Around The League: Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke Part I

In this weeks installment of our Around The League series I spoke with Pat Lackey from Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke or better known as WHYGAVS to talk about one of the best baseball blogs on the net. Here is Part I of the interview with Part II coming on Thursday.

TNB: How and why did you get involved with WHYGAVS?

WHYGAVS: I suppose some background is necessary here: WHYGAVS is something that I started when I was a bored 20-year old undergrad who spent way too much time thinking about the Pirates and not nearly enough time thinking about Organic Chemistry. I started the blog as a place to collect all of my thoughts about the Pirates and it grew from there. It’s nearly seven years later now, I’m a grad student, and I live 500 miles away from Pittsburgh, but WHYGAVS is still going.

TNB: What are some of your methods in making WHYGAVS grow?

WHYGAVS: In the beginning, I mostly just shared the link to my blog with other Pirate bloggers, who were gracious enough to link me on their sites. I got a couple of big breaks when AOL asked me to write about the NL Central for the now sadly defunct FanHouse, which increased my exposure quite a bit, and when a liveblog I did of a ridiculously terrible Pirates/Royals game was linked to by the Will-Leitch-era-Deadspin, which sent an absolute avalanche of traffic that sort of helped my site jump to the next level. I sent the link in to Deadspin myself because I was quite proud of the liveblog, which is something that I think new bloggers can’t be afraid to do. I’ve also been fortunate enough to write about a team that had a beat writer, Dejan Kovacevic (now of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review), that wasn’t afraid to link to bloggers and acknowledge us, rather than try to shuffle us off. Some of the early links from his blog also went a long way towards establishing a good base of readers for me. Now I think that a lot of the growth comes in the form of Twitter. I’ve cultivated a decent following there and that’s where some of my biggest traffic increases have come of late, from an RT by a player or by other writers. 
I guess this is sort of a rambling answer right now that could be summarized much more succinctly. There are a bunch of things you can do to grow your site, but it’s always important to be looking for an opportunity and to not be afraid to promote yourself when you think it’s appropriate.

TNB: How has blogging changed you as a baseball fan?

WHYGAVS: Immeasurably. It’s pretty much changed the way I think about everything in and around baseball. I started out as a baseball fan generally familiar with Bill James and Moneyball, but writing a blog that coincides with sites like FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus more or less going mainstream has completed changed the way I think about and evaluate players. I was the little kid that would memorize batting averages and RBI totals and ERAs, and I hardly even think about stats in those terms these days.

TNB: Where do you see the future of blogging heading?

WHYGAVS: Boy, that’s a tough question. Really, I think it depends on the blogger. Obviously I think (and hope) that there will always be room for the sort of thing I try to do with WHYGAVS, which is to fill around the edges of the mainstream coverage, both with a fan’s perspective and analysis from a different perspective. There are plenty of writers making names for themselves on blogs by doing more traditional reporting, too, and I think there’s plenty of room for that, too.  Things are obviously a bit more muddled now with a huge preponderance of bloggers and lots of newspaper writers moving to online-only sites and everyone everywhere on Twitter, but there’s always a place for people who create interesting content, no matter what sort of content that is or how the writer is classified.