On a mindless Monday TBLA had 400 comments about a preseason game. For most of you that is no big deal, for this author, it is the biggest deal. Not the 400 comments per se, but the rollicking banter between authors and members. Jon Weisman author of Dodger Thoughts noted today when our comment volume was being discussed:
I do feel kind of bad, in a really selfish, immature way, in that I feel like I did a lot to build the community that now exists elsewhere.
That community Jon is talking about is you. Some of you have never heard of the "Baseball Toaster" but it was where Eric, Dave, and myself first learned what it was like to have a community of baseball friends who could not only discuss the Dodgers intelligently but also other parts of the universe as long as it did not include religion or politics. A refuge from a mindless day at work, a diversion from life, a place to hang your hat where everyone knows you name.
When I came to TBLA we were the opposite of the Baseball Toaster. No one read us or of if they did, they rarely commented on what was written. Game threads were dead, given how much work Andrew (prior manager) put into this site it was remarkable that Andrew didn't say screw it in the middle of the season. Maybe he simply stopped writing to see if anyone would notice. I'll be honest even as I wrote at TBLA my heart was still at Dodger Thoughts. What would be the point of commenting on a site where no one responded? I'd get more reactions to things I wrote for TBLA at DT then I did on my own site. So did Andrew. I'll be honest, I was green with envy. It was a controlled envy because I knew Jon had earned the market share that was Dodger Thoughts. Still from time to time I would allow myself to dream that someday we could build TBLA to be something akin to the Toaster knowing full well it was simply another one of my dreams that would never come to pass.
Two and half years later I was wrong. We have a thriving community, I know all of you, better yet, I like most of you, even better yet, you have made TBLA a place that is fun to hang out at. Today's game thread didn't have a large number of participants but the ones who did are the ones I enjoy talking with. Each month we get new members, some better then others. A few months ago a young kid joined called lakersdogersyankes4life who has become a solid member of the community. It is members like Tommy that make writing for TBLA better then I ever expected it could be.
Some time I ago I implored our members to make use of the fanposts/fanshots, and you responded with such fervor that we could stop writing for a day and we would still have plenty of content. Over the past few months we have asked David and Mike to help with the writing chores at TBLA but we could have asked any number of you because we have such a talented group of commentators. The only difference between you and me is that I was here first.
So I just wanted to thank all of you for showing up.
Back to Jon's quote which made me want to write this column. I understand what he is saying and I do feel bad. I asked Eric Stephen to join TBLA because he was simply the best DT poster out there. Eric is such a prolific writer that he could manage TBLA, make most of our comments, and continue to make most of the DT comments. When you take a way a contributor like Eric it is going to have an impact. When Jon looks to TBLA he's really looking toward Eric because it has been Eric who has turned the deadbeat TBLA into the community we now all enjoy. After Eric came aboard he brought along several long time DT posters like El Lay Dave, BHSportsguy, and Underdog. We decided to stop sharing El Lay Dave and turned him into David Young so he'd hang his hat here more then there. Jon must have had great respect for their writing since both BHSportsguy and Underdog were asked to write for his Dodger Maple Street Press book. Jon is dead on when he says
I feel like I did a lot to build the community that now exists elsewhere.
He is the sole reason TBLA exists in this format. I expressed this sentiment before but I know for a fact I would not be writing about the Dodgers if not for Dodger Thoughts. I'm sure Eric and David would echo that sentiment. Everything that TBLA has become is owed to Jon. We all know it. His early and continued support of the columns, the friendly banter of the commentators, to the even keel we try to keep regarding the team. The goal was always to build something akin to what we had left. Jon is to blame for our success. If he had never linked to my early attempts I would probably have gotten frustrated and quit since the only time I knew anybody would read what I wrote was if he linked it. He was like the Godfather, he controlled our happiness.
Once the season starts I expect the comments will once again flourish at DT but I will not look there with envy anymore. I'm proud of this place, I'm proud of what Eric has built, I'm proud I had something to do with it even it was simply keeping this place running until we found a placeholder. We had no idea when we started writing together in Dec of 2008 that SB Nation was about to sign a game changing deal with Yahoo Sports but we were luckily in the right place at the right time. In my case it has always been better to be lucky then good.
In my ideal world Jon would be a paid writer at SB Nation using the SB Nation writing and commenting software forming a powerhouse combination with Eric that would be a must read for any Dodger fan. The biggest advantage of TBLA is the SB Nation platform from writing to commenting, as it is easy to share the load not only with other writers but the commentators. The reason I say my ideal world is because I'd love to see what Jon would do on our stage where he wouldn't have to worry about the minutiae of the Dodgers but concentrate on what he does best.