Categorized | Bronx Neighborhoods

DIGITAL BRONX: Whither Bronx Bombers, bloggers will follow

By Alex Eriksen

It isn’t only the Yankees that are out of spring training.

Baseball bloggers have taken the virtual field and nowhere in greater numbers than to cover the New York Yankees.

“The Yankees are the most watched and reported team in baseball,” says Lenny Neslin, the one-man operation behind

Neslin, a sophomore at Quinnipac University writes, edits, and manages the site all from a laptop in his dorm room. The website pays for itself with the help of advertisers, more than covering the $10 a-year fee for the hosting.

In an era before computers, Neslin, like many others, would likely be just another die-hard fan. Thanks to the birth of the blogosphere, anyone with a computer and something to say has the power to broadcast it to the world. Neslin, raised a Yankee fan deep in Rex Sox’s territory of New Hampshire, began writing in January of 2009 and hasn’t let up since. He tries to average two to three posts a day. “The more posts you have, the more hits you’ll get,” says Neslin.

Neslin is just one fish in a much larger ocean when it comes to the Yankees. Blogs such as River Ave Blues, It’s All About the Money Stupid, Pinstripe Alley, are just a few that appear in the search bar when you type in “Yankees blog.” This makes competition fierce, far out shadowing smaller MLB teams and the blogs devoted to them.

“The key is to prove to every fan you have a voice in the Yankees blogosphere,” says Neslin. And there are many. Everyone from Neslin to the YES network is writing about the Yankees every day. The atmosphere is part barroom banter, part sports reportage; it’s a collage of comments and criticism with a healthy dose of statistics. Discussion forums attract fans to an atmosphere typically reserved for either the sports bar or the playoff season tailgate.

Hot topics run the gamut from CC Sabathia’s weight loss this season (30 pounds) to AJ Burnett’s slowing fastball. For the more hardcore Yanks fan there’s in-depth analysis of statistics, politics, and strategy, along with discussion on the ever-incendiary rivalry between the Yanks and Red Sox. It’s a sea of unique voices but one thing remains constant, an undying love for the Yankees. “I live and die with each pitch,” says Andrew Corselli on his site,, “so feel free to come by and rub salt in my wounds if the Yanks are losing or enjoy the spoils of victory if they’re winning.”

The amount of traffic to these fansites and blogs is enough to bring big advertisers calling. It’s not unusual to see banner ads or sponsorship spots from major names and brands, everything from Lexus cars to American Express. Neslin for instance nets 100 to 200 visitors a day, regardless of the time of year or team’s position in the season. The discussion of everything Yankees is one with perpetual motion. No longer is sports writing the strict domain of the professional reporter, not when there’s an army of fans out there.

There is little doubt that bloggers are carving out a permanent seat at the sportswriter’s table. “It’s the writers versus the bloggers,” says Neslin. As more and more fans become bloggers, the differences becomes less apparent. Unlike their professional colleagues, bloggers are unconfined by word limits, deadlines, or the traditional trappings of sports writing. This allows some room for working outside the frame of convention.

Detailed statistics of players or teams were never the typical fare for the sports page. Anyone who knew them before the dawn of the Internet was likely someone with an unnaturally good memory and a borderline fanatical devotion to the sport. But today you can brush up on the batting averages, hits, strikeouts, runs, errors and outs from any game or player ever. Just go to and it’s all at your fingertips. Say you wanted to know what year Babe Ruth hit his most homeruns, type in his name and seconds later you have it (the answer is 59, in 1921, his second season with the Yankees after leaving the Boston Red Sox).

The site was a start-up begun by Sean Forman, who left his job as an assistant professor of mathematics and computer science to work on the site full time. He later formed Sports Reference LLC, marrying other sports stats websites under the same banner. Today, their baseball stat site alone gets hundreds of thousands of hits per day and millions per year. “I like to think our sites are the first place people look when they want stats, if you’re going to debate, there’s no excuse for not knowing the numbers now,” says Forman, “we’ve saved a lot of people a lot of time.”

Forman began the site part time, a labor of love for a long time baseball fan. “I didn’t expect it to be a full time job,” he says. But as it demanded more and more of his time, it became a career. But, without the Internet, he might very well be in the classroom today.

“Blogging has definitely leveled the playing field,” says Forman, who perhaps better than anyone understands the power of a good website. “Good writing will always shine through,” he says.

Statistics are traditionally an important tool in the sportswriter’s toolbox, but typically they serve more as a nail than a hammer. The staff at of course, disagrees. Their take on the Yanks is steeped in numbers, a purist approach one would be hard pressed to find in any newspaper. Now that the season is underway, they’ll have fresh material for posts.

“While the offseason enabled us to have a lot of fun with analysis and speculation, we’re ready to start having actual baseball to write about,” Larry Koestler, co-founder of YankeeAnalysts, wrote in an email.

The Yankees are now second in the American League East behind Baltimore with five wins and four losses. Tomorrow they play the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. The “Yankosphere” as Koestler calls it, is already abuzz with speculation of how they’ll perform this season and if another World Series title is in the cards. To be sure, bloggers and reporters alike will have plenty to write about.

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