If you’re a Milwaukee Brewers fan, you’re probably familiar with Al’s Ramblings, a Brewers blog that Al began in June 2002. And even if you’re not, it’s worth stopping by his blog to get his unique twist on both his favorite baseball team and the world they play in.A Wisconsin native, Al describes himself as “a late 30’s Brewers’ fan who is fortunate enough to have a lovely wife and cute, intelligent five-year-old son.”
His blog’s homepage has a plain vanilla look. Nothing fancy. But it’s content confirms the fact that’s when the substance is good, style can take a back seat and still enjoy the ride.
Here’s a sample of Al’s ramblings:
I still recall with great fondness when two guys, on WTMJ no less, said Julio Santana was a “young prospect” when in reality, he was a journeyman in his 30’s. I am not sure, but I believe the only requirement for being a radio guy is being able to speak.
When we were down there in April of this year, two radio guys, with great angst mind you, were saying the Crew should not wear retro uniforms because they did not play as well in them…seriously.
As you say, the sad thing is, these fellas are absolute geniuses compared to the average fan. You know, the ones who wonder if Prince or Corey will be leaving as free agents…before next season.
Rambling Al graciously answered my questions about his Brewers blog, showing the same kind of wit that’s in his blog writings.
Question: To start, tell me a bit about Al’s Ramblings. Why did you start it? What did you hope to accomplish?
Al: I started Ramblings just to have a place for my own thoughts and feelings about the Brewers, and other things, to be saved. I have enjoyed watching the team for years and just wanted a place to compile my feelings, without the clutter of a message board. I guess my “goal” would have been to create a weblog I would love to start my day with.
Question: It’s been more than than five years since you started Al’s Ramblings. How has your blog changed since its startup? Has it developed the way you expected?
Al: The growth has been miraculous, as I do not post for the casual or bandwagon fan. I got a dozen or so hits for a long time, and when I hit 100 a day, I thought that was the peak. Still going up, and I expect that to continue as the team hopefully has a stretch of solid campaigns. I average about 500 hits a day, and often get double-digit e-mails. All that is much more than I ever expected. As far as changes, I have added other contributors who bring their views and often differ from my own. I tend to be a bit more long-term than most folks, and while some folks are unhappy, I do not share their “sky is falling” mentality; my regulars appreciate it.
Question: What affect has blogging about the Brewers had upon you as a Brewers fan?
Al: As I hinted at above, it has made me think even more long-term as well as about the overall picture. The ignorance of fans this year just floored me, wanting to move every youngster to an easier defensive position, not understanding that 23 year-olds that hit 50 HR’s and debut with a .600 SLG% may not be quite as advanced defensively yet. It’s very difficult not to be optimistic about the future, but to many, the future is tomorrow only.
Question: Going from a dozen or so hits a day to 100 to 500 a day is quite a feat. How were you able to do that?
Al: It’s happened very slowly over five years, so it’s really a matter of just continuing to post several times a day. I get e-mails all the time saying they just stumbled upon the site for the first time. The key is to post enough material to have one that makes someone bookmark it. Once that happens, you have a reader for life, or at least quite a while.
On a sidenote, I post about enough other topics that many of my readers have no interest in the Brewers. Many folks Google up “Seinfeld” or “Lisa Dergen” (the model who married former Brewers’ OF Scott Posednik), and they end up at Ramblings. Every single day, I get at least one search for “JJ Hardy’s girlfriend.”
Question: How is your Brewers blog different from the other Brewers blogs?
Al: It’s not as good?:) Actually, a bunch of them popped up this year with the team doing well, but most have either fallen by the wayside or become second-guessing arenas. Rambling’s tends to discuss not just today’s outcome, but how it affects the upcoming seasons. I used to link a lot of other stuff, and still do some days, but I don’t see any benefit in linking to a Milwaukee paper’s postseason, cookie-cutter “grades” column in which, Ryan Braun, whose debut campaign was the best since Albert Pujols, was given the same grade as journeyman (yet effective) utility player Joe Dillon. It’s junk like that drives people to blogs.
Question: It doesn’t seem that visitors can comment on your blog entries. Why is that?
Al: One word … idiots. I have seen far too many blogs’ comments disintegrate into cursing and personal attacks. I reply [to] or post 95% of my e-mails, so I hear plenty of feedback as well as give readers my feelings on what they wrote.
Question: How many hours a week do you devote to your blog? What are the most time-consuming activities?
Al: Most evenings, I blog some while watching TV and playing poker online. Unless I’m doing something in-depth and research-based, I would say 7-10 hours a week.
Question: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a baseball team blog?
Al: Pretend you are voting in Chicago … write early and often. If you do that, then get your link out by any and all means necessary.
(Editor: About 1,160 pages link to Al’s blog.)