First Pitch: The Future of Pittsburgh Baseball Network and How You Can Help

This is an impossible time all over the world. We’ve got a global pandemic that has killed almost a million people, including over 200,000 here in America. It has also disrupted the global economy, and has put millions out of work.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while running Pirates Prospects over the last decade, it’s how to navigate impossible situations.

This site was born during the last recession, as a way for me to create a job when there were no jobs in my small town. It grew to something I never imagined possible by 2015, with over 10 million page views a year, and then over 6,000 subscribers when we moved to a subscription site.

Then, the Pirates entered No Man’s Land. Their fan base started to decline, and as a result, our reader base started to decline. Our remaining readers helped keep us afloat during the toughest times in 2018, which allowed me to regroup and focus on the next direction for the site.

That brought us to Pittsburgh Baseball Network.

In a year when people are losing their jobs, and when the economy is only good for people who own stocks, we’ve still managed to launch this new venture, and start to expand upon it.

We didn’t have minor league baseball to cover, and no one really wants to follow the 2020 Pirates, and yet we’ve stayed afloat.

The government provided small business relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, but we didn’t receive anything, and neither did any of the small businesses I know.

And yet we’re still here, grinding away. That’s because of you guys keeping us around.

I’ve got some big plans for this site. I’ve shown some in the past. I haven’t revealed them all.

Now we’re at a point where anxiety kicks in. I see a bright future on this site, and a questionable path to that future.

My plan is to use the offseason to expand this network of sites, and to expand the content on each of the sites.

Unfortunately, the offseason is typically where we lose readers, lose subscribers, and lose interest as people turn to other sports. That’s in a normal year.

In a year where there is so much economic uncertainty, I know that we need a boost to guarantee that we get to Spring Training next March, assuming there will be a Spring Training, and assuming there will be minor leagues to cover next season.

We’re going to operate under the assumption that baseball will return to something close to normal next year, and we’re going to prepare to give you the best site for when that time comes.

We need your help to get there. So consider this a Patreon style post, where I show you what your support can bring, and you can choose what level of support you want to contribute.

First, the good stuff…

The Future of Pittsburgh Baseball Network

Right now we have three sites. You’re on No Quarter, which has been the most active as a community driven blog following the Pirates. John Dreker and Wilbur Miller have done amazing work at Pittsburgh Baseball History. And I’ve recently re-launched Pirates Prospects, which will get a boost of content over the offseason, with more player interviews reflecting on this season, and recapping the fall prospect league.

Here is what I hope to add to each site:

No Quarter: I want to bring in more writers, so that we’re never at a loss for content. We’ll be doing that in the upcoming weeks. This community has shaped a lot of great writers, some of them who have gone on to bigger outlets, and some of them who have grown their roles here. I hope to provide more opportunities for writers getting into the business, or just looking to write on the side.

Pittsburgh Baseball History: John Dreker has been working on history books, and the first one will come out before Thanksgiving. It’s currently finished, and undergoing the editing process. We’ll also have history articles all offseason, giving you something to re-live on a daily basis.

Pirates Prospects: I want to use the offseason to add a stats database to P2, creating a more analytics-driven site. We’re also just about finished adding the player pages to the new site, and those will get an upgrade. The other expansions to P2 will be mentioned below.

Now, here’s what I want to add to the network:

NCAA Sites: We’re going to eventually cover Pitt, Penn State, and WVU baseball. I’d like to launch the NCAA site before the year ends, so that we can find writers and have coverage in preparation for a 2021 season. This process will begin next month.

Prep Baseball: Our long-term project for Pittsburgh Prep Baseball is so ambitious that I can’t begin to describe it. In the short-term, we’re going to follow any local players who are candidates for the 2021 draft. I’m also going to be reaching out to players I know to provide articles, videos, and other content that can give advice to young baseball players in the high school ranks and lower.

Podcasts and Video: I wanted to bring these to the network during this season, but haven’t had a chance. I’m hoping to add at least one weekly podcast, and regular video features, including mechanical breakdowns. This will come sooner than later, as I’ve already got the first two mapped out. This will be a big part of the expansion on P2.

Site Maintenance: My time on this site has been divided between writing articles, running the site, and fixing/improving the back end of the site. I’m a super utility player. The story of any super utility player is that they’re not good enough to start in any one area, but they’re good enough to handle multiple areas. Except, I’ve been a starter on the writing side, and I’d like to get back to that. So I’m going to be looking to outsource the site maintenance, which means you’ll see a lot more writing, video, and podcast work from me.

Funding The Future of Pittsburgh Baseball Network

I’m hoping for the above expansions by the end of this calendar year. That means expanding the content on the current sites, adding an NCAA site, adding a prep baseball site, adding podcasts and video work, and freeing myself up for more writing.

The PBN Shop is going to fuel these expansions, and we currently have enough items in the shop to fund the future of this network. There are items available for every price level.

$1-2: We have plenty of baseball cards available, including rookie cards of Ke’Bryan Hayes, Quinn Priester, and other prospects. We’ve also got previous year Prospect Guide eBooks available for purchase.

$15: We’ve got a limited edition Pirates Prospects beer glass. In order to get this glass, you need to place your individual order before October 1st, or purchase one of the 2020 Prospect Guide bundles. After that, it will never be made again. We will have more glasses in the future, and I’m hoping to start a program with local artists in Pittsburgh where we can give back to the community by providing them a paid opportunity for their designs on future limited glasses. This first glass will start that program.

$20-23: We’ve got limited edition Pirates Prospects 2020 Guide t-shirts available, which will also be taken down on October 1st. The only other way to get the 2020 Guide shirt is through the bundled orders. We’ll have more shirts in the future, which will also work with our Pittsburgh artist expansion.

$24-34: The 2020 Prospect Guide will be released next week at the conclusion of the 2020 season. This will feature our end of the year top 50 rankings, along with all of the latest updates in the farm system. We’ve returned to a limited amount of printed books. There are 300 copies of the book at $24, plus 150 copies each of the special variant covers, featuring Mitch Keller (link) and Ke’Bryan Hayes (link) for $34 each.

$65: We have bundles for each of the Guide variants. Each bundle includes a variant cover of either Keller (link) or Hayes (link), plus a shirt, a beer glass, and a rookie card of those players. The price of $65 is 10% off the price of those items individually.

$153: Want all four book covers? We’ve got a very limited amount of Top Prospect bundles, featuring all four books, all three rookie cards, a shirt, and the beer glass, all at 10% off the individual prices.

We’ll also be looking to expand the shop with more products in the future, with products from other vendors. One of the more exciting additions will be Funko POP!, which should arrive in the store in October.

If we sell all of the 2020 Prospect Guides, that alone would be enough to fund this site through next March, which would get us to our next big renewal period, and hopefully take us to a point where we won’t need another funding drive again.

Fund the Future of Pittsburgh Baseball Network

There are plenty of options available for you to help fund our growth going forward. This has always been a community driven site, and we’re looking to the community to help us expand once more. In that expansion, we hope to give back to the community by providing opportunities for writers, artists, and others in the Pittsburgh area.

We can make all of this possible with the items we’re selling above.

If you can’t afford anything right now, we understand, as these are difficult times. You can still help by sharing the site with your friends and family, or sharing this post on social media. Tag us/follow us at the accounts below:

Twitter: @PGHBaseballNet

Facebook: @PittsburghBaseball

Instagram: @PGHBaseball

Thank you so much for reading and supporting this site over the last decade. We hope to make the next decade even better.

Today’s discussion question: Which PBN expansion are you looking forward to the most?

The 2020 Prospect Guide returns to print for our tenth  we are releasing three variant covers, featuring Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes. Visit our shop page to order these extremely limited items!


 

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