Hey there. Remember me? I enjoyed my time off, but it’s good to be back.
Before I say anything else, I want to express my profound thanks to Phil and all his contributors for giving me a much-needed breather, for keeping the site running smoothly, and, especially, for producing such fantastic content over the past month. This isn’t the first time Phil has taken over the site while I’ve taken a summer break, but he really stepped up his game this year. Please join me in giving him and his crew a standing O — they deserve it.
So what have I been doing for the past month? I did manage to squeeze in a four-day road trip through New Jersey, Delaware, and Philly (highlighted by a crab feast at this place, which is every bit as good as it looks in those photos). Also saw lots of good music, most notably a marathon set by the Muffs, a killer show by Sleepy LaBeef, and a spectacular outdoor set by Allen Toussaint. Mostly, though, I worked — on the Uni Watch Power Rankings, on other ESPN projects, and on a few non-sports endeavors. Not the most glamorous summer break, I’ll grant you, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Although I was taking a break from the site, I was also thinking about the site — a lot. Specifically, I thought about three possible changes. I’d like to hear what you think about them:
1. The Ticker. Aside from the occasional guest-written contribution, I always produce the main entry and the Ticker each weekday. I love getting Ticker contributions — they help me keep my finger on the pulse of the uni-verse, and it’s always good to hear from readers. But the volume of contributions — often more than 200 emails a day, many of which require assorted forms of follow-up — can be overwhelming. It’s been a long time since I could, say, go to a movie (to say nothing of going on a vacation) without worrying about how many Ticker emails would be piling up while I was away. Dealing with the Ticker usually eats up the first 45 minutes of my morning (seriously: I open my eyes, immediately reach for the laptop, and deal with the overnight emails right there in bed), and it’s a constant presence in my life for the rest of the day, right up until I go to sleep. In many ways it’s the tail that wags the dog of my life.
Don’t misunderstand me — I’m not complaining. Nobody ever put a gun to my head and made me do the Ticker. The volume of submissions is a measure of Uni Watch’s success, and I’m privileged to have such a proactive, enthusiastic reader base. Still, the Ticker can be exhausting, so over the years I’ve considered a few ways to tame the beast. For example, I could impose a higher standard by running only “important” Ticker submissions and just ignoring all the others. But that might alienate the readers whose submissions weren’t being used. And besides, the “unimportant” Ticker submissions — the little items about really little details — are often my favorites (and maybe yours, too). Also, Uni Watch has always included an element of obsessive information overload, and I’d like to retain that.
Another option: Outsource the Ticker to an intern. I’ve never really considered this idea too seriously, because I’m
a control freak lousy at delegating and generally prefer to do everything myself. But now I’m thinking it might finally be time to go this route — assuming I can find an intern with the energy and acumen to take on the task, that is.
Letting go of the Ticker would have a major impact on my life, mostly for the better (although there are things about it that I’d miss). But what about the effect of this move on your life? Would you be less interested in the Ticker if it were compiled by someone else? Would you miss my voice? Would you welcome the change? Here, tell me what you think:
2. The format. For more than seven years now, I’ve stuck to a simple schedule: one blog post per day, published in the morning. (Yes, there have been a couple of exceptions to this rule over the years, but they’ve been very, very rare.)
This format has worked well, but I’ve often wondered if it might be better to post multiple times per day. I could publish the main entry in the morning and the Ticker a few hours later. Things that end up as a sentence or two in the Ticker under our current format could become short, stand-alone blog entries of their own. Occasional features like “Collector’s Corner” or “’Skins Watch” could also stand alone as their own entries, instead of being bundled into the big once-a-day entries. And I could do short posts on breaking news as it occurs, which is pretty much the way the internet works now. This means you’d come back to Uni Watch multiple times per day to keep up with stuff, just as you probably do on lots of other sites.
I’ve always resisted going this route, in part because doing multiple posts per day might interfere with my sanity, but also because we would lose the day-long discussion threads that often take place in the comments (once a new entry is posted, commenters would likely abandon the last post and move on to the new one), which would probably have the effect of decreasing the site’s sense of community. In short, it would make Uni Watch a more freewheeling, possibly more chaotic place, a less predictable place, and possibly a harder place to keep up with. That could potentially be stressful for all of us, but it might also make Uni Watch a more interesting place, and my general feeling is that interesting is good.
Again, I’d like to hear what you think:
3. The ads. As many of you are aware, during my break we briefly experimented with a new ad format. Reaction to it was very negative, and I ultimately decided I didn’t like it myself, so we scrapped it after a few days.
Frankly, I’d like to scrap all the advertising and have the site be ad-free, but that’s not realistic from a financial standpoint — at least not if I’m giving away the content for free. But what if I charged a modest subscription fee to access the site?
I have a feeling I know what your collective reaction to that idea will be, but let’s see if I’m right:
I’m not yet completely sold on making any of these changes yet — that’s why I’d like to know what you think. Thanks in advance for your feedback.
In case you missed it on Friday, I did a live web chat on ESPN. Here’s how it went.
Have I mentioned that the Ticker is a beast?: The new Madden game becomes available this week. As I disclosed back in March, I have a small role in this edition of the game, and now it turns out I’m going to have some additional involvement, probably next month. Details to follow soon. … In case you missed Johnny Ek’s coverage on Saturday, TCU has a new uni and helmet for the season-opening game against LSU. … Pitt and Florida State, who open the season against each other on Labor Day, will be wearing helmet decals to raise awareness of a children’s blood disease (thanks, Phil). … The Falcons have posted their 2013 jersey schedule. Looks like they won’t be wearing their black throwbacks this year (from Garen Schaefer). … Lots of MLB uni action over the weekend, incuding the Phillies and Diamondbacks wearing throwbacks on Friday night; the Mets wearing orange “Los Mets” jerseys on Saturday; the Nats and Royals wearing Negro Leagues throwbacks on Saturday; and the Rangers and White Sox wearing chest patches for the annual Civil Rights Game on Saturday night (here’s a closer look). …. … Sporting KC’s keeper, Jimmy Nielsen, will begin wearing locally made gloves designed by the team’s supporters group, the Cauldron (from Markus Kamp). … David Hutchison sent along a bunch of good stuff from the recent Reebok/CCM goalie summit, including Jonathan Bernier’s new retro Leafs gear and ingoalmag.com/masks/jonathan-berniers-new-toronto-maple-leafs-mask/”>mask; Marc-Andre Fleury’s new mask; and Reebok’s new Premiere XLT line. … Great throwback kit for Parma (from Kenny Loo). … A Japanese baseball team recently wore rather bizarre denim-ish uniforms (thanks, Phil). … Deadspin founder Will Leitch — who no longer writes for Deadspin but still writes a lot about sports — posted a fun response to my MLB Power Rankings (from Terence Kearns). … No photo, but Maks Skuz says Packers QB Graham Harrell played several plays in Friday night’s preseason game with his chinstrap unsecured. “On one play he was nearly sacked, and I wanted to see his helmet fly off for his idiocy,” says Maks. … Cross-sport promotion upcoming in Chicago, where the White Sox will be giving away Blackhawks scarves on Sept. 10 (from Tim Reyes). … “Thought you’d be interested in this article about an Iowa high school’s rebranding,” says Aaron Telecky. “I was pleased to see that they pursued their own unique identity instead of using an existing pro or college logo. There’s also information in there about another Iowa school’s rebranding relative to the Native American issue. For whatever reason, the article didn’t actually provide links to the new logos, etc., but you can see those here and here.” … Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas has a pretty wild helmet (from Dave Wilson). … Sports Business Journal has posted a great article about NFL alternate uniforms. The bad news is that it’s behind a pay wall; the good news is that a reader who prefers to remain anonymous saved it for us as a Word document. Recommended reading. … Here’s a nice shot of Ralph Kiner in the Pirates’ pre-black/gold uniform (from Yancy Yeater). … Aussie rules football news from Graham Clayton, who writes: “To commemorate the SANFL indigenous round played on the 2nd of August, Port Adelaide wore a special guernsey featuring large circles and dots, which symbolize the local region and Aboriginal meeting places within it.” … Jerry Wolper found an article about the inconsistency in MLB’s pants/stirrups styles — in 1967! Great stuff. … Know how to knit and want to make some case? Eric Trager wants to give his grandfather a Dodgers V-neck sweater for his 90th birthday and is willing to pay someone to do the knitting. If you’re interested, contact him here. … In what is sure to go down as the most idiotic story of the
week month year, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer made a bunch of scouts attending an OSU practice change their shirts because they were wearing blue, which was apparently too Michigan-ish for Meyer. Further evidence that being a congenital jerk is a requirement for being a football coach. … “Being a ‘kit man’ in English soccer is very simple,” says George Chilvers. “All you have to do is make sure the team have the correct kit. What could possibly go wrong?” … One of the sponsors for Josh Wise’s No. 35 car at Saturday’s Spring Cup race at Bristol was Carson-Newman University. Is it common for schools to be NASCAR sponsors? (From Josh Wren.) … Soccer jerseys are as super-stretchy as football jerseys these days. That’s Bolton in white vs. Queens Park Rangers in green (from Michael Orr). … Seriously ugly G.I. Joe caps for Bloomsburg University baseball (from Jason Ricles). … If the Pirates are playing the Giants, why would anyone on either team be using a Cubs bat weight? Weird (spotted by Ethan Kassel and the presumably pseudonymous Sethwick P. Fizzywigg). … Here’s a weird one: Keith Olbermann sent along this mid-1960s shot of Bill White wearing a Cardinals cap with a black (or navy?) logo. Never seen that before. Todd Radom thinks it must have been a spring training thing. Anyone know more? … Clint Wrede notes that Avisail Garcia of the White Sox appears to have been wearing very sheer socks the other day. … “A lot of uni-related trivia from Thursday’s Real Madrid match against Qatari club Al Sadd to celebrate the career of Raul, who currently plays for Al Sadd but played the first 16 years of his career in Madrid (shirts were stitched with the commemorative “Partido Homenaje a Raul,” or “Tribute Match for Raul”),” says Yusuke Toyoda. “He played the first half for Real Madrid, wearing his old No. 7 (note the jersey number composed of photographs of fans) and forcing the current occupant of No. 7, Cristiano Ronaldo, to wear No. 11, and played the second half for Al Sadd. After the match, he celebrated by wearing his Real Madrid shirt with his Al Sadd shorts and socks.” … Yesterday’s New York Times story about South Carolina football player Jadeveon Clowney was accompanied by an illustration of Clowney’s now-famous hit against Michigan’s Vincent Smith, only the illustrator showed Clowney knocking the NOB lettering off of Smith’s jersey. … Kennesaw State wants fan input regarding the team’s football helmet. … Anthony Bales sent along this old photo of Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury. I used to know which maker’s mark that was, but now I can’t remember the name of the company. Little help..? … Not uni-related, but this article about ESPN’s role in college football is essential reading. Highly, highly recommended. … The St. John’s basketball team has new uniforms for a summer tour of Europe. As you can see in the photo captions, they’ll get a different design for the regular season, although I’m told that use of blue may continue. … “The Boston shoe company Concepts has partnered with Asics to create a sneaker inspired by the iconic statue of John Harvard that sits in the middle of Harvard Yard,” writes Laurence Holland. “The shoe echoes the gray-green color of bronze patina, and the metallic toe box is a reference to the toe of the statue, which has been polished by tourists who consider it a good luck charm. But my favorite detail is the high tongue, which gives the sneaker the shape of a colonial pilgrim’s shoe.” … Lots of Aussie football news from Leo Strawn Jr., including the Geelong Cats wearing a “members jumper,” featuring the names of 670 supporters who paid to be on the jersey; the Greater Western Sydney Giants wearing special jumpers to acknowledge the footy accomplishments of coach Kevin Sheedy; and the St. Kilda Saints and Gold Coast Suns going color-on-color. Also, teams in Victoria removed the “5” from their 50 meter arc markers, to promote the state government’s “Wipe Off 5” safe-driving initiative. … I watched a bit of last night’s 49ers/Vikings game — my first in-game look at Minnesota’s new uniforms. My take: The nesting uni numbers often make it look like the jersey is being stretched out of place, but lots of players on other teams look like that too, because their jerseys are being stretched out of place, so it’s ultimately no big deal; the asymmetrical pants piping bugs me, but I’ll probably get used to it; the flared sleeve striping looks awful and is the thing I hate most about this uni set; the matte helmets looked a lot better in late-afternoon sunlight than they did under the artificial lights of a dome. … Nate Schierholtz of the Cubs was hit in the head by an infielder’s throw while running out a ground ball last night, resulting in some chips in his helmet (screen shot by Ben Melancon). … The Lake Elsinore Store wore 20th-anniversary throwbacks the other day (from Charles Pannunzio). … Adam Brett Walker of the Cedar Rapids Kernels wore some nice striped socks yesterday (from Chris Taylor).
Tomorrow: My annual college football season-preview column — the biggest one ever!