Apart from my unassailable health, timeless good looks, wealthy upbringing and ridiculously supportive parents, I don't think there's anything I take for granted more than the free content available online. Sure, I pay for my internet service. But I don't subscribe to anything. I never click ads. I rarely retweet or repost the stuff I do enjoy on my social networks. And yet I devour more content than most people I know. I soak up Google News, drink down ESPN.com (no, it never goes down smooth), stumble upon a gang of other moronic shit, and yes, I refresh Field Gulls roughly in time with my resting heart rate (46 bpm, thanks for asking).
It's a strange relationship between bloggers and readership. A blogger is nothing without an engaged audience, but an engaged audience also doesn't really guarantee shit to the author beyond a few angry comments about typos and biases and countless other projections and insecurities. For this reason, I'm very grateful to Danny Kelly and the Field Gulls team. I don't know if, how, or how much these dudes are compensated for their efforts, but I know we all sure as hell appreciate the time and energy invested.
I will be giving some shoutouts after the jump, but feel free to skip straight to the comments to show your FG staff some love for all the work they put forth in 2011.
- Before going any further, I want to give a quick shoutout to Benne. He (along with Nate Dogg, BrianL, MT Olson, Scruffy Lefty, and others) had the awkward job of communicating with everyone immediately after John Morgan's sudden departure. He produced some pretty solid film analysis during the eerie, quiet weeks that followed. It was a weird time on the blog and I'm glad Benne did his thing and kept everyone engaged.
- I think Danny Kelly had one of the least enviable sports blogging jobs of the year when he first jumped on board. John Morgan needs no further eulogizing, but talents aside he was also the custodian and mostly singular point of view here at Field Gulls (not to diminish the other awesome contributors). The challenge was never really in replacing his output, but in establishing a new tone, a new publishing schedule, and finding a way to keep the (as I understand it) very large readership engaged through a regime change. I don't believe anyone could have done a better job.
It's important to note that I believe DK has enough of an eye for football and enough writing skill to essentially take over the John Morgan role had he wanted to. But he also has an eye for quality writers, and so we have been treated to the best of both worlds. Danny provided an authoritative tone in analysis, previews, and recaps while always being smart enough to throw questions out to his readership at the conclusion of his articles. He introduced Coffee and Cigarettes, an AM feature I've really grown to appreciate. He has immeasurably improved the FG presence on Facebook and Twitter. He has the good grace to put up with all of the horrid sponsor-driven pieces forced upon him by SBN, something I can't imagine is very easy. He put up with our bitching about what Field Gulls should be, what articles belong, what we can talk about in game threads, and so on with a patient but steady hand. All of this is to say: hell of a first year of rebuilding. I'm not sure Field Gulls is better than before, but I genuinely enjoy what it has become, and I know it has Danny's fingerprints all over it.
- Thomas Beekers. Vasiili. Vasilli. Vasiill. I don't know. It used to be one of those three. I vaguely recall seeing his former name in game threads, dropping comments and analysis that made the rest of us sound like apes. This year he has (grudgingly?) embraced the moderate voice. Things were never as good or as bad as the frothing masses wanted to believe, and our final "7-9 but coulda-been 6-10, 8-8 or 9-7" record substantiates most of his claims over the course of the season. I've come to learn that he resides in Western Europe and stays up incredibly late to watch Seahawks games live. That's awesome. He also chose the Seahawks objectively from 32 teams, not just because his dad rooted for them, which to me is also awesome. I mean, I spent a year living in Italy and paid for the Yahoo NFL pass and stayed up to watch all the games, but I was missing home badly at the time and had a lifetime of Seahawks worship motivating me. Beekers also, in my opinion, provides the best raw analysis. I think he sees the game better than most of us and his rapid reactions are usually more on point than my most contemplated theories. I don't want to sound too effusive in my praise, but I do think the guy has been THAT good for FG this year.
- Kenneth Arthur. I think my response to his first column was something like "Holy shit that was a lot of schtick" and I mostly stand by that. But if you stick with the jokes and non sequiturs and asides, you realize the dude is cracking a big fat egg of knowledge over your head without boring the fuck out of you. That's a gift. As the season wore on, it became clear that NOBODY did more research for articles than Kenneth. You get historical comparisons, league trends and season trends combined with individual player analysis and even some shit about the state bird or whatever. It's awesome stuff. The "8 simple things" format angered hundreds of insecure New Yorkers when he touched on Eli Manning, and 8 simple things quickly became the most readable piece of the week. I will miss it. This seems like the best Danny Kelly find, and I'd love to learn more about how it came about.
- Charlie Todaro. Charlie's writing style grew on me quickly. He has done a phenomenal job of being, for lack of better term, our Seahawks beat writer. He mixes TONS of sourced quotes into his writeups, including nuggets pulled from Pete Carroll's book. His recent string of postgame writeups from games he actually attended was invaluable for those of us who really make it to Clink for a game. He also doesn't shy away from the momentum/chemistry/leadership/intangibles storylines. I know these aren't always popular with Seattle sports fans, but I personally welcome that perspective. Very eager to read more from Charlie.
- Jacson. Maybe the least prolific of the guys on this list, but he always made it count, and the late season "Picks" column was probably the best I've read. It's a tired genre and he was doing it better than Bill Simmons every week. Brought the literary references and verbosity that we sometimes miss in John Morgan's writing. Probably my favorite author/commenter as well. I know all of this stuff is time permitting but of all our guys I would most like to see more from Jacson next season.
Honorable mentions (I know, I hate this term too)
- SSreporters - for putting together the amazing Enemy Reaction posts after Seahawks wins
- Nate Dogg - for the amazing GIFs with analysis to boot.
- jacobstevens - Every single one of this dude's fanposts should be frontpaged. If he finds the time he could pretty quickly become the best analyst on the site.
- Hmph - Terrific DraftWatch series.
- davishsu - Honestly, I have trouble engaging with davis' writing, but even still his pieces on John Schneider andPete Carroll have been fantastic.
- Matt Erickson - Great scouting work. Best is yet to come.
I hope this demonstrates some measure of my appreciation to all the contributors and moderators and editors here. I'm sure I've left some folks out, and this doesn't even begin to account for the commenters in game threads that I have come to know. I love the hell out of this community. Nice season everyone.
Happy new year!