Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cub Fan Nation

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Cubs 101 - What would YOU give up for a title?

or: Wayne Drehs IS Evil

Brought to you by Coast to Coast Tickets!
Goatfriend Wayne Drehs of ESPN Chicago wondered aloud what we would give up for a Cubs championship.

Heh.  Well, those of you that know me know that I would give up nearly anything, but let's discuss some of you first.

Would you give up any of the recent Chicago championships?  The Bulls Six-Peat, the Super Bowl Shuffle?  What if the Hawks win the championship of Hockee?

For those of you who are not local, understand that Chicago is foremostly a Bears town.  No, I would not put Bears fans up against Cheeseheads, or Skins fans from DC, or the lunatics who root for the Raiders.  But there is solid Bear love in the city, and the 1985 Sweetness/Fridge/Ditka team still is beloved here.  If you are local, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  Short of a Cubs World Series, anything the Bears do on any given day will trump anything the Cubs do on the 10 o'clock news.  Many of you reading this would even go as far as to put a Super Bowl over a World Series.  I get it.

How about the Bulls?  More specifically, how about Michael Jordan?  I don't think anyone out there would equate a single NBA championship to a World Series, and there aren't that many true Bulls fans, but during the 90's, it was bizarro Sports Chicago.  6 titles in 8 years?  Even non-fans were boggled by the sheer magnitude and opulence of it all.  We in Chicago had our very own Dynasty, led by our very own G.O.A.T., which of course is not a smelly animal that eats garbage and gets banned from parks, but the Greatest Of All Time, the closer of all closers.  For many locals, that's as good as it gets in Chicago, and I understand that, too.

Hockee, that there soccer crossed up with ice dancing?  Well, it was on life support here until quite recently, when ironically it took the demise of former owner Bill Wirtz to revive the sport in Chicago.  A small brave lot of holdovers have kept watch over the patient for the past thirty years, and as of this writing, the rebirth is in full bloom.  But even Lord Stanley's Cup cannot possibly compare with the Big Flag flying over the North Side, can it?

Then of course you have to discuss what else would you give up, or overlook.  Money, body parts, possessions, loved ones, other sacred memories.  Would you welcome known felons?  Certain cheats?  Swollen, puffy, enraged junkmonkeys who smash balls in pieces and can throw balls through bomb shelter walls?  Would you permit your organization becoming a laughing stock - a symbol for wrongdoing?  Would you care if the Cubs became the world's headquarters of PED's if it meant we won a title?  Who would you take in?  Bonds?  Sosa?  Tejada?  The Rocket?  A-Fraud?  Manny B. Manny a/k/a "Biaatch Tiaaats"?

Finally I have to mention Wrigley Field itself - the most famous "player" on the team, and one of the ten most famous sports venues on the planet.  Time has marched on and on, teams and cities and stadia have come and gone, and Wrigley endures.  Many of you were first introduced to the Cubs through the magic of Wrigley, on WGN and the SuperStation, and I know that there are just as many Wrigley Field fans out there as there are Cub fans.  A good 2/3rds of the bleacher crowd on ANY given day would watch howler monkeys run around in silk pajamas down there as long as the ivy was green, the beer was still cold and the Trixies still hot and dumb.  I understand if you feel that way; or, at least, that you love the park as least as much as you love the Cubs.  Hey, it's a nice park, no doubt.  What if the Friendly Confines itself was the Price that had to be paid?

Do you ask yourself that question, at least daily, if not hourly, every day of your life, even when the bitter cold of winter cuts through your new Christmas parka like a rapier?  Honestly, for your own sake, I hope not - but I know there's a few of you out there, because I'm out here, and contrary to what a few of you have told me over the years, I don't think I'm THAT much of an outlier.  I mean, I am going to be buried in my gray Maddux away jersey, in a Cubs casket, with the Cubs logo carved into my headstone, with Ryne Sandberg's "I did it the right way" quote from his Hall Of Fame acceptance speech as my epitaph.  Certainly there are others, right? 

Making the assumption that I am batguano crazy, would I give the Super Bowl Shuffle and the 6-Peat back?  Damn right!  In a heartbeat!

Would I give money?  I already give all I possibly can, between tickets, merchandise, and every cockamamie scheme they cook up, like the "forever pavers" and the "Cubs Club".  Would I give body parts?  Hey, I have two sons, my work is done, you want one of my nutts, go ahead, it's yours.  Want a kidney, too?  How about some nice fat cells to fill in your worry lines and crows feet?

Would I want to see the Cubs cheat?  Now, here's where we turn back to Mr. Drehs.  No, I don't want to sully the franchise.  But Wayne posed it thusly - "If nobody else in the world knew, but you, would you be able to accept cheating?"  If nobody else knew...if there would never be any public shame brought to the franchise?  If nobody else knew?  Well, how is that any different than Reggie Jackson sticking out his hip and Don Denkinger making an awful call and A.J. Eyechart running on a dropped third strike that wasn't dropped?  If only I knew...damn RIGHT I could live with that!

What about Wrigley?  Here's where I may surprise a few of you.  I have said in the past that I wouldn't give a rat's ass if they played every day at Troy Little League Complex in Shorewood if the Cubs won a pennant.  And, if posed the question, "would I choose a World Series or for the Cubs to play in Wrigley for all of perpetuity?"  I'd choose the World Series, 100 times out of 100. 

BUT...point is, in my wildest fantasies, when they finally do win the big one, and the crowd is going bonkers, and the seventh seal is finally broken open and the Four (now 6?) Goat Riders stampede in from Heaven, and the true Apocalypse finally commences, I always pictured in my mind's eye that THIS party would happen at Wrigley.

So, no, I wouldn't give up Wrigley Field for a Championship.  It just wouldn't be one without the other.  I think most of us, for once, can agree on that.

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Woe is Cub: A Fair and Balanced Look at Cub Fan Mentality

Sometimes I get in a little bit of trouble for not being the friendliest person when dealing with certain kinds of situations.  For example, if Carlos gets chased from the 1st inning of his next start and somebody says "he's done this year," then whoever says that will not be my friend for at least a few minutes. 

In other words, I'm not internet-friendly.  On the internet you're supposed to make broad proclamations.  You're expected to say alienating things without being called on it.  Actually I'll defer to this particular website (baby's first internet) to explain in detail what the internet is meant to be all about.

Anyway, if I acted irritated toward you or somebody like you in the last few days then I apologize.  GROTA is part journal/part forum and as a so-called moderator it's not my job to mock somebody who believes that Joey Gathright deserves a chance to bat cleanup.  But I will say this...

The self-defeatest, Woe is Cub attitude has to go.  It wasn't directly the goal of this blog to change peoples' attitudes about Woe is Cub, but think about it for a second.  We're the Goat Riders of the bleedin' Apocalypse!  We created this blog within weeks of the second consecutive gut-wrenching, heart-breaking season finale.  When Cub fans were at their lowest we appeared to say THE CUBS ARE GOING TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES! 

Granted, this is our 5th season of saying that.  But looking back on the past 4 years of Cubs baseball, can you really argue that things are getting worse?  Or are the Cubs becoming a perenial contender in the NL Central with a solid structure of discipline and talent?  I'm not saying that we had anything to do with it, but we did believe it could happen.

Lou Piniella calls it Cubbie Swagger.  But on the other side of the fence I've seen a lot of Cubbie Downer from the fans who are some of the most pessemistic people I have ever seen.  We are the Debbie Downer of the baseball world.  Regular fans could be singing the virtues of the Cubs, and some of us would be talking about the inevitable extinction of polar bears. 

But I get it.  I understand why.  I just don't agree with it. 

I believe that the failings - and successes, for that matter - of past seasons means nothing to the current one.

I believe that a player starting the year 1 for 30 is not indicative of how many hits he'll have after 300 - or even 60 - at at bats on the season.

I believe that on any given night, the best pitcher on any team can crap the bed, and that the worst pitcher can get huge outs.  I believe that the success - or failure - of the pitcher in that situation does not directly effect his next outing.

I believe that any team which wins 100 games will compile streaks of games in which they look like they could lose 100 games.  Likewise I believe that the worst teams in baseball will look amazing every once in a while.

I believe, then, that a 9-8 start, while disappointing, gives absolutely no indication of the team's final record.  I believe that, as built, the Cubs are capable of being an offensive force to reckon with.  I believe it's actually somewhat amazing that they've won 9 games considering that half of their starting 8 began the year ice cold.  And I believe it's ludicrous to expect - or even worry - that all of those players will put up subpar numbers in 2009.

As we've pointed out, the Cubs are a fantastic team on paper.  As we've also noted, there does however happen to be a reason why they actually play the games.  So for sure the Cubs aren't guaranteed anything.  But regardless of mixed early results, I think they'll be kicking ass very soon.

Anyway, I'll make you a deal.  If you choose not to actively taunt the dynamite monkey (that's me), I will choose not to actively disagree loudly and regularly whenever you have a minor flip-out over the direction of the Cubs season.  But please remember where you are.  This blog was created because we believe the Cubs are not cursed, or doomed, to forever play in obscurity.  So please don't act surprised when we're not the first ones to give up on the 2009 season.

But if that day comes, when it happens, you better believe the Cubs are screwed.

The previously promised post 'em if you've got 'em thread

Or: What's in YOUR bookmark page?
As promised late last week, I've decided to open a thread to invite those of you with blogs to share them here.  A few conditions:

  • No pr0n
  • Nothing that goes to a website offering paid services of some kind
  • White Sox suck

Basically if you have a blog, post it.   If you've got a fantasy league team you want us to know about, share.  Similarly, if you know of a Cubs blog that gets far less traffic than it deserves, I have no objections to you posting about it here. 

So, have at it!

Is it April yet?

This is an immensely long spring, it seems, and since I have zero interest in the WBC I'm not appreciating the wait.  To steal a line from John Lennon, it's just a long, long, long time.


I will say, briefly, that Bobby Scales is making a strong case to finally crack a Major League roster.  I still think he sounds like an Italian hitman.


Anyway, I'm going to the States this weekend and will be bringing with me my Andre Dawson Expos jersey to show off to my friends who will surely mock me and remind me that I'm supposed to be a Cubs fan.  I can't wait.

The Cubs are their very own World Baseball Classic

Fukudome is my homie


The World Baseball Classic is supposedly bringing the world together to enjoy the great game of baseball, but Cubs fans know it is probably unnecessary and possibly pointless.  The Cubs ARE the Classic in the World of Baseball.  The Cubs are the greatest franchise in Sports - yep, suck on THAT, Yankees.  Bite ME, Man U!  Go to hell, Cowboys!! 


Now obviously this guy, who sent this picture into the Trib, is American, but this is still cool.  What would have been cooler is if he'd brought along an armful of jerseys, passed them out to some of the locals, and posed THEM for a picture.  Cooler still, cut out the middleman, just stop by the sweatshop where Majestic has these sewn up, grab a couple dozen of those folks, bring them up to the Wall along with whatever shirt they were working on at the time...


Point is, we're universal, worldwide, galactical

WTF!??!

Every once in a while, something strange happens here on GROTA. I'll be blogging away, minding my own business, saying ridiculous things like...

  • Alfonso Soriano was brought on board to babysit Aramis Ramirez! (Which, if you think about it, is about as ridiculous as saying that he was brought on to be a steady leadoff man...)
  • So Taguchi should make the Cubs roster because he looks craaaaayzeeee!
  • The Cubs are going to win 120 games this year!
  • Dusty Baker had his good qualities!

I - or the other guys on this site - will write ridiculous things like that, and people will actually take us seriously! I understand that it's hard sometimes to read intent. It's kind of like the recent article linked by Colin regarding Milton Bradley. If you don't like Crazy Milton -- and in fact, calling him "Crazy Milton" might be a good indication that you don't -- then you might read a tone that wasn't there when he communicated his intent to play every day, even if he's hurt. I think Milton intended to convey a desire to play games. I think he succeeded in convincing people who already didn't like him that he's selfish and will quit on the team if he doesn't feel good.

Similarly, Jason wrote an article yesterday in which he said "Li'l Ryan Demspter struggled last year with the 2008 Cubs, failing to win 20 games for the 10 straight year, and most attribute his struggles to a general inability to fit in south of the Great Lakes." This was hot on the trail of him saying that Corey Koskie has been invited to try out with the Cubs in order to give Dempster the kind of companionship that no American citizen can understand -- while ignoring that Rich Harden is also a Cannuck, but I digress. The day previous, I'd written an article about So Taguchi in which I said that he should make the Cubs because ... "that crazy expression, those insane eyes, the #99 worn on his back, So Taguchi just might be crazy enough to be casted for a Tarentino movie. Maybe he's not crazy enough to tell Derrek Lee he's 'got no marbles,' or to stand on the outfield wall to rob a guy of a homerun, but I've seen this movie and we need our lovable, not-understandable scallywags. Unless Carlos Zambrano really steps up his game in 2009, then Taguchi just might be that guy."

So, I will preface myself by saying that I'm not trying to call out the GROTA Army member who thought Jason was serious, because he's neither the first nor the last to respond to something written here - or anywhere - with a WTF?!!? moment. But I have to admit that his WTF?!!? moment caused meself to have my own WTF?!!? moment because while we do write seriously - and sometimes even intelligently! - about the Cubs, we in no way, shape, or form take ourselves too seriously and neither should you. Really, anytime you read a GROTA article that doesn't have at least one attempt at a joke, then we are not doing our jorbs. And some articles - like Intern Sammy, or a Player Preview about a guy with just better than a snowball's chance of making the team - are all jokes, all the time. (Not necessarily funny jokes, but jokes nevertheless.)

Therefore, I have just one simple request to make to everybody who's reading this. We're don't always have the right opinion, we often don't even have the popular opinion, but if you read something that provokes your WTF!??! reflex, assume that what we wrote was in jest. And if you don't understand it no matter how often you read what we wrote, then at least say something like "I'm missing the joke, but I assume you're kidding" before going all WTF!??! up in our grill. At least it will save you the burden of having to read a long, explanatory article like this one which brings nothing to the table regarding the Chicago Cubs.

Cub fan culture

A couple of times now in the past few months, I've spoken with some Cub fans who work in the media (one in radio, the other for ESPN).  They both said something that strikes me as being extremely interesting.  They commented on how hard it will be for them to get excited about the Cubs during the regular season because last October was so disappointing.  They both said that it will be hard to be fully emotionally onboard until the Cubs return to the playoffs.


My response to both of them was that that is how it should be, and I've been beating my drum on this topic sporadically during the off season.  Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Giants, and Angels have a very strong fan base of people who get bitterly, miserably upset if their team fails to win.  They aren't satisfied with any season in which their teams fall short of an October playoff appearance, and even then they are upset if their teams fail to reach the World Series.


The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, have a long history of not making the playoffs.  Sometimes - like in 1998 - it's great just to be along for the ride, but at this point we are finally beginning to reach that place where anything short of the ride is a serious disappointment.  Getting to watch ball games in Beautiful Wrigley Field no longer cuts it for us.  Following an unavailing pack of lovable losers no longer satisfies us.  Our culture is changing.


We're still not at the point where the majority of fans care for the team as much as they do the ballpark, but maybe we're getting there.  However, I do think that Cub fans should be not just disappointed by a season in which the team doesn't reach the playoffs but angry - at least a little.  Based on the way fans have reacted to disappointment in the past few years, I'd say that's finally happening.  And as Rob might point out - once that does happen, then the team will likely feel more obligated to put out a winner every single year - thereby elevating the Cubs into that elite group I mentioned earlier.

Are Cub fans special?

This is inspired by the Cubs blog known as Another Cubs Blog (always give credit where credit is due). 


I think that a fairly typical result of long, boring winters is that eventually pretty much everybody turns introspective.  We've sort of been debating different kinds of Cub fans here, although I think that what I wrote earlier this week was more of an acknowledgment that not everybody is the same kind of Cubs fan as me, and that's okay.


But in general, are Cub fans special?  Are we unique?  Are we better than the fans of other teams?  Are we different?


I would say definitively that no, we aren't inherently different.  The difference is that there are more of us.  Consequently, we could argue that there are more intelligent Cub fans than there are, say, Rays fans.  There are more passionate Cub fans.  There are more idiotic Cub fans.  There are more racist Cub fans.  A "problem" with being perhaps the second most popular baseball franchise in the country is that the Cubs cannot choose who their fans are or what they are like.


I wouldn't even say that we are unique in the pain we feel.  I think that once your team reaches a championship drought of a couple of decades or more, then you've already probably reached your saturation point in terms of misery - although maybe some Cub fans are just a little more pessimistic than the fans of any other franchise.  (Or perhaps a lot more, I'll concede the possibility.) 


Anyway, while we can perhaps prove that the most passionate Nationals fan is on the same level as the most passionate Cubs fan, if ever a fight broke out between the two groups of passionate fans the Cubs would surely win by sheer numbers.  Also - and this is perhaps the important part - while Cub fans may not be unique, it remains true that individually no two fans think alike.  I once had my balls busted because I was quoted as saying that a Cubs World Championship would at least momentarily bring me joy on the same level as the birth of my first child, but for me I think that's true.  I wouldn't assume it to be true for anybody else, and since this is not the Cubbie Gestapo I'm not going to punish or judge you if you don't share my opinion - nor do you really have the right to punish or judge me.


Like I said earlier this week.  It's a damn awful big world out there.  There's room out there for jabrones like me, even if my very existence and use of this pulpit drives you batty.

On being a Cubs fan

Or: Anybody who tells you what kind of fan to be isn't one

I remember a trip I took to Chicago in the early 2000's.  The Cubs weren't very good and some fans were pretty tired of the crappy play.  I remember at one point sneaking down behind home plate and sitting near some very caustic fans who did not have a very high opinion of my optimism for the Cubs farm system.  Hey, I was pretty young at the time and Roosevelt Brown was hitting the crap out of the ball in Iowa.  Suffice to say, I got a couple of disdainful looks and was mostly ignored while I argued loudly that he should get his chance to start in left.

Something I've come to understand about Cub fans is that no two are exactly alike and we tend to go through stages as we age.  From optimistic to realistic to pessimistic to bitter, it's hard to explain - or to justify to ignorant co-workers - just how much a team and a sport can affect one's life.

I had the fortune of explaining my take on all of this to a Cubs fan named Wayne Drehs last summer, who was doing a project in which he interviewed Cub fans born in every decade since they'd last won a World Series.  What I told him was something like this:

Sports fans who follow a team make an investment.  We invest hours - often thousands a year - watching the team, and thousands more talking about our team with others.  We invest dollars - surely tens of thousands throughout our lifetimes - supporting the team, buying tickets, jerseys, hot dogs and beers.  We also invest our hearts - feeling joy when they win, misery when they lose.  As is true with all investments, we do it with the hopes of getting a return.  After 100 years and counting, the Cubs have failed to deliver to us the return we've been expecting.  Consequently, some fans have had it pretty rough and are not very happy.

Think about you and your life.  I know enough about our readers to recognize that our average age is probably at around 30.  If you were born in the late 70's or early 80's, then you have seen the Cubs reach the playoffs as many times as somebody who is twice your age.  Imagine what it must've been like to be a Cubs fan old enough to remember the rookie seasons of Banks, Santo, Williams, and Jenkins, and the long drought between playoff appearances.

Anyway, my point is that the Cubs have reached the playoffs on average once every 5 years of my life.  It's a fairly common event.  I still haven't gotten the return I've been looking for, but I've really only had my heart broken by the team once - 2003 - when I thought for the first time ever that a return on my investments was likely.

There are some Cub fans out there who have become so jaded by the failures of the team that it's bled into their personal lives.  They take the game seriously, they take losing personally, and the anger they feel because of the failures they've seen are beyond anything I could share in.  Let's call these people Fan A's. 

Then, there are some Cub fans who see baseball as a game.  A hobby.  Something to follow, to think about, to talk about, to let go.  I'd surmise that their passion for Cubs baseball is similar to my passion for a TV show like Lost.  I watch every episode, I dissect it, I debate it with friends, and when the show ends I will be sad but it won't spin me into a depression or anything.  These are Fan B's.

Fan A's and Fan B's like the same thing and probably spend a similar amount of time dissecting and debating it, but they do not understand each other.  They certainly don't have time for one another.  Fan A thinks Fan B is a poser.  Fan B thinks Fan A is an out-of-touch nutjob.  But here's the deal...

We live in a very big world with all kinds of people.  We live amongst peaceful, loving people, we live amongst violent, angry people.  We live with better angels whose worst thoughts are on the same level as our best ones, and we live with raging psychopaths whose dispassionate violence would leave us sick to our cores if we knew of it.  We live with people whose philosophies completely contradict their neighbors', and yet there is room in this world for both to be right.  We live in a world where opinions are like snowflakes - they are countless in number and all unique even when resembling each other.  Unfortunately we also live in a world where everybody wants to tell you how to think and feel about everything.

But I will say that I have no time for the kind of fan - or person - who'd want to tell me - or you - what we should think of somebody who sees it differently than us.  That kind of petty arrogance exists in plenty around the internet and I wish with total sincerity that we could be free of it here.  But it is unfortunately human nature, I think.  It's like the faux jerseys I made last week.  I'd never expect everybody to love them, or even to like them.  But it takes a very special kind of fool to declare them offensive to the traditions of baseball, as if he or she is the keeper of those traditions.  Similarly, I'm no fan of country music but I can appreciate that Garth Brooks is an artist with considerable talent.  I'm no lover of men in teh ghey way but I can acknowledge that there are some studly men out there who woo women for obvious reasons. 

What I'm getting at is this ... the internet, like the world, is actually big enough for people to co-exist with others even when they completely disagree on things.  Actually it's so big that they don't even have to co-exist.  They can live their lives independent of each other and without being forced to ever cross paths.  So if you are the kind of person who comes here or goes anywhere and finds yourself reading things that annoy you, that upset you, that frustrate you to the breaking point, do yourself a favor.  Find a different place where that doesn't happen.  Don't sweat it if what you're reading is driving you nuts - nobody's forcing you to read it!  And don't worry about anybody else who may be reading it - nobody is forcing them, either! 

I mean, there is this one particular blogger whose arrogance and vanilla content drives me nuts.  I can't stand the way he deals with his readers, his hypocrisy practically leaves me frothing, and do you know what?  I've probably been to his blog no more than six or ten times in the past six months.  And each time was because somebody I was talking with in a message board or chat room was complaining about something he said, and like an idiot I followed a link to see it for myself.  I have nobody to blame but me.  I can't stand the guy, I don't read his content, and I'm happier because of it.

And maybe if more people had that same philosophy, the internet would be a slightly better place.  But that's just my opinion -- if you don't like it I have others.

On blogging, part 5

And this will conclude our 5 part series on blogging.  Let's all thank intrepid Goat Reader cfowen for the inspiration to write on this topic.

Back in the olden days of blogging - y'know, 2005 - there was a perceived hostility directed toward the blogs from the print journalists.  I don't know why, although Kyle might be able to explain since he's dealing with old and dusty graduate school professors who still seem to think that instead of .org, we should be .666 or something.  (Hmm.  goatriders.666.  Has potential.)

That sort of thing used to piss me off back when I was a younger man whose blood ran hot.  Actually, a few years back we interviewed a number of journalists about their perceptions on blogging, including Tribune writer Paul Sullivan.  I invited him to join in on the round table on a lark.  He was one of those perceived blog haters and believing that offense is the best defense I'd written some unkind things about him in the past.  Then he happily consented to the interview, Googled his name with ours, found the Attack Article and EMailed me a WTF?! letter.  Suffice to say I felt like a jackass.

It turns out that our perception of hostility is mostly wrong.  I've EMailed a number of journos about blogs and have never gotten back a hostile answer.  Then again, I've never EMailed the Jay Mariottis of the world either but he seems to dislike everybody -- not just blogs.

I asked Paul* about it earlier tonight, and this is what he had to say on the matter.  He said "It's hard to say what journalists feel about bloggers, because many of us now have our own blogs, and we tend to like ourselves a lot. I think in general we like a good blog when we come across one, and basically ignore the rest. The proliferation of Cubs blogs since I started poking fun at you guys at the Cubs Convention is phenomenal, though only a handful are readable in my estimation. I don't know of anyone who is anti-blog, but we do have a lot of our stuff ripped off and inserted into blogs without any attribution, so that's somewhat annoying. Hope that answers your questions."

(*Note to Goat Reader HarryCaray - this isn't name dropping.  Anybody can EMail Paul Sullivan.  Much as Sully wouldn't be name dropping if he quoted Ryan Dempster in an article on pitching, I'm not name dropping by quoting him in an article about blogging and journalism)

In England, it is also a completely different story.  I'll let our own Kevin tell us more about it:

Kevin: "(Bloggers are) way more mainstream really.  I mean, not in the sense that they're treated as complete equals to news etc. but bloggers get a lot of respect.  The BBC blogs heavily for example.  Top Gear have blogs for most (all?) of their writers and the magazine's letter page has a column which picks their favourite blog from the past month and prints a bunch of comments from it.  The Guardian is quite famous for hiring former bloggers as journalists - they hired Salam Pax and published his blog after the war.  Their TV columnist is Anna Pickard who was a London blogger but she recently moved to Silicon Valley where she still reviews UK TV for them!  Belle de Jour has had her blog turned into multiple books, then a TV mini-series, and I believe US TV has picked it up too.  Basically in the UK the big name bloggers get book deals and newspaper columns.  They don't always have to be very good, just famous enough."

I don't see that happening in the States anytime soon, but it's only a matter of time before the scales tip a little more toward bloggers and the best of us get paying gigs writing for media giants.

Until that time comes, enjoy your hobby.  Blog constantly - it's good practice and you will theoretically get better as you go.  Don't pass up on the occasional opportunity to create a compelling hoax, or to have a blog war with another blogger who's more popular than you.  If you ever wind up getting interviewed for a news article, try to be extremely controversial.  If they actually use your good quotes*, your readership will probably rocket.  And have fun - if you're not enjoying yourself, it's time to quit.

(*The journos who have interviewed me have never had the guts to use my good quotes.  Pansies.)

Conclusions

This past week has been a long journey.  We discussed naming your blog, dogging through the slow times, selling advertising to any broker with a Paypal account, finding a hook that makes you unique and keeps your readers coming back, and, finally, how you're perceived by the mass media community. Hopefully you've learned something.  Maybe you now feel inspired to create your own blog.  But if not, don't forget that you can blog at GROTA in the Readers Blogs section -- which often gets promoted to the front page of GROTA, only to be confused by non Cub bloggers for being the opinions of the Goat Riders on this site rather than the Goat Readers.  Good times.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award