DTTWLN Proud To Earn 1000 Posts!
By Mike Brandyberry
On June 28, 2011, I wrote a small piece welcoming Lonnie Chisenhall to the big leagues. Who could have believed in less than a year we’d post 999 more stories, opinions and interviews?
That was how part of how it began when my long time friend, Ryan Hohman, told me he had bought the site name and thought we should start a blog. He convinced me to try it for a couple weeks, and shortly after, I was hooked. I’ve loved baseball my entire life and the Cleveland Indians. I now had a way to put my Journalism degree to use, a degree I had rarely used since becoming a teacher in 2001.
After emailing some old college buddies who had Tribe interest and Journalism degrees, we started a Facebook page and Twitter handle and after the All-Star Break we covered every game during the second half of the 2011 season. We wrote our reactions to the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, Jim Thome coming home and 14-inning marathons. We started having historical recollections of Indians history and then we developed our daily, “Today In Tribe History.”
In September I wrote a story about the Indians’ social media outreach and the development of the Social Suite with then, Director of Digital Communications, Rob Campbell. Once the story was posted he sent me a nice note saying thanks and that he enjoyed the story. I responded and told him I would welcome any opportunity to cover the Indians and to please invite me to anything he saw fit. The next week he invited me to the Social Suite.
I interviewed Jobu, who had become a twitter sensation and he encouraged all his followers to check out our site and follow us on Twitter. By the end of the season we had a readership. We dedicated ourselves to a daily post throughout the winter. We were invited to media day for Snow Days and I attended because we would cover anything we were offered. I met Josh Flagner, from More Than A Fan, and he took my card and said we should collaborate. Then, while taking the tour I met Kim Lauver-Fletcher and she told me, “I was your first follower, I love your guys’ site and I’m your biggest fan.”
All I could think was, “we have ‘fans?’”
Together, we met our goal. We had at least one post all winter—except for December 3, 2011—the birth of my daughter, Hannah. Shortly after Hannah’s birth I used Twitter to connect with and interview Vinnie Pestano and Nick Hagadone. Soon after, I did the same and was able to interview Jason Kipnis. In a winter where the Indians had few major moves, our readership was growing.
In February I was invited to a lunch discussion with Bob Dibiasio and other Indians front office staff. We had a very candid conversation about the Indians and their public perception. It was one of the most intriguing days I had ever spent at Progressive Field. It was a time I heard several front office members speak open, honestly and candidly.
In early March my wife called me one day and said Cleveland Magazine had selected us as one of 32 local blogs to compete in their, “Blogger Bracket Challenge.” Our staff emailed, tweeted and asked our Facebook friends to vote for us. I couldn’t believe when we won the first week, then again and again. Kipnis and Pestano tweeted their followers and encouraged them to vote for us. Jobu, Josh Flagner, Lisa Wade and Stephanie Metzger all chipped in. I’ll never forget when Cole Cook told his followers he would, “cure rabies,” if they voted for us.
It was amazing when we won the challenge how many doors opened. Soon we had media access in Goodyear, Arizona, during Spring Training, then a credential to the Indians exhibition game against the Carolina Mudcats. Shortly after, we were able to cover Carlos Santana’s contract extension.
Since then, the accomplishments and interviews just keep coming. We have media access to all levels of the Indians minor league system and the Indians themselves. We’ve interviewed and featured Shin-Soo Choo, Nick Hagadone, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Chris Perez, Francisco Lindor and so many more. We also have had the chance to interview Chris Rose of MLB’s Intentional Talk and ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of Mike and Mike In the Morning. We’ve started other great weekly and monthly features, including The Top 5 and The Greatest Summer Ever. One of our most fun stories continues to be R.J. Briesacher and his journey to all 30 ballparks this spring. It was an honor to show him Progressive Field.
To be honest, I never thought we’d be where we are, but I couldn’t be happier or prouder. So many thank you’s are in store to all our writers; Jason Kaminski, Vince Guerrieri, Christian Petrila, Sean Tuttle, Craig Gifford, Steve Eby, Kevin Schneider, Evan Matsumoto, Dave Roberts and Bob Toth. Your stories, contributions and ideas are what created 1,000 posts with such speed and quality.
Thank you to Bart Swain, Curtis Danburg, Danielle Cherry, Anne Keegan and Erin Parker of the Indians, Joe Santry of the Columbus Clippers, Curtis Deas of the Lake County Captains and Darren Headrick of the Carolina Mudcats. We appreciate every opportunity we’ve been given. I always say you will allow us to do what we do until we screw it up. We hope to keep not screwing it up for several thousands of posts.
Finally, a huge thank you to all our readers. We’ve had over 117,000 views in less than a year. Each month has grown in traffic, including May when we reached 30,000 views for the month. Kim may have been one of our first fans, but without everyone, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting. The first 1,000 posts have been quite the journey. Hopefully we have many journeys to come.
Photo: Getty Images