Am I the only one who’s noticed that ESPN’s baseball page has morphed into an almost entirely pay for play format? Their insipid Insider deal was originally sold as a avenue to a sort of “inside dish” kind of rare knowledge, but now, just about everything is Insider labebled. The only contributing writers that can be read for free (out of a stable of 15) are Jim Caple and Eric Neel. Gammons, Stark, Neyer…. all of them are available only to subscribers.
Subscription-based internet access has always seemed a bit screwy to me. The whole idea of the internet seems to be based on a free exchange of ideas and writing, no? But when the boys at Baseball Prospectus started their Premium access stuff, I thought it worked, primarily because of the depth of their work; clearly, they were offering quite a bit more than, say ESPN or Sports Illustrated.
Foe a magazine like ESPN to charge a fee to read what essentially amounts to op-ed pieces by 13 different guys, or game summaries…. well, no thanks. It’s one thing to pay for hard-research-based pieces, pieces that often were so impressive, they would force you to change your ideas about the game. To pay for what ESPN offers is absurd. In my humble opinion, ESPN’s decision to essentially end their standing as a free baseball page will hurt them in the long run. I, for one, am not going to pony up even $1 to read what Jayson Stark has to say about the Yankees, not when I can read, say, Bronx Banter. Stark may have access that Belth doesn’t, but Belth almost always offers more of what I am looking for, heart, passion, and depth.
In point of fact, my daily web visits have pretty much been narrowed down to Baseball Musings, the NY Daily News, and an occasional bounce over to BP. ESPN, SI, MLB.com, most of these pages are days behind the bloggers, and most of what’s not is wrong. That’s my opinion, anyway.