If someone grabbed me by the collar in 2006 and insisted I’d still be writing for Bugs & Cranks in 2014, I would have laughed derisively. The Web was too fickle. Startups were too risky. Journalism was a dying art.
Yet, here I am — albeit in a much different capacity — approaching my eighth Opening Day on staff, still proudly flying the flag of what I believe is the finest source of honest baseball commentary around.
In the time since we launched, Bugs has grown to exponential heights, endured massive site restructuring, seen countless scribes come and go, and eaten more than our share of humble pie when a steadfast refusal to bow to Internet trends resulted in a loss of readership. But, we’re still here, and you might as well tap another keg, because we’re not leaving.
I’m writing this because I feel Bugs is primed for a renaissance. In many ways, our site’s evolution has mirrored that of Major League Baseball itself.
When we started, baseball was at a high point. Long-suffering teams were becoming contenders, long-dormant teams were reestablishing dominance, and to many, players like A-Rod and Barry Bonds were still heroes, not footnotes.
Of course, much of this changed. And when much of the positive wind was removed from MLB’s sails, it became more difficult for our team to create humorous, engaging content. Oh, we did it — and we did a damn good job of it. But many people weren’t looking to baseball for entertainment anymore. They were looking for a reason to criticize it, lambaste it, and abandon it after years of waffling on the subject.
And our readership dwindled as a result…
Don’t get me wrong, to the diehards, baseball never stopped being entertaining. But this pool of diehards was diminishing quickly. And most any discussion of baseball was centered on paychecks, PEDs and off-field drama — not the game we once loved as pure escape.
I believe 2014 will be the year baseball becomes fun again.Â I believe Strasburg, Wheeler, Trout and Harper are leading a growing resurgence of pure talent that will carry this game through the next decade. I believe we will see cities like Kansas City and Seattle start believing in their teams once more. I believe fans will begin speaking of their teams in terms of potential and the future, rather than reflecting on better times.
Is baseball ready to reclaim the “national pastime” throne from the NFL? Not likely. To an iPhone society insistent on immediate gratification, baseball will probably never be “cool” again.
Likewise, to an Internet community groomed to digest news in bullet points and “Top 10″ formats, our approach to prose will probably never be quite ready for Buzzfeed-level prime time. And we don’t care.
We love social media. We don’t even mind lists. But we never let these outlets supersede our true value proposition. We believe that cream rises, and that the content we create far surpasses any gimmicky slideshows or “shocking” headlines. Any links we receive for our posts will be earned, because of the genuine value in the thoughts we share, not the buzz we create. We are writers. We are fans. And we create material that will be relevant long past today’s Reddit rant.
Thanks to the unparalleled efforts of all the names you see on this page each day, the 2014 Bugs will reflect the positive shift in baseball with more timely insights, heartfelt commentary, in-depth interviews and honest perspectives from real baseball fans than ever before. Additionally, we will finally implement a long-overdue website redesign, to better deliver the material that matters to you most.
As always, we thank you for your readership, and hope you’ll join us for the latest leg of this ongoing journey.