If you spend much time reading baseball news on the internet, you've probably come across Tim Dierkes' website MLBTradeRumors.com. His site has become the "go to" place to get up-to-the-minute updates on hot-stove news including trade rumors and free agent signings. Baseball Hall of Fame sports-writer Peter Gammons calls it "a must read" and CBS Sportsline uses MLBTR as its trade rumor source. I came across MLBTradeRumors a couple years ago, and I now visit it at least a couple times a day, especially during the days leading up to the July 31st and August 31st trade deadlines.
Tim was kind enough to take some time from his busy day to answer my questions:
What is your background? I've read you've recently started working on your website full-time, what did you do before?
Out of college I spent over three years working in search engine marketing for a Chicago company called DoubleClick Performics. I determined what advertisers should bid for keywords on various retail accounts. It was a nice job, I enjoyed it and the people were great.
What gave you the inspiration to start a website about MLB trade rumors? How long have you been running MLBTradeRumors?
I have always loved the hot stove side of baseball. This may stem from watching many lousy Cubs teams, where the most optimistic part of the year was the offseason. I am fascinated with free agent megadeals and trades. I started the site in November of 2005. About five months prior to that I began my blogging career with a fantasy baseball site, RotoAuthority. All of it was started as a hobby, I just liked to write.
How much time do you generally spend on your site each day? What does your typical day consist of?
It varies quite a bit - could be four hours on a slow day or 18 hours during the Winter Meetings. Typically I wake up and check my email first. If there are any urgent rumors readers will kindly email me about them. After that I will comb through RSS feeds of 200+ sites looking for rumors or hot stove tidbits. I do a lot of reading each morning. I stop along the way to write the posts. I keep the feeds open all day so I can catch breaking rumors.
Now that MLBTR is your full-time job, do you enjoy it as much?
I enjoy it more, because I have more time to give it the attention it deserves. I don't feel like I am falling behind, and I have time in the afternoons to do chats or radio shows. It is obviously a great job.
Do you get much feedback from "mainstream" sources such as ESPN, newspapers and MLB front-office personnel? What I mean is, how much contact do you have with these sources?
ESPN guys and beat writers I talk to every day. All those guys are great and help me out a lot. Front office personnel, just a handful of guys who I email occasionally.
Peter Gammons has written that your site is one of his "must reads", how did that make you feel to be acknowledged by one of the industry's top personalities?
It was a huge thrill! I love reading Gammons' stuff.
Did you see the segment on Costas Now! with Buzz Bissinger and Deadspin.com's Will Leitch? Do you think Bissinger's negative comments are indicative of print media's feelings towards internet sports reporting?
I did see it. Buzz does not have much in common with the journalists I interact with; he seems to focus more on long-form features and books. Plus, the blogs/commenters he railed against do not have much in common with my site. I typically talk to beat writers or guys at ESPN who are in the trenches digging for inside info. My interactions with the print media have been entirely positive - they are always helpful and responsive. Many of them have reached out to me with kind words, and a few even mentioned the site in the newspaper. These journalists are the ones digging up the rumors - without them I would have nothing! In turn some writers benefit from MLBTR by not having to dig through hundreds of websites to get all the rumors.
What do you think the future holds for mainstream print media?
It will become less relevant, but will not go away. The best newspapers will adapt, leaving the time-sensitive info for their websites. A lot of them already do this - beat writers break news on their blogs, opinion pieces appear in the paper the next day. It is not something where the internet needs to replace newspapers...they fit well together. Some newspapers have immensely popular blogs, like Peter Abraham's. But people aren't cancelling their subscriptions because of the blog, as far as I know.
How about internet sports reporting? Do you think the internet will overtake print media as far as where people get their sports news in the future (if it hasn't already)?
I haven't seen the stats on where people get their sports news these days. Younger people definitely seem to skew heavily toward online. Most rumors appear on the beat writer's blog before they make it into the newspaper. The journalist often can't afford to sit on a rumor for 12 hours to get it into the paper. That has already progressed quite a bit in three years - these days every beat writer has a blog it seems. The diehard fans want their news immediately and can't wait until tomorrow's newspaper.
Where do you see MLBTR's place in sports reporting in the future? What are your plans for MLBTR?
Mainly I am going to keep doing what I am doing. MLBTR is a hot stove news aggregator, but also offers resources, opinions, analysis, and a commenting community. It would be fun to grow my network of sources, start breaking some exclusive news here and there. But I am not an aggressive networking type person, so it will continue to happen gradually. A few things I am hoping to add to the site: a fully functional mobile version, better load time, and a database where you can query all of a GM's moves and see who he's matched up with on trades. We are making progress on all of these fronts. Also my blogging platform, TypePad, has many improvements in the works for their commenting system.
Any advice you can give a fledgling internet blogger?
Don't get into it for money. Write every day and don't quit if your traffic is low. Email your most interesting posts to the bigger blogs in your niche, but don't pester them or complain if they don't reply. Offer to write guests posts for the bigger sites, that way they're getting something in return for linking to you. Don't use gray text on a black background...haha.
Many thanks, Tim. Your time is very much appreciated!