This off-season, The Nats Blog will be conducting weekly interviews with blogs from around the league focusing on the growth and strategic management of their sites. This week I spoke with Patrick Reddington from Federal Baseball, one of the top Washington Nationals blogs on the net to talk about the impact the site has had on his life and the future of blogging.
TNB: What was your inspiration in starting Federal Baseball?
Federal Baseball: I didn’t actually start Federal Baseball. It existed for a little over a year before I started writing there. I’d been writing on my own at an MLBlogs site called DC Daily in 2005-6, and when the original writer at Federal Baseball moved on the folks at the SB Nation contacted me about taking over Federal Baseball, which I did in August of 2007, the same week that Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run off the Nats’ Mike Bacsik. My only goal when I started writing about baseball was to get myself to sit down and write every day. There was no expectation of an audience reading or commenting on what I was writing, when I moved to Federal Baseball I decided to see if I could build a site focused on building up a community and a variety of opinions rather than making it all about my own opinion on all the news. My thinking was that it was more interesting to see what other people thought about the news on the Nats rather than focus solely on my own interpretation of events, and I’ve tried to continue in that direction as the site has grown. Maybe because I spent years as the only Expos fan I knew, my goal was to create a community around following the Nats rather than a monument to my own wit, which was probably a good decision, because I’m not that witty.
TNB: What has been the most effective way in promoting Federal Baseball, social media, etc.?
Federal Baseball: Everything. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to distribute your work and interract with readers who don’t necessarily visit and comment on the site, but it’s all geared around getting people talking and discussing matters related to the Nats. I agree to do just about every interview I can. I’ve done radio, print, television interviews, everything that time allows. Through the SB Nation we have great distribution deals that get our work in front of as many eyes as possible, then it’s up to the writers to provide compelling content on a consistent enough basis that it becomes a habit for people to follow your work.
TNB: How has your blog changed you as a baseball fan?
Federal Baseball: Completely, though I would say interacting with people through Federal Baseball has changed me as a fan more than working on the site itself has. With so many intelligent people focused on the same topics and kicking around ideas and potential solutions to issues that arise you can’t help but learn more and more and often challenge your own assumptions and ideas on any topic that comes up for discussion. I’ve learned more from interacting with other people on our site than I ever would have just following the team on my own. They’ve often completely changed my opinions, and introduced me to new ways of thinking about every aspect of the game. I’ve watched more baseball in the last five years of my life than I did in the previous three decades and through the site I’ve met other writers and talked to players, former players, coaches, who’ve shown me how much I have to learn about the game.
TNB: Where do you see the future of blogging heading? How much bigger can it get?
Federal Baseball: I don’t know. I never imagined (though I lobbied for it) that internet-based writers would get credentials to cover the Nationals and other major league teams. That was a huge step that should be taken seriously when the opportunity arises if writers for independent media organizations want to be taken seriously by the the franchises they cover. I think you’ve seen, in the last few years (decade), everyone transition if not totally away from print at least to writing online in addition to producing a printed product. The reaction of the so-called mainstream media to online media has been to fund writers doing everything that was once solely the domain of internet-based writers. Every baseball writer in America’s adopted Twitter, everyone’s doing game chats now and the writers are interacting with the audience in a way that they didn’t even five years ago. But when something like Twitter can show up out of nowhere and completely change coverage how can you predict the future?