Blogging in the cornfield


It’s been a fun two days. Seeing commenters old and new reunite, brimming with dormant enthusiasm, has made Dodger Thoughts a kind of giddy place since the move from ESPNLosAngeles.com.

I’ve been told more times than I can count in the past 48 hours that I seem happier and looser here at the new site. If that’s true, that’s mainly a reaction to the enthusiasm I’ve seen in readers.

“I can’t explain it, but this just feels better somehow,” wrote Eric Enders, longtime friend of Dodger Thoughts. “It’s like the ESPN LA site was some depressing domed stadium, and this new site is clean and bright and open-air – I guess that makes it Dodger Stadium.”

To which I replied, “I totally get that, and feel it to boot. I’m just saying, the domed stadium doesn’t have to be depressing.”

It really is worthy of a case study the effect that a site’s appearance can have on its community. The commenting system here isn’t madly superior to the one at ESPNLosAngeles.com. In one respect, it’s inferior, in that you have to refresh the page each time you want to see new comments. That’s labor-intensive. Yet few seem to mind. People don’t complain as much about the plumbing when the view is nice.

So yes, all things being equal, I would play in this open-air ballpark ’til the end of time, with readers emerging one after another from the cornfield for a little catch.

But I don’t want to mislead anyone. I’m still exploring paid possibilities for what I do. My time here is now down to nine days or 9,999. If it’s a choice between providing for the Dodger Thoughts community or providing for my family, then I have an obligation.

In the end, I might not get that choice, but if there’s a move I need to make, then like Moonlight Graham, I will have to trade my uniform for my medical bag.

That being said, I have also had conversations about what it might take to generate income while staying independent. If that became a viable option, that would be wonderful.

You can’t fight City Hall, and you can’t tell a readership to be content when it’s not. Certain environments come with certain challenges. I do accept that if Dodger Thoughts moved again, the motivation that has been reborn in this community would probably move away as well (making this particular moment in time something like the brief respite for Robert De Niro in “Awakenings.”). I understand the consequences. My free agency has had the unique quality of being a kind of punishment and rebirth all at once.

All I can say is that whatever happens, the biggest factor determining the nature of a community is not the infrastructure, but the people. If people are committed to making things better, things will be better. It’s not all up to me. Whatever anyone wants this community to be, an inferior site location is a hurdle, not a barrier.

Anyway, I’m here now, and it’s a pleasure.

  • Bluebleeder

    Test, testing 1,2,3  

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Is this the original Bluebleeder?

      • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

        I hope so! Where the heck have you been, amigo?

    • Anonymous

      It’s been almost three years since I have heard from him

  • Anonymous

    Looks like they’re getting the band back together.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome back, Jon! Love that you’re happy and blogging. It’s always a pleasure to read your stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/adamluther55 Adam Luther

    Thanks for that clip Jon.  ”You can’t go back.”  Looking forward to the season!  Hey it’s February don’t the batteries start reporting?  Is battery still a baseball term??

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Never mind Field of Dreams, I was just watching The Sandlot again. That cute film never gets old. 

    And for Burt Lancaster cameos, I still prefer Local Hero, but he and James Earl Jones are great presences in FoD.

  • Anonymous

    test

  • http://twitter.com/dpwtv David Weiner

    I will follow you wherever you may go. There isn’t an ocean too deep, a mountain so wide that can keep me away from your blog

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/M43RQUOKRIFBFM3DK5T2TERQ6U Old Bear

    Jon:  Congratulations.   The site looks great.   Wishing you (and us) great success for you.   Who says Cal grads and Stanford grads can’t be friends?   Certainly not me.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you find a home where you can do what do best and get paid too, as always, I’ll be there too.

  • Anonymous

    I visited the F.O.D. last year.  There was no wi-fi.

  • Anonymous

    Jon, I share your bemusement at the outpouring of joy from the move.  I chimed in yesterday to assure you that I would keep on reading as long as you’re writing, but I never had any problem with ESPNLA or with the LATimes, once the initial bugs were ironed out in each place.  I guess ESPNLA was a little worse from home because my slow DSL more often than not coughed on loading all the site’s bells and whistles.  But my dropoff in commenting had nothing to do with the URL and certainly nothing to do with any dropoff in quality.  For me, it was a combination of the mortal wounding of optimism with the McCourt/Colletti Front Office, and a huge uptick in how busy I am at work.  Most of the time these days, I can’t check in to read your articles until late at night, at which point conversations are long-since over, and there’s not much point in chiming in.  My enthusiasm for reading DodgerThoughts has not varied with its home.  My enthusiasm about commenting has suffered a bit as I watch this team so terribly mismanaged (but finally with an end in sight?!).  But mostly, I’ve just been too slammed to keep up with the comments. 

    I hope you do find another chance to do this fine work for pay, and I don’t care where I have to log in to read it.  I would even bookmark a Stanford website if necessary.  Yeah, that’s right.  I said it.

  • Anonymous

    I completely echo everything Go Bears said–right up to the point about going to a Stanford website if necessary.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, you’re right.  I couldn’t commit to that.  That’d be a farm too far.

  • http://twitter.com/theorywiz1 Larry Samson

    Jon, you are hands down one of the best. I am self employed and have had to find my own way. Follow your bliss and we will follow you.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jon, longtime reader here, though I almost never comment. I like this new space a lot.

    I’m comparing it to the ESPN page right now (I have two browser tabs open and am going back and forth), trying to understand why I like your new home better.  

    It’s simple, really–this one is quieter. No distractions. No ads at the edges shaking and shimmering and clamoring for my attention. No loud color contrasts with saturated reds and deep blacks. 

    Just a page that’s easy on the eyes and nerves, so I can soak in your positive vibes and beautiful writing in peace.

    I read several blogs daily. None leaves me feeling as consistently good as yours, day after day. 

    Long may you blog!

    • Anonymous

      Exactly right.

  • Anonymous

    As Josh Rawitch once said to me, “One of youy guys is going to figure out to make a real living out of this blogging thing.” For the record, my money has always been on you….a “Grantland” for Southern California, anchored by Dodger Thoughts.

    BTW, we’re getting Dodgerfan back up and running…unfortunately real life away from LA has curtailed the blogging, but we’ll be back very, very soon.

  • Anonymous

    Dodger players, past and present:

    Juan Pierre
    Juan Uribe
    Juan Jones (just another variation on the spelling of “Andrew”)

    • Anonymous

      As is “Andruw”

  • http://www.facebook.com/cal.redmond Cal Redmond

    Hi,Jon.  Been following your blog for several years as often as I can … don’t think I have ever commented.  Hope you find a way to keep the bill collectors at bay and still make the blog happen.  Perhaps irrationally, I am very excited about a season under new ownership.   Best of luck!

  • Jon Truman

    Test…….

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t come across your blog until it was on the unnamed juggernaut, but will follow wherever it goes. May you find the right place to fit Dodger thoughts in for you and everyone.

  • Ken Kidd

    Been longtime lurker from the Toaster days. Looking forward to the new site. Keep up the great work Jon.

  • Anonymous

    Having trouble with reply posts

  • Anonymous

    love the Field of Dreams references. and it’s so mild out here in IA that ‘having a catch’ isn’t beyond the realm of possibilities.

  • Anonymous

    Great new site, Jon. 

  • Daniel Zappala

    I have a friend who is deeply interested in studying this topic, and is nowhere near figuring it out yet, but psychology and sociology play a huge role in how we approach, comprehend, and use a site.  I am in the process of managing the development of a new site, and we have spent hours agonizing how to make it appeal to users so that they stay.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sophisticated when it comes to web design, so it’s hard for me to articulate what it is about the Toaster’s aesthetic (and this site’s) that I liked so much better than either LAT or ESPN. Clearly, there is something in the simplicity, though.

      I don’t know how much of the change in the comments section had to do with design issues, though. Personally, a big part of it was that I could never remember my ESPN password/screen name, so I never logged in to comment. Of course, the real issue is that the community already felt different, so I was less likely to put in the “effort” to log in and participate.

      My guess, and I could be way off on this, is that the quality of the comments at the Toaster was driven largely by a few core commenters, who provided enough momentum for the rest of the community to hitch onto. I suspect you could pinpoint the decline in the community to one or two commenters who left for various reasons. 

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

        I don’t have a doubt that the uncluttered simplicity of the design here is better.

        I also don’t doubt that the defections made an impact on the community – a permanent one to some extent.

        Some of the defections weren’t design-related, but related to not having to follow some of the commenting rules I have here.

        But the community didn’t automatically become different at the Times or ESPN.  In fact, the core commenters were there at the initial stages when the Toaster ended, and the influx of non-Toaster commenters was less than anyone could have expected.  The community could have remained just as vibrant – we could have spent just as much time talking about Spawn of Kuvula – if people had wanted to try. People, over a period of time, began fading out, and it created a domino effect – but it didn’t have to be that way. 

        The rise of True Blue L.A. was huge as far as this went.  What I didn’t expect this week was to see the return of so many old Toaster commenters. My assumption before Monday was that those of you in that group were gone forever.

      • Anonymous

        Two things.  I do think site design matters.  My favorite college team site just changed its commenting software after many years and comments immediately dropped by 25 percent, with a third of comments now complaining about the format and the owners responding grumpily with cheat sheets on how to do this or that.  Frankly it hurts my eyes, but I suspect what I really miss is the comfort level.  Right now, the place is antagonistic.

        But I still agree to a point.  My pet theory about the classroom is that most students sit and wait until the leaders step forward.  If the leader-students are bright and participate, so will most of the others.  If the leaders are sullen and unpleasant, again, most will follow suit.  What happened on the Times and then ESPN site was that some of the old leaders transferred.  I don’t think you can recreate the Toaster, that community is fractured into several sites forever, but just the sight of the names in this thread gives me hope of something very good here in the Toaster tradition.  Can’t wait to be here on opening day. 

      • Daniel Zappala

        I think part of it is the centrality of community both here and on the Toaster.  The only purpose for this site is community, whereas on the Times and ESPN sites their purpose is much larger than that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Hitchcock/1676059435 Jim Hitchcock

    I propose we pay a 5 cent fee everytime we refresh :)

    • Anonymous

      So that’s why that button is called F5.

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

         LOL

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Vicente Padilla is prolific in at least one sense.
    http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2012/02/02/vicente-padilla-faces-arrest-nicaragua/QnxRZnGe4LumpVguXb5IHO/story.html
    Kind of glad he’s not on our team anymore. What a maroon, as Bugs Bunny would say.

  • Anonymous

    I’m personally glad DodgerThoughts is no longer associated with ESPN.  One unsavory association down, another one to go…

    • Anonymous

      Are you suggesting Dodgerthoughts disassociate itself from the Dodgers?

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

         Or from me?

        • Anonymous

          Of course it’s Mcfraud who he is talking about :<)

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Jon. If I recall correctly the cornfield was a better place without Ty Cobb. Nobody could stand that SOB :)

  • Anonymous

    I used to post on the Toaster fairly frequently as Eric L but then I met a girl, got married, had a couple of kids, finished school, etc.  The moves to the different places kind of coincided with my life changes and I really didn’t have the time to post as much as I would have liked to.  I still read (and will read) the site on a daily basis, but I really didn’t post much.  I don’t know how much I’ll post here but I do know that it’s good to see some familiar names that I haven’t seen for a while.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    New post up top. 

  • snn

    Congrats Jon. I wish you the best of luck. I read you daily, but haven’t commented since the ESPN move from LAT. Looking forward to more journeys into Dodgerland.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t comment that often, but I’m a longtime reader and would follow your blog anywhere!  It’s the only one I read on a regular basis.  Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on everything Dodger-related!

  • http://twitter.com/snakealicious75 Christopher Smith

    For some reason, I could never comment using the ESPN interface.  This is great news for me.

  • Scott Morgan

    We could post on EspnLA?!?!?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

    With this, I retire the name tpruett88…a name which will live in infamy. Congratulations on the new site Jon. I am SO ready for spring training and whatever 2012 will bring.

  • Anonymous

    Why did you move from ESPNLA? Anything in particular that you disliked about it besides the lack of commenters? I have followed you each step of the way and did not know how much you enjoyed commenters, so here I am, commenting on my first post! World Series or bust!

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      As I said in my first post here, it was that ESPNLA’s priorities changed, and I stopped being one.