When exactly this blog died is hard to say. We know when it started though: drinking in a dugout one breezy late May night, with the 'Stache rounding the bases doing the hobbled Kirk Gibson routine while belting out the legendary home run call. We'd seen him do this a million times, but that didn't stop us from laughing.
Like all sports fans, we had tons of routines like this. Still do, actually - I'll always laugh when the 'Stache calls me in his Dave Wannstedt yinzer-etto, pretending I'm a blue-chip recruit and wanting me to come play "Big East football for the Panthers". We felt that we had enough sports-driven comedic energy lying around to start a Pittsburgh sports blog.
And so we did. We were funny, we were unorganized, we had fun. And now we're done.
What follows is the final commentaries from the writers of Doubt About It.
For anyone looking to start a blog, a few words of advice after having done this for a while:
1) Don't start a blog just to link to other blogs. Bring something original to the table. "Link Dump" is probably the most overused phrase on the internet.
2) Bring research. When blogs are at their best, they bring unique research to the table. Anyone can have an opinion. It's about how you back it up. We were at our best when Sam was making complicated graphs, IWTFTB was digging way down on the farm system for stats, and I was looking at Tom Barasso's Game-Clinching-Scenario GAA.
3) Don't mass e-mail stuff you've written to every single blog on your contact list. If you want to try and build up your readership, send a personalized email to the blog's editor. Mass e-mails begging for links make you look pathetic.
4) Blog because you love the sport/the team. Ad money, traffic meters, prestige...you're better off sticking your head in an oven. It'll be more productive.
We didn't always do these things, but we tried (I think). What we did do well is fill roles on the site. I had the longer feature stuff (that no one read), the 'Stache captured the voice of Steelers Nation, I Want To Fight Tom Brady was the wildcard, and Sam pretty much did it all. I realize quite well that it means very little in the larger scheme of things (what with wars going on, friends being laid off left and right...), but it was so good to know that the 'Stache would be there at the beginning of the week with the Stache Report and at the end of the week with a game preview; to know that IWTFTB could take a slow week (or month) and fire up a controversy; to know that Sam would be there to fix design problems, handle all inquiries about the site, respond to reader email, edit HTML, write and edit posts, and pretty much keep this blog breathing. Whatever he says in his own farewell, don't believe him. Sam drove this site. I've worked on innumerable projects with him, and his approach is always the same: complete investment, insatiable attention to detail, and an addiction having fun. Our e-mail exchanges from the summer of 2007 will never be deleted.
What else won't I forget about any time soon? Running into Jeff Reed at a bar and the unmentionable Hines Ward story from that night. The Stache telling Kendall Simmons that he looks like Rick Ross. Sitting at Sam's with the 'Stache until God knows what time after Game 6. There's all the behind the scenes stuff too - Sam ripping someone in the comments at 5am whilst hammered in NYC, being facebook friended by Pensblog Charlie and having him tell me about my ex-girlfriends (how Sam managed to keep from me that he is Pensblog Charlie I will never know), getting the call that our mysterious fourth writer had not only made a claim that he could beat up Tom Brady, but that he managed to get it linked on Deadspin (Will Leitch, I will never forgive you) and that our site was under siege.
We saw a Cup run, a Steelers playoff season, and another Pirates losing season. We also saw the world of blogging grow exponentially - this point really can't be overstated. We mistakenly thought we had "made it" in some sense when only a month into our existence, we were already getting tons of emails asking us to promote a new Pittsburgh sports blog or add someone to the blogroll. What we didnt realize was the unfathomable frequency that such blogs were coming into existence. So in addition to being thankful for a great few years in Pittsburgh sports, I think we're equally grateful to have been active in such an interesting time for online writing.
Notice how I keep using "we"? It's impossible for me to do otherwise. The reason this was so much damn fun was cause of the other three guys involved, not to mention all the readers and bloggers we met along the way. If there is any justice in this world, Seth somehow weasles his way into Smizik's spot. As for the ThePensblog...I mean, it's virtually impossible at this point to remember what the Penguins fan base looked like before they came along. The absence of Mike Lange on TV left a huge void for bizarre sayings/inside jokes/originality. I think the Pensblog filled it to a blissfully inappropriate degree.
Let the record show that I won the only season-long picks table, that IWTFTB and Sam's sleeper picks are in the hunt for the playoffs this year, that the 'Stache defeated Mel Kiper, and that my final tally on articles written is something like 689 Penguins articles, 20 Steelers articles, and a brief mention of Freddy Sanchez somewhere. Let it also show that there is no official reason that this is all ending. Infer what you will. Just know that it sucked for us to see the site unused these past few months and that it hurts even more to shut it down. But who would have imagined back in the dugout that we could even create something worth missing?
I WANT TO FIGHT TOM BRADY
If DoubtAboutIt is going out, I'm going out hating, bitching, and telling Tom Brady that I want to fight him. Just the way I envisioned it.
I came to this blog world wanting to hold Pittsburgh sports accountable, athletes to ownership. Most importantly --- the Pirates, their front office, and of course the Nutting family. The latter being my main intention. Many of you probably don't even remember me as "In Search of Nutting's Chest", before my blog name became "I Want to Fight Tom Brady" in a change of heart...before I lured thousands upon thousand of readers to our blog with one silly post about a proposed boxing match with Tom Brady....
Surprisingly enough, my last words don't even squawk at the Pirate's organization. More than anything, I want to make one last wish on behalf of Jack Wilson. One day Jack, I hope you compete for a World Series ring... I keep my fingers crossed, wish you all the best, whether it's in Pittsburgh or New York----you deserve a chance.
For my complaints, lets talk Steelers football. Not sure how I went from hating on the Pirates to hating on the Steelers, but I'm here. So, we have 1) Ben Roethlisberger, 2) Bruce Arians, 3)Mike Tomlin.
Ben...you're full of yourself, you're complacent, you think you exemplify everything Pittsburgh stands for, but you DON'T. Stop acting like you're hurt every time you throw an INT, step into that blitzing linebacker for once, make the tough throw. It's a hard nosed city, remember that. Don't make god hit you with another car. Keep your head below the clouds...
Arians...you're dumb. Have you ever considered analyzing your play calling? Maybe correcting your mistakes? Ben has carried this team to it's current record and I don't think you deserve a spot on next years team. You should be coaching WRs this time next year...
Tomlin...you scare me. You can motivate, you can connect with your players, but I just don't think you have the coaching IQ. You let Bruce Arians continue to call the offensive plays. That's enough for me right there... I'm still trying to figure out why you went for that TD against the Cowboys. I get that you're close to the goal line, but you needed two scores. This isn't Madden '09 or some online sports betting game...sometimes you have to make the logical decision, you can't coach like you're a player on the field.
Anyway, go Penguins, go Steelers, pray to the lord that the Pirates make the playoffs in the next 50 years.
Wow… I’m surprised I remembered my Blogger user name and password.
Anyways, as everyone has probably realized, Doubt About It has come to an end. What Pat said about two months ago was true… we used this blog as a way to communicate with each other, but now that we’re all in such close proximity and talk on a daily basis, it just didn’t have the same cache.
Truth be told, this blog lasted longer than I ever dreamed. When we originally hatched the plan and it ultimately came to fruition, I thought it would last a couple months… maybe. But the months wore on, and we all kept churning out good material, and before I knew it we were approaching our one-year anniversary.
Now, if you look back you’ll see that the majority of my posts revolved around the Steelers. It’s no secret to anyone, including my fellow bloggers, that I live and die with this team. I love the Pirates, I enjoy the Pens, but the Steelers have and will always be my #1 team. I can truly say that writing each Stache Report was an enjoyable experience. After bad losses, they were sort of cathartic and gave me an avenue to vent… I suspect it was the same for you, the readers, considering how many more comments there were after losses than wins. I definitely enjoyed writing about the rest of the NFL as well, whether it was my unbelievably bad NFL preseason previews or weekly picks against the spread, or my surprisingly accurate NFL Draft projection (which, once again, I am required to mention that I indeed out-projected the great Mel Kiper). And when I felt the need to go the humor route, I always had fun with the Ask the GM: Dave Littlefield posts.
At this time, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a quick shout-out to each of my fellow bloggers:
Sam: The glue that held it all together. Without him, this site would not have got off the ground and lasted as long as it did. And that’s the truth. Great job, Sam.
Pat: An amazingly great writer. His posts had the ability to captivate you and make you really think. You combine that with his knowledge of all things Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers, and you have the total package.
IWTFTB: When we needed to lighten the mood at Doubt About It, he always answered the call. If he ever actually does fight Tom Brady, we will re-open the blog and have Harold Lederman give you live round-by-round scoring.
Also, a quick shout-out to the commenters. Without you, this blog would mean nothing to us. It was your comments and readership that drove us to create new material and keep you guys coming back for more. It truly has been a pleasure.
Well, I guess that’s all. Once again, thanks to everyone out there who took the time to read our little blog. I enjoyed writing for it. Take care.. It’s been fun.
Top 3 Articles That I wrote:
1.Big Ben Video Game
-Somehow the game got buggy after a few months of being online. I had a “I Want to Fight Tom Brady” game coming down the line, but it never was finished due to time constraints and the potential of a lawsuit.
2.When Would you Want to Be Born?
-No one read this thing, and it probably is stupid, but I put too much work in to it.
3.We Will Find a New Campaign.
-My favorite from the early days.
Top 3 Articles by the other guys:
Pat: Coutning Down the Best Lines in "Against the Odds"
Created the legend of Earl Mann and brought together a community of people who had no idea that others like them existed.
IWTFTB: I Want To Fight Tom Brady
Created the greatest comment storm in the history of the site. There's nothing better than pissing of Patriots' fans
The 'Stache: Can the 'stache Out Project Mel Kiper?
I still can't believe this didn't get more attention. The 'stache not only out-projected Mel Kiper, but every single talking head in the country. How much money does Kiper get payed a year?
First, I want to apologize to anyone who checked this site over the past couple months. We should’ve addressed this a long time ago. I’m the type of guy who still can’t understand why my dad sold his 1983 Mazda, which smelled like rotting bananas, 13 years ago. I have a tough time letting go.
I won’t go too in depth on my reasons for not posting, but it revolves around a combination of lack of new material and a realization that taking an hour or two (at least) every day writing things or following the latest blog war was not going to be beneficial to my actual job. Mostly the latter. Growing up sucks.
Anyway, I really liked how Will Leitch left Deadspin with the “Screw it, I don’t need to hold back anymore” approach. So I thought I would finish up with some "exciting" behind the scenes tidbits.
- The Pittsburgh blogosphere needs more guys like Tec, Cotter, and The Pensblog Staff. These guys would be posting regardless of if anyone was actually reading. They’re accessible and go out of their way to connect to their readers and their fellow bloggers. I'm sure I'm forgetting others, but these guys made the blogging community fun.
- The emails back and forth between my fellow bloggers were as fun to read and write as the actual posts. Especially at the beginning, there was an air of “Hey, we can make it big!” drive that made each email seem so important.
-I can’t stand Mondesi’s House. Don’t get me wrong, Don is a great guy and helped us get our start. He is also one of the hardest working bloggers out there who has another “real” job. But the articles are self-serving and the purpose of the site seems just as driven by money and fame rather than the for the love of the game (rhyme unintended). Remember when he interviewed Art Rooney Jr.?
“For me, I've been lucky enough to have several memorable occasions that have helped put this site "on the map" to some degree.”
Your blog was built on drunk athlete photos and top 10 lists. None of them memorable.
“As you may know, I bleed black and gold. It's quite a serious condition, although it's fairly common in our area. I love anything and everything involving Pittsburgh sports. It fuels my passion for this site, a passion that increases exponentially when realizing how many like-minded followers of these same teams can share in my words.”
That entire paragraph was so over the top, so self-serving, cliche-filled that I had to take a breather before I could continue the first time I read the article.
“I've had the pleasure to meet a number of sports legends in my young life. Mario Lemieux. Dan Marino. Bill Mazeroski. Joe Montana. All up-close-and-personal.”
Name dropping? Really?
“He then added that he was close friends with a professor named Richard Easton - the very same man whose encouragement during his challenging composition course helped inspire the writer you see today.”
What was this article about again?
This was the worst offender, but almost every major piece, especially the Deadspin season previews, started with “Remember how awesome it was the last time I did this? Well, it was so awesome that I decided to do it again. “ Its remarkable his Steelers’ season preview this year wasn’t a top 250 list in honor of Pittsburgh’s 250th birthday.
-In the same way Lamar Woodley is that perfect hybrid LB/DE, Dejan Kovacevic at the PG is the ideal blogger/journalist. The guy works tremendously hard, uses his access in the right way, and may be the best writer at the paper. Who knows what’s going to happen to the Post-Gazette, but a key component to their survival should be finding and retaining versatile writers like Dejan.
-Ditto for Seth at Empty Netters.
-If you ever start a blog, take it slow. At the beginning no one is reading, anyway. There was a time we were posting three times a day. This blog could’ve survived another 3 or 4 months if we would’ve just spread it out more.
We started this as a way to keep in touch with each other, and although we never made it into the blogger big leagues, it was easily one of the most enjoyable and addicting things I’ve ever encountered. There’s a certain rush associated with that first link on Deadspin, when you see your sitemeter stats go nuts, getting called out by an astute commenter, or hearing how much a reader enjoyed a piece. There are definitely things I would have done differently, and maybe a few years down the line we’ll try a restart. Who knows.
I want to end with a few cheesy words for my fellow bloggers. Lord knows they’re the only ones reading at this point.
To I Want to Fight Tom Brady (formerly known as Pirate in Search of Nutting’s Chest): Whenever you wrote an article it always seemed to stir up the crazies, and in blogging that’s a valuable talent to have. The Tom Brady article will live in infamy. My only regret is that the fight never actually happened.
To the ‘Stache: You were the heart and sole of our Steelers blogging, out kipper-ing Mel Kiper, and generally dropping knowledge on us week in week out. You kept this blog afloat last fall and as long as you could these past couple months.
To Pat: You brought credibility to the blog with writing that was worthy of a much more prominent platform. Honestly, you carried this thing. The emails over the summer of ’07 often made my day. Hopefully our travails in setting this thing up will be useful in your next critically acclaimed blog, Run Off.
So I guess that’s it. Thanks again for reading.
And so it goes. It hasn't been fun - it's been hysterical, and it's fitting that in these last words, Pat rambled on, the 'Stache got right to the point, IWTFTB ripped on people, and Sam was the only one who stuck to the predetermined format of picking favorite posts. All of our loose ends are tied up (though we'd love to know who Wieters was...like, seriously, tell us, so we can sleep at night... firstname.lastname@example.org ). Thanks to the friends who supported us, the readers who gave us help/gave us crap, and the bloggers/journalists/writers who helped the site grow. It's impossible to sum up this blog into one final sentence. A video we've used before almost seems more appropriate...
Don't do it...
Don't do it...
'Stache will kill you...
Don't do it...
Just say goodbye...