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What is the DEAL with me not updating this ish? I was all about to clue everyone in on the Londonosity of London when a strange thing happened: I didn’t feel like it. Yes, I know what you are saying… “you, Johnny Slick? You, who possess an attention span of a fruit fly bereft of oranges, got bored with something?” To which I say, that was an awfully intellectual use of the term ‘bereft’ and I do not mean that in a good way. Also, yes it is the truth.

In the meantime, my life has entered a wacky new direction. Well, wacky for me. Probably embarrasingly nerdy for you, dear reader, who periodically checks in to see if I have updated my capybara picture collection. In a nutshell, I play a game known as the Dungeons and Dragons. You may remember it as the thing that makes children worship the devil and go into sewers in search of monsters. Fittingly, I am now the “Dungeon Master” of the group that I am in, meaning that I kinda sorta come up with the stories everyone else in the group plays out. No, there is no live action component, although I am the kind of “DM” who finds playing things out to be a lot more fun than doing things like “rollng to hit” or “ordering pizza”.

I’ll probably write something about that. Unless I get bored.

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So, this blog is now the #1 link on Google when you search for capybara pornography. What the freak, Internet? I guess the good news out of this is that there is not, apparently, a website that is already devoted to the largest and therefore the most awesome rodent on the planet. At least not *that* kind of website. If somebody out there wants to cash in, now is your chance!

Submitted for your enjoyment... SICKOS.

Submitted for your enjoyment... SICKOS.

Okay, so here’s the deal, beeyotches. By which I mean theoretical beeyotches who read this blog. I don’t know why you are. I mean, I haven’t updated this krep in MONTHS. Anyway, that’s gonna change. I promise. Two reasons why:

1. I’m also posting the occasional movie/book review/1980s nostalgia bit at http://www.popbunker.net. It’s a neat site. The main guy is very mean-spirited and sarcastic, and like Thora Birch in Ghost World (well, actually, the character she played in the Daniel Clowes comic book, since I don’t think this bit actually got into the movie) that makes me randy. Anyway, since I am not posting just anything there, I felt the need for a site where I *can* post just anything.

2. Back in April I went to England for the first time. When I say it was an incredible experience, I feel that’s a gross understatement. You ever wish, as an adult, that you could experience something for the very first time, with the wide-eyed excitement of a child? That’s how I felt when I went to the Isles this past spring. Seriously, the pure, unbridled joy I felt was downright scary. There were moments when I felt so much jaw-dropping amazement, I wondered if I’d been hit really hard on the head on the way over and was going to be stupid for the rest of my life.

So my next blog post begins with a jaunt I took around Hyde Park. I admit, the camera was new to me so the pictures probably do not come out well. I hope the aWesomeness still seeps through.

Okay, so I think that Geoff Baker is a good journalist, don’t get me wrong. I think that beat writing for a sports team is one of the most thankless jobs out there: you don’t usually get to do much more than be the mouthpiece of whichever player, front office person, groundskeeper, or concession stand attendee who wants to give you “inside information”. You can’t just throw that kind of thing away, since fans are reading you primarily for that inside stuff, but at the same time you’re positioned so inside that it’s hard sometimes to talk about something that’s flatly absurd.

That being said, Dave and Derek over at ussmariner.com continue to make questionable moves. Over on their blog, they’ve now banned what they term “Baker bashing”. This coming from the people who say that people who do not vote for their choice of who should be in the Hall of Fame ought to have their BBWAA status revoked. It’s just stupidity.

Whatever issues you have with how Geoff is doing his job, USSM will not be the host for you to air those to the world. I don’t share your judgments about his character, his motives, or the quality of his writing. I agree that he looks a bit like an Osmond, but that’s the extent to which criticisms of Baker himself will be allowed. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to expose the flaws in his logic if he proposes trading Gregory Halman for Eric Gagne this summer or that we’re going to give the clubhouse issues the same amount of credence he does, but we’re putting an end to your ability to be openly hostile in our comments section.

I hate the judging of other peoples motivations, and the assumptions about their character that go along with those judgments. Just as we reject the “Ichiro is selfish because he doesn’t dive” rhetoric, I also reject the “Baker is intentionally creating stories in order to further his agenda” stuff. You cannot judge the motives of another person, whether it’s a player, a beat writer, or me. Stop trying.

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Okay, that’s all well and good, but it raises the question of what you want your blog to be about, Dave and Derek. You say that you want this to be some sort of baseball classroom in which you dispense your knowledge to all who will listen. The problem is, too much of your blog has become people saying “oh guys I loooove yoooou and you are so right!” and finding creative ways to agree with you. Sure, you have the right to ban people who disagree who can’t come up with a good argument. Nobody is arguing that. Having the right to do something does not make it right.

If, on the other hand, the point of your blog is to provide a media outlet for your views, well, you’re doing it right. Banning dissent makes your point look more forceful, I’m sure, the same way Pravda looked more forceful than the New York Times during the Cold War. The complete lack of dissent makes people like me kind of scoff when you talk about being controversial, but then again that was how things were with Pravda as well.

I’ll continue to read the blog, of course, because for the most part it’s thoughtful and well written, but this is just a stupid, stupid way to direct the flow of your reader comments.

Update 8:39am

I had a couple things I wanted to add:

1. The tenor of the post – you attack the subject, not the man – is a good one, but the fact that USSM feels they have to bring this up makes me wonder how attached they really are to the “no ad hominems” rule. A lot of complaining about this particular incident, methinks.

1a. And I think that a big part of why they’re complaining is that they essentially directed their readership into attacking Baker. Statheads (I know this because I am one of them) have a bit of disdain for the the team chemistry arguments that make their way into these discussions too often. There’s good reason for this: more often than not, team chemistry means jack squat. Here’s the thing, though: when one beat writer says that players W and X have a problem with Ichiro (heretofore called player (!)) and then another guy says that players Y and Z don’t, that’s not necessarily a debunking of the first story. The 2008 Mariners would not be the first team to have different factions believing different things about a star player.

But the way the article was pushed on their readership, I feel that USSM was seeking that exact angle. It’s inevitable that when you do that and when you make it very, very hard for people to say “no, you’re wrong” without getting banned, readers are going to find their own ways to agree with you. And that’s your issue just as much as it is theirs.

2. All of which is not to say that Dave and Derek should be blamed for one of their more stupid readers comparing Baker to Jayson Stark. That being said, the complete lack of self-culpability these guys show just amazes me. I mean, as a fellow stathead I mostly agree with what they say, going back to the days when they and I posted on the Mariners Usenet newsgroup. But even going back to then, I don’t know that I have ever seen them actually say “hey, we were wrong about this” or “okay, we are to blame for a little bit of that”. That’s the Pravda angle I was getting at. It’s not that these guys are Godless communists, it’s that the tactics they engage in are, to quote a meme on a message board I frequent, the exact same tactics used by propagandists throughout history.

So I’m definitely not saying people should boycott USSM. I’m saying that one should give a critical eye to all of their statements, even if the people responding to them cannot.

As a seasoned 3-post blog veteran (well, there was that other blog I did for a year and a half that doesn’t count because I forgot what website it was on), I feel like I am supremely qualified to let the lesser of you* to explain what makes some blogs soar and what makes other fumble. I will use illustrative examples of other blogs so you will not feel like I am merely lecturing at you. I mean, I will still be lecturing at you, but thanks to the other examples you will not feel it. Do you see now, this genius that is known as Johnny Slick?

1. Get Other People To Do Your Work For You

Look, people. The only reason why I am the only person making posts in this blog is because it is named Johnny Slick and as such people would just intrinsically know if somebody else was posting. “This is decent,” they would think, “and very reminiscent of Henry James in The Turning of the Screw, but it is lacking that little something”, and then they would try to explain that little something using a hoity toity French phrase. However, if I could, believe you me I would get someone else to write for me.

Example: The Daily Kos. Does Mr. Kos even write anything on that himself? Mostly, I see all kinds of individual articles like “How To Convince Your Republican Neighbor To Buy A Yurt” or “If Jesus Was Alive Today He Would Agree With Me On Pretty Much Every Important Political Issue” written from a gigantic pool of commie libs typing away from their laptop in a suburban Starbuck’s***. And Kos pulls like 100 large from that endeavor easily. Now that. That, people, is how to make bank in the blogging biz.

2. Pix Plz

This image has captured your imagination.

This image has captured your imagination.

I am as guilty of this as anybody else. Many of the people whose blogs I read have little else to distinguish themselves from the masses except that they a. have a cell phone with a camera, and b. they enjoy using it. I wish I could remember to bring my camera-phone along with me more often. I also wish I could remember to clean the lens every now and then so that all the pictures I take don’t look like they were taken behind a curtain.****In any case, if you can find an excuse to post a picture of, for example, a capybara, you should always endeavor to do so. If you can post a picture of a capybara cavorting (do capybari cavort?) in the ruins of a dying shopping mall or the White House lawn, so much the better. The thing to remember is this: people don’t read too good anymore. Don’t let those crazy statistics about how more books were bought in 2008 than 2007 or the fact that literacy rates have risen somewhat over the last 100 years. The fact is that I have the opinion that the level of reading has gone down and therefore you need to include pictures in order to make your stupider readers look at the pretty images and pretend that they, too, have gotten on board the Information Superhighway.

Example: Icanhazcheezburger.com. It’s hard to even describe this site as a blog, because it’s not, but it definitely follows the “post pix plz” mantra. If you’re a regular icanhaz goer, you are probably thinking of what wacky caption you can assign to the capybara to win a little tiny bit of Internet fame. Speaking of which… note also that the content at icanhaz is almost entirely created by people with no affiliation at the site itself. I don’t even know who created icanhaz, actually.

3. Be Needlessly Controversial

SAVAGE.

SAVAGE.

Okay, come on now. Who would you rather listen to on the radio, Click and Clack the Car Talk Guys or MICHAEL SAVAGE? Unless you’re my dad, the answer is Michael Savage. And why? Even when he’s full of hot gas (which is pretty much the entire time he’s on the air), it’s fun to listen to somebody yell. It’s like having a really cranky next door neighbor, only he’s whining about some other commie socialist pinko who keeps stealing his lawnmower, only you get to turn him off when you get bored and you never have to give him his lawnmower back.

The point here is that a sane, rational exploration of the many viewpoints inherent in an issue is nice and all, but it ain’t gonna attact people to your blog. Instead, you need to call people names (create sock puppets if you have to), throw things*****, whine and complain, and generally behave like somebody who would be thrown out of any store in the universe in roughly five minutes. Bad behavior = HITS. Remember this and remember it well.

Example: ussmariner.com. I love Dave Cameron and Derek Zumsteg to death, I really do, but man oh man are they curmudgeons. You know that Ben Folds song that talks about the dude that “gets nostalgic about the last ten years before the last ten years have passed”? That’s Dave and Derek. At 34, I am approximately the same age as both of them (if I recall correctly, Cameron is younger) but those guys are much, much older than I am. You know what, though? They have a huge community that follows them that eats their curmudgeon-ness up, and that is the bottom line. They’re very much like the baseball statistics version of a dominatrix, and what amazes me the most about their blog aren’t the number of voyeurs but the number of masochists who try time and time again to bring up clutch hitting or ERA or the good baseball face or politeness or any number of other outmoded ideas. They get tons of hits, and there are no or next to no pictures on their site. It is a thing of beauty to watch.

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I think that is enough good pointers for you all today. Now be good blog-readers and fetch old Johnny Slick a soda pop.

*Anybody other than yours truly.**

**Yes, I am taking footnotes back. Perhaps you were under the impression that David Foster Wallace had taken them. Well. David Foster Wallace is dead now and I looted his body.

***And is there any other kind?

****Which, in a sense, is true, only it’s a curtain of… you know what? I’d rather not think of what composes that particular curtain. This is a family blog. Or at least it will be.

***** Figuratively speaking, of course, since people can’t see you do that stuff on your blog. Unless you took a picture of yourself throwing things. Hmm…