Communication Breakdown

Wednesday’s post provided a not-so-brief account of how this whole “Ben’s Biz” thing came to be –my origin story, if you will. Today I’d like to go into a little detail regarding what, exactly, a season of Minor League coverage entails from my perspective. Doing so will hopefully result in more understanding from my readership regarding what to look for and how to best engage with it.

During the 2012 season I wrote 68 MiLB.com features and 84 blog posts, conducted 32 video interviews, and sent out approximately 2000 tweets. The breakdown:

22 Promo Preview columns (running every Tuesday)

Promo Preview is my flagship column, near and dear to my heart. This year I changed up the format — where in the past each edition had simply presented short capsule write-ups on 10 notable promotions, this year’s crop led with a 300–400 word mini-feature on a particularly interesting promotion. I thought that this was a beneficial change, but struggled with how to present the remainder of the column. I’m thinking next year I’ll combine the old approach with the new: one lead promotion, then six capsule write-ups. (Suggestions always appreciated.)

But regardless of the format, this column remains your premier source for innovative Minor League Baseball promotional ridiculousness.

Impromptu midwifery!

Toilet paper!

Bobbling goats!

Gum-related glory!

And so much more. Really, what more could you want from a column? (Please don’t answer that).

21 Farm’s Almanac features (running every Friday)

Farm’s Almanac is a weekly feature, generally 1000-1500 words in length, that can cover just about any aspect of in-season Minor League Baseball. I’d like to think that, cumulatively, each season’s slate of columns helps to bring about a better understanding of just how diverse the world of MiLB really is. Topics this year included re-creation game radio broadcasts, a legally blind PA announcer, a German-born top prospect, ballpark humidors, the death of a popular vendor, rehab assignments involving Japanese superstars, scorekeeping secrets, and a variety of pieces detailing that which I encountered while on my various travels throughout the Minor Leagues. Which brings us to…

Over 100 pieces of “On the Road”-related content

An increasing amount of my in-season content is from the road, and that’s just how I like it. This year I visited 25 ballparks — 19 over the course of three week-long jaunts to various parts of the country and six more day trips in and around the NYC area. All told, this resulted in 19 MiLB.com features, 32 “Ben on the Road” video interviews, and 50 blog posts (32 stadium dispatches as well as 18 more detailing things to do and see around the stadiums in question). The three major trips were as follows (each link contains a sidebar featuring all of the content from that particular trip)

Florida — Clearwater, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Lakeland, Daytona, Pensacola.

South Central (for lack of a better term) — Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, Memphis, Jackson, Arkansas.

Pacific Northwest — Eugene, Salem, Yakima, Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver.

And then there’s the most anomalous entity in my feature-writing stable:

Six CROOKED NUMBERS (running monthly)

Crooked Numbers is a compendium of all the improbable and absurd on-field events that occurred in the Minor Leagues throughout the previous month. It is a labor of love, and inspired by youthful affinity for Jayson Stark’s similarly quirky MLB writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The lead items in each month’s column amply illustrate the sort of madness to be found therein:

April — A swarm of bees descend upon a game in Stockton.

May — Visalia collects 31 hits in a game against High Desert.

June — An interim manager is suspended after ordering a series of intentional balks.

July — A near total dearth of left-handed relievers in bullpens across the Minors.

August — The ins and outs an crazily improbable Pioneer League contest.

September — The Norfolk Tides use 75 players and conduct 230 roster moves over the course of 2012.

Oh, and then there’s this blog. Right here. The one you’re reading right now. During the season it features a lot of road trip content (mentioned above), but there were an additional 34 posts that chronicled strange, innovative or otherwise noteworthy Minor League promotions.

Ben’s Biz sees all

Zombies, Jerry Springer, oyster bars, avant-garde hamburgers and much, much more can be found here on a regular basis. (Just take a casual scroll through the archives to get a better idea of what I’m talking about). And if you just can’t get enough of this kind of thing then please consider following me on Twitter. I never want to be the sort of individual who defines my self-worth via social media engagement, but given that my writing is national in scope I do believe that I could — and should — have far more than my current 2600 followers.

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Of course, this operation doesn’t shut down during the offseason. “Minoring in Business” appears on a bi-weekly basis on MiLB.com, with each column devoted to recent MiLB news and/or significant industry trends.

On the week that Minoring in Business does not appear, I write a “wild card” column for the site instead. This could include recurring initiatives like the new “Ben’s Bookshelf” column as well as total one-offs such as this recent piece mourning the imminent disappearance of players whose professional careers started in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, there will be a regular flurry of news articles on MiLB.com regarding the usual offseason occurrences: new logos, stadium groundbreakings, team re-locations, and the like. Check the site early and often. And, finally, through it all, this blog will roll right  along with all of the offseason goings-on that are fit to post. Taken together, this is as much Minor League info as anyone could want (save for those with suffering from MiLB fever, which is contagious and is accompanied by a bevy of unfortunate and oft-painful symptoms).

Self-promotion is not in my nature — I’ve always erred on the side of self-deprecation — and looking at myself as a “brand” is not something that comes easily. But what I’m doing here is my livelihood, and therefore it is very important for me to catalog and contextualize what I do in a positive and proactive manner. If you know of anyone who might enjoy the content chronicled above, then please pass it along. Click all you want — I’ll write more.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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