Another day, another guest post: WAR and the Hall of Fame

After writing my first ever guest post on Wednesday evening, I wrote my second one less than 24 hours later. This time, I wrote something for Baseball In-Depth, examining a Baseball-Reference blog post that ranked the best pitchers and position players not in the Hall of Fame based on their WAR data.

Here is a link to my post:

http://www.baseballindepth.com/2010/05/guest-post-war-new-answer-in-baseball.html

Hope you all enjoy it.

Guest post for Baseball in Wartime: Great players who saw combat

I have been looking for new ways to promote this site, since I get a relatively small amount of traffic, have an Alexa rank that depresses me and a Google page rank of 2 (which relegates me to the Internet Kids Table, so to speak.) On this note, anyone who reads regularly may have noticed that I have expanded my baseball writing beyond this site. Today, I’m pleased to announce my guest post for the Baseball in Wartime blog. My topic: A Starting Line-up of Combat Veterans.

Lots of ballplayers have served in the military during war-time, most accepting non-combat playing assignments, as Ken Burns noted, “helping to raise funds for the war effort and boosting the morale of their fellow servicemen.” While Major League Baseball struggled to find players, particularly for the minor leagues, the army was stacked with stars like Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, and Pee Wee Reese. The waste appalls me, but I don’t know if a better alternative would have been involuntary combat duty. I wouldn’t have wanted responsibility for sending the Yankee Clipper to his death.

With that said, I am fascinated by the smaller number of players who elected for combat duty, particularly veterans who were already established and may have opted for lighter duty. With Memorial Day approaching, I thought a dream line-up of these players might be timely and interesting. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Before there was Tiger, there was the Babe

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There once was an iconic sports star who transformed his game, was its first marketing icon and was so renowned and beloved he was known by a single name.

Generations before Tiger, there was the Babe.

Over the past several months, I have been struck by the similarities between embattled golfer Tiger Woods and the greatest ballplayer of all-time, Babe Ruth. For one thing, were Ruth still alive, he could probably relate to Woods’ well-chronicled marital woes. In the Twenties, Ruth went to greater excesses.

The above picture is of Ruth with his wife Helen and their adopted daughter in 1923. The marriage didn’t last. As chronicled in Ken Burns’ Baseball, Ruth was “a favored customer in whorehouses all across the country” and collapsed in 1925 with what was privately speculated by sportswriters to be venereal disease (publicly they wrote it was the result of too many sodas and hot dogs, and one called it the “bellyache heard round the world.”) After Helen Ruth suffered a nervous breakdown, the couple agreed to separate. She died four years later in a house fire, living with another man under an assumed name.

In a sense, Woods is lucky. I’ve written before that I think he’ll be fine, and while I don’t know if I believe that as strongly anymore, his estranged wife Elin appears to be doing well, while she takes college classes in Florida and contemplates whether or not to file for divorce in the wake of serial infidelity.

With that said, the parallels between Ruth and Woods extend far beyond philandering. A good Orlando Sentinel article from April delved into this somewhat, though there was stuff it missed. I’ll list some of the major similarities chronologically:

  • Woods is of mixed race, and Ruth was rumored to have black ancestry, which was part, I would venture, of what helped give them folkloric status among much of America.
  • Both had challenging relationships with distant, demanding fathers. A new book, Tiger: The Real Story recounts Woods’ mercurial bond with his late dad, Earl. Ruth had a lookalike bartender father who placed him in reform school at a young age.
  • Each man got an early start professionally. Ruth debuted in the majors at 19, while Woods played in his first Masters at that age.
  • Both were light years beyond anyone they played against.
  • They each were the first heavily-marketed stars of their sports. Ruth hawked everything from Wheaties to cigarettes, while decades later, Woods became the face of Nike.
  • Both took their sports to different levels, Ruth by rescuing the game in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Woods by bringing in a new, youthful breed of golf fans.
  • The media chastised each man, leading them to publicly promise change. For Ruth, those promises didn’t last more than a couple of years. It will be interesting to see if Woods fares better.

Players like Ruth and Woods are rare, icons with a combination of skill and larger-than-life marketing status. Shaquille O’Neal has it, maybe Michael Jordan, maybe Lance Armstrong. It’s a tough mantle to attain. It’s tougher to live up to.

Book Review: Cardboard Gods

Baseball cards played a big role in my childhood. As I’ve written here before, I got my first cards when I was around three, started collecting a few years later and at one point had roughly 5,000 cards. I outgrew card collecting by the time I hit high school, though nostalgia leads me to buy a pack from time to time. Most recently, I purchased four packs of 1988 Topps on eBay for $4 with shipping and got young versions of Tony Gwynn, Cecil Fielder and Kevin Mitchell. It was $4 well spent.

I think every kid who built a baseball card collection has a hallowed first year of collecting. For me, it was 1990 when I was six turning seven, and my best friend Devin and I sorted, talked about and loved that year’s Topps cards. For Josh Wilker, the hallowed year was 1975.

Wilker, a fellow blogger, recently had his first book published, Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards. Sports Illustrated called it a “wry, rueful memoir” in a May 10 review and dubbed Wilker “one of 2010’s most promising literary players.” After seeing that article, I emailed Wilker for a review copy. Wilker forwarded my email to his publisher, Seven Footer Press, and I quickly received the book, which I finished this morning. It was a great read.

Wilker’s book has been well-praised, from SI to ESPN to other bloggers, as it should be. Every generation, I think there are perhaps a few baseball books like this: marvelously written, literary and unique. When Ball Four debuted in 1970, the New York Times wrote, “Ball Four is a people book, not just a baseball book.” Cardboard Gods works similarly. It joins The Boys of Summer as the second baseball book I’ve recommended to my mom.

Ostensibly, the book is about baseball cards, with each chapter an autobiographical essay devoted to a specific card spanning 1974 to 1981, the bulk of time Wilker collected before he too grew out of it. Wilker writes about his childhood and early adult life, using cards as metaphors, and towards the end especially, chapters fly by with limited mention of players. It works, though. I’m glad the book is billed being about cards, as I doubt I would have heard of Wilker otherwise. That being said, Wilker could have written about mud, and the writing would appeal. Wilker has an MFA from Vermont College and won a short fiction award, and in Cardboard Gods, it shows.

The story drew me in. Early on, I started to care about Wilker’s family members, wondering how their stories would come out, and appropriately, the book includes personalized cards for them. Though there is great baseball writing, like a reference to the Milwaukee Brewers as a “malodorous unshaven rabble,” my favorites passages concern Wilker’s mom’s boyfriend fashioning a metal chimney to his VW van in a failed attempt to work as a mobile blacksmith or Wilker, his brother and his dad going to a rock concert (featuring “a few prolonged explosions that I knew were songs only because they began and ended.”)

Were this a movie review, I would give Cardboard Gods three and a half stars out of four. My lone criticism here — which could be the baseball geek/former sportswriter in me talking — is that Wilker offers obvious stuff about players. When I got to the Mike Kekich chapter, I knew it would be about him swapping wives with his teammate, Fritz Peterson (that really happened.) I knew the Herb Washington chapter would talk about him being the only designated pinch runner in baseball history. I wanted more about the players, but perhaps that would have detracted from the memoir.

After finishing the book in the wee morning hours today, I emailed Wilker. He references a few non-sports books in his work, including Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, which was assigned reading from a favorite college writing professor. My professor also raved about Tobias Wolff and other writers, so I asked Wilker about his influences. Wilker replied a couple hours later, “I love Tobias Wolff and have read just about everything he’s written, I think. This Boy’s Life especially had an influence on my book.” That makes sense. I read both books (Wolff is one of my favorites, too) and Wolff and Wilker have similar life stories, both coming from broken homes, getting expelled from prep schools, and struggling to transition into adulthood. Of course, both men also beautifully related their stories years later.

One final thing. In Cardboard Gods, Wilker writes about youthfully penning a fan letter to his hero, Carl Yastrzemski and never hearing back. I wondered if the book changed this. I asked if there had been any word from Yaz. Wilker replied, “Only in my heart.” If I were Yaz, I’d drop Wilker a quick line. I can’t imagine a better postscript for the paperback edition of Cardboard Gods. John Updike once wrote of another Red Sox immortal, Ted Williams, “Gods do not answer letters.”

Imagine if one did.

Gus Stathos, spring training in 1947, and Jackie Robinson

I went to the Old Timers Lunch on Friday in Sacramento, to do interviews for my book on Joe Marty. It was a good day in my life. I did a couple of key interviews and also got to talk to a former Sacramento Solon named Gus Stathos.

Stathos, who I interviewed at the estate sale of former Solons owner Fred David in February, never played with Marty and was a career minor leaguer. The closest he came to making the show was when the Brooklyn Dodgers brought him to spring training at Vero Beach, Florida in 1947. Stathos played that spring with Jackie Robinson, who was weeks away from becoming the first black man in 83 years to play professional ball.

Stathos gave me a few minutes of his time on Friday, and I’ve provided excerpts from our talk below:

On how Robinson cleaned up at ping pong and horse shoes between workouts and games: “What he did, he used to sit around there with a bunch of guys and play horse shoes. You’d turn around, he beat everybody. Ping bong, he beat everybody. Basketball, he was great. Goodhearted guy, very nice, always spoke real good about everybody.”

On a story Robinson told that spring about treatment he got at a hotel in New Orleans: “He went in to check into the room. There was about fifty or sixty guys there, and the young kid who was behind the counter, he says, ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘We don’t take black people here for our hotel.’ So Pee Wee Reese says– he came forward, Pee Wee Reese– and Eddie Stanky came forward says, ‘Well, if he can’t stay here, we’re not going to stay here.’ So Jackie Robinson heard that, he came up, and he said, ‘Hey, you guys don’t worry about it, I’ll go to a black town and get a room, and I’ll see you guys at the ballpark.’ That’s the kind of a guy he was.”

On if he had a good idea if Robinson would break the color barrier that year: “He was a great guy and a great ballplayer. I thought he was great, I really did, I really liked him. Everybody loved him.”

On whether he had other conversations with Robinson: “Well, as soon as he knew I was from California, cause he was from LA you know….”

On whether Robinson had an opinion on Stathos’s hometown, Sacramento: “I don’t think he even knew where Sacramento was, to be honest with you.”

On Robinson as a player: “I just loved the way he ran. He was pigeon-toed, you know, and he could run– and he could run. He had a lot of guts. He’d steal every base there was and… I thought he was a great ballplayer, I really did. And I’m glad that he made the Hall of Fame, I’m glad he did what he did, and I can say that I was at spring training with him.”

Is Gil Hodges a Hall of Famer?

I took my first stab at writing an Ezine Article to promote Baseball: Past and Present. I submitted it Wednesday night, and after a brief vetting process, Ezine accepted and published it this morning. I wrote about whether Gil Hodges belongs in the Hall of Fame.

I had two goals in writing this: 1) Get a back link, since Ezine has a Google rank of 6; 2) Attract more viewers to this site– I would be happy even if it’s one or two clicks a month, though hopefully it’s more.

I’ve heard different things said about article marketing. Some people say it’s better to keep your best stuff for your own site. I decided to write a good piece of original content for a category I feel I’m strong in here, the Hall of Fame. I don’t see the point of pushing out shit around the Web with my name on it, so I spent a few hours Wednesday researching and writing.

Anyhow, it’s a big day today. I am going to an old-timers lunch in Sacramento to interview people who knew Joe Marty, particularly one man who is a wealth of information but tends to be skittish about doing in-home interviews. After the lunch, I am going to the library downtown and intend to get lost in old microfilm for the bulk of the afternoon. Marty played in San Francisco and Sacramento in the PCL and Chicago and Philadelphia in the majors. If my book is to be done right, I assume I’m going to need to look at old newspapers from all of those towns and more.

Postscript on my failed attempt to interview Bernie Carbo

I had my first “Where Are They Now” piece published last night on Baseball Savvy, a site I was recently invited to contribute to. I interviewed Billy O’Dell, who pitched for the Giants in the 1962 World Series, and our two cordial phone conversations contrasted with the run-in I had a few weeks before with another player I approached about this, Bernie Carbo.

As I wrote about here before, I had a chance to interview Carbo that didn’t go anywhere. I’ll rehash over the next few paragraphs for anyone who missed my first entry (anyone who’s read it can skip down to the last four graphs.) Basically, Carbo hit a famous home run in the 1975 World Series and more recently has been in the news for telling the Boston Globe, “I played every game high.” I was put in touch with Carbo through a mutual contact Dave McCarthy, executive director of the Ted Williams Museum in Florida, and Carbo and I set up to talk, but it didn’t come off.

When I called Carbo at the time we’d agreed on, he seemed to get spooked when I asked if I could use a recorder, a standard question. For reference, I asked O’Dell that same question both times I talked to him, and he had no problem with it. Maybe Carbo’s more on guard given recent spotlight.

Whatever the case, Carbo had some questions for me, including how I knew McCarthy. I explained how I had been doing research for a post here about how the Hitters Hall of Fame at the Ted Williams Museum honored players like Fred McGriff and Dale Murphy, but not Jackie Robinson and Honus Wagner and that I called McCarthy and we struck up an acquaintance. My mistake with Carbo was that I spoke of the Hitters Hall of Fame as a second-rate Hall of Fame, though it didn’t seem like a deal-killer at the time for the purposes of our interview.

Carbo told me he had interviews slated to go a few weeks out with ESPN and the 700 Club, that he promised those outlets he wouldn’t give his story out ahead of time, and that he would need to call me back in mid-May.

He gave a radio interview to a Red Sox talk show two days after we spoke. Upon hearing this, I called Carbo fuming. I know better than to make these calls, and it went about as well as could be expected. Before our conversation devolved into us talking heatedly over one another and him hanging up on me, Carbo said he had initially agreed to our interview thinking I was a friend of McCarthy and that he began to distrust me or what I would write after I told him the stuff above about how I knew McCarthy.

I’m neither a friend nor a foe, I’m a writer– and for the record, McCarthy’s been nothing but nice to me. But Carbo’s words wouldn’t have struck a nerve if there hadn’t been some truth to them.

The truth is, I’ve felt bad since I first wrote about the Hitters Hall of Fame six months ago. Ted Williams is one of my all-time favorite players, and McCarthy said the museum gives $80,000 to $100,000 to children every year. That’s a good thing, even if it’s not for me as a writer to take a position one way or another. I also like the idea of extra Halls of Fame in baseball besides Cooperstown, which doesn’t honor nearly enough players. A Hitters Hall of Fame is a neat concept for a museum, particularly if it was the brainchild of Williams, perhaps the greatest hitter ever.

Most times, talking to a ballplayer is a wonderful experience. Since the ill-fated non-interview with Carbo, I’ve talked to O’Dell and a former Pacific Coast League catcher Billy Raimondi (for the book I’m working on about his former teammate Joe Marty), and I couldn’t have asked for two nicer interview subjects. With that said, I came in with a good reminder about the importance of choosing my words carefully around ballplayers.

The 10 best pitchers turned position players in baseball

1. Babe Ruth: Easily the most successful example of this transition, although unlike most of the other men here, Ruth did not salvage his career by switching from pitcher to full-time outfielder. He won 89 games before, all prior to his 25th birthday and might have won 300 had he stayed on the mound. But the rest is 714 home runs of history. Interestingly, Ruth pitched five games in his later career as publicity stunts. He went 5-0 in these appearances, twice hurling complete games, including in 1933 at 38.

2. Lefty O’Doul: If only O’Doul discovered he could hit sooner. First, he floundered as a pitcher in parts of four seasons. After a five year break, O’Doul resurfaced at 31 as an outfielder and compiled a .349 lifetime batting average, fourth highest all-time. With a full career, O’Doul would have been a Hall of Famer.

3. Rube Bressler: Bressler went 10-4 with a 1.77 ERA for the Philadelphia Athletics as a rookie in 1914 and hurt his arm. He pitched where he could the next six seasons before suffering a final injury in 1920. “This time I decided the thing to do was give up the pitching business and take up the hitting business,” Bressler told Lawrence Ritter in The Glory of Their Times. “Why not? Other guys could hit. Why not me?” Bressler played 12 more seasons and finished with a .301 lifetime average in 1932.

4. Bobby Darwin: Like O’Doul, Darwin pitched sparingly — one game in 1962, three in 1969 — before establishing himself years later as an outfielder. He began his second career in 1971, became an everyday player the following year and hit 65 home runs his first three full seasons. Alas, he also led the American League in strikeouts those years.

5. Rick Ankiel: He began as a 19-year-old hurler for St. Louis in 1999 and inexplicably lost his ability to pitch two years later. Ankiel spent most of the next six years out of the majors before rejoining the Cardinals in 2007 as an outfielder. He hit 25 home runs in 2008 and the feel good story was marred only by revelations he took HGH (supposedly on doctor’s orders.)

6. Smoky Joe Wood: The Rick Ankiel of his time, Wood went 34-5 for Boston in 1912, then his arm died. He toiled for five subsequent years and then became an outfielder with Cleveland. Wood played five seasons in the field, never managing much power, though he bowed out hitting .297 with eight triples in 1922.

7. Stan Musial: Signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a pitcher in 1938, went 33-13 over the next three years, including 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA for Daytona Beach in 1940. However, Musial hurt his arm and was converted into an outfielder before his major league debut the following year.

8. Mark McGwire: Converted from a pitcher to a position player while at USC, later became a power hitter with Oakland.

9. Dave Kingman: Ditto.

10. Ted Williams: Williams would rate higher here, but there was never any doubt he would make it as a hitter. That being said, he pitched occasionally in high school and signed as a pitcher-outfielder with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. “I got knocked around a little bit, and they forgot about my pitching,” Williams recounted years later in a 1978 episode of the TV show, Greatest Sports Legends. Williams pitched once in the big leagues, throwing two innings one day in 1940 with the Red Sox, scattering three hits and one run, with one strikeout.

The Hall of Limited Fame: The Inaugural Class

I had my first meeting on Saturday as a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and this site came up in conversation with the group. While we waited for others to arrive for our breakfast at Lefty O’Doul’s in San Francisco, I mentioned my most popular post here, The 10 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame. Our chapter president asked if I included O’Doul, and she scoffed when I said no. I understand my words could be seen as blasphemy, especially given where we were at or the fact that we’re the Lefty O’Doul Chapter, but the man isn’t a Hall of Famer in my book.

O’Doul falls into an interesting class of ballplayers: Those men who were brilliant for short stretches. Their chances for Cooperstown are slim because, as late, great Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray noted in a 1978 column, “The baseball writers are sometimes loathe to reward a guy for a single, incandescent, virtuoso performance over one season. They prefer a guy who keeps doing a predictable thing over and over again. Henry Aaron, who piled up 755 home runs, 30 to 40 at a time over 20 years, will go in the hall by acclamation. Roger Maris, who hit 61 one season, more than anyone ever hit in one  season, will never make it.” And the Veteran’s Committee won’t help much either, as it does little for modern era players besides tabbing those who fell just short with the writers.

Perhaps the answer is giving O’Doul and his cohorts a Hall of Fame of their own, a place to honor men who may not have been Cooperstown-worthy their entire careers but played like it for at least a few seasons. I think this could make a great Web site, and if anyone wants to handle design, I’d be happy to write copy. The place could be called Cooperstown II, or better yet, Mini-Cooperstown. Until that comes to be, here are ten men who could be honored:

Player Claim to fame Highest percentage of Hall of Fame vote
Dom DiMaggio
Number three on my list of the ten best players not in the Hall of Fame, DiMaggio is a member of the Hitters Hall of Fame at the Ted Williams Museum and is considered one of the greatest defensive outfielders. Williams had a pamphlet for years in his museum detailing why DiMaggio deserved Hall of Fame enshrinement. His Cooperstown bid was hurt because he played just ten full seasons, missing three years to World War II.
11.3 percent (1973, 9th ballot)
Nomar Garciaparra
Looked like a sure-bet Hall of Famer his first four full seasons, culminating with his .372 year in 2000. He missed most of the next season injured, though, and was never again the same dominant player.
Not yet eligible
Dwight Gooden
Had more wins before his 25th birthday (100) than after (94) when his career fell apart. That would seem to be a dubious record of some sort, but every pitcher on this list shares that distinction.
3.3 percent (2006, 1st ballot)
Roger Maris
His lifetime numbers of 275 home runs and a .260 batting average are pedestrian, but when Maris shined, he shined bright. American League Most Valuable Player in 1960 and again in 1961 when he hit 61 home runs. He deserves enshrinement for what he endured in the latter season alone.
43.1 percent (1988, 15th ballot)
Denny McLain
Like Gooden, won more games before 25 than after. Became the first man in 34 years to win at least 30 games, with his MVP and Cy Young season in 1968. McLain won another Cy Young in 1969 but never again had a winning season thereafter, between arm troubles and rumors he associated with gamblers and underworld figures. He was gone from the majors by 29 and later went to prison on a RICO conviction.
0.7 percent (1979, 2nd ballot)
Lefty O’Doul
Struggled as a pitcher, with a 1-1 lifetime record and 4.87 ERA, bouncing out of the big leagues at 26. Resurfaced five years later as an outfielder and, short of Babe Ruth, is probably the most successful player to make this transition. .349 lifetime average, fourth-highest all-time, with 1140 hits; hit .398 in 1929, .383 in 1930 and .368 in 1932.
16.7 (1960, 9th ballot)
Riggs Stephenson
His .336 lifetime batting average is 22nd all-time, but he was a utility player most of his career and had 500 plate appearances only four times. In those seasons, though, Stephenson hit .362, .344 and .324 (twice.) The ad on his Baseball Reference page calls him, “The greatest baseball player who is NOT in the Hall of Fame!” and I wrote a post in January exploring this.
1.5 percent (1960, 3rd ballot)
Fernando Valenzuela
One word: Fernandomania. The southpaw swept into Los Angeles and the majors with his Cy Young and Rookie of the Year season in 1981 and thrived up through a 21-11 year in 1986. However, he was never as effective thereafter. Assuming he was being truthful about his age– and there has been debate on this– Valenzuela is like McLain and Gooden: He won more games before 25 than after.
6.2 percent (2003, 1st ballot)
Maury Wills
Wills didn’t reach the majors until he was 26 and did his best work his first six full seasons. He led the National League in steals each of those years and was MVP in 1962 when he stole 104 bases and broke a record set by Ty Cobb in 1915. Jim Murray wrote in the 1978 column, “Will someone please tell me why Rabbit Maranville is in the Hall of Fame and Maury Wills isn’t?”
40.6 percent (1981, 4th ballot)
Smoky Joe Wood
Went 34-5 in 1912, and as he told Lawrence Ritter years later in The Glory of Their Times, “That was it, right then and there. My arm went bad the next year and all my dreams came tumbling down around my ears like a damn house of cards. The next five years, seems like it was nothing but one long terrible nightmare.” Wood still won 117 games in his career, all before age 25. Like O’Doul and Ruth, he later played in the outfield, albeit with more modest results.
18 percent (1947, 6th ballot)


This blog turns one, or: 10 things I've learned in the last year

It’s hard to believe, but I wrote my first post a year ago today. It’s amazing what a year can do.

If I knew then what I know now that I didn’t know then (say that three times fast), I might be amazed. And I still have a lot to learn. That being said, I want to offer a list to anyone who’s just starting out or needs a refresher. Here are some things I’ve learned in the past year:

1. Google Analytics

This lets me track how many people come to my site and how long they’re here, among other things. In other words, it’s great for gauging what’s working and what isn’t. Hard to believe, but I never knew of Google Analytics before I started working a software sales job last June.

2. Quantcast

This is the most accurate external measuring tool for my site stats I’ve found. As of today, Quantcast says I get 892 unique monthly visitors. People who blog for a living get upwards of 25,000. I think I’d like 3,000, which seems attainable in the foreseeable future. Anything more, and I might need to be blogging full-time. On a side note, I’ve also learned of Alexa and Compete in the last year, but my ratings there embarrass me and are possibly inaccurate, so I’m not providing links.

3. The value of getting sites to link up

Baseball Musings linked to one of my posts in January, and I got 80-100 extra visitors to my site. Since then, I’ve worked hard to craft a few entries worthy of additional links, which isn’t easy since the man who runs that site has high standards. That’s a good thing, though: It makes it that much sweeter when he does link me up.

4. The importance of writing well and writing often

I cannot stress this enough. When I started, I figured I’d write once a week. A friend suggested every day. My friend had the right idea. With the help of Quantcast, I’ve learned I attract more regular readers when I post often. While I think the most important thing for a blog is excellent writing, providing this original, quality material on a near-constant basis doesn’t rank far behind.

5. The 80/20 rule applies

I heard my boss say something to the effect, not long ago, that 20 percent of work produces 80 percent of results and vice versa. The ratio may be even more skewed with this site. Out of the 150 or so posts I’ve written, I have three, maybe four that get me the bulk of my traffic off of search engines. I write often with the tacit understanding that over time, little will be remembered.

6. The importance of reading other bloggers

Blogging, I’ve found, is little more than an advanced form of social media. I can write and entertain my friends, and a certain number of people will find me off search engines. From there, some of my most loyal readers are other bloggers who I’ve reached out to and vice versa. They read my entries, I read theirs and everyone’s happy.

7. Don’t take anything personally

There are millions of other blogs. I’m just one. I knew this a year ago, but it bears repeating. Most people have probably never heard of this site, and out of those that have, there are probably some who don’t care for it. That’s fine. End of day, I write because something feels missing in my life when I don’t do it.

Then there are the things I’ve learned just in the last week:

8. How to add a Twitter widget to my site (I learned how to do that on Thursday)

9. How to add a blogroll and list of cool sites (I finally learned how to do that Friday afternoon, months after assembling some links)

10. How to get my blog indexed in Blog Catalog, a free indexing site. There are many free tools on the Internet for promoting a blog. I encourage anyone to take advantage of them.

When I started this blog, I didn’t know how long it would last or if I would follow through on it. I feel established now, and I look forward to what the future holds. Honestly, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface on what’s possible. I want to thank everyone who’s supported this site. Knowing anyone cares to read me is tremendously gratifying and makes maintaining this site so much easier and more enjoyable. In the words of Michael Scott, “You guys are the reason that I went into the paper business.”