr. Z.
One of our readers, Lucas, sent us this letter he wrote to Kravitz
For frick's sake, Dusty. Learn when to pull a guy.
For those interested in what this did to our traffic yesterday, we had a nice day, but by no means a record one. It was solid for a Friday in the offseason, but nothing amazing. Apparently, no one even reads Kravitz. My dad said he was shocked to hear he wrote about us, because like most readers, he read the part about Cuban, got bored and never bothered to finish the piece. Ouch.
We didn't mention it before because we all knew it was coming, but Christensen and Metzelaars are the 'new' coaches.
Oehser weighs in in his typical thoughtful and balanced way.