You Can Help Plan BA’s Future

Some of the best ideas at Baseball America come from you. In fact, you could argue that the original inspiration for Baseball America was just a reader’s idea.

It was a reader of The Sporting News, of course, but when Allan Simpson started his own magazine in 1981 it was because he was dissatisfied with TSN moving away from an in-depth focus on baseball to coverage of all sports. Since then we think BA has done a good job of listening to its readers, and this issue is a prime example. Two of the centerpieces of our Major League Preview—the rankings of the not-quite-prospects and top 25-and-under players—stem from the frequent e-mails we receive that either ask us to compare young big leaguers to current prospects, or stack up young big leaguers against each other.

And because we don’t have the money to spend on fancy marketing surveys, we often rely on your feedback to tell us when we’re doing something right or wrong. So when we wanted to trim down our Directory in recent years—after it had been on steroids for a decade—our methodology was frighteningly complex: Take out what we thought was expendable, and see if anyone complains about it.

So when we took independent league schedules, we heard about it from a lot of indy ball fans. That made our decision simple, and the schedules have been back in for the last couple of years. But we also took out the listings for small colleges, which took up numerous pages and even more manpower. I heard from exactly three people who complained about that, and one of those was a BA staffer. The small colleges have not returned.

Keep Those E-Mails Coming

I conducted a similarly scientific survey a year ago in this issue, asking for your feedback about things you liked and didn’t like. The response was so good that I want to do it again, but this time I’m going to give you a few topics to focus on. These are questions that we wrestle with here at BA, and hearing from you might help us decide on the answers.

Would you like to see more major league coverage from Baseball America, either in the magazine or online? I’m not talking about standard coverage of who wins each game and who the stars are, but rather major league coverage like we’re bringing you in this issue, with the focus on young big leaguers.

For example, we could provide scouting reports, like we do with prospects, or have writers blog about how young players are fitting in with their big league clubs or why their playing time is going up or down.

In the same vein, do you like the mix of columnists we have in the issue now? Almost all of our current major league coverage comes from them, and the feedback I’ve gotten in the past is that people enjoy reading them. I agree, but would love to hear how you feel about it.

 Expanding major league coverage is a way to broaden our appeal to more casual baseball fans. The other side of that coin is finding ways to drill even deeper with the insiders and passionate fans who read us now.

For example, would you like to read more about independent baseball? How about international baseball? We used to dedicate a notebook to international coverage in each issue during the season, but we discontinued that a few years ago for space reasons. Space is no longer a concern with the Web, and we have correspondents in most every nation where baseball is played, so would you be interested in getting more frequent updates on what’s going on in these leagues?

And if you do want to read more about international baseball, or independent ball, or any of the baseball niches we cover, are you more interested in what goes on in these leagues—who wins and loses, who performs well—or who the most notable players are for their future value?

 What are your ideas for a more interactive BA community? When we started our blogs last year, we decided to limit comments to subscribers, both to keep the level of discourse high and to keep us from occupying every waking hour moderating the comments.

We have accomplished those goals, but we also haven’t had the degree of participation we had hoped for, presumably because we’ve made it more difficult to do that. Do you think we should lower the bar so we can hear more comments? When I see a round of great comments at a place like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Braves blog or even a non-baseball site like the Onion’s AV Club, it makes me think we could have the same thing here. Then I go to a message board at the average college fan site and shudder.

I could go on and on, but I’ll let you take it from here. Please e-mail me at willlingo@baseballamerica.com, or if you still prefer paper just write me at P.O. Box 2089, Durham, NC 27702. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Minors | #2008 #Column

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