Off-topic ranting off-site

DMZ · September 12, 2004 at 6:52 am · Filed Under Off-topic ranting 

After the whole Transformers thing, and considering the problem of topicality in general, I’ve posted my latest thing on debate and belief (about how weird it is to see unreasonable opinion arise out of complicated questions, w/r/t this week’s CBS report) elsewhere. However in extending on my point about how the stathead debate uses a particular kind of triple-attack that generates hostility, I’ve moved off baseball entirely, so I moved the piece off. I don’t know if this is going to be the start anything.

I mentioned in the Transformers post that I was opposed to posting it and allowed myself to be talked into it. I’m still not sure that was the right choice. I think fundamentally there’s a point where off-topic stuff interferes with on-topic stuff (I could write a long story about why I have an emotional reaction to the word ‘interfere’ for instance).

I want people to read USSM because they think we’ve got something interesting to say about the Mariners. I think some amount of short off-topic rambling is perfectly fine (“I’m not posting because my computer’s on fire”). I also think it’s cool for us toss in random stuff while talking about something M’s related. If my criticism of the Mariners is tied into my larger concerns about the state of Seattle politics, that seems fine to me.

But I’m worried, probably more than is reasonable, that someone’s going to come by because they heard there was good M’s discussion here, and be turned off because I’m rambling about how Robotech was the best childhood cartoon I got to see, or… or whatever. There are blogs I actively avoid because the posts run:
Pinstriped Bible: Sheffield greatest RH power bat in Yankees history
Bush 0wn5 Kerry: 40 point lead in latest poll by NRA
Crazed man bites dog, voted Democrat in 2000

Where I think “that’s an interesting baseball point… you’re clearly wrong, that poll was discredited.. what does that have to do with anything?”

However… true objectivity is a myth. As much as I try to keep any post on an even keel, my conclusions are the product of reasoning and perceptions that are tinted by my belief and background. It’s reasonable for someone reading a long piece on how I think the Mariners abuse the public trust to know that I oppose public stadiums in general, that I hold certain views about what the government should be involved in anyway, and sports isn’t on that list. Or that my criticisms of local media and their coverage of the team comes from a larger belief in the ills of modern journalism and beyond that, media consolidation. Without putting up a brief bio with “relevant political and social views” the only way that a reader would learn any of that would the off-topic stuff.

Maybe then it’s worthwhile to provide a background. If you think I’m a nut to worry about media consolidation, maybe you’d decide what I had to say about the Mariners wasn’t worth your attention. It’s exactly the choice I’ve made with other sites: if your posts are examples of your thought process, then I can at least tell from them that you’re not open to debate, much less the complexities good analysis requires.

And now I’ve produced an off-topic rant of exactly the sort I’m worried about.

I don’t know. I’ll leave commenting open, or you can drop me a line.


11 Responses to “Off-topic ranting off-site”

  1. Ivan on September 12th, 2004 7:05 am

    Derek, it’s your blog. Do what the hell you want. The readers will tell you what their boundaries are. If it’s too much Derek and not enough baseball, you’ll get the message and act accordingly.

  2. Harry Teasley on September 12th, 2004 8:36 am

    In a Usenet group I have long participated in (but haven’t posted to for a while), we have the BoP and BoR (Ban on Politics and Ban on Religion) to keep things agreeable. We also have the BoMP (Ban on Monty Python) and the BoA (Ban on Acronyms), to keep the Bans from being taken too seriously. This isn’t a public forum, it’s moderated by you guys, but if you want free ranging public discourse on the M’s, then avoiding obviously touchy subjects will be in the best interests of the long-term health of the blog. But you already know that, of course.

    Leave the overtly political stuff for other blogs, like And as an aside, having never watched the Transformers cartoon, I was disappointed to see such a long USSM post about nothing I knew or cared about. I wasn’t pissed off, but it does mark USSM as far more casual and personal than, say, BP, and it may be treated less seriously by folks doing things like, say, deciding the fate of Section 101.

  3. Ryan Carson on September 12th, 2004 9:38 am

    Derek, I actually really enjoyed the Transformer post, because it was so implicitly baseball-esque. Here’s what I mean. I’m sure you are aware that one of the talents that great MLB announcers share is the ability to engage in long asides to get them and the audience through a particularly long and uninteresting baseball game. Well, here we are, in the midst of a comparitively long and arduous baseball season where our beloved M’s can’t even spell pennant race….and you are thus providing the same sort of service. By channeling Scully, Niehaus, McArver, et al you are able to add a little levity to our discussion.

  4. tyler on September 12th, 2004 12:01 pm

    i have to say that nobody ever wants to channel McCarver. Except maybe Deion Sanders….

    As for the post-thoughts… i love that the USSM has always been “baseball first.” When i wrote at Oly Mariner (which by the way, you can eliminate from the links, i’m joining steve at wheelhouse) i sometimes strayed off topic a ways, though tried to keep it sport/baseball specific.

    There are other blogs (Sports/Brem) come to mind that really ramble through practically any train of thought… though sometimes it is far too self-indulgent for my tastes. Which could be a pot/kettle/black situation, but i digress.

    Perhaps you could add a small link somehow that leads to a longer “non-baseball” post area. i don’t know… just thoughts. i do like what the reader said about you having an influence on the politics of the M’s. If the management doesn’t read this blog (and scan the others from time to time) they are going to run the risk of turning us all away from their beloved cash cow.

    As always, the dude abides, the dude abides.
    1-9 in our last 10. yikes!
    go seahawks!

  5. tyler on September 12th, 2004 12:05 pm

    oh, and also, i loved the transformers thing… and last night i saw an import tweaked out street racer with the decepticon logo and the word decepticon in transformer script in a deep dayglo green on the rear window. car was purple and green.

    driver was about 20.

    go figure…

  6. Paul Weaver on September 12th, 2004 12:17 pm

    If off topic is only one of the however many posts that are up at any single point…it’s still a Mariner’s site to me. Local politics can play into Mariner’s business, so it’s relevant. National and Global politics play little into it (and I can rant for hours on those topics). Side topics about culture (such as Transformers)….it’s fun like watching ‘I love the 80’s’ on VH1.

  7. Marty Lighthizer on September 12th, 2004 3:51 pm

    Keep up the good work. I’m a new baseball fan — my first love was the 1968 Detroit Tigers, gave up baseball for years (decades?) but became a Mariners fan halfway through 2001 (thanks, Ichiro!), and am following from afar, via the Internet. The OT’s are occasionally interesting, but your baseball analyses are uniformly perceptive and helpful for a novice like me… Thanks!

  8. johnb on September 12th, 2004 4:16 pm

    I like the mission statement…but it is time to talk some baseball. Let’s talk prospects and free agents! I ma sure the safety of the food and beer garden seating are important, but lets talk players!

  9. Red F & F on September 13th, 2004 2:12 pm

    Personally, I don’t think you should be afraid to be too idiosyncratic. It’s not that difficult to scroll past a post that doesn’t interest you (as I did with the Transformers one). Some blogs have a setup where a (longer) post is truncated and then you have to click to read the rest of it.

    On the other hand, in reading the comments sections of other sites, I sometimes see commenters say things along the lines of “I wish you’d shut up about X and just talk about Y.” Maybe this sort of sentiment is common. I’ve never felt this way myself. I don’t think you should adjust your thinking to a “let’s meet this demand for a certain type of point” type of thinking; I think the superior blog-type of thinking is “let’s just make (what is to us) an interesting point.”

  10. Red F & F on September 13th, 2004 3:00 pm

    “It’s reasonable for someone reading a long piece on how I think the Mariners abuse the public trust to know that I oppose public stadiums in general, that I hold certain views about what the government should be involved in anyway, and sports isn’t on that list. Or that my criticisms of local media and their coverage of the team comes from a larger belief in the ills of modern journalism and beyond that, media consolidation.”

    In response to this statement, I would like to point out that when it comes to topics like the “ills of modern journalism” and “media consolidation,” it might help to consider that these are very large topics. I know that the USSM guys have a fairly sophisticated understanding of baseball statistics, and I believe that they have a fairly informed view of baseball (and baseball-fan) “sociology,” and I believe that they have a fairly good idea about how to express themselves with a certain amount of wit and charm – I’m a fan of the site. But to make truly interesting comments – not just expressions of personal prejudice – on larger topics like the state of the media, should not, I hope, be something that the USSM guys feel is easy.

    As an example, DMZ writes (in the item linked to at the start of the post): “It fascinates me that given an extremely complicated question, people can immediately jump to ‘maximum belief’ and then use that to justify their own actions.” But in fact a question like “are the CBS memos forged?” is a much much much much much less complicated question than a question like “has media concentration increased?” or “how does today’s media stack up against the media of 40 (or 20 or 80) years ago?” (And in fact I think most people who have jumped to maximum belief on the bogus side have simply looked at something like what the Little Green Footballs guy has shown, assumed he isn’t making it up, and simply concluded that the odds of them being genuine are very low – I’m not saying they’re correct, but the facts they’re using to arrive at their conclusion are not necessarily all that complicated).

  11. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 3:09 pm

    Thanks everyone. Lot to think about.

    Little Green Footballs guy? Don’t know that one. I did see something yesterday where someone duplicated the memo using an IBM Selectric Composer, which was eye-opening. And on that — can’t we just compare these memos to other memos of the time that are known authentic to see if the type and stuff matches? Shouldn’t that be an obvious way to see if they’re real? But that’s totally off-topic.

    As for complicated questions… yeah, I know. I don’t have answers to those questions. I’m worried about them, though.