Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GROTA News

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Oh, and one other thought

I can't help but feel warm and fuzzy by our reader base.  Even though it's December - aka the slowest damned month of the off season so far - and in spite of the numerous days off that cut into peoples' work-time browsing of this website, we have surpassed November's numbers in terms of unique visits and page views.

The likely final tally of unique visits we'll have by midnight of Dec 31st will surpass all but 2 months of 2008, August and October.  We are also at more than double the total number of hits we had last December and we have the 2nd most total page views in the history of this blog.

So ... thanks guys.  Thank you for reading the blog.  Thanks to Colin, Rob, and all the rest for keeping us fresh with daily content.  Sometimes we argue, sometimes we debate, and sometimes it is a vomit-inducing love-fest, but we'd be nothing without the loyal readers.  I anticipate we'll continue to grow into 2009, and I hope you all stick with us throughout the coming months.

/ego tickling

Things I am thankful for ... of the Apocalypse

I'm probably not going to make "of the Apocalypse" a part of every post, but I'm amused to do so at this moment.

South of where I live right now, millions of families are digging into large turkeys covered in gravy, with gratuitous quantities of stuffing piled nearby, buried under heaping spoon fulls of mashed potatoes and corn, while a shelf full of pies await to be eaten.  Unfortunately, I won't get to join in the festivities until Saturday.

But while I sit here, I thought I'd share with you some of the many things that I am thankful for.

  • I'm thankful that the Cubs are headed in the right direction for once and aren't painful to follow
  • I am thankful that our readers are intelligent, mostly cordial people happy to get involved in a debate regardless of how illogical I make the premise
  • I am thankful for the GROTA staff.  If the internets was a real place, the act of them "coming to work" would be seen as five beaten, broken men shuffling into a dank, dark room, where they then hunch over to slave on stories while I crack the whip and promise to pay them with pain.  Well, maybe it's not that bad
  • I'm thankful for the opportunities we've had in the past year.  As I've already mentioned, we've grown massively in readership, we've been covered repeatedly by the national media, I got inducted into a society of 700 Cub fans including Dick Cheney, John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and our website got a kick-ass design that has apparently inspired many other Cubs blogs to follow suite.  Yep, that's us, leading the way ... ya followers!  Hah!
  • On a personal level, I'm thankful for my fiancee, known in some circles by the name She's Canadian I Met Her At Niagara Falls You Wouldn't Know Her, or C. for short.  Hey, anybody worth immigrating to a new country for is special, right?
  • Most importantly of all, I am thankful of my immense talent to write.  Someday I'm gonna be famous and you'll all be choking on my dust trails, motherf***ers!  That's right!  I said it!  Because although the turkey's not here in Canada, the Wild Turkey is and I'm right where I wanna be ... at the top of the heap!  What'reya gonna do about it?  Huh?  Huh?  You wanna fight me?  You wanna fight me?!  Bring it on!

...ahem.  Sorry about that.  Got a little out of control with that last one.  But in all seriousness, we've all stumbled across those blogs precociously written by people with 5 readers in total, and there's nothing quite as depressing as those... which isn't to say that I don't have other blogs with 5 readers in total.  A blog is no better than the company it keeps, and you guys are awesome.  I give thanks for that.  So ... who wants to trade DeRosa and Lilly?  C'mon, don't be shy, step up!

Busy month

I've got nothing particularly exciting to report, except for one thing that I've noticed ... although November has been a very slow month for baseball news, it seems as if GROTA readership is continuing to grow.

It's true that we are unlikely to match our hit figures from October, but with 5 days remaining in this month we have more than doubled our total hits from last November, and we're close to tripling our total page views.

For a sense of perspective, it looks as if the only 3 months of the past year in which we'll have had more hits were August, September, and October.  For a nothing-happening month of no baseball news, we're on our way to get more hits than what we had in the months of April, May, June, and July.  Y'know, during the baseball season.

I can't help but feel thankful to you guys, the readers, for making us a destination on  your daily regimen of blog-reading.  We'd be nothing without you, and I hope you stick with us through the long haul.  So, thanks.

A Goat Riding Challenge

I just want to throw this challenge out there ... as expected, my "what I'd do" post is getting a little bit of flack, ranging in "I think you're joking" to "no way do the Cubs only have a $130 million budget."

So, here's what I want from you guys ... either in the comments of this post, or in the Reader Blogs Section, give us your moves, trades, and signings, but force yourself to have the 130 million budget.

It's easy to say "well, I'd sign Dunn and give away Marquis for a bottle of rum and sign Randy Johnson to replace him" but if the money isn't there, none of that will happen.  And based on how Kerry Wood will be wearing different colors next year, the money isn't there.

I'm going to play the Commish in this exercise.  For example, if you say "I'll trade Derrek Lee for Player X," I will step in and say "Derrek Lee loves Chicago and enjoys playing for a first place team, and he will not void his no trade clause.  Try something else." Similarly, no, the Yankees will not take Cedeno for A-Rod, even if you could magically find a way to make that money available.

If you want an incomplete list on what current Cubs will be making next year, go here.

Good luck.  It's not easy - I spent about 3 hours figuring out my moves.

An open letter to Rob Neyer

Editor's Note: I recently wrote this EMail to ESPN writer Rob Neyer, who has displayed the terrible judgment of linking to Bleed Cubbie Blue on his ESPN column while ignoring GROTA.  I have sought to rectify this situation via EMail, which I have posted here in full.  Enjoy, and yes, my balls really are that big

Dear Rob,

My name is Kurtis Evans.  I am a well-known Chicago Cubs blogger who writes for the also well-known Goat Riders of the Apocalypse (www.goatriders.org).  You may have heard of us, we wrote the now groundbreaking story titled There Is No Curse, But We're Going to Name Our Blog After It Anyway. 

I'm writing to you primarily because I'm drunk.  No, wait, that's not right (or why). 

I'm writing to you because we would desperately like to see you add a link to our blog on your ESPN blogroll.  We are an established, compelling blog that mixes humor, analysis, and typos with ardant ferver.  We've received a lot of notice for our work - we were listed in 2005 as one of the three best Cubs blogs on the net by Deadspin.com, we've been recognized for our greatness by Chicago Magazine, we have been acknowledged as one of Chicago's Best Blogs by the Chicago Tribune and Trib writer Paul Sullivan, I personally was featured in an article written by your colleague Wayne Drehs, and do you remember that time the world almost secretly ended but then it didn't?  Yep, that was because of us.  On second thought, you probably never heard.

Now, I've written you about this before through your ESPN EMail tool.  I was shocked to never receive any kind of response, not even an "eff off, I don't got no time for this crap," which is usually the response I get when I EMail published writers.  I'm aware that at some point in the recent past, there was a bit of a hubbub because a blogger got all cranky and unprofessional on you because of a perceived slight when you refused to link them.

Let me just say, Rob, that we won't do that.  We're hardly not unprofessional.  (Wait, what?)  However, I AM posting this message on GROTA.  The world will know if you never respond, and ironically, I probably won't make a peep about it if in fact you DO respond. 

Regardless, because this has gone on for far too long, and dinner is almost ready, and because you must be convinced that I have in fact been drinking, I will conclude this message by saying one thing which is simply true:

You should link us to your blog because there is no other blog out there that is like GROTA.  Rather than give in and link us six months from now after being reduced to the shell of a broken man, you should stay in front of the movement and give us our props now. 

Also, if you'd like to improve your own visibility, we would probably consider interviewing you for GROTA.  We even have readers who aren't related to us!  Please keep that in mind.

Yours,

Kurtis Evans
kjsevans (at) gmail (dot) com
6xx-xxx-xxx9

The Goat Rider Army is strong

I said it in the comments, but I also want to say it in a post that more people are likely to read - I am tremendously appreciative of our readers.  This blog would be nothing without the debates, disagreements, and even the occasional insults offered up by you good folks.

I want to remind all of you that if you are a registered user, you can post your own blog when you log in under "Create content."  Also, don't forget, we have a choice of 3 skins available to you by clicking on "My account" and we may be adding a 4th soon.  I only mention these two things because newly registered readers might not be aware of either.

Thanks again, you are all awesome, and I hope you stick around for the long haul.  Oh, and if you have a Cub fan friend, tell him/her about us.  We welcome everybody.

Just a friendly reminder

Loyal Goat Readers,

I know that for a lot of you, the Cubs are the last thing you really want to think about or talk about, as they disappointed the crap out of us all against the Dodgers.  However, I think a lot of you still have some thoughts that deserve expression beyond commenting our shoutboxing.

So, don't forget the Reader's Blogs.  Some topics you might want to write about may include:

  • Jim Hendry's 4 year extension?  Good idea, bad idea?
  • Bob Brenly and his potential departure
  • The pending free agents, some of whom we are particularly attached to
  • The greatness that is Micah Hoffpauir, and how Derrek Lee is holding him back

Just a few ideas for you. Me, I'll be back later tonight with some more content.  Oh, and thanks again for reading this blog.  We may disagree sometimes, but I'm glad you're here.

Goat Riding into the future

It's a bit of a slow weekend content-wise, which I suppose is to be expected considering that the playoffs are supposedly on-going right now.  (I wouldn't know, the only piece of a game I saw was when I was at the Monarch Tavern on Friday afternoon enjoying the best Jewish deli in the city of Toronto.)

I'm going to do something that is probably a little taboo - I'm opening the curtain and letting you into the underbelly of blogging.*  Apparently we shouldn't do this sort of thing because if you the reader discover that there's actually money involved in the blogging process, then you might a) get mad at us for some reason or b) leave us high and dry to make your own blog so you can earn a few cool hundreds while slaving laboriously for hours a day writing something that only a handful of people will read regularly, spiralling into a pit of depression as you question your own self-worth after you fail to catch on with the majority of blog readers out there.  Ahem.  I digress.

(*Mixing metaphors like "opening the curtain" and "underbelly of blogging" would be just one of many reasons why I haven't been able to get a job writing professionally, but that's the way the cookie rolls, baby!)

Anyway, it turns out that there's actually money to be made with blogs!  Take Deadspin for example.  These guys at this point probably command seven figures in advertising revenue on a yearly basis.  That's a ridiculous sum for doing something that is essentially merely a hobby.

Most blogs make far less than that.  I knew one Cubs blogger who bragged that he was going to get his ad revenue up to $20k a year, which I thought was flat-out insane considering that we had a similar level of readership and we never came anywhere near that figure.  (And, then again, while he may have, his blog became a walking advertisement for ticket brokers and the content got lost somewhere within the unrelated links that were littered everywhere)  That income figure used to taunt us from a tall tower which we had no chance of climbing.  And I'm sure a guy like Al Yellon, who at the best of times has roughly 10 times our regular readership (and currently is coming in at a little more than double) is raking in the extra income, although his site's affiliation with SB Nation might mean that he's personally receiving a pittance, a small percentage of what his website might be worth.

You might be asking how a blog does it.  Well, generally speaking, we are contacted by Ticket Brokers who want to buy up text ads on our blog.  At this point, I've been doing this for almost five years and I still don't know how they come up with the figures they deem acceptable, nor do I know the amount they'd actually be willing to pay.  But on a lesser-known blog with a small-but-growing readership, you could probably pocket $500 a year for advertising with half a dozen different companies.  On a larger blog like GROTA, we could probably rake in a couple g's doing that - and maybe even more - but for the last couple of years, we've tried hard to reign that type of thing in.  Here's why:

Text link ads are The Devil.  In the growing blogging industry, the vast majority of blogs out there really have zero idea how much advertising could be worth and the Ticket Brokers know it.  Worse, legitimate companies tend not to want anything to do with websites that uglify themselves text ads.

Companies that advertise on legitimate websites won't advertise on smaller ones with text links.  Serious companies with serious advertising capital will not take us seriously if we have that ugly sponsorship section telling people where they can buy Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox tickets.  And while it's certainly cool to pull in a few cool hundreds that way - that'll buy a trip to Chicago or a couple of jerseys, at least, right? - nobody really knows how valuable blogs are because they're quick to say yes to the first cash offering they get.

You will notice, however, that we do have some text ads on this blog.  We're very grateful to the companies that we've brought in this year, because they essentially paid for our redesign, but you will also probably notice that, compared with other blogs that advertise we have far fewer of them.  It's a deliberate choice.  We're trying to ween ourselves of text ads all together.

In the coming season, we're going to try a few things that I haven't seen any other baseball blogs do.  Wish us luck with it, not because we want to make a living off the blog but because with 5 or 6 people working here, it's good business sense to keep them happy by any means possible.  Like, y'know, paying them and stuff.

So, in conclusion, if you're thinking about making a blog and are looking to rake in the money, I would caution you.  It's a ton of work, the money is comparatively little, and unless you know the actual value of your blog - and I submit to you that nobody, us included, knows that - then you're going to kill your site's value by undershooting it.

Come back later

Here it is, in the early afternoon on Saturday, and there's no new content on GROTA?  How dare we?

Actually I've got about three projects underway right now.  I'm writing a Free Agency Preview that I will probably save for Monday (because it's going to be long and I want to make sure that plenty of people will have the chance to read it; we tend to get half our regular audience on weekends) and I'm also writing a Behind the Curtain piece that will probably get me yelled at by my webmaster and partner-in-crime Kevin, mostly because it will be a long dissertation on how blogs get advertising revenue and what kind of cash blogs can pull in.  Considering that you rarely see a Cubs blog - or any blog, for that matter - talk about it, it's probably a taboo subject.

However, it is unfortunately Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada - yes, we still celebrate Christmas on Dec 25, New Year's on Jan 1, and Easter on whatever-the-hell-day it's supposed to be on, but Thanksgiving is in early Oct.  Go figure, eh?  That means that my longer articles will have to wait and you've been suckered via feed to the blog for a whole lot of nothing.

Then again, my media savvy tells me that it's always good to tease people with a big payoff to come later on.  Consider this the tease.  Come back later for the delivery.  You'll probably enjoy it.

Apparently, we should be rich

Today's bit of bizarre GROTA news - a website called Juiced Sports Blog has their list of the 100 most valuable sports blogs - with some exceptions - and GROTA made the list at #82.  (Go see for yourself).  My very quick scanning of the list leads me to believe that we may be the only Cubs blog mentioned, which would be kinda cool.

Apparently, according to them, we're worth $51,250, and they say "The general valuation for a website on sale is 10-20 times monthly earnings. That can vary based on domain name, branding exposure, etc, but the valuations should be somewhat accurate."  In other words, we apparently have the ability to rake in 2.5 to 5 grand per month.  I just wish somebody would tell that to advertisers!

(In fairness, I really don't see how the hell they came up with that order or those numbers, which seem to fluctuate a ridiculous amount, but hey, if you put us on  your Top 100 list, we don't care, we'll mention it.  So, next week, when GROTA is listed as one of the Top 100 Blender Review Blogs, we'll link it baby!)

If you gander over to the Shoutbox, you might notice a number of Goat Readers who are discussing various options.  Some people think Adam Dunn should be our next right fielder.  Others want it to be Mark Texiera.  One reader wants to move Sori back to second (because the gut-wrenching defensive errors of the NLDS weren't enough for us), sign Dunn and stick him in left, and then wave a magic wand to make Josh Hamilton a free agent and put him in right field.

Me, I'm currently angling for the Dark Ritual maneuver.  Maybe we can resurrect Babe Ruth and convince him to bring his heavy lumber to the north side.

We will start our series of expectations soon, once I can figure out a good graphic for it.  In the meantime, anybody wanna buy some ad space?

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award