September 9, 2006

The Natosphere Has Ruined My Life

The less said about the opening games of the Rockies series the better. Don't believe me? Fine, go read these game recaps. But don't blame me if your eyes melt out of your skull like some sadistic Nazi henchman confronted with the awesome power of early 80s CGI.

Now that we've both got that out of our system, I want to direct your attention to the problem
du jour. And hard though it may be to believe, it isn't team defense. It's the Natosphere, that wacky, wonderful, ocassionally inspired collection of Nats blogs, citizen journals and message boards that make up our bitter yet resigned corner of teh interweb.

"But how can that be?" you cry. The Nats blogs (including the increasingly late, lamented
The Nats Blog,) are perpetual fonts of wit and wisdom, snark and substance, perspective and photos! Surely, no evil can come of their obsessive cataloging and analysis of all things Good and Natty!?!

Well, gentle reader, I'll tell ye. Consider, if you will, the representative case of Tom Boswell's latest
e-mail column, a spirited defense of chronically-abused OF Ryan Church. It is Boz at his 21st-century best, as fine a piece of baseball op-ed as you're likely to read in our fallen, Shirley Povich-less age. But here's the problem: it's old news.

OMG touches briefly on the problem. Tom said nothing any right-thinking Nats fan could disagree with, but he also didn't say anything that hasn't been written, repeated and assented to many times over here in Nats Nation, (not to be confused with Nationals Nation.) We've all been there, done that. Hell, we even bought the proverbial t-shirt.

"The Curious Case of Ryan Church" has been beat to death. His
stats have been scrutinized. Official pronouncements have been deconstructed and analyzed with Delphic fervor. Rumors have been mongered; if urine samples were readily available, someone whould have tested them. So it's an understatement to say that Boz comes a little late to the party.

And this is no isolated incident. Prior Boswellian pronouncements have included: "The starting pitching is terrible, and must be improved if the Nationals hope to be competitive." and "Golly, those stadium parking garages sure are controversial." Cutting edge stuff, right? It sounds like I'm picking on Boz, and that's not the point. The problem is much larger. In the face of relentless, compulsive blogging, the mainstream sports media has been measured and found wanting.

Now, before
Will Carroll calls to congratulate me on my conversion to the cause, let me clarify. I'm not suggesting that the blogosphere can or should replace newspaper, radio, TV and internet coverage of American sports. Blogs and their ilk are at best news aggregators with a heavy dose of personal opinion thrown in. But sports bloggers have the advantage of having the same raw material as sports journalists. When everyone can see the action on the field, interpretation is the ballgame, no pun intended.

Think about it. If you saw the game last night, and have only a limited amount of your bosses' time to waste, are you reading
Barry Svrluga, Mark Zuckerman, or Chris Needham? If you need a quick synopsis of a Nats prospect, are you digging through, searching for the Harrisburg Senators website or clicking over to the Farm Authority? When a big trade goes down, are you waiting for Dave Shenin's weekly chat, or do you turn to Federal Baseball for instant analysis?

So, the sports blogosphere is proliferating, and to my eyes at least, it's doing so at the expense of some tarditional, even venerated, media outlets. Is this a bad thing? Why are you asking me, isn't it fairly obvious I'm biased? But good or bad, it's definitely a thing worth mentioning. And that's more than you can say for the Nats these days.


El Gran Color Naranja said...

It's not a bad thing, mainly becuase its really only killing one aspect of the traditional media, the pure opinion piece. For any other piece I still go to the regular places. Generally they write better than we do (as Basil might write: "The benefits of a classical education"), and they have that inside access that we lack. This means they'll have the players quotes (a mixed blessing) and can best caputre the attitude of the clubhouse. They also know things we don't. The Ryan Church thing is a perfect example. We all have our theories about why he's being yanked around, but they are only theories. If Boswell or Svrluga floats an idea, that could be a veiled truth. Makes it worth listening to.

What I never can understand (but completely fall for myself) is the "What does SportsTalkHost X think of this?" Really they probably have no more inside knowledge than I do, and less knowledge of a topic.

Nate said...

I agree that the pure opinion piece won't necessarily be missed, but I don't think it will be the last thing to go. The one advantage journalists have over bloggers is access, but it's a double-edged sword. Guys on the inside can't reveal everything they know without the risk of burning their sources. And as a journalist, what good is knowing the inside scoop if you can't tell anybody.

What the rantings of your average blogger may lack in accuracy and subtantiation, they make up for in honesty and directness. I may not know the truth, but I'm free to say what I think. I'm not sure Barry, Boz and Shenin can say the same.

Rich from Richmond said...

Think about it. If you saw the game last night, and have only a limited amount of your bosses' time to waste, are you reading Barry Svrluga, Mark Zuckerman, or Chris Needham?

If I'm looking for honest insight on the State of The Nationals, I'm probably reading CP or OMG or even N3P(!). But a couple of problems I have with the blogosphere are that you guys do occasionally take time off, as Chris did for the past several weeks, while the Post continues to report on Nats' doings day in and day out.

Also, the Post is rarely cluttered with the kind of tedious, incestuous intra-natosphere linking and rehashing that goes on in the blogs. I really don't need Blog X summarizing what Blogs A, B, and C said this week, but that seems to happen a lot.

Bottom line, I look to all sources, Svrluga, Ladson, Basil, Needham, Ball Wonk,, etc. to get a complete, well-rounded picture of the franchise. And then I usually get depressed and turn it all off and just go to a game, where I can still enjoy baseball without all the mental thrashing. :)