Monthly Archives: January 2012

Week Three Journal—Domains, SEO, and Niches

These were three weeks that really have changed the way I think about social media, networking, and most importantly: personal branding. I had an idea of what I would learn in this class before I started, but what I’m taking away at the end is so far beyond anything I could have imagined.

Search Engine Optimization:

This week specifically, was jammed packed with lots of good stuff. Hearing from Derek Mabie on Monday was really eye opening. Before starting this class I had never heard of SEO, which is pretty incredible to think about now that I understand what it is.

Driving traffic to your blog is important. Now that I understand how Google indexes information the whole process feels less like magic, and more like something I can actually take part in. It is nice to have the mystique peeled away from the whole process.

Lots of people feel like they can’t really be successful on the internet, because they don’t know how it works. It really isn’t that complicated, just programs with thousands of lines of code, each one written by programmers with years of experience and education. Okay, so maybe the nuts and bolts of it are a little complicated, but the good news I learned this week is that you don’t have to understand the fine details to see the big picture.

Google’s process for finding and compiling information is rather basic when you look at it on a conceptual level. Once you do that it is much less intimidating, and much easier to take advantage of the benefits.

Are You Master of Your Domain?

The funny thing about the internet is that it is not that unlike the 1800s land rushes of the American frontier:

Okay, on second thought, maybe not quite as costly as what is going on in the proceeding video, but the results are certainly as binding. The past few years is the first time ever that people are discovering their ability to own internet real estate, or domains.

The domain you end up with is not the end all be all, but it can make your brand easier to identify for others.

This week showed me how important owning a domain is and that it is not that hard to manage your own website. I used to think having my own spot online would be cool, but that managing a website was only for super geniuses. I was wrong. Anyone can have an online presence, and it is fairly cheep to do.

While I haven’t yet made the jump myself it is something that is on the horizon.

Son of a Niche:

Niche and niche blogs have been a topic of conversation for most of PBandJterm. I really appreciated hearing from two successful niche bloggers: Jessica Leitch and Maddie Marshall of City in a Jar. Their blog is very well done and proves that anyone with creativity and a work ethic can be a player in the online world. I can’t wait to witness City in a Jar go from side project to revenue stream.

It was encouraging to see that someone who took this class a year ago is now using what they learned to make a difference in their life. I hope to do the same.

Could Prince Fielder Cause an MLB Salary Cap?

A Unique Situation

The NBA, NFL, and NHL all play by different rules than Major League Baseball, and I’m not talking about the rules used on game day.

MLB is the only major North American sports league that does not operate under a salary cap. There has always been a lot of debate over if the lack of a salary cap helps or hurts MLB and its franchises. There are a lot of traditionalist that believe implementing a salary cap would be on par with moving to a field with only two bases. Others contend it would level the economic playing field between small and big market teams.

The current CBA does not allow for a salary cap. When that fact is paired with twenty years of baseball labor peace, and bigger profit margin now than ever before in baseball it would seem very unlikely that a cap will be in play anytime soon. Unless, that is, a major occurrence made one unavoidable.

Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder, and his curfent free agency, could be that occurrence. Chances are he signs a deal worth less than the contract Albert Pujols just inked with the LA Angels for ten years, $254 million. Fielder’s deal also most likely will fall short of Ryan Howard’s five year, $125 million contract finalized a few seasons ago, but he still could make a lot of money.

His agent is Scott Boras, and there are three things that life has proven certain: 1) death 2) taxes and 3) Scott Boras always gets his clients big money. While the market for Fielder has been slow developing so far this winter, Boras has promised his client will indeed get paid, so while Prince won’t make as much as Pujols or Howard he is going to make some serious money.

The Point

Three teams have been implicated in the Fielder talk. It is likely he will either end up with the Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, or Miami Marlins.

Should Fielder sign with the first two teams it will alter the look of their batting order and the division he lands in, but if the Miami Marlins sign him it could someday alter the look of baseball forever.

The Marlins arrived at the winter meetings in Dallas last month as a team with a new stadium, new uniforms, new logo, new name (formerly the Florida Marlins), and a new resolve to compete. They signed high profile free agent shortstop  Jose Reyes and pitcher Mark Buehrle, and also offer large contracts to Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson. This new big money philosophy got the baseball world to take notice. Before December the Marlin had always operated on a bare bones economic formula consistently having a payroll that ranked toward the bottom of baseball.

Even after winning the World Series in 1997 and 2003 the Marlin traded away much of their young talent so they would not have to pay out large contracts. Is it possible that at team which had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball could all of a sudden have lots of spare cash to spend even with out changing owners?

What if Miami is able to ink a deal with Fielder worth his projected value, a yearly average of $20 million? That would mean that each season a team that used to pay one player over $10 million a year would be paying three players a combined $42 million a year. If you add in All-Star third baseman Hanley Ramirez, who already was on the roster, that number rises to $53 million.

That yearly commitment combined with the $151 million dollars the franchise just contributed to build its new $515 stadium means the Marlins need the fans to support the team worse than ever, and that could be a problem. Miami averaged 19,000 fans per game last season. If the fans don’t turn out at a higher average the Marlins will have trouble paying the bills, and that would mean a familiar occurrence in Miami: fire sale.

Other teams would be interested in Reyes, Buehrle, and Ramirez as long as they were performing well. Fielder’s contract would be problamatic, because of its worth, and possibly its length, if Boras get the seven to ten years he desires.

Miami’s front office is gambling that the fans will support the team now that a new stadium is in place. If the revenue doesn’t start pouring in there will be issues in South Beach, and you don’t have to be an economist to do the simple math that proves it.

The league having to help the Marlins out with its finances could spark a major debate over the need for a salary cap to ensure teams don’t risk themselves in ways they can’t afford.

For now, this scenario is a bit a far fetched, but isn’t all the way out of the realm of possibility. Afterall, baseball is all about surprises.

Time to Move on From Pujols

If someone stands you up at the prom it is okay to be a little frustrated, but if you get upset at said person for not appearing at the your party you’re throwing a few weeks later, that is all on on you.

St. Louis Cardinal fans are some of the most passionate out there. They talk baseball year round, because it is not merely a game, but a way of life. There is something really unique and special about that, and only a select few other fan bases behave similarly. I don’t think anyone should ever try to squelch baseball conversation, but I do think it is time that Cardinal fans stop talking about Albert Pujols.

Cardinal fans felt stood up by Pujols when he signed with the Angels earlier this winter, and they are upset. It was understandable to have some emotion which, for several weeks, caused a need for reflection and discussion. It was healthy. It was normal. I don’t have a problem with that, but at some point the city of St. Louis, and all of Cardinal Nation will need to move on.

Every time that the Pujols chatter starts to calm down, something happens and all Cardinal-related baseball discussion again includes Pujols in some way. Today has been the perfect example.

The Cardinals visited the White House yesterday, as is the tradition for championship winning teams, but Pujols did not join his former teammates. For many people that seems to be a problem. The favorite question on sports talk radio today has been: Shouldn’t Pujols support his teammates? 

That seems like an odd inquiry since Pujols is no longer teammates with any member of the St. Louis Cardinals, I’ll take a break here so Cardinal fans can catch their breath.

Ready now? Okay. I know it is hard for the Cardinal faithful to hear, but it is the truth. Albert Pujols no longer draws a paycheck from the Cardinals.

It is understandable to think that he should want to be a part of celebrating a championship season he played a role in, but it needs to be remembered that the White House trip isn’t mandatory. Do you really think David Freese, Chris Carpenter, or any of the other Cardinals enjoyed themselves any less, because Albert Pujols wasn’t there? Was being with the President of the United States inside the most famous home in America less sweet, because Albert wasn’t there? No way.

There is a lot of baseball to be played this summer in St. Louis as the Cardinals try to defend their eleventh World Championship. None of the Cardinal players seem to still be dealing with the separation anxiety of Albert leaving. In fact, most of them appear eager to get to spring training, and begin taking part in baseball activities again. It is time for Cardinal fans to acquire a matching mind set.

What happened in Dallas during the winter meetings will always have a place in Cardinal and baseball history, and a day will come, after he retires, to decide Albert’s place in Cardinal history, but today is not that day.

It hurt when he stood you up in December. Why would you want him at your party in January? Let’s just be honest, it would have been awkward for everyone.

Four 2011 Relievers to Watch in 2012

Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws a pitch at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Big 3 News Executive Editor Rusty Ray.

There are five pitcher which served as relievers in 2011, which will be worth paying special attention to in 2012. Some of them will remain late inning pitchers, while others will make their way out of the bullpen, and into starting rotations.

The upcoming season will offer some of them the chance to continue success from last year, for others it will be an opportunity to regain old form, and yet still for a few it will be a chance to show versatility. One thing is for sure, this season could make or break these five players.

1) Aroldis Chapman

One thing is certain about this twenty-three year old Cuban defector: he can throw hard, though his ability to locate pitches for strikes has been suspect during his first two big leagues season.

Chapman has the ability to frustrate hitters when they can’t catch up to the heat he throws, but gets in trouble if they connect, or he misses the zone. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty is on the record saying Aroldis will get the chance to earn a place in Cincinnati’s starting rotation this spring. That fact, coupled with rumors that Chapman is starting to learn how to locate his pitches, makes me think Chapman may be ready to start playing to his potential.  He has a career WHIP of 1.24, that is a nice starting point.

2) Joe Nathan

Some argue Nathan’s sub-one WHIP is far more indicative of his ability than his 2011 statistics. His ERA was over four in this past season, and his inability to close out games ended up being the main reason he is not back with the Twins as he enters his eleventh MLB campaign.

Nathan is a mixed bag. He has twice missed an entire season with injuries, but as recently as 2009 had a WHIP less than one. In addition, it should be noted that he is one of the most underrated closers of the last decade. Six of his eleven career seasons have seen him post a WHIP of less than one, and even after a rough 2011 Nathan’s career ERA is 2.37.

Because we live in a world where it isn’t unheard of for great closers to pitch into their late thirties, or early forties (see Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman) I wouldn’t rule out Nathan just yet. Keep in mind he is with the Texas Rangers now. Nolan Ryan is a smart guy, and I don’t think he would sign a pitcher he viewed as out of gas. A change of scenery also may breathe new life into the ex-Twin too. The Rangers better hope it does, because there is not a lot riding on him in Arlington.

3) Jason Motte

Many Cardinal fans used his name as an expletive in the past, but the converted catcher grew into his own this season. He has embraced the role of closer. New manager Mike Matheny is even willing to give him the official title. That, combined with the fact that he threw the final pitch of the 2011 MLB season, should be the fuel Motte needs to continue building on the impressive fall he just compiled.

4) Neftali Feliz

Like Motte, Neftali Feliz has plenty of postseason experience. In fact, he has more. Feliz and the Texas Rangers have lost two straight World Series now. If that doesn’t serve as a motivator nothing probably will. Feliz really doesn’t need much motivation though, because his career numbers are stellar.

The reason Neftali makes this list is, because he will be moving to the Rangers starting rotation in an attempt to bolster his teams front end for hopefully yet another run at a World Series title. The Rangers will need good pitching to win an AL West that now features an L.A. Angels club who has an embarrassment of riches on the mound. Feliz and company have their work cut out for them.

What I Learned: Week Two

An alternate title considered for this blog was: “What Didn’t I Learn: Week Two.” Three days of class have felt like far more than the nine hours spent working so far. This week, unlike last week, we worked on material I was not familiar with at all meaning there was no shortage of learning. Lots of information was introduced quickly, but I am now more prepared for the professional world compared then I was before the start of class Monday.

LinkedIn was the first topic we learned about this week. The presence of a LinkedIn profile in my life was well overdue. I now have a profile, although it doesn’t yet look quite as I would like, that is representing me on a very important chunk of internet real estate. This week our study of LinkedIn has definitely shown me what I need to do in order to network properly.

LinkedIn can do wonders for your career. There are a lot of success stories out there. While I still have some improvements I would like to make it is good to know that I’m becoming relevant in the real world. My classmates and myself already have been pointed in the right direction. Most websites and articles encourage LinkedIn users to make their profiles stronger by enacting the changes we discussed in class.

Also, what most people fail to think of is that LinkedIn can help job seekers research employers the same way employers use it to checkout individuals. The benefits to LinkedIn are virtually endless.

The work we did with Word Press this week also had a lot of benefit. I feel like my page now has a much greater visual effect. If you visited last week you no doubt understand what I mean. Next week we are scheduled to learn more so I will save most of my thoughts on Word Press for then.

Today, the main tool we dealt with was Prezi. Just like LinkedIn, learning how to use this internet based power point on steroids has been on my to do list for quite some time. Prezi is really neat for several reasons.

Number one, it makes sharing presentations fairly seamless. If a user so desires they can put a Prezi on a CD or flash drive, but it is always saved on the internet. Being able to access presentations, which automatically save, off the web does away with the worries other softwares provide. Once created, Prezi is available everywhere.

Prezi also just looks cool, plain and simple. There really is no other way to say it. People who are skilled with Microsoft Power Point and Apple Keynote are able to make their presentations look almost as good as a Prezi, but for the average person Prezi enables them to create far more professional looking presentations. Zooming and sliding in and out are standard with Prezi, and add a level of excitement other presentation softwares just don’t match.

The last thing about Prezi that makes it worth investigating is the millions of Prezis on display for public viewing. If you don’t have any ideas, or need a jumping off point, it’s likely a Prezi is on display in a public gallery that has the inspiration you need.

Blog Niche Prezi

This Prezi presentation outlines the niche I would like to fit into as a blogger. After following the link please select the presentation called: “Sports Niche.”

Blog Two—The Passionate Trial Ballon

There are a lot of topics that I could chose to write about, but when given the option to pick what I want to write it really is no contest. Sports make the world go round, ok, they make my world go round.

Below are four sports related thoughts that I think are worth getting out there. Two are items that are dominating the ESPN bottom line as we speak, one is something that doesn’t get enough credit, and the final thought is a unique one that until this point has been wrapped up in my own head.

Round 1: Good For The Denver Broncos

So far, in the ten hours I’ve been awake, I’ve heard the phrase “Good for Tim Tebow” a lot. Agreed, yesterday’s 80 yard touchdown pass from Tebow to Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was beautiful, and yes it silenced a lot of the haters (at least for a day or two), but let’s not forget that it is the Denver Broncos not Tim Tebow who won the football game.

I’m a Tebow fan so this comment isn’t born out of a lack of respect for him. No, rather I think that Tim would be the first person to tell you it was a team effort. No man single handedly defeats any NFL defense, especially the number one rated defense in the league, like Tebow did on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Credit should be assigned where it is due, and the NFL is undoubtably a quarterback driven league, which means that Tebow’s 316 passing yards and two touchdowns deserve a lot of the hype they are getting, but the next order of business should be to point out the players Tebow was throwing to. Thomas had 247 yards recieving, and tight end Daniel Fells also had a monster day averaging 28.5 yards per catch and 57 yards overall. Wide receiver Eddie Royal had more than 16 yards a catch as well.

The bottom line is this: Tim Tebow is great. I’m excited to drink the Kool-Aid just like everyone else, but when you go 10-for-21 and end the game averaging 31.6 yards per completion you owe the guys running the routes a big thank you. If they aren’t hustling down the field, and running excellent routes on the bombs Tebow let lose Sunday the game probably would have had a very different outcome.

Round 2:  Hall of Fame

The results of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame voting were announced today. It is not who was elected, but who wasn’t that stood out.

Long time Houston Astro first baseman Jeff Bagwell fell short once again during his second year of eligibility. That in itself is not a shock. It takes most players several years to get elected. What shocked and saddened me was that after looking at Bagwell’s numbers I wasn’t sure if he had been kept out, because of his statistics, or because he played during the steroid era.

I’m a baseball nut. In a life consumed by sports baseball is king. I should know off the top of my head whether Bagwell had been implicated with steroids or not. Several times I saw the man play in person, but yet the use of steroids in the late 1990s and early 2000s has muddied the waters so much that even a baseball enthusiast like me can’t remember who has been tied to performance enhancing drugs and who hasn’t.

I actually had to tweet a friend to ask if Bagwell was clean or not. How sad is that? I was reminded that Bagwell’s name has only been attached to steroids, because of when he played.

He most likely will get the well-deserved nod next year but I think it is more clear now than ever the MLB and the Baseball Writers Association need to make a decision about how they will deal with steroid era players on the Hall of Fame ballot. It isn’t fair that clean players be tied to drugs they never touched.

Round 3: High School Basketball

I love my high school. I’ve been graduated for nearly 18 months now, but I still have a lot of school spirit. If you are from St. Louis you understand why. If you’re not I’d be more than happy to explain sometime but we’ll need a separate post.

Tonight was the biggest rivalry game of the year for my Christian High School Eagles. They took on the Winfield Warriors at CHS. The Pep Club (our student section) was rocking. I can’t wait to read my good friend, fellow journalist, and current CHS senior Josh Matjeka’s coverage of the event on a blog, called CHS Hoops, which I created while I was at Christian High, and that he has continued.

There is nothing like a gym packed full of people who really don’t get along yelling at the top of their lungs. You want to talk about energy? There is no equal. During high school, games were a highlight of my winter, and I still enjoy going back now and then to take part in the fun.

Round 4: A Reason To Still Believe In People

I’ve been really feeling blessed to be at Lindenwood. I’m new, so the task of adjusting should be at least a little daunting, but it hasn’t been so far. Everyone has been really nice and I’m having a blast. Those sentiments were cemented Sunday at the Lindenwood Ice Arena in Wentzville, Mo.

My first LU print assignment was to cover a charity game between the LU men’s hockey team and the St. Louis Blues Alumni. I got the chance to see the beautiful facility that LU hockey has all to itself, and rub shoulders with some hockey players I grew up idolizing.

After the game I camped out in the hallway between the rink and the locker rooms. As the Blues Alumi were coming off the ice I got the chance to grab current Blues color television analyst, and former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Darren Pang. He was willing to take a few minutes to talk with me despite being obviously winded. He not only was willing to talk, but he did so with a smile.

This past August I interviewed Super Bowl champion Mike Jones. His behavior was similar.

The fact that people like Darren Pang, and Mike Jones who have both reached the pinnacle of their professions are willing to make themselves available means the world to me. It sustains my faith in people.

Gary Vaynerchuck

What I Learned—Week One

I have learned a tremendous amount in my first week at Lindenwood. The fact that you need to present yourself in a positive light was not a brand new topic. For that matter, the fact that you need to promote yourself wasn’t new to me, but I now have a lot better idea how to go about doing so.  If you’re reading this, and you have toyed with the idea of promoting your brand more it is worth it.

Granted, I have not even scratched the surface of promoting my brand. There is a lot more that I need to be doing, and in time I am confident I can push my brand to where I would like it.

One of the quickest, and best ways to promote your brand is through social media, specifically Twitter. I have loved Twitter from the time I first opened my account. It streamlines information in a way that no other form of media really ever has. Twitter is constantly changing American culture, and it also can connect its users to each other.

Over the weekend I got to have a conversation with entrepreneur and blogger Tara Joyce (@ElasticMind). Twitter gives students like myself the opportunity to interact with people who are pursuing careers in the discipline that we are studying. This chance to dialogue with accomplished professionals serves the purpose of teaching and inspiring.

In addition I have gained followers, a lot more than I would have expected actually, since posting my original blog. I gained even more after following some of the internets most influential bloggers in class on Friday. That is a pretty neat blessing.

Another thing this week taught me is that being a qualified person is not enough to make you an employed person. There are students all over the country who have similar skill sets, and are willing to work for cheap. As desirable as those characteristics are it is no doubt an employers market. They can and do pick and chose who they want to hire. In this market you have to make hiring directors take notice. Being a qualified candidate will not get you very far anymore. You have to stand out. As I learned from studying Seth Godin you must be unique, or as he says, a linchpin. Don’t fit it. Reliable is good, but only so long as it is coupled with creativity and unique characteristics that make you irresistible as a prospective candidate.

The Gary Vaynerchuck video shown during Tuesday’s class made me think as well. It is nice to hear that one can succeed in life doing what they love. There is no need to be bogged down in work that is a grind. If you aren’t in love with your job it might be best to do something else. At first, it will be hard, and it could be expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run. Being your own boss, and working to do something you find worthwhile does not have to be a pipe dream. The bottom line is there is less risk involved than ever before when it comes to being an entrepreneur.

So in review, I learned information this week that will have an impact on the rest of my life. I learned the internet is a powerful tool that can be used to produce revenue, marketing yourself is all about showing novelty, and Twitter is a powerful tool that I had been underestimating.

If you haven’t investigated the benefits of personal branding I encourage you to do so soon. I thought I knew the importance of personal branding, and even though I know more now than I did a week ago I have a feeling I’ll be saying the same thing again a week from now.

A Brand You Should Know—Seth Godin