February 4, 2009

Baseball Toaster, RIP


Sad news: Baseball Toaster -- a collection of superb blogs under a super-cool logo -- is no more.

My path crossed with Toaster last April, when I exchanged several emails with Ken Arneson, who oversaw the site and wrote Catfish Stew, about the possibility of Joy of Sox joining the Toaster family. We discussed how to tweak the blog to make it a better fit and about the idea of having other contributors, including Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods (a fellow Red Sox fan).

(Actually, the entire discussion began after I wondered in a JoS comment why there was no Red Sox blog at Toaster. Josh emailed me and things took off from there.)

I decided that changing formats (and URLs) in mid-season made no sense, so I proposed to Ken that we revisit the discussion after the 2008 season. In the interim, however, I decided the cons of moving outweighed the pros.

Also, it became clear this week that the toaster in our kitchen needs to be replaced.

7 comments:

redsock said...

In a comment to Jere's recent post lamenting the end of the Toaster, Arneson writes:

"This offseason, we tried to recruit some of our favorite other bloggers we thought would keep up the high-quality writing we enjoyed at the Toaster, so we could grow and continue on. None of them accepted our offer. We don't pay our writers anything, and it was becoming more and more difficult to compete with outlets that do."

My last contact with Ken at the end of last April. I don't mind being passed, since I probably would have also declined, but I wonder who they went after.

tim said...

Guys - whatever you do, do not buy a Black and Decker toaster.

My aunt/uncle/cousin were having a peaceful night at home a couple of weeks ago when their B&D toaster suddenly erupted in flames. My uncle put out the fire quickly after they discovered it and cut/burned his fingers, but the kitchen was totally Timlin'ed.

Turns out the toaster was recalled due to this exact problem - some sort of wiring problem. Everything ended up well in the end though. No permanent damage and they get a new kitchen out of it from insurance co. (They were thinking of reno'ing it anyway!) But whew, close call. If they weren't home the entire house would've been a-blazin' and my uncles brand new 46" DLP TV would've gone up with it....

Benjamin said...

Seems like the Internet is the great disaggregator, so I wonder how much market there is for a blog like that in the long run anyway. It's one thing to get a bunch of lazy people (or academics/professionals) and have them all sporadically post on a single topic, with the hope that it adds up to one blog's worth. But if you want coverage of your team, there's no particular reason to get it bundled with other teams' coverage, other than ecumenism.

But I probably just don't know what I was missing.

L-girl said...

It's one thing to get a bunch of lazy people (or academics/professionals) and have them all sporadically post on a single topic, with the hope that it adds up to one blog's worth.

Is that what they did? I'm under the impression it was much more than lazy or sporadic posts.

[Thanks for the toaster advice, Tim. Glad no one was hurt! Presumably if the product was recalled it won't be out there anymore.]

Benjamin said...

Is that what they did? I'm under the impression it was much more than lazy or sporadic posts.

No, I mean that's what some other sites do, and it's a fairly sustainable model. It looks like the toaster folks were more ambitious, and it fell apart.

I'm really conflating two different problems, though, one supply-side and the other demand-side.

redsock said...

But if you want coverage of your team, there's no particular reason to get it bundled with other teams' coverage, other than ecumenism.

I think the group idea also increased readership for some of what would have been smaller blogs (Dodger Thoughts and Bronx Banter were the two biggest draws).There was a certain sameness to the blogs -- but in a good way -- and the little Google ads were very unobtrusive. The site was very open and clean, which I really liked.

But being on your own promises complete autonomy: I can make as much fun of the Yankees and Fat Billy as I want here!

Josh Wilker said...

"I don't mind being passed . . ."

I can't speak for Ken, but I suspect it might be innaccurate to think of the casting about for other potential Toaster writers that Ken mentioned on Jere's blog as any kind of a systematic effort with a specific start and end date. I think by this offseason the writing was on the wall for the Toaster, and that when Ken talks of trying to find other blogs to fill the breach he's not just talking about the offseason (i.e., he's including your inconclusive conversations on the subject back in April).

Anyway, it would have been my personal dream version of the Toaster to have JoS on there, but c'est la vie. Anyway, Joy's perfect right where it is and how it is.