Not Just For Hippies Anymore

February 26th, 2008at 07:54am Posted by Eli

Yet another blogger bursts onto the scene:

It was a month or so before the start of spring training, and Phil Hughes had no weekend plans. Hughes is 21 and single, a Californian living in Tampa, and he needed some advice.

“So tomorrow I have nothing going on and have the option of either a monster truck event at Raymond James Stadium, or a George Strait concert at the St. Pete Times Forum,” Hughes asked readers of his new blog on Jan. 18.

“I’m not really a fan of either, but I wanna get out of the house and am going more for the experience than anything. So what will it be? The Gravedigger crushing a few 1990 Ford Tempo’s or ‘All my Ex’s live in Texas?’ ”

Hughes had just joined the online community that week, yet 61 fans posted comments with suggestions. Hughes, a Yankees right-hander, went to the concert and said he had fun.

(…)

Hughes has seen a lot on his Web site, philhughes.wordpress.com, since starting it Jan. 16. Through Monday afternoon, the site had attracted more than 340,000 visitors from six continents.

Hughes has posted entries on 27 of the first 41 days, offering contests, chats, song lists and the occasional cellphone picture — an alligator on a golf course, Ian Kennedy’s changeup grip, buckets of fan mail in the clubhouse.

There are also illuminating and inoffensive slices of a young player’s life. On Jan. 31, Hughes admitted, “I can’t get enough Food Network!” After the Super Bowl, he wrote, “That catch by Tyree in the 4th quarter had my house shaking.” On Feb. 17, he let a teammate have a turn: “Jeff Marquez says hi. He wanted me to post that.”

(…)

As a homegrown Yankee with talent, Hughes was bound to be popular. But his blog has forged an uncommon connection. A young medium has further endeared a young player to the fans.

“I think his blog is a success because it makes Hughes more than a number or a grouping of statistics, it makes him not only human, but approachable,” Alex Belth, who has run the blog Bronx Banter since 2002, wrote in an e-mail message. “It makes him seem not so very different from his readers, no small deal in an era when fans feel the distance between themselves and the players more than ever.”

(…)

“Fans get enough baseball information from you guys; that’s your job,” Hughes said, referring to the news media. “I don’t try to do any of that. I want them to feel they have a connection with me. That’s kind of the main idea.

“To me, baseball players always seemed so larger than life. I guess one of the points I’m trying to make is that it’s not really that way. You can idolize players, but you realize they’re just guys. That’s kind of what I want to get across. I’m not any better than anybody else. I just happen to have this ability that not many other people have.”

Good for Hughes. I hope he makes it big, and that he keeps blogging.

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Media,Sports


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