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Front Row, Baby

I've had plenty of dreams and fantasy's to fill a few books in my 50 years but I never imagined I'd be sitting in the front row of the Dodger press box. In my dreams the guy sitting in the press box would be interviewing me, and I only gave up that dream 10 years ago.  For something I never imagined, the experience was very cool in many ways and very restrictive in one very big way.

The idea of us being credentialed is still very controversial and I have no idea what the reception would be like. We were told they had set up a blogger area for us in the press box. Did that mean we were separate  but equal if you get my drift, sitting in a dunce corner? Those worries were put to rest when I spotted the blog area. You could even say they are the best seats in the press box. Front row, camera man to your left so you are on an aisle, Dodger VP Josh Rawitch couldn't have done a better job in setting us up.

First off, front row is tops no matter how high you are, front row right behind home plate, with protection overhead is about as good as it gets. My only concern was taking a foul ball in the noggin while I was writing. The media has a good thing going.  The Dodgers provide them with pages of pre - game notes filled with information that bloggers have spent hours in the past figuring out for themselves. The Dodgers provide a buffet that they subsidize which includes sandwich meats, grilled chicken, prime rib, various mexican entree's, and salads. For free you get drinks, popcorn, cookies, and Ice Cream. When the game ends the Dodgers provide within 1/2 an hour a complete post - game synopsis with more data then you could ever hope to include into a game recap.

I didn't take full advantage of everything being credentialed means. I never made it onto the field, I didn't interview anyone. Many of you might have jumped full tilt into this opportunity and maybe it was wasted on me but I was content to just stay in the press box, write, comment, and enjoy the moment. I'm a blogger and don't fancy myself a reporter. Having access to the pre and post game notes certainly made it easier to do my job but it does not come naturally to me to bother players as it might for some of you so I'm sorry I didn't have any end game quotes for you or up close BP stories. Besides Eric deserves to have the first True Blue quotes and he'll get them this Saturday.

The only problem is the restriction on cheering. As a fan first, and a writer second this was very hard for me which shocked me. I felt it would be easy to sit in the press box and be an observer but it was anything but easy. I probably violated the rule once or twice with gesticulations that spoke volumes as I kept my mouth shut. I so wanted to stand up and give Chad an ovation for his gutty performance. I wanted to high five someone when Blake went deep. I could never do this more then once a homestand, in the end I was much more of a fan then I expected.

When I got comfortable in my seat, I started wondering how I got here. I expect my story is the same as most of you who are reading this and participate in our community. If you are interested click on the jump.

It all started in 2004 when Paul DePodesta traded Paul LaDuca. The local media was livid and laid into DePodesta with both barrels. I wasn't a big fan of the trade but I also felt it had the possibility for success in that they got rid of a catcher at the right time but worried about how it would play out the rest of the season. Looking for someone to argue the merits of both sides of the deal was a fruitless effort if you had to depend on the local media, so I needed other sources.

Earlier in the year Ross Porter had mentioned a blog called Dodger Thoughts  and how well written it was. At the time I had heard about blogs but had never actually read one. With all the chaos about the trade taking place I decided to track down this Dodger Thoughts and see what they had to offer. I'm not sure if it was a good thing I found Dodger Thoughts and Jon Weisman or not. On one hand I found the best baseball writer in town and a great community of like minded Dodger fans. On the other hand since I discovered blogging my other hobbies have come to a standstill.

I started commenting on DT and quickly discovered my writing skills were inadequate for the level of discourse taking place. My baseball knowledge was upto par with the best of them but my ability to communicate that knowledge was shortchanging my arguments. So I backed off commenting, read and learned and then jumped back into the foray. Over time I must have had done okay because when Andrew who used to manage True Blue asked Jon for some recommendations on who could help him here, Jon recommended me. At least I think he did.

Anyway I started at True Blue in the summer of 2007 with the idea that I'd contribute a story to fill space when Andrew was busy. Over time Andrew got very busy and I wrote more and more. Eventually Andrew had to stop blogging and I took over the management of True Blue and then did exactly what Andrew had done. I asked the most prolific poster over at Dodger Thoughts to join True Blue and turn from being a poster to being a blogger. Anybody who has seen the transformation of True Blue from December to now knows it was a brilliant managerial move.

Things have changed so much in six months my head is still spinning with the repercussions. In December this was a sleepy blog that very few people read or visited. Bloggers were still considered outsiders by the baseball community. The Dodgers still had three beat writers. Jon Weisman was still writing at the Toaster.

Since that time, Eric brought a vitality to True Blue that had been missing, SB Nation brought credibility to our community by cutting deals with Yahoo and CBS Sportsline bringing in new members and readers at unbelievable rates. Hell, we had more hits on the day Manny was suspended then we had the entire month of May in 2008. Two beat writers were laid off,  and Jon Weisman took over the LA Times Dodger blog. Josh Rawitch decided the future might involve bloggers and decided to put an action into place that would allow certain Dodger bloggers a spot in the Dodger Press Box.

Many bloggers have said they don't want credentials, that having access would change how and what they write. They are right, looking into Ned's eyes and asking him questions, hearing what Kim Ng actually thinks instead of making up Dodger fiction does change things. I would never be able to write  fiction like this again and my favorite Neddies World would never have happened. We are now legit. It feels weird, last night it felt great.