It's Mets For Me: Off-Beat, Tangentially Relevant Mets Ruminations

Off Base Since 2005! Mets commentary from the counter-intuitive to the unintuitive and all the intuitives in between. ** "Through the use of humor and gross inaccuracy...a certain truth can be gained." Rob Perri ** (pester me or follow me @itsmetsforme on twitter)

Friday, December 17, 2010

OK Cerrone Cerrone Whatever Will Be Will Be
Of all the things we could be blogging about, the Mets are the most painful.

At the risk of coming off as flat and off-putting as a Michael Jordan t-shirt commercial, I'm gonna make one last foray into the Met-a blogger access debate, one that has now joined by none other than the godfather of Mets blogging, Matthew Cerrone, yesterday on his prominent website.

I have to say,  I take mild offense at Cerrone's post, not because I think that in addressing this topic, he should have acknowledged my small, immature gag blog, or taken my argument seriously, but because instead he managed to link to Andy Martino, who recently swore he'd cover spring training in a grape smuggler.  That smarts, man. Fair or not, the subtext I'm getting is that he doesn't get out of bed to interact with you unless your circulation is impressive, no pun intended.

I'm going to go ahead and link to him, show his writing some love with the 3 to12 hits he'll now doubtless get from my curious reader(s) and extended family (heavy snark) to try to repay his magnanimity over the years to his blogging colleagues (no snark).  
Matthew Cerrone, you're welcome (lite snark).

Yes, I took some subtle and juvenile shots in my last couple posts (I'm dangerous like that), but by and large I do not like to criticize my fellow maternal cellar dwellers. In fact, for the little it is worth, I have often defended Mr. Cerrone in chats and on blogs from what I see as personal attacks.  His blog was the main inspiration for me to start my own electronic diary, as I'm sure it was for many, so I want to be clear that nothing I say should be taken as ignoring his accomplishments or generosity. Plus, I don't know him personally--he seems like a swell guy.  Cerrone is unquestionably one of the 3-5 most important figures in Mets blargosphere history, but this also makes what he writes that much more important. I think he can take the criticism of a novelty sports blog is what I'm saying.

So I want to talk about his post, "Mets, Blogs, Media and Access" and since this is an asymmetrical encounter (as Matt mentions, he gets "3.5 million page views per month" whereas I have somewhere north of 350,000 in total--I think this means that I'd have to blog for 50 years to get the number of hits he gets in a month, but you do the math) and Matthew ignores my argument (that we need to pay special attention to access issues because the ascendancy of blogs has undermined the old sources of authority without providing new ones) altogether anyway, I will confine myself to a few, probably wasted, words on the main points in Matthew's post, which for my money is as wrong as Roger Cedeno in center.

First, I'd say his post exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding--chalk it up to a willful naivete, or impenetrable ideological commitments, only Matthew knows for sure--of the way power works.  Much of his response to the access issue reads as though it was written by someone stung by past unfair criticisms, and I don't think this is unreasonable on his part. As I said, much of the flak I've seen directed his way in the last five years is off base. But here is some flak I think his writing deserves:

1) Web 2.0 blarg!
Content in the world of Web 2.0 is a meritocracy, and so if the majority of my readers didn’t feel I was honest or authentic enough as a Mets fan, and I no longer fulfilled something for them, if my harshest critics are correct, people would have stopped reading, MetsBlog would stop growing, and people would find a new blog to read.
Sorry this just strikes me as unadulterated bullshit Kool Aid drinking.  I'm willing to listen to arguments about meritocracy and be persuaded, I suppose, but the fact that I can't think of a single human pursuit in a capitalist economy where this holds water does not bode well.  Where is the empirical evidence for this claim, that a website will only continue to grow in popularity/survive if the web-democracy-addled clickers and empowered browsers out there don't start to suspect that, hey this guy doesn't really love the Mets at time T-2 as he did at T-1? Without evidence it is no more than (slightly self-serving) balderdash.  What kind of experiments would we run to show that this is more than warmed over Web 2.0 meritocracy non-sense?  Do MB's hits decline when Matt's heart and authenticity are not on display, say when Barron is writing all MB's posts for weeks on end? That would be the first correlation I'd look at.  As for the sentiments about the web being a meritocracy, well I let my subscription to Wired expire, so I won't wade in over my head here, but c'mon. The position I see implied here, that big money, advertising, path dependency, choke points, etc. have no impact upon whether readers continue to visit a "blog" or website strains my ability to articulate how much ideological tartuffery permeates such statements.  No matter how much passionate shit is given, the fact that (through moxie and networking) Metsblog (deservedly) got "there" first is most likely why it gains readers, because of the high profile it has in searches, among advertisers, and of course, because it is affiliated with the NY Mets and their media outlet. To explain this continued market dominance in terms of meritocracy, well I just don't see any evidence for that.  To link it to my own concerns, is it possible that the MB phenomenon cost the reporting industry some jobs, i.e., the very beat writers whose stories MB survived on in the early years?  If that were so, I'd add "market share" to honesty and authenticity if you want to explain the growth of the mega sports blog.

2) "Conspiracy theory"

In my opinion, it is a ridiculous thing to imply that we need resort to conspiracy to posit that big money has the potential to change editorial content.  I take Matt at his word about his SNY deal not, to his mind, affecting the editorial positions he takes on the team.  But financial backing influences the results we see in every other human endeavor, politics, sports, science, medicine, publishing, moon-golfing, pornography, and you want me to believe that sports blogs somehow operate in a vacuum? There is probably much more to be said here and other wags may go ballistic over Matt's use of the word "shit" in his post, on a website that reportedly routinely bans curse words by limiting its commentator pool so as not to offend the sponsors.  It's his website, his paycheck, and it is a reasonable policy so I don't fucking care about that (see what I fucking did there?).  But obviously the boundaries of appropriate criticism are implied and there are somethings you can't say, even if Saul LOLKatz doesn't drag Matt behind the SNY Beer Money set, clutch his testicles and hiss "watch your ass fan boy."  To reiterate my previous sentiments, the corporate control of or influence on content is only important to the extent that, as I have argued, "blogs" replace, crowd out, and drown other sources of news, analysis, and authority.  That raises the issue beyond the realm of personal integrity of any one blogger towards a systemic issue that no one blog's behavior can influence alone.

3. But I'm Just a Fan!

Finally, it is possible to critique this post by pointing to how Matt's writing implies being an average-guy-fan can exempt him from any responsibility. I haven't seen Metsblog as a "blog" for 3-4 years now, and I say this not to stake out some fundamentalist territory that I frankly have no standing to claim, but only to point out that calling MB a blog risks evacuating the term of any meaning.  In the context of Mets fan webpages, Metsblog is a huge powerhouse that directs massive amounts of traffic, one that whether intentionally or not, legitimizes certain points of view while delegitimizing others.  To deny that power while crowing about your access and page hits feels like poor form. And as Spiderman knows, with great power comes the ability to hang upside down and make non-stop quips.

I will close with some slightly more inflammatory rhetoric.  If Metsblog isn't exhibit A for the power of financial backing and access and its subtle influence, then I'm Gary Carter.  I lurked, read and commented on his excellent and path-breaking blog from its inception up until a few years ago, and I hope he won't take offense when I say that in the early years, the communities comments/posts, not the actual editorial content, were the major draw. It was like sitting in an electronic bar with other knowledgeable and oppressed Mets fans, and it was fantastic.  That said, Metsblog made choices along the way, as is their right.  Symbolically, they chose to remove their corny "blog roll," something I took as indicating their fundamental shift in self-identity from a blog with roots in a community into a corporately sponsored website. And that shift might not change the fan at the heart of the enterprise, but it changes the game considerably.



  • At 5:37 AM, Anonymous Brian said…

    His blog is not a blog. It's another version of SportSpyder combined with elements of MLBTR on mostly non Mets rumors he tries to pass off as Mets related on the flimsiest of evidence.

    Nobody cares about his opinions and his growing rhetorical snarkiness. As you correctly pointed out, the draw to MB was his comments thread and the feeling of community that came with it. I've since ditched my interaction there after he decided he didn't want his readers stealing the show and have since found another place to spend my time where the community of Mets fans and readers is more valued.

    His point that if his readership didn't love him than it wouldn't be so high is absurd and he knows it. It's like a poll I once read that said almost 50% of those who tune into Rush Limbaugh are democrats who hate him but want to see what outrageous claim he will make next. That same theory applies to MB.

    Cerrone says he has a fiery passion, but he's lukewarm and never writes passionately because he sees himself more as some deranged fatherly figure preaching to his children.

    He claimed he was one of the most optimistic Mets fan out there in a recent interview which is shocking to me. He typically whines about the Mets and cloaks it with a few choice words so as not to upset the suits at SNY. He has no camera presence at all and quite often claims the recent opinions of others as his own. He spends too much time researching his own posts as far back as a year ago just to soothe his self confidence issues by referring to things he may have said in the past to support any recent news.

    He thinks he's a journalist, which of course he's not, but when he falls into a trap, his defense is hey I'm just a guy who loves the Mets like any other Mets fan.

    I could go on, but you get the point.

  • At 1:03 AM, Blogger I.M. Forme said…

    I dunno Brian, you have some strong opinions about it and i respect that, but i don't think he has ever claimed to be a journalist. Part of the problem may be that the role of "blogger" is still undefined--are they jr. journalists? are they just self-obsessed diarists?

    I can't help but think we have lost something as we have slowly rid our reading habits of paid reporters and professional journalists with editors and relative accountabilty.


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