INTRODUCING: Pittsburgh Baseball Now, a collaboration between Pittsburgh Baseball Network and Pittsburgh Sports Now.
A few years ago, I hit my stride on Pirates Prospects.
I had enough experience covering the game that I could provide a look that was unmatched in the Pittsburgh baseball media landscape.
I had enough patience that I was able to offer a view that provided some form of optimism, rather than just deducting every form of Pirates analysis to a complain on the owner.
We had enough contributors that understood the game of baseball, and could write from knowledge, rather than tired tropes.
I believe that combination gave Pirates Prospects the perfect combo of nuanced expertise.
The site became more popular than I could imagine. We saw over 10 million page views a year at the height of Pirates Prospects as a free, ad-supported site. We switched to a subscription site, and saw that translate to thousands of subscriptions a year, which allowed us to expand our focus.
That led to a great era of the site, where Alan Saunders oversaw the MLB coverage of the Pirates, and I was free to oversee and expand the minor league coverage. During this time, I feel we had the best coverage of the team that you could find. We had features and notes on every prospect in the system, as well as a strong daily grasp on what the MLB team was doing and where they were headed.
Unfortunately, this was also during the Pirates’ decline, when they turned away a lot of fans, and the Pirates Prospects subscription base suffered. It suffered more when I stayed in No-Man’s Land and kept covering the Pirates as a potential contender, with the budget of a site that was following a potential contender, rather than adjusting coverage for a rebuilding team.
That all came crashing to a halt in mid-2018 when I realized the old approach would no longer work.
A year later, the idea of Pittsburgh Baseball Network was born. By mid-2020, this network launched.
The goal of this network, and it’s final form, mostly still exists in my head.
You’re starting to see some of the plan come together.
I re-launched Pirates Prospects at the end of July, with a new focus on how the site will cover and grade prospects in the system. Pirates Prospects was the first network site under Pittsburgh Baseball Network.
So, what is Pittsburgh Baseball Network going to be?
Outside of Pirates Prospects, the other content you see on PBN right now comes from our No Quarter blog, and from Pittsburgh Baseball History. No Quarter features a great community, while the history page has daily facts and information about the Pirates’ organization.
There will eventually be more on PBN. Before that happens, there will be collaborations between Pittsburgh Baseball Network and other sites.
The first of those collaborations begins today.
Alan Saunders announced the formation of a new site today, Pittsburgh Baseball Now.
The site is a shared project between Pittsburgh Sports Now and Pittsburgh Baseball Network. PSN covers a vast amount of the Pittsburgh media landscape, though that has been minus the Pirates up until this point.
It’s difficult covering baseball. It’s a grind of a season, and the minor league system provides a dynamic that no other large sport has. Our success in the past at Pirates Prospects has been due to the ability to navigate that nuanced system in terms of what it means for the day-to-day Pirates coverage. Unfortunately, the site eventually grew to the point where the time we could focus on the farm system was diminishing with increasing focus on the majors.
It was almost like Pirates Prospects just needed to be a site covering prospects. Imagine that.
That’s what Pirates Prospects will be under Pittsburgh Baseball Network.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Baseball Now will provide comprehensive coverage of the system, with Cody Potanko and Danny Demilio handling a lot of the MLB writing. Writers from Pittsburgh Baseball Network will also be contributing to the new site.
I’ll be contributing Pirates Prospects features on the top prospects — consider my work over there to be the regular free preview of Pirates Prospects. Because of this arrangement, I’ll be free to focus exclusively on the farm system, giving you a look you’ve never seen from us in the past.
I’m really excited by this new partnership with Alan and all of the guys at Pittsburgh Sports Now. I’m excited to get rolling with some heavy Pirates Prospects coverage over the final month and a half of the season.
The easy way I think of what we’ve got right now:
**What if you could bring back that old Pirates Prospects, only put it under a name that makes more sense for the balance of MLB opinions and prospect coverage? That’s how I envision Pittsburgh Baseball Now.
**What if you could strip Bucs Dugout from the control of Vox Media, while keeping the core community intact that made it great, and giving them the keys to make it better? That’s No Quarter (which is the next site in the network to get an upgrade in the form of new writers).
**What if Pirates Prospects was free to be the perfect blend between Baseball America and FanGraphs, with a Pirates-only focus?
The old Pirates Prospects approach under a new name. A new Pirates Prospects that can dig deeper into the system. And one of the best blogging communities on Pirates internet, with No Quarter potentially operating as a farm system developing new writers and regular features for the two sites.
I’m excited to start working on Pittsburgh Baseball Now, while continuing to expand Pirates Prospects to its new form.
And now, the long journey to developing an app to contain all of this content…