The Rundown Lite: Downturn in Sports Blogs, Live KBO Baseball on YouTube, Cancellations Elsewhere Raise Questions, 9 Cubs Make Quirky Best-Ever List
Today’s Rundown is going to be brief, mainly because the inimitable Michael Canter apparently has “too much work to do.” Sure, Mike, the one day you’re suddenly inundated with work just happens to be the day after your birthday. How convenient. It’s almost as though real life takes precedence.
Speaking of which, and I mentioned this at the end of my piece on Kyle Hendricks the other day, real life has absolutely superseded sports. That goes for the entire industry, including blogs like this one. We’re operating at about 20-30% of the traffic we did at this same time last year and maybe 10-20% of what we’d projected due to growth.
I joke a lot about this site being “moderately successful” or being your 17th favorite Cubs blog or whatever, but we did right around 6.9 million pageviews last year. That was more than double our 2018 numbers, which were 50% higher than we’d done in 2017, which were themselves almost five times higher than what we put up in 2016. That’s not a humble-brag, it’s a product of having really good people and working the right channels.
As baseball and other sports remain mired in an indefinite collective hiatus, however, it’s quickly become clear just how disposable our content really is. Sure, we’ve got some die-hards who are going to be here every day regardless. But without a big public narrative to drive us, our work here amounts to little more than cultish fanfic on an obscure Reddit page.
Now imagine what’s happening at the sites that provide people with full-time jobs, particularly those that don’t rely solely on subscriptions. I have no doubt The Athletic is feeling the pinch as well, as evidenced by the cessation of freelance work, but their whole model is being ad-free. At the risk of getting out over my skis waxing intelligent about topics I’m not an expert on, I have to think those sites subsisting on ad revenue are hurting far more.
Earnings can fluctuate greatly based on a number of factors, so it’s not as simple as assuming that revenue has dropped at the same percentage as traffic, but it’s close. It might actually be worse, as the entire online ad industry has taken a nosedive when it comes to sports sites. That makes sense, right? People are glued to the daily pandemic press briefings from the White House, not coming to Cubs Insider for a look at Jon Lester hitting a home run last year.
There were several ominous signs across the world yesterday in terms of the resumption of various leagues, but there were some really positive indicators as well. Like this KBO scrimmage, for instance. The former FanGraphs and Athletic writer works for the Lotte Giants and is a great Twitter follow for those who use that medium.
We are playing in our beautiful minor league facility in Sang-dong, Gimhae today! pic.twitter.com/8m22uYbm5S
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) April 1, 2020
- Going somewhat generic here because I really don’t have much to split between the Cubs and the rest of MLB.
- The decision was made yesterday to pay all minor league players a $400 weekly salary through at least May 31, though it’s not necessarily as beneficent as it may seem. Not only is it a pay cut from what all Cubs minor leaguers would have received, but it comes with the suspension of all Uniform Player Contracts that govern assignments to affiliates.
- Along with the additional complications of getting baseball going again in every little municipality that hosts one of over 250 different MiLB teams, this could be a power play by the league to postpone schedules and eventually contract teams.
- No league can function without players, but Minor League Baseball can’t function without fans. The same isn’t necessarily true for the big leagues, which still draw revenue from TV and can start the season in empty stadiums should that be allowed.
- It was initially thought that Toronto’s ban on all large city events through the end of June might impact the resumption of sports there and elsewhere, but sports were not included in the edict. That makes sense given the ability to close games to the public until such time as fans are allowed back, so perhaps we’re looking at a month or more of empty stadiums.
- In other news, the Chinese government has further delayed the resumption of its own professional sports.
The Chinese Government issued a new order today restricting resumption of team sports, a heavy blow for pro basketball to return there soon as was planned. China's attempt to restart sports are being watched closely by leagues across the world. Huge issue is asymptomatic carriers
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) March 31, 2020
- MLB is trying to keep its notes from internal investigations into stealing scandals by the Astros and Red Sox from being admitted as evidence in lawsuits ($) being brought against the league and those two teams. Daily fantasy sports players argue that the cheating impacted the results of their contests, something MLB obviously would like to deny.
Cubs litter all-time list
This was going to be just another bullet, but it gets its own section because I’m not doing a walk-up song in the interest of time.
By my unofficial count, there were seven current or former Cubs among the list of the best players to wear each jersey number ($): Ernie Banks (14), Ryne Sandberg (23), Greg Maddux (31), Dennis Eckersley (43), Rick Reuschel (48), Goose Gossage (54), José Quintana (62), Emilio Bonifacio (64), Wade Davis (71).
Hey, I didn’t say they had to be all-time Cubs greats or anything. And with that, I think I’m done. After spending the opener lamenting our lack of traffic, I now find myself completely burned out when it comes to creative juices. I’m spent.