Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Halosphere

First, I want to thank the Rev for the kind words he threw my way on Jeff Biggs' radio show last night.  It was a nice moment for me, and a heck of a leap forward for the Halosphere in general (his whole appearance, I mean), which has really grown over the past few years.  

The community at HH has really expanded, and that's a credit not only to Mat, but to the SportsNation brand, which has created go-to communities for tons of teams, both college and pro.  Halos Heaven has become the watering hole the Angels community much the way Bruins Nation has done the same for the UCLA community.  And the great thing is that they've filled voids without disrupting other great communities.  Inside Illini is still the place for Illini fans (or the Illiniboard, depending upon what side of that divide you're on).  GoAZCats still seems to be the place to discuss Arizona Basketball.  I can't ever see a Los Angeles Kings community that will outdo LetsGoKings.com.  But Sportsnation has created a place on the web for fans of teams that didn't have that community before.  

When I jumped into the Halosphere, there weren't too many of us.  The Rev had his live journal blog.  The various Sean Smiths were doing their thing(s).  The crew at Pearly Gates were active, and Purgatory Online was still around (read his history of the Halosphere right here).  Rob was covering Angels and Dodgers, while the Chronicler was chiming in occasionally.  Every so often Matt would pitch in with an Angels post.  Everyone kind of had their own schtick, and there was a lot of cross-participation, at least via comment.  

Now the sphere has expanded, with a couple of notable retractions.  My Angels stuff is less frequent (alright, my everything is less frequent).  The Chronicler doesn't post too much anymore.  Purgatory and Pearly Gates are gone.   But Rob is still at it.  The guys at 3 Days of Cryin' update as many times in a week as I do in six months.  Both of those sites are great for up the minute news and links, with some great commentary.  Gilbert moved his stuff to Bugs and Cranks.  Chone Smith is updating frequently, as well as doing some great stuff at the Hardball Times.  The list goes on.

In some ways, I think the overall expansion of the community, especially Halos Heaven, has probably led me to dial it back a bit.  Don't get me wrong, a lot of it's due to my own laziness.  But when I was posting game recaps religiously, I used to try to look for some insight.  What could I see a game that didn't get talked about in the local papers?  A good example of this is John Lackey and his propensity for turning 0-2 counts into 3-2 counts.  It was something that always bugged me, and when a friend of mine, Nate Silver, wrote a post at Baseball Prospectus about how underrated Lackey was, it started a conversation that led to a subsequent post, showing that Lackey has nasty habit of starting guys 0-2, then walking them more often than most other pitchers.  I thought it was an interesting discussion, and it was cool to be a part of it.

The thing now is that the community is so large, there's always someone else who's seen the same thing, and probably written about it.  I don't sense I provide the same value anymore (if I ever did).  It's a great thing overall, because the larger the community gets, the more interesting the discussions can become.  More viewpoints, so long as they're valid, is never a bad thing.  And I think the Rev deserves a ton of credit for building the site up and making it a real home for Angels fans.  

Anyway, this whole post is mostly just a thought piece on where we are as a community, and my place in that community.  If you don't see as much from me, it's not because I don't have an opinion, it's probably because some has already expressed it, and judging by my traffic, the people coming here for Angels commentary have probably already read it (or will read it).  Trust me, my loss (such as it is) is definitely your gain.  I'd much prefer to chime in occasionally as I've done the last year or so than be beholden to a nightly recap, though I may still do a couple days a week at SoCal Sports Hub if asked again.  And everything I've said above holds mostly true for my UCLA stuff as well, which has definitely become less frequent.  

So I'm not announcing a major shift or anything.  This blog will remain essentially what it's been for the last year or so going forward.  No one is turning out the lights.  I'm just having more fun over at other people's sites.