The Pittsburgh's Best Sports Blogs tournament is underway, and No. 1 seed Behind The Steel Curtain took a first-round victory over Pirates blog Hyzdu Headquarters.
In our joyous celebration, we caught up with the moderator of the contest, Sean from Sean's Ramblings, a blog worthy of inclusion in this contest in its own right.
BTSC squares off against Pirates blog The "Mc" Effect starting Monday morning.
BTSC: First off, I love the tournament idea. It's unique, it's fun, and I would imagine it's pretty widely followed. How did you come up with the idea, and what's your impression on the reaction to it in the Blogosphere?
Sean: I saw something on Deadspin several years ago about a website creating a Best Sports Blog Tournament. I don't think that tournament proved to be very successful, but I thought that it might be fun to create one for the Pittsburgh sports blogging community. Overall, I think the reaction to the tournament has been positive. It gives some extra exposure to some great Pittsburgh sports blogs, and I think most folks see it as something fun to do during a time when the sports calendar is a little lighter after the NFL season ends and before Spring Training games, the NCAA Tournament and NHL playoffs.
BTSC: It seems like it's run pretty simply. You've got a poll embedded into your site, links to each participating blog (rules for eligibility are linked here) and whomever gets the most votes wins.
I'm a sucker for brackets.
If nothing else, it shows how tapped in to the Pittsburgh sports community you are. How do you go about coming up with the participants, and from there, how do you handle the seeding?
Sean: I select blogs in the tournament that have been in existence for at least one year. As you know, it is easy to start a blog, but not as easy to stay with it for a long period of time. I also pick blogs that are updated regularly. I'm not sure how you could include a blog that takes off three months during the summer or only posts once a month. While I feel fairly connected in the Pittsburgh sports blog community, I also ask for opinions on my blog and by asking other bloggers about blogs that I should include.
I find seeding to be difficult. The "popular" blogs that receive the most comments earn the highest seeds. In addition, almost every blogger now uses Twitter, so I also use the number of Twitter followers to assist with seeding. It is certainly not an exact science, so maybe someone can create a Pittsburgh sports blog RPI to assist in creating the field and seeds!
BTSC: You have 32 blogs spread into four regions, each of them named after a different sports figure - Walter Abercrombie, Dave Clark, Vonteego Cummings and Kip Miller. Not questioning their inclusion but what led you to choose those four?
Sean: Regarding the region names, I've picked some of my favorite Pittsburgh sports figures from my childhood and teenage years that are usually the role players rather than superstars. I used Louis Lipps, Doug Frobel, Ironhead Heyward, John Cullen, Johnny Ray, Carlton Haselrig, Demetreus Gore among others in the past.
For this year, Dave Clark was always one of my favorite Pirates since he always seemed to get a key hit. Kip Miller had the best goal I ever saw live at the Civic Arena. He lost his stick in the defensive end and it somehow got kicked all the way into the offensive end. He picked up the stick just in time to score on a rebound. (I've spent way too much time unsuccessfully looking for a video of this goal on YouTube.) I guess Vonteego goes under the superstar label since he carried Pitt's basketball team. Finally, Walter Abercrombie was a fun name to say when I was in elementary school!
BTSC: In your write-up announcing this year's tournament, you mentioned Feb. 10 being Umbrella Day. Outside of getting that horrible song by Rihanna stuck in my head, what's the relevance of Feb. 10 as a starting day? Is that just the day you chose, or does this time of the year (and not the obvious March Madness) have any particular symbolism for the tournament?
Sean: I also included "Bus Stop" by The Hollies, so hopefully that song will stick in your head instead of Umbrella.
There is no symbolism in announcing the start of the tournament on February 10th other than it is after the Super Bowl and is a lighter time in the sports calendar. Plus, with the Steelers appearing in the two Super Bowls prior to this year, it made sense to start the tournament in mid-February since people were especially tuned in to Pittsburgh sports blogs.
BTSC: Do you see a spike in traffic at all when the contest is going on? What kind of reaction do you get from people? I would think people would get pretty riled up over the results.
Sean: There is definitely a spike in traffic on my blog during the contest. Many more people are interested in voting and following the results than reading my stories about getting free burritos for a year, flying from LAX to Washington (I saw Carson Daly at LAX), or my own take on Pittsburgh sports. Overall, the reaction has been positive. Yes, there are certain rivalries where Pirates fans want to defeat Steelers blogs, and there will be some opposition to including a Penn State blog in the mix, but I think most people see this as fun.