Amato's full-time gig is as the big cheese at the political blog, Crooks and Liars. Recently, though, John took some time recently to answer my questions. Hopefully those of you who are long-time PA fans will find the following Q&A especially enjoyable.
A couple of John's answers may appear a tad dated. Our conversation began a while back, and John did not get answers to me until the weekend. Keep that in mind.
Ed: 'Crooks & Liars' is insanely successful, looking at the traffic numbers. Did you ever think the site would grow to this extent? And, for those who are uninitiated, tell us a little about the site.
John Amato: HI Ed. I'll answer that question in one word. "No." I never imagined the success CrooksandLiars.com was going to have when I began the blog. Like many people at the time I was concerned with the direction our country was headed after the Bush administration decided to go to war with Iraq and I wanted to speak up and have a voice in the process, no matter how small a voice it would be. Blogging gave me the vehicle to do just that. I started like every other blogger does, with one reader. In about six months my traffic went up to 60K hits a day and it grew from there. Now C&L has had over 200 million visitors. That's just crazy. Here's a tip. If you want to start a blog, do it out of the passion you have to express yourself and not because you want to make money or have insane traffic.
Ed: What is the primary difference between doing a political site like 'C&L' vs. doing a sports site like PA? Do you miss sports blogging?
John Amato: It's very similar actually. Make sure you voice your opinions clearly, define your personality and back it up with news reports, interviews and first hand observations. Don't be afraid to say what's on your mind.
The Yankees were a particularly daunting task to blog about and build an audience because New York is so heavily saturated with the media. In NY, there are like ten newspapers covering the Yankees who employ hundreds of reporters along with ESPN, SI and every other sports venue. It's up to the blogger to approach it in such a way that will attract a readership if that is your goal. Critiquing the media is also what I consider part of the gig. They are the "opinion makers" in their eyes ( I call them the Villagers) and as we've seen with the steroids era, they can be blind when they want to. I do miss blogging regularly about the Yanks. I'm a die hard fan and still watch every game religiously.
Ed: Obviously, as founder of PA, I know you keep on eye on how us 'newbies' are doing with your creation. How are we handling the old girl? God, I hope I don't regret asking this question!
John Amato: Ha, I think you and the team are doing a wonderful job. Each of you take a look at the team with a different eye and bring an excellent variety of points of view to the table along with outstanding analysis that keep the readers engaged. Kudos.
Ed: Forget politics for a minute. Look into your 'sports blogger crystal ball' and tell us how you see the season playing out for our Yankees.
John Amato: Well, I'm not as positive as some are at this moment even if the Yanks came up with a big series win over Boston. I do think the team can win it all, but they are short in the pitching department because of Wang's injury and the Joba rules still in effect.. Cashman said that he tried to make a deal before the 31st, but hinted that he wasn't willing to trade Austin Jackson for a two month rental of Jared Washburn. They picked up Gaudin from the waiver wire, but who knows what he'll bring to the table.
Outside of Jeter, Damon, Texieria and this year Melky, the team gets very tight with runners in scoring position and I'm not sure if they can be clutch when it counts at crunch time. Cano would be hitting .350 and 75 RBI's if he could hit with men on base.
Girardi is a decent manager, but still is too stiff for me. I don't like the way they've handled Joba, even with his recent success, at times he's been painful to watch. And decisions like the one to pitch Coke after he got Ellsbury out is puzzling to me.
Mariano still remains a joy to behold and it's been an incredible treat to have followed his entire career. What's obvious is that as long as he has command of the strike zone, even if his velocity continues to slip, he'll still be able to close out games.
Ed: Rapid fire. Joba, bullpen or starter? Hughes, bullpen or starter? New Yankee Stadium, thumbs up or thumbs down?
John Amato: Joba: Bullpen
New Yankee Stadium: Thumbs up, but I hope they can fix the right field jet stream issue. Maybe it'll sort itself out, but I don't like it being such a band box even if it fits the team right now.
Thanks a lot Ed and all the Pinstripe Alley writers. Blog on!