There’s someone at Towson State University in Maryland who’s been on this blog almost obsessively for the past couple of weeks and my curiosity is getting me to the point that I hafta know: who are you and what are you looking for? I don’t mind, I’m just curious, and why aren’t you visiting my new site: PaulLebowitz.com?
*Note: I’m posting this review here because I like Jane; you can check out the review and my other writings at PAULLEBOWITZ.COM.
Jane Heller has a rare combination of attributes that make her the perfect person to write a book like Confessions of a She-Fan: she’s a passionate Yankee fan; she actually knows the
game; she has a sense of humor; and she can write. What results is a
comic masterpiece which delves not only into the ups and downs of a
hard core fan, but how that adoration and obsessiveness affects their
What began as a frustrated joke about her struggling team became a book idea when it was published as an essay in the New York Times. The reaction was widespread and varied but was the genesis of the idea of a whole book centered around following the Yankees
at home and on the road through a chunk of the 2007 season. Blunted in
her attempts to gain access to the club through the arrogant and
condescending stonewalling of the Yankees front office, Jane is reduced
to following the team as an obsessed fan and—-along with her husband Michael (a man nonpareil in the category of having patience)—-culls
tickets from brokers; stays in various hotels; sits in (mostly)
horrible seats for the games; and ingests copious amounts of unhealthy
ballpark fare while dealing with the undomesticated creature known as
the baseball fan.
Regardless of the dismissive reactions of those in power in the Yankees
hierarchy as she tries to get some input from at least one player,
the love for her team remains. The Yankees organization should be
ashamed with the way they’re portrayed. The list of people for whom
Jane has the skills and the impetus to ruthlessly skewer (but doesn’t)
is vast and includes the following:
- Jason Zillo:
The club media relations director who, one would think, would be
interested in someone creating a caricature of the Yankees organization
as something other than the cold, monolithic and pompous organism that
they clearly are; not only did he refuse Jane press access, but he
wasn’t even professional enough to answer her Emails with anything
other than insulting form letters.
- Broadcastress Kim Jones: What position she’s in to be sending curt Emails at reasonable requests for brief moments of her valuable time is beyond me.
- Yankee Stadium Employees: It often appears that
the fans are in the middle of a ruthless dictatorship with the
nastiness, abusiveness and borderline physical violence they display
toward them, especially women.
involving the above mentioned culprits in the Yankees culture of
self-importance are mentioned because Jane’s love for the Yankees is
unwavering; she allows all these small inconveniences to pale in
comparison to the loyalty she shows as she follows her team into what
ended as another fruitless championship run. The number of people who
come out looking good is occasionally surprising. For example, John
Sterling is a kind, helpful, polite and charming man and there are
laugh out loud moments and historical, ironic anecdotes that will get
any long time baseball fan saying, “I remember when…” and inserting
their own fan confessions in to complete the thought. Such incidents
that affected mere were the following:
- Jane as a teen going to Yankee Stadium to try and meet players:
at Joe Pepitone during batting practice to get his attention (and
getting it) reminded me of the stories I heard of the randy Pepitone
following around and trying to pick up my mother a local Brooklyn bowling alley.
- Trying to chat up Al Leiter at the Toronto airport:
seems a bit reticent and impatient dealing with people he doesn’t know
as he delivers perfunctory responses to innocuous ****-chat, but I met
Al Leiter at a baseball card show when he was just coming up with the
Yankees in the late 80s and he was probably one of the most unpretentious players I’ve ever encountered, calling me by name and thanking me for asking for his autograph on his picture. (It still have it somewhere.)
- And of course, there are the ironically funny bits:
Waldman’s authoritative declaration that “Alex (Rodriguez) has never
done steroids”. The question how would she know isn’t even necessary
given the revelations of the past month.
Referring to Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez of the Angels as a “little
twerp” is no longer allowed since he’s now under the Mets fans’
protection (specifically mine).
Or the reference to getting soaking wet at the ballpark in Detroit—-“Still, my jeans are drenched and my sneakers are in a puddle of water and I am shivering”—-brought
me back to a night at Shea Stadium when my brilliant idea was for me
and my fiancee to stay in our seats and wait out the rain delay so
that, “the seats won’t be wet when the game starts”. (Served her right
for listening to me.)
The book isn’t just about being a fan or about trying to get close to
one’s obsessions; but it’s about maintaining that loyalty no matter
what. The Yankees front office is rude? So what? The stadium personnel
are abusive? Big deal. The team isn’t completing their championship
The love of a team goes beyond what happens on the field; it’s more
than one incident involving people who, by accident of circumstance,
seem to believe that they’re irreplaceable and integral parts of what’s
been built in the Bronx over the past 100 years; it’s a fan who chooses
their loyalties and sticks with them, one way or the other; it’s the
endurance of the loved ones of those fans who tolerate their moods,
tantrums or fits of cussing because of people nicknamed Rocket, ARod,
Jeet and Georgie.
For Jane Heller, the mere prospect of divorcing the Yankees was nothing
more than a fit of pique and was never going to happen. It’s
understandable, but unfortunate because if she’s dedicated enough to
endure all of that and maintain her loyalty, we could use her with the
Mets; and while they may not have a $200 million payroll, at least the
stadium personnel are polite, and that’s not a bad place to start the
I’ve resisted doing this, but the actions of the MLBlogs administration
has forced me into a detailed list of reasons that I took my work to my
own website. It’s one thing to be rationally self-absorbed; it’s
another to unilaterally erase someone as if they’ve been cast out
completely because they made a conscious choice to leave. In
yesterday’s posting of the MLBlogosphere community blog, the “rankings” were again listed. My blog, Prince Of New York, which is still on MLBlogs despite my posting of nothing but notes and links to my new home, PaulLebowitz.com,
has received enough hits to be at least in the top 15 of their
rankings. In what can only be seen as a decision based on my departure,
it was omitted completely as if it never existed and doesn’t count in
their rankings. I haven’t wanted to do this; haven’t wanted to let my
longstanding feelings known about the way the MLBlogs site is handled because there wasn’t really a point, but if this is the vindictive way
in which the administration is going to run things, I have no choice
but to state my case and let readers come to their own conclusion.
- The site is handled unprofessionally and promoted cluelessly:
If you Google the terms “baseball blogs”, you’ll notice that the “official affiliate/unofficial opinions” outlet directly connected to MLB.com comes out ninth.
Think about that for a second. Ninth.
Would the NFL, if they had a site for fans to blog, allow whoever’s in
charge of that site to remain in their current position if there was
such a lack of knowledge of its existence? If they spent so much time
and money creating the site, working on it, using it to promote and
sell items and then allow it to be such a non-factor on the web? Say
what you want about the cold and ruthless way the NFL does business;
about how it’s a cutthroat entity with inordinate power that wears out
their assets and dispatches them; but they have their house in order;
and if something’s not working or living up to expectations, it’s
fixed. Can that be said about Major League Baseball and their
Do you have any idea how many people who are now
regular readers of my work have said to me (in various different
presentations of the same theme): “I only recently found your blog and
would’ve been reading it all along had I known it existed”? I was
writing on that site for almost three years and I’ve developed a loyal
following of readers, but to be completely honest, nowhere near as many
as the work itself deserves. That’s fact, and it’s a clear problem with
the way MLBlogs is run.
Do they not realize that the site can be used for selling Alyssa Milano’s hoodies and promoting the MLB Network and being
a spot for qualified analysts to have their work shown and read? Do
they not understand that with their selfish and random ignorance that
they’re not administering to their clientele? Are the bosses at MLB
even paying attention to what’s going on?
Last year, the site
publisher was changed from Typepad to Movable Type; fair enough. Maybe
it was a business decision or an honest attempt to improve; but the
change was made not in January or February when traffic was probably at
its lowest; no, it was made on opening weekend of the 2008 season. This isn’t just an accident of circumstance, it was pure stupidity and incompetence.
The act itself was the final straw for some longtime and hardworking
bloggers who’d been with MLBlogs since the very beginning and were the
lifeblood of its existence. Matt at Diamondhacks; Michael at Some Ballyard; and Russell at Arizona via Slough
all left after that debacle and started their sites elsewhere. I
hedged; I started a duplicate site at Blogspot, but maintained my
presence at MLBlogs. For awhile, late last year, it looked like it
would pay off. My blog was heavily promoted on the front page of
MLB.com and on the homepage of MLBlogs; then it all just stopped.
The site was once a paid service of $50 a year; then, like that commercial for The Ladders,
it went free and everyone and anyone started a blog. The quality work
was caught up in people trying to sell stuff; starting a blog on whim
and never contributing anything; ignorant fan rants; or just colossal
self-promoting wastes of time. Just like that, the entire site was
saturated and it diminished the quality even further.
brief while late last year, it appeared as if quality was being
promoted intentionally by the administrators of the site. My blog,
along with Jeff and Allen at Red State Blue State and Jane at Confessions of a She-Fan
were featured regularly on the MLB front page and on the front page of
the blogsite; then after the new year it became a free-for-all with
random blogs who weren’t putting in the time or the work to warrant the
attention. The importance of promoting the selling of items or that
interminable MLB Network took precedence over pure baseball talk and
the result was the lack of traffic to qualified blogs such as mine and
then led to my departure.
- The rankings:
Whether or not you realize it, the rankings are twisted, manipulated
and skewered. Certain blogs that make “stunning leaps” into the top ten
are only there because they spent a week or so sitting on the front
page of the MLB site. And just having web hits doesn’t mean there’s
anyone actually reading the
blogs. I haven’t posted anything of note there in almost two weeks and
my traffic is cut in about half from what it was. The people who read
what I was writing came to my new site along with me. The other hits
are either people who are looking for tickets to the Artist once again
known as Prince performing in New York; want to find a photo of some player or
person I’ve embedded into one of my postings; need information about
Tim Lincecum’s mechanics; or are googling some random person I happened
to mention. Many times they’re on the site for too short a period for
them to register as having been on for any amount of time at all…but
it’s still a web hit.
The spammer blog known as The Rumor Mill was a prime example of this phenomenon.The Rumor Mill deserved
credit for one thing: coming up with a clever, hittable title to draw
traffic, but that doesn’t mean there was anyone reading it, because
there was nothing to read other than links to betting sites; ticket
exchanges and other crap, but until recently, he was always at the top
of the rankings because he got a lot of hits whether he was posting
anything or not. If there are those who sit around and post comments
all day on other blogs and Twitter; who are poring over the rankings to
boost their own numbers for some kind of ego boost to be “number one”,
they either don’t know or care that no one’s reading the thing. And
- It was a losing proposition in which I was getting almost nothing of consequence from my participation:
After being a member in good standing (with the daily postings to prove
it) for three years, it was easier to stay than it was to start my own
site. I’ve owned the name PaulLebowitz.com since I got my publishing
contract for my novel in 2000. I never did anything with it in the
eight years since; but in looking at the traffic and who was reading my
work, there was no reason for me to stay at MLBlogs if there wasn’t
going to be any promotion done for my work. No reason to sit there and
waste my time when I could just let my loyal readers know where I was
going and have them follow me. The most offensive thing to me was that after three years of work, no one even cared that I was considering leaving; they didn’t even give one word of appreciation that I contributed; nothing. What I got was the dictatorial elimination of my mere presence in their rankings and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they took steps to eliminate my blog entirely following this posting. (I’d advise them not to do that.)
What kind of an organization is
so inept that they just let good people leave? The same organization that lets big news pass without promoting those that
are discussing it? There are of course the huge stories like ARod and
steroids that warrant their attention and a link from the front page of
the blogsite, but do you know how many times I had to let them know
that something big was happening in baseball and they needed to mention
it on the front page?
When Willie Randolph was fired from the Mets in
the middle of the night, half of the next day had a series of links
promoting “hot interleague matchups”; the manager of a huge market team
had just been fired clumsily and this was what they were interested in
promoting. That’s either a case of people being asleep at the switch or
just not caring about what they’re doing; of looking forward to some
other avenue for their career without paying attention to where they
currently are and doing the best they can and letting the future take care of itself; and just like eliminating my
justified spot in the rankings, that’s a self-centered and embarrassing
way to conduct oneself and if that’s how they want to be perceived, as flunkies who are looking for a way out, then fine. But until MLBlogs gets
it’s house in order from the top, there’s never going to be anything
more than what there is now, whatever “it” is.
The Sunday Lightning feature (including a tantrum) is available on PAULLEBOWITZ.COM.
A new posting is up on PAULLEBOWITZ.COM with commentary related to Ben Sheets’s suddenly elective surgery and Sandy Alderson’s ouster as Padres CEO after an unprecendented run (and not in a good way).
A new posting at PAULLEBOWITZ.COM discusses the fears of the players union regarding drug testing (now being realized) and Bud Selig’s complicity and nonsensical statements regarding the drug test results.
There’s a new posting on PAULLEBOWITZ.COM discussing Roberto Alomar’s situation that’s become public and Keith Law making an egregious mistake on his ESPN blog.