An Interview with Aaron Gleeman
“We recently posted a two-paragraph Help Wanted ad on Rotoworld, looking for a couple of part-time baseball writers for the upcoming season, and received over 800 applications within 72 hours, many of them from veteran journalists…the pool of people interested in getting involved with fantasy sports is massive.”
“Writing about fantasy sports requires tons of opinions and predictions, so it’s fairly easy for people to judge how much of an expert you really are after a while…My finest moment is probably touting Johan Santana as the next big thing back in 2002. To this day people who own him in keeper leagues still thank me.”
“Since joining Rotoworld I’ve interacted in person or via e-mail with most of the beat writers covering MLB teams for newspapers, and save for a few examples they’re generally extremely outgoing and fantasy friendly.”
Position: Senior Baseball Editor, Rotoworld; Contributor, NBCSports.com; Blogger, AaronGleeman.com
Born: 1983; St. Paul, Minnesota
Education: University of Minnesota School of Journalism; left early for job with Rotoworld
Career: AaronGleeman.com 2002-present; Insider Baseball 2003-2006; The Hardball Times 2004-2006; Rotoworld 2005-present; NBCSports.com 2006-present
Favorite restaurant (home): Yangtze, St. Louis Park, Minnesota, “my favorite spot for Chinese takeout. Awesome hunan chicken.”
Favorite restaurant (away): Greasy Tony’s, Tempe, Arizona, “best Philly cheese steaks outside of Philly, with the added touch of using napkins and silverware from other restaurants.”
Favorite hotel: Bellagio, Las Vegas “Stayed during the most recent winter meetings, defeated the $2-$5 no-limit game, and decided the whole place was way, way too nice for a bunch of baseball writers”
Aaron Gleeman, posted on aarongleeman.com, February 19. 2009:
I’ve been blogging about the Twins (and other things) since August 1, 2002, which is the equivalent of a few centuries in blogger years (they’re like dog years, but with fewer flea shots and more typing). In fact, this blog is so old that when it launched Ron Gardenhire was a rookie manager, his team was trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 1991, and there was exactly one Twins blog
even on my radar. Oh, and I was home for the summer following my freshman year of college.
In the half-dozen years since then Gardenhire has won 557 games, his team has gone to the playoffs four times, this blog has had 4.9 million visitors, and the “Twins blogosphere” has expanded to include literally dozens of sites. Several of the best, longest-running Twins bloggers have sadly hung up their keyboards
over the years
, but a new Twins blog starts up seemingly every week and never before has there been this much Twins coverage available to fans.
At some point during the past six-plus years I’ve linked to just about every Twins blog, but the medium has expanded so much so quickly that it’s impossible to keep up with everything and everyone. My daily reading routine typically includes around a dozen Twins blogs, and with spring training starting up
and another season thankfully around the corner it seems like a good time to give them some attention that goes beyond the sidebar links. So, in no particular order here are my favorite current Twins blogs …
Q. Can you describe and explain your work for various outlets?
A. My primary job is Senior Baseball Editor for Rotoworld, which involves writing columns and player news blurbs, editing our annual Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide magazine, and coordinating the site’s baseball coverage. I’m also a frequent contributor to NBCSports.com, shooting videos and writing columns. And I’ve been blogging about the Minnesota Twins and other stuff at AaronGleeman.com since 2002.
Q. How does the work of fantasy sports media differ from that of non-fantasy sports media?
A. The big differences are that we’re typically not out covering live events or interviewing athletes and our focus is on individual performances rather than team success. No fantasy owner cares if the Nationals just dropped their 100th game, because he’s interested in whether Ryan Zimmerman went 0-for-4 or 2-for-4. Our coverage is representative of that and tends to revolve around analysis and projection more than reporting and recapping.
We also need to cover every team rather just focusing on one beat and tend not to get caught up in “intangibles” because whether or not David Eckstein is truly a “scrappy gamer” doesn’t really change his actual numbers. Oh, and we don’t worry nearly as much about who’s dating Madonna.
Q. Can you give us an idea of the size of fantasy sports media? How difficult is it to break into?
A. Fantasy sports is definitely a multi-billion-dollar industry at this point. I just saw a study showing that something like 40 million Americans play fantasy sports on a regular basis. In terms of breaking in, it’s pretty tough. We recently posted a two-paragraph Help Wanted ad on Rotoworld, looking for a couple of part-time baseball writers for the upcoming season, and received over 800 applications within 72 hours, many of them from veteran journalists. It’s an area that continues to thrive while some other forms of media have declined and the pool of people interested in getting involved with fantasy sports is massive.
Q. How is a fantasy sportswriter’s performance measured? Your proudest moment as a fantasy sportswriter?
A. Writing about fantasy sports requires tons of opinions and predictions, so it’s fairly easy for people to judge how much of an expert you really are after a while. We rank players constantly and do projections for everyone’s stats, so it’s tough to get away from your performance, right or wrong. My finest moment is probably touting Johan Santana as the next big thing back in 2002. To this day people who own him in keeper leagues still thank me.
Q. Your thoughts on continuing in fantasy sports media or moving into non-fantasy media?
A. I’ve bounced back and forth quite a bit already. I co-created The Hardball Times and wrote hundreds of “real baseball” columns there while serving as the site’s editor-in-chief, and my blog has never been about fantasy sports. I’m also fortunate that Rotoworld and NBCSports.com both allow me to branch out beyond strictly fantasy topics on a regular basis. At the same time, I really enjoy fantasy sports and the audience is probably more passionate and knowledgeable than the average sports fan, so it’s a great job.
Q. What is the attitude of non-fantasy media toward fantasy media?
A. I’d say it’s a bit like the attitude mainstream media members have toward bloggers. Some look down on the whole thing, but the sheer number of people involved/interested in the medium has that number shrinking every day. Since joining Rotoworld I’ve interacted in person or via e-mail with most of the beat writers covering MLB teams for newspapers, and save for a few examples they’re generally extremely outgoing and fantasy friendly.
Q. What is the pressbox credential situation for fantasy media?
A. My guess is that getting credentialed is pretty tough for a lot of fantasy media, but being part of the NBC Sports family gives Rotoworld access that smaller sites can’t secure. We don’t typically cover individual games, but I’ve been credentialed for the MLB winter meetings several times and our Senior Football Editor, Gregg Rosenthal, is part of the media throng at the Super Bowl.
Q. Who owns Rotoworld and how much traffic does it get?
A. NBC owns Rotoworld. On a monthly basis Rotoworld averages two million unique visitors and 40 millions page views.
Q. Who and what do you read and watch for your sources of information?
A. Player news blurbs have always been the driving force behind Rotoworld and those come from our staff constantly scouring every possible source of information for news and notes. That includes every major newspaper and website, plus the never-ending blogosphere. We source everything, break the information down into an easy to digest format, and add our own analysis.
Q. Do fantasy sports, with their emphasis on individual stats, erode team partisanship among fans?
A. Absolutely. I’m sure there are some Red Sox fans who refuse to draft Yankees on their fantasy teams, but trying to balance that is part of what makes fantasy sports so great. There’s nothing more amusing than a Minnesotan watching the Vikings play the Packers while rooting for Greg Jennings to catch a touchdown.
Q. Which coaches are fantasy players wary of and why?
A. Prior to being fired recently Mike Shanahan was enemy No. 1 for fantasy football players. Denver almost always had productive rushing attacks under Shanahan, but since Terrell Davis retired he rarely stuck with one running back for long and seemed to enjoy being coy with the media about who would be getting the carries in a given game. He’s a tremendous coach, but the members of fantasy football nation who devoted roster spots to Selvin Young, Tatum Bell, Peyton Hillis, Michael Pittman, Ryan Torain, Andre Hall, and P.J. Pope last season probably won’t miss Shanahan.
Q. The NFL says fantasy football is not Internet gambling because it is “a game of skill”. Internet gambling or game of skill – which is it?
A. Definitely a game of skill. It’s sort of like poker in that while there’s plenty of luck involved in the short term, ultimately skill emerges over the long haul. If you’re trying to win, joining a fantasy football league with Gregg Rosenthal should be avoided every bit as much as sitting down at a poker table with Phil Ivey.
Aaron Gleeman, posted on Rotoworld.com, December 11, 2009
You know things are officially coming to a close when you’re sitting in the media room watching hotel employees take down the MLB logo backdrop from the press-conference stage. Even if some huge move happened right now, there would be nowhere to announce it and only a handful of reporters to cover it. In other words, the winter meetings are over. This was my second trip to the winter meetings and there were far more big moves this week than two years ago in Orlando, although there are still plenty of big names without homes and big rumors swirling …
* A.J. Burnett appears to be deciding between the Braves and Yankees after both teams upped their offers multiple times this week. A couple more increases and he’ll be closing in on a $100 million deal, although my guess is that the Braves will eventually bow out.
* For now at least the Cubs are done talking to the Padres about Jake Peavy, but I’d be shocked if we don’t hear plenty about general manager Kevin Towers trying again to deal him before spring training. I’d still bet on Peavy being on another team come Opening Day.
* If speculation about Mark Teixeira wanting to play close to home are true then he’s deciding between the Nationals and Orioles. If instead he merely wants to be on the East Coast then the Red Sox may be the front-runners. And if all of that talk is overblown and he’s simply looking to cash in for as much as possible the Angels are still very much in the mix. Wherever he ends up, it sounds like it’ll be for more than $150 million.
* There’s been very little talk about Manny Ramirez, aside from Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti saying today that he remains a) very interested and b) unwilling to hand out a four- or five-year deal. Several teams may eventually shift their focus from Teixeira to Ramirez, but for now the Dodgers are still the most likely destination.
* Derek Lowe will almost surely sign with an East Coast team. For now the Phillies and Yankees appear to be leading, but if the Red Sox come up with a competitive offer I’d bet on Lowe returning to Boston.
* If my reading-between-the-lines skills are worth anything, then the Twins will trade Delmon Young before spring training. Possible destinations? Let’s say … Seattle, Philadelphia, Colorado, and San Francisco.
* And last but not least I’ve learned plenty of important lessons this week. Among them: Lou Piniella likes to bet on horses
, sometimes clubs will make you a member
even when you don’t want to join, everything at the Bellagio is extremely high-end except for the toilet paper
, being let into a team’s hotel suite
isn’t as exciting as it may sound, $12 pizzas taste the same
as $3 pizzas, Ken Williams is the pied piper
of newspaper writers, Johnny Chan is just as intimidating in person
, and Greg Maddux is a class act
My hope is that you enjoyed reading my coverage of the winter meetings as much as I enjoyed writing it, so thanks for all the comments and e-mails. And don’t forget to check out Rotoworld’s constantly updated player news page
for all the latest news, rumors, and analysis, because the offseason moves definitely don’t stop rolling in once everyone checks out of the Bellagio.
(SMG thanks Aaron Gleeman for his cooperation)