Minor League News (MLN) Debuts First Minor League Sports Critics Website

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The MAJOR BLOGS of Minor League News (MLN) debuts this month after two months in previews. The first sports opinion site dedicated to minor league and independent sports, top writers and editors are giving their takes on the fastest-growing section of professional sports.

"Minor league and independent sports news now has its own voice," commented Brian Ross, senior editor of Minor League News publications on the launch of the MAJOR BLOGS of Minor League News (MLN), their fifth publication in six years (http://mlnsportszone.squarespace.com)

The blog-based publication, which has been in previews for the last six weeks, will feature original sports commentary, news notes, and opinion by top writers and editors of the MLN publications. The first two bloggers will be Ross and veteran sports writer Dan Hickling, in his new "Guerilla Stringer" column.

"New media has forced the news and opinion business to reinvent itself," said Hickling, whose freelance work has appeared in nearly 100 media outlets, world wide. "I had been looking for a home for the "Guerilla Stringer " and was delighted to be given the chance to join forces with MLN. It's going to a fun and (I hope) an innovative partnership."

Sports criticism for the minors had been an irregular feature of MLN Sports Zone (http://www.mlnsportszone.com) the flagship publication that launched in 2000.

"We did some sports talk about the minors from time to time as part of the 'Editor's RAVES' series at Sports Zone," recalled Ross "but it was limited. I've always ascribed to the words of the comedian Tom Lehrer on the subject of commentary: If you have nothing useful to say, the least that you can do is kindly shut up."

In the modern world of blogs though, writers and editors are free to express opinions and develop ideas in a shorter format that wouldn't have met the requirements for a daily sports column. "It allows us to do short-hit takes on subjects without always having to go to full-blown columns, or amend columns as events change," said Ross. "It also opens up the format to diaries from the road and other news notes that might be more interesting to readers."

Ross said that further expansion of the minor league blog space was planned, and that new writers with great takes would be invited to participate.

The publication is based at blog provider Squarespace.com. "We felt that they had a look and feel that was top-drawer that was easily customizable and that we didn't need to reinvent the wheel," commented Ross on why the company's software was chosen for the MAJOR BLOGS project.

"As the Internet continues to expand as the leading source of news and information for sports fans, we wanted to position the MAJOR BLOGS as the leading sources of sports opinion in our segment of the market," said Ross. "There are stories that hit the national radar, like the Delmon Young bat throwing incident, but there are also a lot of other stories that are more specific to leagues outside of the major metropolitan markets where we know better than just about anyone else how to resonate a message."

Launched in 2000, Minor League News has been the leader in minor league sports news, developing news publications that cater exclusively to the more than 88 million fans of the minor and independent sports leagues in five countries.

The publications launched in 2000 with MinorLeagueNews.com, the first magazine-format publication on sports on the Internet, with a cover, and sections like a paper magazine. The publication was renamed MLN Sports Zone ( http://www.mlnsportszone.com) in 2002.

In 2003, the second publication, MLN - The Raw Feed (http://www.minorleaguenews.com/rawfeed), the first all-minor league and indy newswire with a digest of daily releases, was launched. "It was the first sports news syndicate to broadcast news in the new RSS/XML format," noted Ross. "It immediately became a major outlet of news for local media outlets as well as the rising number of news aggregation companies channeling news in RSS."

This was immediately followed by MLNKids.com, an e-zine written by kids for kids about minor league sports.

2004 saw the roll-out of a new Wikimedia-based public project the Open Source Sports Directory (http://www.ossd.info), another first in that it was established to document the careers of every professional minor league and independent sports athlete. "These are great players whose careers are often lost to time because they never graced the major leagues," observed Ross. "Yet there are many people from pre-Giants San Francisco who remember guys like Joe Brovia, or who can recall the days that Ted Williams played for the Padres in the Pacific Coast League."

The MAJOR BLOGS of Minor League News will be followed by other projects, including a planned launch of national minor league sports news podcasts.

"We've seen our readership grow over the years because we have great writers who write great words, and deliver some of the biggest, best photographs of games, and players," Ross said. "We look and feel like print, which gives people a lot of comfort level as well. Now some of our great writers will be giving their takes on baseball, hockey, football and basketball to take our sports coverage to the next level."

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