Off Base
Q & A With TBLA

March 2, 2011, 12:37 p.m. That's True Blue Los Angeles, if you're scoring. 

In this second of a series on Dodger blogs I admire, we turn our attention to the queso grande of TBLA, Eric Stephen. And I if were giving out trophies – and perhaps I will – I'd tab True Blue the "Best In-Depth Analysis Award," with a strong recommendation that you bookmark and visit often throughout the calendar year.

Here's the Q & A with Eric Stephen:

Baseball Savvy: When and how did you get started? What was the thought process?

Eric Stephen: "I was a long-time commenter on Jon Weisman's fine site, Dodger Thoughts, and developed several friendships among with other Dodger fans. Back in 2008, I was rediscovering my childhood love of baseball cards and decided to start my own baseball card blog, using the 1987 Donruss set as a catalyst to write about baseball. Phil Gurnee, also a long-time commenter on Dodger Thoughts, was writing on True Blue LA, and needed someone to write with him about the Dodgers."

BS: Who are the men (and women) behind TBLA? It was you first, correct, adding on as you went along?

ES: "True Blue LA started way back on March 30, 2006 by a man named Michael Nicks. He joined the small baseball blogging network known as SB Nation. Andrew Grant, who ran a site called Dodger Math, joined later in 2006 and ran things at True Blue LA for a little over two years. Phil joined in 2007, and brought me along in December 2009. Since then, we have added fine writers David Young, Michael White, Brandon Lennox, and Chad Moriyama."

BS: Do you make a living with TBLA, or do you have "real" jobs too?

ES: "Making a living writing about baseball would be ideal, but at the moment my main source of employment comes from the decaying carcass that is commercial real estate."

BS: What are your personal goals in blogging / freelance writing / baseball / work?

ES: "I would love to write about baseball full-time. If I won the lottery, I would travel and write about the Dodgers for every single game, home and away.

I write about the Dodgers for the love of it. I think about the Dodgers 24/7 anyway, so blogging gives me an outlet to express the thoughts that are always in my head. I try not to think about the pay aspect of it too much; if I write because I enjoy it and because it is fun, that will show in the writing.

I'm not sure I could give an accurate number on how many hours per week I spend writing the blog, but if I thought about it as a job I probably wouldn't have any fun doing it. I'd like to think that blogging could eventually lead to some sort of full-time job writing about baseball, but if that happens it will come in time. It is not something I am worried about right now.

While the Dodgers are my main sports love, editing and writing for SB Nation Los Angeles has allowed me to branch out as well. We cover baseball, basketball, hockey, college sports, and soccer, and has given me a chance to expand my horizons in terms of writing.

While SB Nation Los Angeles is geared for a more general audience than the incredible minutiae of, say, True Blue LA (I have a very detailed post, for instance, on every possible detail of the Dodgers payroll), it has allowed me to follow the Lakers more closely than I have in years, just by writing about them nearly every day this season."

BS: What is SBNation?

ES: "SB Nation is a massive network of 294 sports blogs, covering every pro sports team in the major four sports, plus several colleges as well. In addition, there are 19 regional hubs, including SB Nation Los Angeles, of which I am the managing editor."

BS: Thoughts on new media and the Dodgers, and how you fit into the grand scheme of things?

ES: "The Dodgers have been at or near the forefront of new media, embracing blogs as a legitimate source of coverage of the team. They opened up the press box in 2009 to include a blog spot, allowing full media access to bloggers. I personally have covered 40 games in person during the last two seasons combined. I believe the Dodgers are still one of only a handful of MLB teams to allow access to bloggers."

BS: Can you give me a typical day-in-the-life of the blog during the season?

ES: "On a typical gameday, we will have four or more posts on True Blue LA. We will have a game preview up something like 3-4 hours before the game, followed by an in-game thread in which several of our members will react to the events of the game as they happen. Then, after the game there will be a recap of the game.

That leaves the morning and midday as essentially an open spot for whatever else we feel like writing about.

I write the bulk of the posts on True Blue LA (I looked it up at some point this offseason, and found that I wrote 140 of the 162 game recaps last year, for instance). Phil Gurnee, David Young, and Michael White write about general topics, while Brandon Lennox focuses mostly on the minor leagues, and Chad Moriyama writes about prospects as well as detailed technical analysis."

BS: What baseball blogs, and/or mainstream media do you enjoy reading?

ES: "Dodger-related: I read Dodger Thoughts, Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness, and the acerbic wit of Sons of Steve Garvey. Non-Dodger-related: Anything written by Joe Posnanski; Bill Simmons; now-fellow SB Nation writer Rob Neyer; and the American Idol recaps by the great Paul F. Tompkins."

BS: What's your defense of/offense to "new statistics." Which ones do you use/not use?

ES: "I try to convey stats in a conversational tone, so I tend to use any stats I can easily explain, even if only conceptually. I don't find it convincing to explain that Player A is better than Player B simply because his WAR is higher. The more stats you can use (OBP, SLG, wOBA, OPS+ on offense, UZR and plus/minus on defense to name a few) the better, to paint a more complete picture."

BS: What's your opinion of Frank McCourt's performance? Any prediction on how it'll play out?

ES: "I tend not to put too much emphasis on the owner, whomever he or she is, but as a fan, having confidence in ownership is an important thing. I don't think Dodger fans have confidence in Frank McCourt and I think eventually he will be gone. The process could take a few years, and McCourt will fight to the bitter end, but too many opposing forces (like Bud Selig, for instance) will make it extremely difficult for Frank to keep the team."

BS: Dodgers chances in 2011?

ES: "I am a big fan of the Dodgers' pitching depth this year, both in the starting rotation and in relief, and think that can take them a long way. I am less enthused about the offense, but I do think the Dodgers can win something like 85-88 games and if things break right they can win the division, in a close race with the Giants and Rockies."

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