Several months ago, the Cublogverse suffered a kick squarely to the crotch when Joe Aiello announced that he was shuttering the venerable Cubs blog, View from the Bleachers. All wasn’t completely lost, of course, because Joe was taking his services across town to The Cub Reporter.
But the lure of VFTB must have been too strong. Because shortly after passing away, VFTB rose from the ashes like some kind of phoenix blog – not the city, the mythical bird.
Bleacher Nation caught up with Joe and had a little e-chat about the Cubs, blogging, and his busy off-season. Read all about it, after the jump.
So, first thing’s first, Joe – ever done one of these before?
To be honest, I’m not sure if I have or haven’t. I’ve been blogging for five and a half years and my memory is shot. That being said, let’s go with yes, but I don’t know when.
You better remember this one. What made you start the site in the first place? I know that it was following the agonizing 2003 season, but how could you find the strength to think about – let alone write about – the Cubs?
I actually started the site as an outlet for the 2003 season. I had some blogging experience on my personal blog, but realized my life didn’t provide enough interesting notes to warrant my time. I stumbled on a blog that is no longer going and began reading his stuff. I found myself thinking about how I could do this. I continued to read that blog, but slowly realized that the content wasn’t quite as Cub focused as I would like as it began to drift down the sexual road. Instead, I poured my efforts into my site.
Uh oh. You’re not going to like the “Series She-view” segment we’ve got up our sleeve for the regular season. So what makes VFTB different from all the other Cubs blogs out there?
To be honest, I’m not sure it really is. The only think I can think of is that I tend to take a more complete organizational look at the team, with increased focus on the farm system heading into this season. I enjoy watching the farm develop and think it’s interesting looking at the full spectrum of transactions.
Which is actually one of my favorite things about VFTB. And for you, is blogging a business or a recreation?
At one point I had really given serious thought to making it my full time profession, but instead decided that I would keep it strictly a hobby that generated income. As a result, I’ve been able to take the income generated and put it toward the plan of being completely debt free (including the house) by 40. I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey, so the site has helped with our Total Money Makeover immensely.
You have unwittingly just spawned about 50 Cubs blogs with dreams of extra cash flowing in. Um, not unlike this one… I’d be lying if I said a great deal at Bleacher Nation has been inspired by VFTB. Loving tribute, or hacky rip-off?
If I say “Hacky rip-off”, do I still get to answer the other questions?
What can I say. I’m unoriginal. So, much like the Cubs, you’ve had a pretty busy off-season eh?
I’ve actually taken a greater part of the off-season off from blogging and had thoughts of completely stopping altogether due to a lack of drive. I feel good coming into spring training and feel like I’m in the best shape of my life (gotta love the spring cliches).
We’re obviously glad you resurrected VFTB, but what led to shutting it down in the first place, and how did you end up at The Cub Reporter?
I was beginning to feel some burnout after blogging roughly 350 days a year for over five years. I started to question if blogging about the Cubs was causing me to be too critical as a fan and, as a result, not enjoy the game as much. That scared me a little, because baseball is my passion. I decided to step back and pursue doing a blog covering a wider range of topics related to the city of Chicago. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, I decided that I didn’t have enough of a passion for anything about the city other than the Cubs. I had approached the guys from TCR to see if I could sign on with them and post when I had something to say. As we got closer to the spring training date, I realized the itch was still there to maintain my own site and decided to resurrect it again. TCR is definitely a great bunch of guys, and probably the best Cubs blog out there. I wish those guys the best.
The Cublogoverse can be a brisk, snippy place at times. Have any thoughts on the sniping that goes on between sites?
When I first started blogging, I was frustrated with the snobby attitude that was oozed by a lot of the other Cub bloggers, including some still up and running strong today. I couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t all just work together, especially from and advertising standpoint, to maximize our returns. Since then, I’ve learned to not take this stuff too seriously. There our sites out there that this is their chance to get a big break. I’m not one of those. I wouldn’t want the Cubs beat writer job. I wouldn’t want to up and move my family to Bristol to work at ESPN. I’m happy with my life and enjoy what I do as a hobby. It has some nice perks (i.e. free books to review, the occasional media invitation, etc), but it’s nothing more of a hobby. I’ll continue to link to great content and great sites when asked.
Very cool. Oh, and um, some people think Bleacher Nation has great content…
Mike Fontenot or Aaron Miles?
I’m pulling for Fontenot out of spring training, but I’m very intrigued by what we could see from Miles. I like the addition and I think it’s good to push Fontenot toward being an everyday guy with competition. It should be fun watching them battle for time.
Coke, Pepsi, or Tab?
Tab? Seriously, is this Back to the Future? Do I look like Marty McFly? When I drink soda, and it’s rare, I’m a big Root Beer guy.
Favorite Milton-Bradley-is-Crazy joke?
Not sure I’ve heard an actual joke, so if you tell me one, you can have the honor of having yours be my favorite. He is crazy though. I’m nervous for him.
Please offer some words of wisdom/inspiration for the other aspiring writers in the Cublogoverse.
Be careful not to burn yourself out trying to go crazy in the beginning. Start your blog with a nice reserve of content waiting to be posted that can go up anytime in the event you’re not in the mood to write. Don’t take things so seriously and don’t be afraid to promote other’s work with a link. Part of being a good resource for a reader is to point them in a direction to make them a smarter fan. Feel free to pick my brain anytime with any blogging or advertising questions you may have. I’m always available.
And he’s serious, folks. I’ve never met a Cubs blogger more easily reachable, helpful, and downright pleasant. Thanks so much for the time, Joe. Make sure to check him out at View from the Bleachers.