I recently had a chance to do a quick Q&A with Yankees beat reporter Pete Abraham of The Journal News.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, and without an internet connection, Pete is the Grand Poobah of the Loyal Order of Yankees Beat Writer Bloggers. Without Abraham’s blogging efforts, paving the way for other media members to blog, we in Yankeeland would have a lot less information coming at us on a near-real-time basis. And, that’s why he’s the Duke of Yankees Bloggers, A-Number-1. Here’s our exchange:
WW: According to the numbers/reports that I’ve seen, “The LoHud Yankees Blog” is the most popular Yankees-related blog on the internet. As its author, why do you think it’s so popular? Is it the secret sauce?
Pete Abraham: I wish I knew the exact formula because I would market it to others. I am blessed to cover a team that has a large, rabid fan base that hungers for information. I also started my blog in 2006, just when the demand for information via the internet or other mobile platforms was taking off. That was fortunate timing. I do try and update as often as possible as even small nuggets of information seem to generate interest. I think to some degree my writing style is a good fit for the internet. But I had no idea of that at the time I started.
WW: You are great at maintaining a frequent posting pattern at the blog. How do you manage to keep that up without it starting to feel like a blogging ball and chain?
Pete Abraham: Two of the things I enjoy are writing and baseball. Blogging doesn’t seem like work to me. I’m also motivated by the passion that the readers have for the team. It’s more fun when you cover a team that people really care about. I also have a selfish motive. As journalism turns toward a digital future, I’d like to have a skill that makes me employable in the field I enjoy. Having the ability to produce a product people want on line is hopefully something that will keep me gainfully employed. I look at the work I’m doing now as investing in my future.
WW: Seeing your success to date, and the way e-journalism is evolving, can I invest in your future too? (Just kidding, kinda/sorta.) While, one the whole, reaction to your blog has been favorable, you have also managed to develop a pocket of critics out there who are fairly harsh with their comments on your work. Does this bother you and why?
Pete Abraham: Criticism doesn’t bother me. I criticize the Yankees, so feel free to criticize what I write. What is troublesome — and this is the case throughout the internet — is how anonymous critics will make it personal and attack you. But that says more about them than it does about me.
WW: Amen on that – and then some. Since you’ve brought it up…when you’ve been critical of someone in the Yankees organization, albeit at your blog or elsewhere, has that party ever come back to you on that? Is that a difficult position to be in? How do you, or how would you, handle that?
Pete Abraham: It’s never happened beyond a joking stage. The players and team executives understand that criticism is part of the terrain, especially in New York. If it did occur, I’ll happily defend anything that I write and if I’m wrong, I’ll correct it.
WW: How do you think the new clubhouse, etc., in the Bronx will impact dealing with players now? Do you expect them to be more accessible or are you expecting a lot of them to find places to hide? Or, does it all depend on how the team is doing?
Pete Abraham: At this point, I’ve covered one exhibition game there, so I have no idea. But the Yankees are a generally accountable group and media relations director Jason Zillo does a great job of stressing that to them and getting them for interviews. He has built a lot of bridges that didn’t exist before. If a guy wants to duck out, he can duck out anywhere. The only player who can be difficult to pin down for a postgame interview is — you guessed it — Alex Rodriguez. Everybody else is accessible and friendly. Some guys, Jeter especially, make it a point to be accessible. They consider it part of their job.
WW: That’s good to hear. And, it makes sense. I know that the media around the Yankees has a rep. But, through the years, it’s been proven, if you’re a stand-up and cooperative person, it will be rare for the media to make you look bad without a legitimate reason. Getting back to you, what can we expect to see next from Peter Abraham? Will you be doing a book someday on the Yankees or something else? Should we expect to see you working with the YES Network someday? Or, after a while, would you be looking to do something radical, like becoming a professional Red Bull taste-tester?
Pete Abraham: Wow, good question and I have no good answer. I am not one to change jobs without reason and/or a lot of thought. I covered the UConn basketball team for a small paper in Connecticut for 13 seasons and left only because they made me the sports editor against my will and I hated that side of the business. I’ve been at The Journal News since 1999 and have no desire to leave. They have treated me well and my bosses, particularly executive editor Henry Freeman and sports editor Susie Arth, have been extraordinarily supportive. But newspapers are falling apart financially and I love covering sports, so I need to be open to change and whatever opportunities are out there. I’m not a writer whose style is particularly conducive to writing a book, although I would like to tackle another book project in the future. For now, I’m going to do what I’m doing and hope that as newspapers change, I still have a place with them. If not, it’ll be dealing blackjack at Mohegan Sun or being a limo driver. If there is one thing I know how to do, it’s get to the airport.
That’s it. My thanks to Pete for granting this Q&A and for all his time and attention towards my questions!