Two-Year Anniversary of ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the day I sat down to begin ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’. Starting this blog was more of a spur of the moment thing than it was me looking to begin a long term blog. At the time, I never could’ve imagined that I would keep at it long enough to be typing up a two-year anniversary post; to his day, I’m still surprised that I kept with it. But I’ve come to love blogging, and interacting with fellow baseball fans, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to take a look back at the past two years, using a timeline, of sorts, to tell the basic story of how my blog came to be where it is now (click the headers to be taken to each post):

‘Explanation of Me’–My first blog post

As the header would suggest, this was the first blog entry I ever published. It covered who I am, and the fact that I have no favorite team that I root for more than another team. While it does a decent job at getting the general point across, looking back, I’m fairly appalled at how horribly written it is. The post doesn’t flow, the grammar is terrible and my punctuation is subpar. Given, I’m by no means a professional writer now-I’m sure there are tons of issues with this post–compared to my writing style now, it’s almost as if it was a completely different person who wrote that first post. I suppose, in a way, it was.

‘MLB Logo and Its Designer’–My first interview post

I didn’t start out with interview intentions. I merely emailed Jerry Dior (the designer of the MLB logo) to ask him questions I had about the design process, and the story behind the logo. It wasn’t until a month later that I had the idea of putting the questions into an interview format for a post on my newly established blog. In the days after posting it, I noticed that people seemed to have a good reaction to the interview, so it was at that point that I decided to begin interviewing ballplayers; the interviews took off from there. I’ve now conducted several dozen interviews, and plan on continuing to do them in the future, as long as the players continue to be willing.

July 23, 2011–Signed Up for Twitter

This has nothing to do with my blog, yet it has everything to do with its success. Signing up for Twitter not only allowed for a way for me to get in contact with ballplayers for interviews, but it also served (and still serves) as a way of spreading the link to each new post, around to baseball fans everywhere. If it wasn’t for Twitter, it’s very possible that I would’ve discontinued my blog, as my reader base wouldn’t have been as fast to grow.

How Bernie Williams Became My Favorite Player Ever

This is more of a personal entry than it is an informative one. In this blog post, I detailed exactly how Bernie Williams came to be my favorite player to ever play the game of baseball. There’s a great story behind it, but I really don’t want to say much more than that. If you’re truly interested, feel free to click the header to be taken to the post I did on the subject.

Bernie Williams’ Reflects On 9/11/01–Ten-Year Anniversary

Yet another Bernie Williams post, but this one is more somber than the first. With the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, I decided to contact Bernie Williams on Twitter to ask if he’d be willing to share his own personal experience and memories from that horrid day. He agreed to it, and after a bit of back and forth conversation, of me detailing exactly what I wanted him to talk about, I received an email from Williams, containing a fairly long response. If you don’t read another blog entry from this anniversary post, I suggest you read this one.

The Blog Post That Put My Blog On The Map

Ozzie Guillen and the Miami Marlins played a large part in making my blog as successful as it is today. The article I wrote on the “new look Marlins” caused my blog to absolutely explode, in terms of views. In the months following when I first posted the entry, I received day after day of several hundred view days. In all, that one post racked me up over 11,000 views, all by itself. While things have backed off slightly since then, I still have a fairly large reader base, and it can all be traced back to that one post.

Ranking After the 2011 Year of Blogging

After a year’s worth of blogging, I was fairly anxious to see how I would stack up against all of the great blogs around the MLBlogs community. I was fairly stunned when the results came out, stating that my blog was the 35th most viewed blog of 2011. That alone gave me a reason to continue blogging.

The Blog Post That Got Me the Most Views For A Single Day

While my post on the Marlins netted me the most views for a single blog post, the entry I posted on the Cleveland Indians-Carolina Mudcats exhibition game, for some reason, led to the most views in the history of my blog on a single day. I’m still not all that sure as to why, but people came flocking to my blog on that particular day, netting me a total of 892 views. I haven’t had a day since that’s received more than 615 views; but I hope to change that this year.

First MLB Game Recap Entry

Living in North Carolina, I don’t get the chance to attend an MLB game all that often. As a matter of fact, this particular post recapped the first MLB game I attended since starting this blog. Therefore, it was the first MLB recap I’d ever done. The plan right now is to attend at least one MLB game this year, up in Milwaukee, so I’ll no doubt be blogging about that one as well.

Trip To the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby

The all expense paid trip I received to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby, courtesy of State Farm, is by far the best thing to ever come out of this blog. While I’ve been fortunate enough to experience several blogging related benefits since then–which range from getting free stuff, to meeting ballplayers in person that I’ve interviewed–I feel confident in saying that nothing will ever top this.

Triple-A National Championship Game

As the MiLB equivalent of a World Series game 7, the 2012 Triple-A National Championship game is the most significant minor league baseball game I’ve ever attended, thus it’s the most significant MiLB blog posts I’ve done. Therefore, I wanted to include it in this two-year anniversary post. Getting to see Reno Aces win the National Championship, along with meeting 2011 American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery, made this great game even better.

Ranking After the 2012 Year of Blogging

After coming in 35th at the end of the 2011 blogging year, I had no idea what to expect going into the 2012 results. While I received over five times the number of views this past year as I did in 2011, I was still eager to see where I would rank. When the rankings were posted, I was ecstatic to find my blog at the number 17 spot. I truly appreciate all of those who read my blog.

Blogging Goals for 2013

This post wasn’t posted all that long ago, but I wanted to include it nonetheless. Basically, this post covers my goals for the 2013 blogging year. I won’t waste time going over what each of my five goals are, for those of you who remember. For those of you who’ve forgotten, and are curious, you can always click the header.

‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’ Fast Facts

  • Total number of words written to this point: 113,428 words
  • Total number of posts: 211 posts
  • Average number of words per post: 538 words
  • Number of different country views: 113 different countries

As stated in previous posts, I hope to make 2013 the best blogging year yet; and that means posting content that you, the reader, enjoy reading about. So, if you have anything you’d like to see me do, or stop doing, please leave a comment below.

2012 State Farm ‘Go To Bat’ Program

State Farm is half way through this years ‘Go To Bat’ program, but there’s still plenty of time left for you to make a difference by raising money for your choice of four charities, while having the chance to win a VIP trip to a game during this year’s World Series at the same time.

I spoke a little bit about the State Farm ‘Go To Bat’ program in my blog entry about the State Farm Home Run Derby, but I never really went into a lot of detail on how you actually go about taking part in the online virtual game. So here it goes:

Now that you have a general overview of how the ‘Go To Bat’ game works, the only other thing you might be curious about is how you go about signing up. The sign up process couldn’t be simpler.

All you have to do is go to

Once there, just click the big green “sign up” button, and off you go.

You can select one of four charities that you want to ‘Go To Bat’ for:

The charites being: Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Teach For America.

After you decide which charity you want to help raise money for just follow the remaining steps, and before long you’ll be ready to take swing for the fences:

With only 5 chances left to win a trip to the 2012 World Series, don’t waste any time with signing up, if you haven’t already. Remember, each home run hit earns you an additional entry into that weeks random drawing for a trip to the World Series, so be sure to play often (up to three times a day), and make each swing count.

2012 State Farm Home Run Derby

If you follow me on twitter then you’re probably aware that I received an all expense paid trip to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby courtesy of State Farm. You may not, however, be aware that I made the trip out west with my Grandpa. With that said….

July 8, 2012: Arriving In Kansas City

My Grandpa and I arrived at our hotel in downtown Kansas City at around 4:00:

Did you notice the All Star logos? Well, they were everywhere, including the lobby:

But things didn’t stop there. The logo was even on the room card:

I could go on and on about all the different places I saw the logo, but I won’t for two reasons: a) I lost count, and b) I think you get the idea. It was truly insane.

After checking into the hotel there was still a little time left to kill before we were supposed to meet up with the other bloggers in the lobby for dinner, so my Grandpa and I decided to head over to the Kansas City Convention Center, where Fan Fest was being held. On the way there we stopped by to pick up our credentials, which allowed us to come and go from Fan Fest as we pleased. Mine looked like this:

We spent an hour or so walking around and checking out everything there was to see:

It was a massive place, and there was a lot going on, but the world’s largest baseball was the one thing that really caught my eye:

To get an idea of how large it really was, take a look at the guy on the right (in the blue shirt). I realize he’s still a good distance away from it, but even if he was RIGHT next to it, he wouldn’t appear much taller. In addition to its size, there were also tons of signatures on the baseball. Some of them I didn’t recognize, but the autos of guys like George Brett, Bud Selig, etc., were the ones that stood out the most.

Around 5:30 we headed back over to the hotel. On the way I stopped to snap a photo of the fountain out front:

I’m not sure how they kept the water so blue, but it was pretty cool.

We met up with my fellow bloggers at around 6:15 and headed over to Jack Stack BBQ to eat. The food was great, and the portion sizes were large. (Two things that combine for me eating too much.)

After we finished eating, and discussing the plan for the next day, we made our way back to the hotel. My Grandpa and I went to bed before 10:00. The next day was going to start early, and end late, so we were going to need all the rest we could get.

July 9, 2012: Home Run Derby

Our day started out with a short walk over to the convention center, at 5:45 am. Ryan Howard–who would be putting on a hitting clinic later in the day for the BGCA–had already arrived. After waiting for Howard to finish up with a short interview he was conducting, we all got our chance to chat with him. I’m a big fan of Howard, and had been looking forward to meeting him for weeks, so when the time finally came I was pretty excited:

Don’t be fooled by my half-smile expression. I really WAS thrilled to meet him. I was just a bit tired. Getting up earlier than most of the people in Kansas City will do that to you; but it was well worth it.

My Grandpa didn’t pass up the opportunity to meet Howard either, as he had me take a picture of the both of them together:

Good times.

After the meet and greet, Ryan Howard took a short break to get something to eat/drink, before getting set up for 3 straight hours of live TV interviews. My Grandpa and I stuck around for a bit to watch Howard do his thing, before we went back to the hotel for a couple of hours. On our way to the exit we passed by a small group of people. On closer inspection, this is who they were crowded around:

That would be Cal Ripken Jr.

I’m assuming that’s a baseball player he’s talking to, and I admit I should probably know who it is, but I can’t figure it out. If anyone could identify him for me I’d appreciate it. (Just leave a comment below.)

We were told to arrive back to the Convention Center by 9:30, but we ended up showing back up when Fan Fest opened at 9:00. By the time we made our way over to where Ryan Howard had been earlier in the morning he was still hard at work doing interviews for various TV shows:

One of the main things Howard was promoting (and the reason he was there) was the State Farm Go To Bat program where people just like you, the reader, can “go to bat” in the online game to help raise money for charity. In addition to helping out various charities, you also have the chance to win a trip for two to a game during the 2012 World Series–as if the chance to raise money for charity wasn’t enough. So be sure to head over to check that out by either clicking the above link, or you can just CLICK HERE.

Ryan Howard finished up with the interviews a few minutes after I took that last picture, but his day wasn’t done. After taking a short break Howard began conducting a hitting clinic with several kids from the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA):

I know it appears as if the kid Howard is instructing was the only one there, but there were 20-30 kids sitting on the ground just out of the shot. (You’ll see them in a second.)

After a quick demonstration, it was time for the kids to show what kind of skills they had, as they were broken up into groups and put into batting cages:

They received 10 swings apiece. Some of which were really impressive.

After the kids from the BGCA had their shot, each of us bloggers got our turn. I was really concerned about not doing well. I mean, I don’t play baseball, and there were around 100+ people watching; including media members, random onlookers that had formed outside of the batting area, and of course, Ryan Howard himself. But I just had fun with it, and didn’t do all that bad.

Although there was no timing involved–since the ball was on a stationary tee–I still had issues with pulling the ball. Not that I couldn’t do it, but that I couldn’t stop doing it. I pulled my first 6 or so balls before I decided to readjust my feet, which really helped me out. My next swing sent the ball sailing over the wall. Given, the wall was a mere 100 feet or less away, I was still thrilled. All I wanted to do was hit ONE home run, and I did. Mission accomplished.

After we all finished hitting, Ryan Howard stepped to the plate and took a few hacks:

It should go without saying that he did better than the rest of us.

After everything was over, Howard posed for a picture with the kids, and the 5,000 dollar donation check from State Farm:

They all wanted to be touching at least a portion of the check, and I think they succeeded.

After taking the picture with the check, many of the kids handed Howard items for him to sign, which he did with no problem. I was really impressed with how friendly he was. I’ve always had that impression of Howard, but until you meet someone in person you never really know for sure.

On our way out we passed by Harold Reynolds (who I had actually seen in the lobby of our hotel the night before):

We all went out to a group lunch at the Webster House, before heading over to Kauffman Stadium at around 3:00:

Upon arrival we all headed over to the Habitat for Humanity build:

After learning a good amount about the Habitat for Humanity program, my fellow bloggers and I each signed our names to the house:

I didn’t write anything special, just: “God Bless–Matthew Huddleston”.

Some celebrities had signed the beams of the house as well, including guys like Bo Jackson…..:

…..and this guy:

Yep, Derek Jeter. AWESOME.

You have to get really technical, but if you think about it, I signed my name to the *same* house as my favorite player in all of baseball; which is beyond cool. Even if my name IS 100 feet away from his, and thus isn’t on the same beam, it’s still the *same* house. Maybe you don’t get it, but in my mind it counts.

We spent awhile at the build before we all headed over to the ballpark, and entered the MLB Fan Cave. This was the view:

Two of my favorite TV shows were being filmed during this time. Directly to my right was Baseball Tonight:

And just down the line was Intentional Talk:

After a few minutes, the cave dwellers appeared:

They all seemed like cool people–with a really cool “job”.

Minutes before we left the Fan Cave area, my fellow bloggers and I posed for a group photo:

From left to right you have: ME, Candy, Audrey and JR. Feel free to click on each of the names to be taken directly to their twitter pages. (I suggest you give them each a follow.)

After leaving the cave I made my way down towards the area where MLB Tonight was being filmed:

To my surprise there was no one checking tickets to keep you out of areas you didn’t belong, so I managed to work my way down the line and into the front row, where I was able to capture photos of some of the All Star players that kept walking by. Below are some of the better ones I got:

Bryce Harper doing an interview on MLB Tonight.

Mike Trout during his interview.

Yu Darvish. (In the red spikes.)

Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. (Hosts of Intentional Talk.)

R.A. Dickey.

Matt Kemp.

And, last but not least, Chipper Jones.

Everyone was asked to return to their assigned seats a few minutes before the conclusion of batting practice. That wasn’t a big deal, because our seats were pretty awesome:

I was in seat 21, in row KK, in section 221. (Just in case you care.)

Reggie Jackson (who happened to be on our flight out of Kansas City the next morning) threw out the first pitch:

The sluggers then posed for a group photo down around home plate:

Shortly thereafter, the derby got underway.

I hated that Giancarlo Stanton couldn’t participate in the derby due to an injury. He would of put on an amazing show. His replacement, Andrew McCutchen, did as poorly as I had expected. The biggest shock of the derby was Robinson Cano’s performance. I expected him to at least make it past the first round, but he didn’t even hit a single home run. It was very disappointing to say the least.

My pick to win the derby was Prince Fielder. I’m not just saying that now, after seeing Fielder win. I honestly made the statement several hours before the derby even began. In my mind, it was a sure bet; though Bautista gave him a run for his money.

In the end, the world saw Prince Fielder beat out Jose Bautista in the final round…..:

… win his second career Home Run Derby title:

The only other player to win two Home Run Derbys’ being Ken Griffey Jr. Not a bad name to be associated with.

I had a fantastic time out in Kansas City at the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby. Everything went as smoothly as I could’ve ever wished for, and the weather was perfect. It was an experience that I’ll certainly never forget.

I was invited to the State Farm® Home Run Derby and Go to Bat kick-off programs by State Farm. All my travel, food, and lodging expenses were taken care of by State Farm. I was not paid to write this post.