It may not have been traditional, but we bloggers have earned it in our own way

Apparently Jason Whitlock has taken umbrage with writers who haven't taken the traditional route and Julie DiCaro offers a great response. It got me to thinking about an article I have been wanting to write for a long while.  The timing seems right now.

I am one of those non-traditional writers and I have had my share of clashes with traditional media, most notably Rick Telander, but I have also heard others publicly and privately attempt to marginalize what bloggers bring to the table, so I can certainly relate.

Many of us started writing because we wanted to see sports covered differently.  Like many others, I started my blog in large part because I thought others might want to see the team covered the way I wanted to see it covered.  Furthermore, I wanted to knock down that artificial wall that existed between writer and reader.  To me, readers shouldn't just be passive, sitting their waiting for me to deposit information in their brains.  Readers should be part of the process because they also have much to offer in terms of understanding the game.  It turns out this has indeed been the case.

Bloggers have many doors shut to them, especially when we just get started.  We often have to buy our  own tickets to the games.   We don't have access to locker rooms and often to the players and/or management themselves.

And so while we don't go to school specifically to learn journalism and then get hired by a major publisher who grants us access, we do indeed earn our way.  We have to find a way around the gatekeepers and forge our own path -- and, contrary to Whitlock's assumption, many of us do it through hard work.  We have to do it creatively and that is important because that is what ultimately defines us as writers.

There are many great bloggers out there but I can only speak for myself and how I initially got around the problem of access.  In short,  I learned the game....  I mean, I have always known the game well.  It has been my passion since I was in kindergarten.  But the wonderful thing about baseball is that you  never stop learning.  You never have all the answers.  It's been a lifelong pursuit of mine and everyday I am reminded about how much I still do not know.

But I take what knowledge I have and keep building on it.  I read good writers. I have taken many road trips to minor league stadiums, paid for my own hotel and tickets.  I've bought plane tickets to come out to Arizona to watch spring training, instructional league, the fall league, and more.  I've attended amateur baseball games and tournaments.  The goal was to take in as much baseball as I could -- and not as a journalist would, but as an evaluator does.  That was my background as far as education and training.  And I did that all on my own dime.

We all do certain things well.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  One of my "strengths" is that I'm drawn to movement (much to many of my former teachers' dismay) and am often able to hyper focus on it and slow that movement down in my mind.  I can pick up some of the subtleties and changes in that movement.  That isn't a strength in most areas of life, but it is in baseball...and it comes to me naturally.  So I used that.  And I watched baseball.  A lot of it.

Many of us also learned about the new wave of statistical information and basic economic principles that are important to the game as it is run today, things like market inefficiencies.  Admittedly, others know much more about the statistical side than I do.  They're more inclined with numbers than I am, so I found my own niche by focusing on getting a basic, fundamental understanding and using my experience in teaching/training and development to convey that information to those that might be unfamiliar with the new concepts.

Gradually my writings earned the respect of some in the industry and the media.  I made industry contacts not because I had a press pass but through my work.  Many members of the media have told me they considered Cubs Den a resource when it came to things that they simply didn't have the time to cover.  These are the members of the media that understand that each of us, in our own way, can complement what they do.  And they, in turn, complement what we do with their superior access and experience as journalists.  We don't have to compete with them.  In fact, many of those who read this blog also read the same journalists who have embraced the changes that are occurring in baseball and the media.  We share a readership.

Things have changed for me since I started.  I do have access now to the press box and yesterday I stood there in what I once considered hallowed ground -- the dugout.  I stood right between Jeimer Candelario and Willson Contreras.  It brought a strange new visual perspective of athletes as I have to say that I felt awfully small standing next to them and talking AFL all-star game.   I frequently correspond with scouts and others in the industry and it has nothing to do with the press pass around my neck.  It has everything to do with the work I've put  in to learn the game.

So, yeah, while many of us didn't go to journalism school to do it Jason Whitlock's  traditional way, we did earn getting to where we are today.  We just do it our own way.

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  • Elitism and nostalgia, what a wonderfully toxic combination.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Agreed. Those things can only limit us and our growth.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    By the very definition, you are available to us, to interact and to teach in a more effective way. Journalists are isolated, sometimes good and effective, sometimes scurrilous and ineffective. What is missing is an "afterthought" to what the readers think! That precludes the teaching and/or learning opportunity.

    I have learned much from you and others here like Moody. Some things I never thought to learn or question. For that I give many thanks!

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

    >>>>>>> http://www.profit70.com

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    my Aunty Brianna just got a great Lexus IS F Sedan just by some parttime working online with a macbook...
    \➨➨➨➨➨➨www.profit70.com

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    my Aunty Brianna just got a great Lexus IS F Sedan just by some parttime working online with a macbook...
    \➨➨ ➨➨➨www.profit70.com

  • Good for me and fellow Denizens that you are an American success story. Thanks for all you do.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks, 44. If we define success as doing what we love for a living (even if it is a meager living!) then I certainly qualify :)

  • I guess we all know who to call for those world series tickets next year! :-)

    Congrats, John!

  • In reply to SteveBB:

    Haha! I wouldn't go that far, but thank you.

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    John, so happy for you. This is by far my favorite source for all things Cubs. You all do a great job. All the good that is coming your way now, you have certainly earned. Congrats.

  • In reply to PorkChopSamich:

    Thanks Samich (love the handle, btw)

  • As someone who grew frustrated by the age of 12 with the way sports was being covered by writers like Whitlock I can't agree more with the position John has taken in this post. I am pleased there are other platforms to research and retrieve information now. And I am grateful that John has given me a forum both as a commenter and a writer to offer my own work.

    There is clearly an audience for Jason Whitlock and other writers who took the same path he chose. It is likely even the larger audience than what is targeted by most blogs. That shouldn't belittle the work done by the rest of us.

  • What would my computer do all day without Cubs Den?!? Thank you for persevering.

  • In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    Lol

  • In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    Haha! Thanks, Demon.

  • In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    Haha amen to this Demon!

  • "Many members of the media have told me they considered Cubs Den a resource when it came to things that they simply didn't have the time to cover."

    And many in the media are just lazy parrots.
    They see what other media are saying and regurgitate it.
    Finding out for yourself... well, that would be like work.
    They're especially good at piling on.

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    In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I think what many major media outlets want to do is provide the "fan" with something that they wouldn't get otherwise. Most "summaries" of games have a great deal more devoted to "quotes" from the players involved than I think is really necessary. Sometimes it gives an insight. Most often is just fills column inches. But it is something that, supposedly, only they, or an elite few, have access to. What I like about Cubs den is the relative sparsity of quotes unless it uniquely illustrates a point. Here we are more likely to get a detailed description, followed by an outline of the context in which this occurred. Then, if necessary, a quick primer on the underlying rule(s) involved. If applicable selected stats will be given to give greater understanding/emphasis to what has happened. Also, if applicable, a review or the player's skill set/talent level is provided. Finally, a conclusion is put forward, and underlying doubts not steamrolled but openly acknowledged. Discussion is expected, welcomed and in no way discouraged.

    In a "traditional" article we are confronted with a brief description followed by "connect-a-quote" journalism.

    Thanks for writing this article. It reminds me why I visit this site.

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    I guess I didn't read Whitlock's article as big media outlet vs. blogs, but more conscientious journalism vs. irresponsible, shooting from the hip nonsense. I can understand his frustration if he's having to respond to half-cocked, accusatory tweets of "bloggers."

    I have to believe that integrity will win the day. Readers from every generation will come to eventually value good writing and coverage, no matter the source.

    FWIW, I love how what I read from John and from Patrick Mooney complement each other very well!

  • In reply to Peter Thompson:

    Some of that is probably targeted to a specific subset, but there are a lot of generalizations in that piece. There are a lot of lines being drawn between "us and them" that make no distinction at all.

    At any rate, I am not criticizing the media or Whitlock in this piece. My article shouldn't be read in that way. If anything, I am very inclusive here. I also understand where Whitlock is coming from at a basic level, but he comes off as elitist whether that is his intention or not. But again, this article isn't really about him anyway. I am just taking a stand for bloggers in general and using myself as an example of who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why we do what we do.

  • Whitlock ignores the fact that the big media outlets have been the ones most guilty of pandering and trolling for clicks. My god, The Suntimes is nothing but trolls and the Trib has Rosenberg. I found this blog because I was looking for something to replace the shallow sensationalistic BS that was out there. I think Biggs is still a go to guy for Football,( I've given up on Peter King) and KC Johnson and Sam Smith are passable for the Bulls. But when it comes to baseball, this site is so far out in front of anyplace else. I understand that Jesse Rogers can't go into the minutia without losing his casual readers, but thats the problem.

    I have no idea how much John has sacrificed, nor any of the other contributors. My guess is a lot. I have no idea if any real money makes it way back, I doubt much does. I have nothing but admiration for John and the folks who help him make this site great. I doubt Jason Whitlock, despite his grass fed creds, could hold a candle to it.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Thank you, Oneear. I suppose those writers have their audiences -- and even similar blogs that complement them as well.

    We'll just stick to what we do best and I'm grateful we have the kind of readership we do.

  • John you do an outstanding job and I agree with the media members that you mentioned that tell you that "fill in the cracks" so to speak. Traditional media more or less abandoned the sports fan in general and the baseball fan in particular when they decided that narrative was more important than analysis beyond the box score at a time when fans who are deeply interested and almost students of the game were thirsting for more information, not less. Sports media is by and large marketing to sell advertising. On the surface there's nothing wrong with that, we all need to eat, but when it starts to outweigh serious content there's an issue.

    Personally I'm a media junkie when it comes to baseball. I seek it out from the base narratives of the major media to the fan message boards. Somewhere in between are where I spend most of my online time and more often than not that's here. You present information on the Cubs intelligently and as accurately as your sources allow. You dig deep and cover players in the minors no one has heard of but might before long. A friend of mine and I were discussing the Cubs the other day and he mentioned that Willson Contreras has "come out of nowhere" and I laughed and told him I've been reading about him for about 3 years on this site. It's been fun watching the young players grow with so many of them now reaching the big club. When you know what a guy did to get where he is I think that enriches the experience. How much fun did we all have here as you wrote about Kyle Schwarber and watched him bust down barrier after barrier and finally become a playoff hero? How enjoyable is it to have you actually break down what this very honest FO talks about and then watch it happen? This is what you and others like you do. It is appreciated.

    If guys like Whitlock want to stick their heads in the sand and think that fans should or even can get everything they want from trained "journalists" like himself (I could spend hours on that comment) more power to 'em. The rest of us will come to blogs like this one and learn about the game. Thanks again.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Thank you for the kind words, TC. And we do indeed fill a niche and we all do it differently, which makes this so great to me.

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    Thank you John for all you do... I appreciate the different point of views that you and the readers give on this blog. Always enjoy the debate and knowing we are all Cub fans and want the same thing.. Just have different views to get there

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Thanks, Ryno. Informed debate is a great thing. I view it as another way to learn something new, not something to be "won" at all costs.

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    Been here since pretty much the beginning. There must be a reason that folks like me stay. Your blog gives us the type of news we just don't get from other media outlets. Then we get to put in our 2 cents as well.

    Along the way there have been bumps in the road yet the readers here were able to show a mutual respect for all the opinions shared here. That is just not the case on other blogs and may be the reason bloggers tend to get a bad name.

    I really enjoy it here and fell comfortable sharing my thoughts and crazy ideas. I think I'll stick around a little while longer. Thanks for all you do John

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thanks, Bobby! I appreciate you being with us from the beginning.

  • John, I cut my teeth as a sportswriter from high school level up, earned a journalism degree, and reached my ultimate goal of working at the Trib Tower in the sports department at one point. I'm back downstate operating my own sales firm now.

    As I've come to learn, there is no substitute for hard work or, as I coach my own kids, "want to." It doesn't matter that you have a piece of paper that speaks to a journalism degree or not. You have want to, and the results speak for themselves. You're not just sitting on a couch, slinging uneducated barbs, like some "professional" journalists - and some bloggers alike - do.

    Your work is a joy for this Denizen to read. You are my go-to source for all things Cubdom. Keep up the great work, John. Never stop learning.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    Thanks lb, I appreciate that.

  • I just read the articles of Whitlocks Julie was referring to. He really is criticizing Serena Williams weight? Are you kidding me? Look in the mirror you blowhard.

  • In reply to TD40:

    Not just that, but look at how freaking good Serena Williams is at tennis. She is the best in the world at what she does. She can look anyway she wants and to me she looks just fine.

  • In reply to TD40:

    Maybe Serena needs to remind Mr Whitlock abnout WHO is the "overweight" one and who happens to be the top-ranked female tennis player in the world.

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    Cubs Den remains my favorite Cubs-related blog for good reason. Beyond just great writing and hustle, it blends a simplicity and respect for both the readers and the game that you just don't find in much of the non-traditional, or even traditional, media. You don't see kneejerk reactionaries here, nor do you find scheming sycophantic front office kneeling.

    Just the facts and some straightforward observation and analysis. That's what makes it so approachable and why I continue to come back. Well done and keep hustlin. Haters gonna, well, you know...

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Thanks, Phil!

  • I have learned much more about the Cubs, their organization, and baseball in general in the past couple years reading Cubs Den than I had in many years reading traditional journalistic approaches. I don't care what school you went to, I enjoy your writing John. Thanks for that!

  • In reply to nukee:

    Thank you, nukee.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Ditto what Nukee just said. Every thurs night i play in a poker game with about 9 other guys and all but 2-3 of them are cardinal fans. For the past few years i've been telling them(and they've been laughning at me)that the cubs were going to get really good really fast. So about august of this season the other cub fans finally asked me where i get must in cubs info from.....and i told them that they really need to check out Cubs den because it's the best cubs blogs and has the best writers. The cubs den writers put some of the traditional writers to shame. Most cub fans that i talk to have no idea who Wilson Contreras,Duane Underwood Jr,Pierce Johnson,Ian Happ are....and they probably won't hear about them until there days away from being called up. Thanks to John Arguello us cub den fans know about these guys 2-3 years before their names are ever mentioned by guys like Telander. Sorry for all the grammar errors...its obvious that writing is not my expertise.

  • So, serious question to contemplate. What if, hypothetically, a mass media entity like the Trib published content similar to Cubs Den on a daily basis. Would they generate enough revenue (clicks) to justify it?

  • In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    Maybe not, but we do pretty well for a blog. I don't know how to compare it to major media, though. And that is fine, which is why I think we can --- and in many cases do - complement each other so well.

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    In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    One advantage the non-newspaper blogs do have is that they generally allow at the very least semi-anonymous posts, though it has just as much to do with the reporters not engaging readers and participating in the chat. It would be smart if they followed more of the model of a blog like this, but nobody has ever accused newspaper people in general (myself included) of being business-savvy.

  • Good to know you're doing well. You always suspect that to cover the expenses of major media and website, that the profitable formula is skewed towards controversy rather than information. I guess you could say the same about general news media overall.

  • In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    Thanks. That is something I won't resort to here. There is big business in controversy and when none exists, we have seen that controversy is easily fabricated. I promise I will only take this blog as far as the quality of content takes it. If there is a limit to that, so be it.

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    John,
    I certainly agree with all the other bloggers who have responded to your well thought out intro here. Nothing substitutes for hard work, and with you that was doing all you can to learn baseball, not just sitting and watching on TV but going on the road day in and night out.
    I certainly enjoy all the insights you bring, and info you bring--as TC said, we've known about him for years! I also appreciate the balance between the metrics and regular reporting with the players. I admit I don't always understand all the Letters (WAR, etc) and I know there's a glossery, but you make this so readable to everyone.
    One more thing--as you know, I like to interact with this blog as do the other Denizens, and I don't feel out of place trying to find out about each draft pick or how someone is doing in low single A ball. My community here feels the same way.
    Kudos to you John, we all appreciate your continued journey for us.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks, Jonathan. And one small correction, the journey has been with all of you :)

  • I use to love reading Telander and some of the others growing up. My dad would come home from work and my brother and I would fight for the paper (ST) who was going to read it first. I would go directly to sports whereas he would go directly to COMICS. But your writing (and BN as well) is the reason I no longer read the Times, Trib, or even SI and ESPN. Seriously, with Times and Trib's out dated tech and lack of access (FU pay me!) to read some of their articles, I don't even bother. And I shouldn't say that I no longer read them. I mean I won't go out of my way to find it, unless you provide a link to a good article. And if I require "access" or a login to read something, I don't waste my time.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Haha, my dad and I used to do the same thing! And thank you.

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    Just as there are many ways to watch and enjoy baseball there are many ways to cover and write about the game.
    There's room for the novice fan to enjoy the game and then there's the person that digs on advanced stats and strategy.
    The same for writing about baseball. To look down on bloggers who do more work and writing than traditional sources is ridiculous and elitist.
    We had a chat about Cubs Den in the secret bloggers group (yes people there is such a thing). Someone mentioned that they loved it because it gives them info about the team but would be glad to see the season end so other blogs might get higher on the top traffic list. My reply was I like Cubs Den better in the off-season. I really don't need anyone to tell me about that day's game but I love the trade and free agency talk.
    Like I said...room for everyone and every topic.

  • In reply to Howard Moore:

    Agreed, Howard. There is room for all to co-exist.

  • John - thanks for all you do. I am the biggest Cubs fan out there and I started reading you material regularly over the past year. Over my lifetime I have usually read Cubs material from traditional publications such as The Tribune, Sun Times and Vine Line. Not that those publications are bad, they are just more of a regurgitation of past events. What engages me about your writing is you focus on tendencies in such areas as market inefficiencies, statistical trends and front office thinking, and you look for ways to be predictive. In fact you have changed our traditional ways in how to think about the Cubs and you have stretched our minds. Your writing is impressive as you're generally dead on in your evaluations and analysis.

  • In reply to tommybaseball:

    Thank you for those kind words, Tommy. Appreciate that very much.

  • John, Cubs Den is the first thing I read every day, if I haven't already clicked on the email alerts for a new post! I learn so much here, although UZR is still a mystery. Keep up the good work!

  • In reply to Cubswillshine:

    Thank you, Cubswillshine! Appreciate that.

    We may have to do back over some of the metrics again soon -- just basic stuff. I will leave the heavy lifting to the statistical experts :)

  • John, I hate to say this sometimes, but many in the media, including the national sports media, often put there own agendas before the facts. One major reason for the success of Cubs den and other similar blogs is there are no personal agendas behind them. Unfortunately, the jealous traditional media types feel threatened that they are losing there monop;oly and so feel they need to discredit your success, rather than emulate it. Someoner needs to tell them, Michael Jordan emulated Dr J, not Henry Finkel.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I think some feel that way and they really shouldn't. As Howard and others pointed out, there is room for everyone. We can complement each other rather than compete. I even feel that blogs themselves complement each other. We all do different things well. That is something I just talked about with AZ Phil. As an example, his ability to watch and record what happens on every play and every pitch (sometimes two games at once!), is something I would not be able to do. AZ Phil and I feel like we don't really compete at all, what we do is very different -- and I very much appreciate and respect his talent and what he brings to the table. It adds to our knowledge.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Indeed John, you and AZ Phil do complement each other, its because you also respect what the other brings to the table. "traditional" sports writers like Whitlock seem to believe there agenda is more important than the events they are supposed to chronicle, which is what reporting is supposed to be. My point is those like youraself and Cubs den, Al over at BCB and Niel over at CCO DO chronicle events. Media types like Whitlock and Telander dont make the event important, there own opinion matters more. You get it right. They lose readership because they get it wrong.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Didn't realize Finkel would be remembered by many. I'm not sure of the meaning of you analogy but it's difficult for a 6'6" player to emulate a 7' unless it's in high school and Michael had trouble making his HS team for a year or two.

  • I find it ironic that a guy like Jason is so insecure as to comment on others credentials and resumes. I would think he would be thrilled with more and more people talking and interacting about a particular sport and getting better educated. It would lead to a higher level demanded of reporters but that should be a good thing! We laugh here in the office all the time about how we could have written a better article than many of the "credentialed" journos. I'm thinking they are hearing footsteps and they don't like being pushed from comfy chairs... could be wrong. But I do know a few things... I love the Cubs, The Den, and can't possibly have more respect for a writer than I do John and his contributors. Onwards boys!!

  • In reply to PeteyB:

    the very fact that Jason Whitlock feels a need to insult Serena Williams says a lot. Whom in the world is that fatso calling "fat"? Im large, probably about Whitlocks size in fact, but Im not taking cheap shots at blog writers or female tennis stars. Whats the point of your column, Whitlock, complaining about bloggers or Serena Williams weight? Worry about your own, lardo.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Agreed. No call for that. Can't help but wonder about the mentality of people who feel the need to insult others on such a personal level.

  • John you do beautiful work. One of the hardest things any websites can do is build a community, let alone one that is so thoughtful, insightful, and (generally) respectable.

    Tim Dierkes recently wrote about his 10 year path, and in any endeavor, it's about earning trust. You have done that.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Agree wholeheartedly

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Thank you, Jon. That means a lot.

  • We are talking about a baseball game that literally millions of us have played at some point in our lives. We all share it as a touchstone. Some of us have played with reasonable success and others, who have a keen interest in the sport to the point it becomes a passion. It becomes a passion to the point that some people want to invest great time and energy to sharing their thoughts about it. That is what makes this blog so enjoyable. In most cases blogs are done with such passion that the writing is approachable and interesting; moreso than standard journalism. When that thirst for knowledge of the interworkings of a topic gets synthesized into the writing, it is not just a job, its a window into a truth or at least informed opinions. You couple all of this positive energy with the passionate readers and it becomes a real virtual community. In the best cases, a community that can have healthy discussions and positive interactions both virtual and real. No newspaper can create that. There are many great writers at newspapers. We all have our favorites. They are able to dissect subject matter and develop really interesting kernels of knowledge that become good stories in addition to being informative. They do so with ease. Christine Brennan comes to mind. There are other writers who are willing to ask tough questions and take a beating sometimes to find those kernels of knowledge just to share with the readers. The best are the ones who approach their task with humility in my opinion and do not try to impose their perceived superiority over the reader. Whitlock is not one of those writers.

    That being said, I feel this blog does approach the topics with humility. Over the years, John and many others have added such insight and passion to a very simple topic, Cubs Baseball that we all have grown to enjoy so much more. John's passion has lead to access to tremendous levels of information that the common man could not have access to. We all soak up this knowledge with the same vigor it is presented.

    Thank you John and TEAM for all that you do. We will keep reading (and ignoring Whitlock some more).

  • In reply to Gator:

    Thanks, Gator. Sounds like you are a writer yourself!

  • Although I read every online source of information I can find about the Cubs, this is the Cubs site I read most often. I read every article. I read it before and after reading other Cubs news. The articles here interest and inform me much more than the formal news sites. What I read and learn here makes it more fun to be a fan, not least because the writers here clearly understand what the front office is thinking and why it works. Sometimes it seems to me that the "big boys" on the formal news pages are using Cubs Den's work to generate articles. So, I guess I'm saying: whatever some crank wrote about bloggers being "untrained, predatory kids" is a bunch of crap.

  • John, I have commented many time here about the importance and significance of Cubs Den and your writing and it's impact on my life as a die-hard Cubs fan and so many others. The Den truly is the best place ANYWHERE -- whether the general media or the blogosphere -- for all things Cubs. Period. Indeed, as we enter the into the free agency period, it may be appropriate to ask how we can ink you to a longterm contract so can ensure that we have you around for many more years?

    The simple truth is you are no mere blogger. You and Cubs Den are so much more! Thus, although it need not be said once again:

    Thank you for all you do!

  • In reply to TTP:

    Thanks, TTP. I appreciate that.

    Haha! I plan on being around for a long time. Cubs are always my passion and this community is a big part of why I do what I do.

  • John, you give great in site to the Chicago Cubs story. I love your articles and enjoy reading the news about by 62 year love fare of the Cubs. It is your passion and it shows.I have booked my plane and hotel for spring training 2016.Love to say hello to you while I am there.

  • Jason Whitlock is an oxygen thief. He now has a vendetta against "hipster" blogger cause he got fired for being bad at his job. He is now a freaking blogger go figure.

  • John, you have my dream job and you're good at it. Thanks for what you do.

    The mainstream writers are for the fan that just checks in on the team every couple of weeks but will think they are an expert when the team does well and approaches the World Series.

    I've been so aggravated on how the mainstream writers the last few weeks have basically taken a sentence at a time from Theo's end of the year press conference and wrote an article about it. 2 weeks later they're still doing this articles titled, "Cubs looking for pitching," "Cubs looking to improve OF defense," and "Cubs may have to trade prospects." Well duh... all of this information people could have gotten just by watching the press conference. Zero additional information or insightful analysis provided.

    Now we see articles saying "Keep your eye on Wilson Conteras, he could be good." Anybody who has followed John has known that for years. I've watched this team be rebuilt for years know while following the Cubs Den and I am much more educated on it than anybody that just follows the mainstream.

    Thanks John for what you do, you're good at your job and to be honest now that the Cubs are the real deal, the mainstream writers are trying to catch up with you.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    well said

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    This is my dream job, even if it isn't my dream salary or anything close to it :) Would never go back to the other jobs I've had in the past. Not that I didn't like some of them and not that I didn't learn from them, but this is really all I ever wanted to do.

  • I think there's plenty of space for bloggers and "natural born journalists" (/Bunk voice) in today's sports reporting eco system.

    The beat writers get interviews and information faster than a lot of bloggers will. It's nice to be able to see that aspect.

    But when it comes to analysis, many of the beat writers just aren't doing what bloggers are doing. I come to you, Brett, baseball prospectus, and mlb rumors for the majority of my info. I round it out with a couple other blogs (az phil is a must for roster/minors stuff), and will see what beat writers say.

    But for the most part, I find their writing style annoying. They make sloppy errors and sometimes, things just don't make sense. Their analysis is weak. Everything seems formulaic.

    There are some that I do enjoy. I like Patrick Mooney's stuff more than others. I might be partial, since he was my editor my freshman year of college, but I like Mark Bowman from the Braves.

    There are some bad bloggers out there, for sure. There are some that are some real mom and pop operations. But in the long run, they'll either get better, or nobody will read them. It's the same with any field - some people are better than others. Read their information, and you'll find out fast who sucks.

    I thought it was funny when I saw Jason Whitlock had his panties in a bunch over bloggers, because I thought he sucked for a long time.

  • John, this helps explain the good "feel" you have for the game and the Cubs in particular. Quite a long ways since my days of reading Jerome Holtzman and Edgar Munzel. Have a good Bowmore tonight!

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Thanks, Jimmy. I've always been a feel type person first, then I go back and analyze. Some do it the other way around or just one way or the other Whatever works!

  • I, too, have been here from the early days, pre-Theo in any case. I became a Denizen primarily because John provided MiLB info I could not easily get elsewhere. His writing and the community got me hooked.

    What I would like to emphasize with this post is just how wonderful the Internet is and how we should not take the freedoms it provides for granted. The net has permitted people like John who have a talent and a passion to create large communities of individuals with a shared common interest. The net has given John and others to publish Quality without the pigeonholing that might well have occurred in "corporate" journalism. The net has given John and others the freedom to maintain ownership of the communities and information flows they have built up through their hard work.

    Let us be diligent and ensure that governments around the world allow the net to be a free and unfettered arena for Everyman to voice their opinions and create their communities without interference, censorship or differentiation for bandwidth access.

    Sorry for the soapbox rant. I now return you to the discussion of Cubs baseball and the construction of the roster of the 2016 WS champions.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thanks, Norway. And I do remember you from the early days and thanks for sticking with us all these years and adding your insight.

    There aren't many here I don't remember and recognize by name. Just yesterday I talked to an early reader who hasn't commented in years, but when he revealed his handle on Cubs Den, I remembered exactly who it was and even his commenting style. It truly is something of a community here.

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    I have to admit I'm not a fan of Whitlock at all. He seems to say things just to get reactions from people. Seems a common theme from ESPN and other big media types. On a bigger scale this played out with the recently departed Grantland. Which featured more substantial articles than the normal click bait and hot takes seen in old media. Jonah Keri the chief baseball writer was one of my favorite baseball writers other than the Cubs Den staff. Jonah wrote with the similar mix of stats and scouting seen on this site. No need for hot takes but heart and love of baseball. That's what makes this such a great site. No need to grandstand or take shots at players. And that's what makes John's and Gunther, Dan, Sinister, and Sam's articles so great. Just fun and love of baseball.

    Oh and the Cubs owners are cheap!!!! I kid, I kid. Had to give a little wink to Gordo and the traditional media.

  • Oh man, TV reporters. I minored in journalism. The first thing they say in EVERY class is "Don't ever ask 'how do you feel'"

    And this is said at least 3x per day in every journalism class. Yet, every TV reporter leads with "how do you feel?"

  • In reply to udbrky:

    Haha! I have to admit, I don't blame athletes for not liking it. I'm not sure how you answer that kind of question.

  • I have been a Cub fan for my +80 years, growing up in the Chicago area & now in Phoenix fir 11 years. There were many daily newspapers in Chicago in the 40's and 50's. I could not get enough of media, reading guys like Jerome Holtzman, Arch Ward, Red Smith, and out of town writers like Bill Murray. The only dedicated baseball media in those days were the St. Louis Sporting News & the Baseball Digest (which size wise was like the Reader’s Digest). The only monthly publication was Sport Magazine. I lived for the Game of the Week. I started listening to the Cubs radio broadcasts in the days of Bob Elson (who was really boring but one of the greatest interviewers), Bert Wilson & Jack Quinlan. At one time in early days of TV, the Cubs games were on 3 or 4 TV stations. Sometimes when the Cubs were really bad, I would pray for rain, so that I could listen to Charlie Grimm talk with the Cub broadcasters during the rain delay. I remember when Leo Durocher was managing the Cubs. He had a drive time radio show in Chicago with Bill Berg, Leo was unmerciful to Bill. I could hardly wait for the Score to start broadcasting (in day light in the early days). I soon got sick of the pompous a…. on the Score and on ESPN. I had been a subscriber to Baseball America for 10 years, until I found the Cubs Den almost 3 years ago. What a gold mine of information from all of the blog writers and the fans. As a person who could not get enough media to read as a child, I have gone cold turkey. I read the Cubs Den faithfully at breakfast, lunch & dinner. I do not subscribe to any media nor would I waste my time watching the ESPN blowhards. Keep up the good work, everyone.

  • In reply to Cubs1935:

    Only 30+ years, but my story is the same. I grew up watching ESPN's Baseball Tonight and reading USA Today's Baseball Weekly. Then the internet provided many sources for information. I didn't think it could get any better.

    Well, I was wrong.

    My sources in order of importance:
    1. Cubs Den
    2. Baseball Reference (for stats)
    3. MLB.com (for highlights)

    I don't need to scour the web anymore, nor subscribe to other publications. John, you have built a strong following and it is very much deserved. Cubs Den is a fixture in my daily life and I thank you a thousand times over for all of your work, effort and passion.

  • In reply to Cubs1935:

    Thanks 1935!

  • In reply to Cubs1935:

    ESPN blowhards is right. On baseball tonight, which is a show I do enjoy, Kruk and Schilling are horrific to listen to. Love Kurkjian and Sutcliffe though.

  • Meager living?! Being a little modest aren't we John? I mean if it was so meager, how could you afford to fly around the country watching baseball in the Cubs Den Private Jet?!

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    but isn't that jet powered by hamsters?

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Haha! But I only have one jet!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    BTW John, imitation isthe sincerest form of flattery(notice no oneimitating Jason Whitlock or Rick Telander), yet baseball blogs like Cubs Den are popping up for virtually every big league team, and yours was one of the first. Congrats on a job well done. Thumbs down to the Whitlocks of the world.

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    John, I have been reading the Den for only a few years. How long has it been around?
    Also, I'm curious about how beat writers or electronic media people view you and if the Cubs organization (and players) recognize you and give you access.
    How can John use the jet when his feet are so firmly planted on the ground?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    It has been about 4 years and 9 mths, I think :)

  • "...we don't go to school specifically to learn journalism and then get hired by a major publisher who grants us access...."

    A big problem with working for the major publishers that was exposed during the Chicago major media coverage of the Cubs rebuild is that they want writers who can write on all sports. This may come as a shock to journalists, but a J-school degree doesn't give you any expertise in any substantive area. The blogosphere allowed many great baseball amateur specialists to emerge and attract loyal readers, and Cubs baseball specialists. "Guys" like Telander, Wittenmyer, etc. cannot compete with that.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    That's a good point. In my case, baseball is the only sport I follow closely. I am a casual fan with every other sport.

  • John

    I don't know when you started, but I found Cubs Den on 9/17/2011 and have been a daily reader since that day and throw my two cents in every once in a while. It is the go to place for anything Cubs for serious Cub fans. I really appreciate how all the readers respect everyone and that is due primarily to your leadership. Thanks for all you do!

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    Thanks cubbybear, that is very close to when I started this blog (I think it was February of that year). Thanks so much for reading and the kind words!

  • The reason that blogs are so popular is that the main stream sports media is terrible. All that they do is hype this or that. No thought, no care, just everything down to the lowest level. There is no point to even read the four letter site. Nothing that would make a fan think or to understand the game better.
    Just look at the closing of Grantland. They did not sink to that level. They wrote longer pieces that were thoughtful and they were shut down.
    I love this site and the work you do. You talk about the game on the level of adult conversation, not a screaming 12 year old. Your articles are thought out and make us understand the game better. Thank you!

  • I, too, want to chime in with an appreciation for the fine work you do, John. I don't get a chance to read all of the posts and rarer still the comments, but greatly enjoy everything on the blog when I can.
    I quit reading the Trib sports section when I finally had enough of Sullivan's Cub Q/A columns. It was clear he resented having to do them. His flippant and condescending replies were insulting not only to the individual questioner, but to the readers generally.

  • I think I discovered Cubs Den just before Theo was hired. Was so tired of the senseless back and forth bickering on most blogs. I just wanted to get some good Cubs news and follow intelligent comments. That's what mostly happens here. Most blogs are somewhat like a curated art show: they reflect the writers interests, and the form of the content dictates the audience it attracts.

    That's why I like Cubs Den and it's my primary source for Cubs news on a daily basis. The writing is good, the content sticks to the facts, the subject matter is diverse, and viewpoint from all the writers is interesting. Comments generally stick to the theme, so it doesn't spiral into trivial name calling.

    Thanks for being here for all us Denizens!

  • In reply to Jayhawk81:

    Couldn't agree more regarding the readership. Such an integral part of this blog, and it all stems from the writers. It is imperative that the quality of the commentary continues, because it is such an attractive of this blog. John's post a month or so back about readers continuing to post quality commentary was on point.

  • Thanks to you for all your work. MSM is so full of contradictions when it comes to blogging. They simply take the lazy mindset that you are banging away from your parents' basement.

    Maybe we can offer Mr. Whitlock a free subscription to Cubs Den so he can learn a thing or thirty? ;-) LOL.

    Keep it rolling. You are very much appreciated.

  • Keep up the good work, John. I have read 4 books since leaving high school. Not a natural reader, however I read this blog every day. My reading has come a long way since becoming a Cubs fan 4 years ago.

    I was always the kid that wanted to play sport instead of read and write. Just goes to show you that everyone will read if its the right material for them.

  • What I really love about Cubs Den is that you don't tell us what we want to hear or write "click bait" articles unlike some certain big name websites. You give us great information and we can all talk baseball and cubs with each other. So Thanks for that John!

  • Thanks John, for the fine article. I'd rather get my baseball reporting from someone that is better at rating a curveball than diagramming a sentence. I almost didn't read it because I saw the name "Julie DiCaro" in the first paragraph. I'm glad I overlooked that.

  • John, simply kudos. Your blog and its staff are just spot on to a fan or seriously follower of MLB and the beloved Cubs in how you present and inform. It is a serious site that is positive and engaging while maintaining discipline from being overly homer cheerleading, or sarcastic or sophomoric it is actually what I studied at IU's Ernie Pyle School in my minor---authentic and objective with a point of view.

    Now a bit of info. Yesterday I received an email survey from the Chicago Cubs and it was a pretty interesting or revealing survey as they sought views and behaviors related to a fan and customer. One item of note was being a surrogate customer via someone else who actually purchased season tickets but were part of a group. This is a recognition of a complex array of turnstile customer. But even deeper was the ranking where one gets their Cubs content and I ranked non affiliated or independent blogs, then non MSM news sources, then Twitter, Cubs affiliated blogs or online channels and finally MSM media outlets, (it will be interesting what their data captures). Other notable questions is how you received Cubs broadcasts, and there were other questions looking at the customer in a much more sophisticated or complex manner than merely a fan or ticket holder. My point is that the Cubs see independent blogs as a key element distributing their content.

    As for the MSM perspective, they just don't get a deeply informed fan, in part they just don't know how to develop the content with a different perspective. By not getting into the locker room non MSM media blogs can look at players impersonally and then more objectively look at the game and its players with transference---in short you don't have to face your subject personally and therefore focus on the game and not what the player expresses what he was feeling at the moment.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    Not to defend MSM, but they don't have the resources, will or desire to follow one team or one sport like bloggers as John does. As he said, this is his sport and he follows it full-time. Because all of us here want to know everything about every level of Cubdom we come here and get answers that are just statistics but human interest also. There is no better source for all things Cubs than Cubs Den.
    I wondered what kind of access John gets from the FO or even what kind of respect he and the other writers here get not only from the FO but the players also. I would think that following these players from rookie ball throughout the players know them as not just a writer or writers who come by once or twice a year but stay with them.
    That's interesting that the Cubs asked about how you get your news. Maybe they realize that there are many other outlets than just MSM.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan: You have observed the present presumptions of economics regarding MSM, let us take Baseball Tonight on ESPN which in its beginning appeared to be a breakthrough but in reality has pandered to the East Coast centric media world and still focus on the personalities of the game and not the game inside out. MSM managers could restructure their content and distribution in more of a local distributive framework, and do not in a predetermined 43 minute segment but over a larger span while taking stories like 60 Minutes style and getting under the superficial covers. Let us take pitch framing which has huge implications going forward as controlling the strike zone is so determinate. How pitch framing expertise could be overcome in a short series but how decisions are made with player personnel, their development, in game strategies, roster decisions and then going forward the eventual development of technology of roboump (which I think will be something like special glasses or shields for umps where a three dimensional hologram display is shown to the ump and because MLB is a theatrical entertainment the ump makes his entertaining calls. But instead Disney is so consumed with monthly and quarterly earnings that they merely allow the blogosphere to erode the shrinking market more.

    Thirty years ago I used to walk a mile to the 7-11 simply to buy the Chicago Tribune in Bloomington IN so I could delve into their content, most important was the Scoreboard page where I tracked my own stats. Today I don't even access Tribune content. Do the multiplication, it is stupid business strategy to lose customer loyalties like that.

  • John I'm going to have to agree and disagree with you.

    I was told after meeting you and buying you a beer at KC Cougars game that I came back happier than when I'd caught a foul ball at Mesa and got it signed by Soler, Baez, Soriano and Garza.

    Why...? Because to me you are a professional who I look up to.

    You blog with an even mind, non-sexist, non-political, always learned, always factual. You display your passion for our own passion through well chosen yet effusive diction.

    DiCaro on the other hand always seemed to write from a he says / she says standpoint when I used to read her at Aerys Sports. It was frustration with her blogging style and poor attempts at mirth that led me to looking for an alternative source of Cubs discussion. So I can thank her for sending me to your great blog.

    Julie may now have become a better writer / blogger but I'll never know. When you'd rather have posters post their weekly song list than discuss the Cubs up and coming talent are you that great a prospective writer...?

  • Thank you John, this discussion does provide great clarity on the reason this blog has so many loyal followers. You provide insight, thoughtful discussion and conjecture without condemning or judging those with different viewpoints. During our lives, the desire for newswriters to make bold statements to get readers has led them in precisely the opposite direction, where they take positions without much basis solely because it is controversial. Your ability to think through issues and provide great analysis makes this blog invaluable and your demeanor and amazing balance keeps this venue as the sole place I have seen where real Cubs discussion happens without the ludicrous vitriol that arises on most blogs.

  • I wouldn't let anything Jason Whitlock says affect me, John. You have immensely more talent than he has ever had.

    I hated his "journalism" when he was a regional belligerent hot head and am glad he no longer covers any of my sports teams locally.

    The content on this site is infinitely better than anything of his I've ever encountered...and frankly, of most traditional "journalism."

    Seriously. I've learned so much about baseball, but a lot of it transcends just sports. Many times the principles and concepts I've learned here have applied in other ways in my personal and professional life.

    Nobody could ever make such a claim to a Whitlock article.

    Lastly, I wouldn't even follow sports via the written medium of it wasn't for blogs such as yours.

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    what did you guys think of the trade ?

    SEA & Tampa

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    John, please forgive me for following this blog virtually every day over the course of the rebuild without contributing a word. Now it's time.

    You are, without question, the most interesting writer on the subject of the Chicago Cubs that I've ever read. Bravo and I look forward to your guidance through this off-season (and many more) tremendously.

  • In reply to Edward Carroll:

    Thank you, Edward, I appreciate that very much -- and thank you for commenting!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Edward, I saw your comment and I couldn't agree more. I've learned more about baseball nuances, and the Chicago Cubs, from John than I have in my life. And I've been a fan since '84 (I was 13). But it's the classy manner in which he runs this blog is what I've always appreciated.

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    Just announced that Seattle and Tampa Bay completed a 6 player trade. Mariners send Logan Morrison (former Cub I believe), Brad Miller and Danny Farquhar for RH Nate Karns, LH C.J. Riefenhauser and OF Boog Powell.
    The trades begin.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    i think Mariners got a steal

    Morrison was a non tender, Miller lost the starting job to Marte
    Frarquar is Ok has been good

    BUT
    Karns has 5 years of control? + 2 prospects

    Wonder if theo checked in with Tampa?

    Would you guys have gone Castro for Karns straight up???

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    Boog Powel is already listed as the 7th best prospect in Mariners system.

    ow that may speak to a weak system - but you got a SP with 5 years of control and a # 7 prospect ?

    wow.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think that eliminates Tampa as a trading partner for pitching. If they dealt Karns you would think that they'll hold on to Jake Odoricci and Matt Moore. Too bad, looked like a fit was there.

  • Great stuff John,..... and what you point out is one of the reasons I so rarely focus on information that an alleged 'journalist' puts out any longer,..... I find I learn just as much, if not more, from reading the differing opinions of posters and individual writers who have focused on their topic of interest than I do from those trained as impartial journalists.

    As I have gotten older - and as I have gotten more experience in sifting through the opinions and biases (sometimes obvious, sometimes not so much so) of other people with alternative perspectives from my own (and each other) - I find that I learn far more from those interactions than I ever did from acting as a passive reader.

    Those who have a passion and an honest perspective almost always have something to add to a conversation if you other to listen.

    Keep up the good work John,... and keep up the group contributions to the conversation going folks.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Additionally,.... I've started to take on some of that 'alternative' to journalism myself into something else I regard as a serious interest & hobby of mine,....

    I've gained a hard-earned ability to sift through opinion, fact, conversation with informed sources, published scientific fact & peer-reviewed materials, and financial statements,.... and have started to (sporadically) write-up investor evaluations for small, biotech/biomed companies.

    Was getting so frustrated with some of the commentary and reviews that I was reading that I finally felt I needed to speak up.

    I only hope I end up being as useful and remaining as passionate as you and your fellow writers here do.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    where can we find your write ups?

  • In reply to Gator:

    3 days later not sure if you'll see this Gator,.... but the most publically available articles are available via a website called Seeking Alpha where I post under the pseudonym "Just One Lab Nerd".

    Have been blogging and comment on several other less public websites for years now under 'drkazmd65'.

  • Parabens...John !!

  • In reply to emiliosdad:

    Muito obrigado!

    Tudo bem?

  • This is the best site I have found for Cubs info. The writers and posters here are intelligent, passionate and friendly. Folks interact in a friendly and respectful way which reflects on the people who run this site. That isn't always the case on others sites. I really look forward to and appreciate reading this site every single day. Thanks John and Company!

  • John,
    Excellent piece as always.
    what I most appreciate about your writing...and believe me there are many things...is your humility. Too many of the traditional writers come off as arrogant and pompous.
    If ever in/near Detroit I will be proud to buy you the scotch of your choice.

  • MLB channel will start televising AZFL games, and Contreras goes down with an injury.. DAFUQ?!?

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    Wow, you nailed it John. There are some bloggers who are just playing around, and that's fine, but the high-end, professional blogs if you will, fill a big void.

    A few minutes ago I checked out your "Notes on the Cubs future" post, and it is is one of the best three pieces I've read over the last few days (out of dozens). Fantastic analysis. I've said it before, but when it comes to breaking things down, this is the place to go in the blogosphere, or for that matter, in general.

    The hard work you put in shows, and to say that the blogs have their place is an understatement. I think they force the "mainstream media" to work harder and become more informed.

    In my opinion, the only downside to the average blogger is that there can be, at times, a lack of objectivity (especially among the commenters). But you get this with newspaper reporters, etc., as well, and there are way more ill-informed attacks (how long did it take most of the mainstreamers in a huge media market like Chicago to fairly analyze what the FO was doing? Instead, they played to the skeptics who weren't even paying attention).

    Keep up the good - and hard - work.

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