March 2008

Relaunch updates

Updated 6:49 p.m. ET Sunday

Welcome to Nationals Hill — just in time for the first-ever game at Nationals Park!

Updates/fixes are ongoing to the new MLBlogs Network and please keep the feedback coming here in comments. We are watching them closely and incorporating user input.

We just changed the default comment settings to “Anyone Can Comment” (instead of None, which would require approving first) and Email Notifications on. I’ve been told by the Movable Type folks that you should try using the links in that email to moderate comments. It’s a cool feature, especially when you want to edit or revise an aggressive commenter. Again, this is just a default settings change system-wide.

We’ve been seeing a performance issue on many static pages and a new bug has been filed with Six Apart on that one. Load times will improve.

Tag cloud and Most Recent blog headlines on the MLBlogs.com landing page are being worked on. So is the Edit Assets functionality in the MT software.

Reminder to add as many related tags as possible in that area beneath your text field. This is how a lot of people are going to find you. It’s one of the best changes from the old MLBlogs.

We’re going to deploy a fix in the morning to rebuild the sidebar more aggressively. This way new linked lists will show up much more quickly (along with revised info pics).

There are many known issues out of the gates and a team is in motion on them.

Adding a ton of widgets (ie counters, weather bugs, chat rooms, etc.) is not advised, according to our Movable Type partners. Do so at your own risk, as was the case with the past iteration of MLBlogs. They often decrease performance on MLBlogs pages, and in some cases I had no desire to click on the MLBlog because it took a year to load. We have done our best to migrate over all Typelists, and it is not surprising that some or many of these widgets have been lost in the transition. One user said he “paid for those,” meaning it was somehow part of the past subscription fee at MLBlogs, and that is false. Third-party widgets are not presented in the software for a reason. Not saying to avoid them, but they’re basically a hack to your software and widgeter beware.

If you have a major individual issue, a handful of us have “superuser” admin rights and can assist in changes. As I’ve noted, please also be patient through the Opening Day whirlwind activity. About to write another MLB.com Opening Day pageantry story now myself, as I know most of you are doing. Good luck to 30 Major League Baseball teams that are about to all be under way in the regular season, and good luck to all of you who are going to blog hopefully through the World Series and beyond. And check out my story: How Does It Feel?

Updates to be continued…

The new MLBlogs Network (and why now)

Updated 12:11 p.m. ET Sunday:

Welcome to your new MLBlogs Network. For anyone just joining us, this is the community blog, and you will be able to find updates on network features and the people who blog here. For everyone else, *thanks* for your patience in our cutover from the first iteration. We at Major League Baseball Advanced Media are excited to start a new regular season with a new blogging environment just as we have relaunched MLB.com, team sites and more.

Some of the most common responses so far include: WHY NOW?#@$&*%@. You know, Bucky Dent spelling. Well, here’s why, for all of you who asked. Because WELCOME TO OUR WORLD. You want to be a baseball writer? Welcome to how this works. At MLB.com, we have relaunched one of the world’s biggest websites every year at Opening Day, and this year we decided to do it at the same time as 30 MLB team site relaunches. We spend the offseason working on it through all of the trades and signings and everything else. We roll out a brand-new look every year, a tradition, and we go a little crazy inside but we just know it’s ****-it-up time because it’s showtime. As a fan, with MLB.com or with your favorite team site, all you have to do is be a site visitor and enjoy everything without operating the publishing system and doing programming and sizing and posting images and multimedia and…you get the picture. With a blogging network such as this very one, YOU are the proprietor, too. You get to enjoy the relaunch joy and the Opening Day craziness that comes with it. That’s the best I can tell you, having been through relaunches every Opening Day week this decade and now seeing bloggers jump on board. It’s Opening Day or never.

We’re working through any bugs/known issues and want to be able to help you all as much as possible, and ask that you hang in there through Opening Day. Good to see that some of you are also helping each other, a big plus. Photos, or “assets”, will take some getting used to. So will Link Lists (formerly “Typelists”). I have turned off the default “approve comments” on this community blog so that you can immediately see your comments and have that exchange with each other in this community. It’s also important to note that this relaunch is just the start in a gradual series of feature rollouts for the overal MLB.com community, and some of what’s ahead this season is going to rock The Show.

Here are some details about our relaunch you will need to know, so here goes…

IT’S FREE!!! No more subscription. (Refund info below.) For the record, the last person in history to pay for an MLBlog was Yes The Cubs Wont Win. Just sayin’.

The old Typepad app we’ve used since the April 2005 launch of MLBlogs is now replaced by a robust Movable Type software app. You’ll like MT much better. It will take some getting used to, but you’re a blogger just like you are a baseball fan, and we have faith that you will find your way around and make yourself at home with the MT features. There will be tips/helpful info here, but you are a bunch of high-tech fans.

Templates: There is more variety of style, ranging from minimalist/clean to a more gaudy “Fan” template. There is also a “Retro” version with an old logo. You will also notice around the network that some blogs have an “MLB PRO BLOG” star shield on them. That is a template available for use by the MLB family, so you will know when someone from Major League baseball is blogging right alongside you. Like CJ Wilson, Tommy Lasorda, Scott Reifert, Joe Blanton, Youk, Steve Stewart, Matthew Leach, Josh Rawitch, the Phillies Ballgirls, Raymond, Big Pupi, etc. Yes, that’s right, we gave a dog one of those things. Big Pupi probably will want to change templates. The main thing is that there are a lot of templates and a lot of bloggers and we’re all in the same place and blogging for free.

Did we mention free yet?

This will be the first phase in gradual rollouts of cool enhancements to the overall MLB community. You’ll see a lot of things you’ve waited for, and there will be some other things you’d like and chances are they are on deck for coming days/weeks. We’ll be making a lot more noise about the new MLBlogs Network once that has happened.

There will be some glitches and bugs and headaches as with any other relaunch. We’ll be working with you on it. The more input the better, as we will make gradual refinements in subsequent updates to the software.

Going from pay-to-free is a good thing. It is the opposite of how it usually works on the Internet. Still, there may be some questions about refunding. There will be a link within your new MT to email our Customer Service, where someone will help you, and especially “Yes The Cubs Wont Win.” But here is what you need to know:

REFUNDS

  • Any annual subscription is nonrefundable if it was placed before 2008. Any annual subscription placed on or after Jan. 1, 2008, will be fully refunded by Customer Service.
  • Any Blog created in the month leading up to the relaunch would be fully refunded, whether monthly ($4.95) or annual ($49.95).
  • If you are owed a refund, then just email Customer Service here. (Do not ask me for it, because I am broke from buying lots of triple-shot Starbucks for our great partners who helped us relaunch this network.)

The MLBlogs.com landing page also has been redesigned. New features will include:

Most Recent posts — more listings than we had before;

Tag Cloud — tagging is going to be a huge part of the new MLBlogs Network. It’s also on the side panel of blogs. This feature is undergoing some last-minute tweaking, so pardon a little construction. Be sure to add tags to the bottom of every entry before you save it. That’s how most people are going to find their way around here going forward. If you are a Yankees fan, click the Yankees link in that cloud on the mlblogs.com homepage and you will get a results page of all MLBlogs entries with “Yankees” as a tag.

Featured Blog — in addition to frequently changing main panel on the mlblogs.com homepage, we will spotlight bloggers. This is not automated and we’ll try to keep rotating in as many people as we can.

Drop-down Indexes — For now, there is a drop-down list of the aforementioned blogs maintained by MLB personnel. Sometime in the next month, we plan to return the Browse by Team capability, so that blogs are indexed by club template choice. This has to be automated for it to happen, because going to free means there are going to be way more bloggers than we can keep up with for manual additions to that page. So bear with us on that, and don’t ask if you can be added to the MLBlogs Active Roster by team in the meantime. It’ll be back.

(Note: We just relaunched the MLB.com homepage, and as you know by now, MLBloggers are being highlighted EVERY DAY right there on a page visited by about 10 million fans a day. No baseball blogging network is found by baseball fans like MLBlogs.)

Help

There will be a customer support email link (as listed above) if you are at wit’s end. It’s Opening Day weekend and just expect some time for response on this end. You also can post comments here, and your fellow users may be able to reply swiftly in answer t
o your questions about functionality. There will be a lot to get used to, and we hope you will enjoy the new season and new blog network.

There also will be a link on MLBlog pages to report/flag any bloggers/commenters for abuse/spam. There will be a more sophisticated method for this in a subsequent phase, but in the meantime, feel free use that email link and we’ll monitor it. That is only for abuse/spam reporting.

Get ready for better, more fun templates…lots of tagging…preapproval of comments…lots of things you expect and some more excitement at the start of a Major League season.

Any constructive feedback (email preferred) about the new MLBlogs Network after the relaunch will be appreciated, added to any known issues. Thanks to everyone who has helped grow this community over the last three years, and here’s to a great season.

Hot dogs still cost you. So will the tickets, parking and stuff. But blogging is free.

Mark/MLB.com

A Change Is Gonna Come

A new MLB.com homepage…

New MLB team homepages…

And now a new blogging community here at Major League Baseball.

Please keep an eye on this space, as MLBlogs are about to be relaunched in coming days. There will be radical changes, an all-new blogging environment, some exciting advances, some getting used to, and we think you are going to enjoy it as the first of many upcoming 2008 steps toward enhancing the overall user community around MLB.com.

Thanks to everyone who has been part of our first iteration here dating back to Tommy Lasorda’s first-ever MLBlogs post on April 18, 2005, the season the White Sox ended their drought. For you existing MLBloggers or those who are thinking about blogging here, please be sure to watch this space closely between now and Friday night. As Sam Cooke sang, "A Change Is Gonna Come."

If all goes according to schedule, blogging the traditional season openers won’t be the same.

Spheroid: Prose and Ivy

Wrigley

MLBlogger: Ryan at Prose and Ivy
Signup date: Dec. 5, 2007

1. Why do you blog?

I live in New York City and there aren’t many Cubs fans that I’ve met here so far who are readily available to talk about the day’s Cub headlines or the most recent Cubs game.  It’s great to have access to a community of baseball fans in general, but especially to be able to reach out and communicate with other Cubs fans on a daily basis.  Until the Cubs hire me as a beat reporter/analyst, this is the closest I’ll come to either…and I love it!

2. What was your favorite post?

My favorite post would probably be the one titled "The Face, The Brace, The Pace, The Place and The Ace" or "The Poster Child".  The first one was one of those blogs where you feel like you have so much to say it just flows once you sit down and start typing.  Those are exciting when they happen. The other one I just think is really funny…my own little parody of the Cubs upcoming ads for the 2008 team.  Good times.

3. Strangest blogging experience?

The first time I received a comment because I couldn’t believe people were actually reading my blog.  It’s made me post nearly daily lately with people responding and the feedback I’ve received regarding how many people are enjoying my page.

4. What is your favorite blog, including at least one MLBlog?

There are couple that I was really enjoying yet can’t seem to find any longer which is too bad.  I really like Crawly’s Cubs and Some Ballyard. A good mix of humor and analyst is what I really enjoy when reading someone else’s blog.  And anyone who enjoys my blog…I generally read there’s regularly too.

5. What would you be doing if you weren’t blogging?

Walking my dogs.  They REALLY should be outside on a walk right now.

6. Where do you think the blogosphere is going?

Blu-ray?  I don’t know you got me.

7. Favorite team and why?

Cubs.  Chicago Cubs.  Yes those Cubs.  Great characters on the team, great potential, great history, great fans, great stadium, the seventh inning stretch, the underdog status year in and year out, wondering if this will be the year and how many more years I’ll be wondering if this will be the year…and Ryne Sandberg.  He was the man.

Chevychase8. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have met two of my comedy heroes in rest rooms (BIZARRE but true).  I met Chevy Chase in rest room at a political fundraiser a few years back and was so excited I shook his hand to meet him
before I had a chance to dry my hands after washing them.  After shaking my hand he looked at me and said "You gave me a wet shake."  I didn’t know what to say…all I could come up with was "It’s all water I swear."  The other was Bill Cosby in a Barnes and Noble bathroom in NY. I was waiting for the bathroom to become available and right behind me walk in two huge security guys…behind them, a man with sunglasses and a baseball cap.  Quickly that man became Bill Cosby.  SO COOL.  I didn’t want to bother him although inside I was freaking out as he is a stand up legend.  He then said to me "Are you waiting?"  I turned and looked at him and said "Yes, Mr. Cosby. I am waiting." He just turned away, then turned back, smiled and said "We are waiting."  He then left.  But for a brief moment there, Bill Cosby and I were doing the same exact thing at the same exact time.  Again…SO COOL.  (And yes, he was wearing ‘one of those sweaters’.)

9. Happiness is…

…champagne all over your team’s clubhouse at the end of the World Series.  I’d say that’s happiness indeed.

To be considered as a featured Spheroid, feel free to email us with your responses to those nine questions and be sure to put "Spheroid" in the subject line. Have fun blogging…

The Prince of New York’s 2008 Baseball Guide

BookcoverMLBlogger Paul Lebowitz has a new book out, "The Prince of New York’s 2008 Baseball Guide." Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Thanks to Michael at Some Ballyard for plugging it. I went to Amazon and ordered one for the MLB office here. As Michael noted, "The book is a small price to pay to encourage a fine independent sportswriter and allow him to ply his trade."

Elsewhere around the Sphere:

FANS ON THE FIELD is the latest at this moment to be excerpted/featured at the bottom of the new MLB.com homepage. Reminder to feel free to leave a comment here with a roughly 15-to-20-word excerpt from within your MLBlog to be considered for that daily change. . . . Welcome to our newest player blogger, Opening Day starter Joe Blanton of the A’s. Gotta give props to my colleague Mychael Urban, our A’s beat writer, for coming up with the suggestion of "Big Joe’s Bluegrass Blog." Blanton loved it and we look forward to his posts; he won’t be happy that Kentucky just got booted from the first round of the Big Dance for the first time since the Pleistocene. . . . Another good new Yankee blog here.

MLBloggers on MLB.com homepage

Homepage

How do you like the new MLB.com homepage? We just relaunched it overnight. It’s a tradition at the start of every season, all based on a lot of around-the-clock data research and feedback and use of technology. And as always, it takes some getting used to. Then after a day or two you can’t even remember what the old version looked like. You can leave your comments on our company blog. Get ready for a lot of major changes, including all club homepages and…

Right here. (After three years…I can’t wait.)

One thing I am sure you will love about the new MLB.com homepage: We will excerpt and link to a different/interesting MLBlog every day. Started with a Braves fan. I encourage MLBloggers to leave comments here with exactly what you would love included in that spot…that was about 14 words for that space at the bottom of the MLB.com hompage. It will make it a little easier than us trying to scan through countless blogs, and it’s going to be infinitely harder very soon.

Great post about blogging by Paul Bodin at nytimes.com today. Worth a look. I especially like the kicker quote: "I can’t stop reloading." Anyone who has profiles all over the Internet can relate.

Roll Call

Welcome to:

Steve Stewart. He had an incredible "Bad Boy" MLBlog while broadcasting Reds games alongside Marty Brennaman, and now that he’s a new Kansas City Royals broadcaster, please welcome him back with a comment at From the Booth with Steve Stewart.

Andruw Jones and Heath Bell. First of all, that’s an incredible hitter-pitcher matchup that we want to see in the ninth inning of a close game this season. They are blogging from the MLB China Series 2008, another chance to interact with Major Leaguers. As you follow Dodgers vs. Padres in that breakthrough series, keep an eye out for their latest updates.

Dan Weisman. Don’t know him? Stop by.

A Lonestar in California. Yet another really good Rangers blog.

Big changes in the works around here, completely different, to be rolled out in phases this season to make the best baseball blogging community even better. I appreciate everyone’s constructive input in recent months. Will have lots of details for everyone closer to Opening Day.

Three MLB2K8 reviewers ready to rock

Mlb2k8Updated 5:03 pm ET Friday — XBox, PS3 and Wii games were all shipped today to volunteer MLBloggers who were interested in an audience of 10 million users…thanks for everyone’s interest!

OK, time to continue our very successful 2007 project of giving MLBloggers stuff to review in exchange for an MLB.com/Club.com byline. There were a lot of those last season, it was a win-win-win, and now here was our first 2008 call for content in the MLBlogosphere community.

The MLB2K8 video game is about to show up in the MLB.com Shop. We have just overnighted a game in advance to three MLBloggers who volunteered to review one over XBox, PS3 or Wii systems. It’s a free game and an MLB.com byline for the MLBloggers who stepped up. The assignment was to simply immerse yourself in the game, and then write a review (400 words in the 500-to-1000 word range) that will be due by the end of the night on this Monday. Mainly: Have fun.

This is scheduled to be a panel presentation on MLB.com’s homepage the middle of next week, along with a main news story by an MLB.com writer about the new game with all the features and quotes from the game’s executive producer, and there will be video of MLB players enjoying this games as well. It’s a big deal for gamers, and MLBlogs will be involved. The MLBloggers chosen can blog about their own review after it has been posted if they wish.

EMAIL ME NOW if you are interested in reviewing it for XBox only specify which of the three systems you will use.

Here was the assignment: Obviously looking for enthusiastic, upbeat reviews that match the excitement of this game. Each story should capture that excitement on the different game system. Pack as much detail in those 400 words as you can. For example, whoever reviews the game on Wii is going to have a much different experience. I finally got to see what all the excitement there is about last month when I played Wii tennis with my sons…a video game that’s actually physical. So those three reviews should be quite a bit different. Each will be represented in the MLB.com package, so fans have their choice of which one they want to read based on their system.

Having said that, who wants a free MLB2K8 and MLB.com byline? Please state your case in email here. Have to hurry up and get this shipped now so probably first-come, first-serve for XBox. Be sure to include your home address for overnight shipping as you’re going to get it on the weekend as this point. Please start emailing now.

Everyone will be able to find the three reviews prominently displayed for about 10 million users. I’m sure we’ll do more of this in the very near future.

Only at MLBlogs!!!

– Mark/MLB.com

Around the Sphere

FutureAngels.com bills itself as "The original Angels fan web site", and it is celebrating its 10th anniversary by now owning the No. 1 fan MLBlog. According to site traffic data I just looked over, Stephen C. Smith’s blog focused on the Angels’ farm system came in seventh overall in this community for the period from Feb. 1-29, with Zach Hample’s The Baseball Collector the other fan blog (ninth overall) to crack the top 10. It is a great example of how existing site owners can use MLBlogs to further supplement and market their home. Our friend Jamey Newberg always has done a nice job of that as well with The Newberg Report (22nd overall), which is added ammo for his Newberg Report site that always has been must-reading for people around the Rangers organization and families of Rangers prospects. The dominating No. 1 on the list for February was the one maintained by MLB.com Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch — Bombers Beat. A brand-new MBLlogger at I think i saw thinks the Red Sox will finish ahead of the Yankees on top of the 2008 AL East standings. But if Hank Steinbrenner needed further evidence in what he said about the Red Sox over the past few days (nice to see The Rivalry on fire again), then he would have it by seeing how far that Yankees blog is in front of any Boston blog (we have tons of Boston blogs) or any other blog here. Many thanks to Bryan for going above and beyond — there’s plenty of work already required of an MLB.com beat writer — to deliver a constantly high-impact MLBlog with a huge audience.

Stay tuned: We’re working on some hot and bigtime changes to our world of blogging here and hope to start introducing things by around the start of the season. Will shout when it’s close.

Login issue resolved

Update 10 a.m. ET Saturday, March 1: Login issue resolved. Thanks for your patience, also to those who were unable to create blogs the last few days. Should be all-OK now. Happy blogging, and how about that Juan Gone Back in a Redbird suit. Apologies for anyone having login issues. Some login requests are going straight to a generic MLB.com template. It’s a known issue, and most often simply refreshing or hitting back and then trying again works. As a temporary workaround, just paste this URL into your browser and you should go to the login page: https://mlblogs.mlb.com/t/app

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