You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello… (A Tribute to River Ave Blues – and the writers of the pas
I have been a Yankees fan since I was an eight year old kid in 1977. Back then we got our baseball news from only a few sources: the television news sports report, the newspaper, and magazines like Sports Illustrated, Sport Magazine, and Baseball Digest. And , of course, the Sporting News (which was, itself, at the time, a newspaper). As a New Jersey kid, I got most of my up-to-date baseball news from the Bergen Record. We were used to getting reports (on the team or the game) the day after an event…and sometimes even two days later.
And, of course I’d read books, as many as I could get my hands on, but by the times I read those stories, years had passed from the actual moments.
I’d also watch the Yankees on TV, but most games were not televised, even with WPIX, and I was a little kid playing outside, striving to be a Yankee myself…I didn’t see every game. I also wasn’t often allowed to stay up late to watch the ends of the games I did tune in to see.
It seems like that was a lifetime ago…
and I guess it was.
I’ve told this story before, but the news cycle back then was so slow that when Thurman Munson died in the plane crash on August 2, 1979, the kids in my neighborhood with me didn’t even know where to turn to find any news on this terrible event. It wasn’t blasted across the television. There was no Internet. The phones in our houses only rang if someone called. Although this sounds incredible, the only radio we could get our hands on was the one in my dad’s Volkswagen Beetle. That radio worked with or without the ignition key being turned.
As I got older, I’d sometimes rush to the milk store or the stationary store to get a New York Daily News or NY Post if there was big news about the Yankees. I always loved the big headlines – especially when the news was good Yankees news.
This was the way we got our news and information. It was normal. Sometimes, if you were reading a weekly or bi-weekly magazine, you’d get the story of a big event a long time after it occurred. As I recall, the Reggie Jackson “straw that stirs the drink” comments were printed months after he actually said them.
This was normal for back then.
I remember when Yankees Magazine was first printed. It was also originally printed as a newspaper. I was one of the first subscribers. (I still have the first issues.) Imagine that! A magazine devoted entirely to the Yankees. At the time, it was a big deal!
Later, when I was in college in Wilkes-Barre, PA the mid-1980’s, I get my Yankees news from newspaper articles that my dad cut out for me and mailed to my college address. I’d look forward, days after it was printed, to Moss Klein’s column from the Star Ledger. Again, any Yankees news from a New York paper was gold.
It was a slower time…
WFAN and sports radio arrived in the late 1980’s. Earlier that decade, I loved listening to Art Rust, Jr. on WABC. (If I close my eyes and listen closely, I can still hear his voice, “This is Art Rust, Jr., sport talk.” I remember how he’d sometimes call himself “Arthur George Rust Junior” and call Yankee Stadium “The big ball orchard in the South Bronx.”
I was listening to WFAN that first summer when a guy named Mike Francesca (a big Yankees fan and unafraid to admit it) and Ed Coleman (a Mets fan) teamed up for a 10:00 a.m. sports talk show that focused, a lot, on baseball. The Mad Dog and drive time was a long way in the future…
Heck, I remember when Michael Kay had a sports talk show on WABC before his Yankee radio gig with John Sterling. I recall Michael Kay breaking the story (on that show) that the Yankees were going to get Jim Abbott.
The Internet and great published baseball writing came a long long time later. But when it arrived, I was an able and willing consumer. For a Yankees fan filled with the desire to read more and always learn more, the Internet was a goldmine.
In those early years, I’d mostly just find baseball columns from the local newspapers, but I’d now get them on-line. I didn’t have to walk or dive to pick up a New York paper, I had them all at my fingertips. I could read the Daily News, the Post, New York Newsday, and the New York Times sports sections whenever I wanted. I also found it to be amazingly fun when I realized that I could get most of the newspapers from every other city as well. I began to look forward to Peter Gammons’ articles from Boston – he had a great weekly baseball column. As I recall, Peter Gammons actually first published the rumor that the Yankees were going to acquire Roger Clemens.
And then things got even better… ESPN (and others) started publishing writers like Rob Neyer and Jason Stark and Tim Kurkjian who write only about baseball and new and exciting ways to look at the game. Sure, I knew some of this stuff from Bill James, the Bill Mazeroski preview magazines, and from playing a million games of Strat-o-Matic, but it was fascinating to read that batting average wasn’t as important as people thought and that (gasp!) wins were a flawed way to measure the effectiveness of a pitcher.
Some Yankees blogs started to arrive. Sad to say, I don’t remember them all, but I do remember enjoying “The Replacement Level Yankees Blog,” “It’s Not About The Money Stupid,” “NYYFans .com,” and the “LoHud Yankees Blog.” (I recall a short-lived “Fire Joe Torre” blog – or was that just the Joe Morgan site?)
(Maybe some readers can help me remember some of the others.)
I also remember finding the great Joe Posnanski and looking countless times each day for his latest post. Joe Posnanski would become one of my favorite writers ever…
But then, like all good things, so much of that came to an end. The great writers on ESPN went behind the paywall of ESPN INsider (and I was, and am, unwilling to pay). Pete Abraham of LoHud went to the Red Sox and told us, after all those years of great Yankee reporting, that he was a Red Sox fan all along!
Then, after years of sharing his writing with the world, even Joe Posnanski went behind a pay wall. (I miss you Joe, but I just can’t bring myself to pay to read the Internet.)
But the best of all the sites, it was clear when I first started reading them twelve years ago, was River Ave Blues. Very quickly, almost immediately, River Ave Blues (RAB) became the gold standard. I LOVED their writing. I found myself agreeing with so much of what Mike Axisa wrote, and when I didn’t agree, I was, at least, intrigued with his thoughts. I was immediately hooked.
Over the years, I must have told hundreds of fans about River Ave Blues. At the start, I was a sage for finding and reading that site, but over the years, it just became the place to go. For everyone. It was, and is, the best site ever focusing on the Yankees. Even as a guy who runs my own blog, the first place I go on-line, every time I go on-line, is River Ave Blues. For twelve years, they were a part of my daily life. River Ave Blues was insightful, topical, well-written, intriguing, and always (seemingly impossibly) always ahead of the news or right on it. (Over the last few years, my son Ethan and I have privately celebrated when we have broken news here ahead of RAB. It was always sort of a Rocky beats Apollo moment for us.)
I have loved River Ave Blues. Even as someone competing for their readers, I have called them the gold standard. I never felt like we were truly in competition with them in the way that a minor league team wouldn’t compete with the real Yankees. They were the best. Absolutely. Of that there is no question.
Over a lifetime of watching and listening and reading about the Yankees – and loving many writers and commentators (just some of whom are mentioned here), I feel that River Ave Blues was, by far, the greatest of them all. The fact that River Ave Blues is shutting down fills me with tremendous sadness.
(I shouldn’t admit this, but as I read their final “Live Chat” yesterday, my eyes seemed to get wet…)
The Yankees world, the baseball world, and even the Internet will get a little smaller on Monday when River Ave Blues shuts down. It has been such a tremendous site, such a treasure trove of information and great writing, that its loss for many fans, myself included, can’t be properly measured.
This is my way of saying thank you to River Ave Blues for being the best and for being a constant companion and friend of mine (and so many others) over the last twelve years. Man, am I going to miss you.
Thank you for everything.
But, as they say goodbye, we need to say hello.
And hello it is.
Start Spreading the News was born many years ago as It’s About The Money by a great team of writers. Jason Rosenberg and later E.J. Fagan ran the site. If it wasn’t RAB, it was close. I joined IIATM in their last years before they decided to shut it down in 2017. I asked if I could carry the torch forward and Jason and EJ agreed… We re-branded at Start Spreading the News, retained many writers (Phil Cashier, Tamar Chalker, and Andy Singer are still with us and William Tasker was also with us for a long period before he decided to retire) and are still, and always, moving forward.
In the time we’ve been operating, we have grown tremendously.
As Yankees fans now look for a new home for their Yankees news, we’d like to welcome them here. We promise to report honesty, accurately, and from the heart. Sometimes we get frustrated with the team. Sometimes we get excited. I, for one, just want the Yankees to win every single game. (Is that asking too much?) We’re not River Ave Blues, we never will be River Ave Blues, but we are a site that has a great deal of great content, each and every day, for those who need a new home.
We welcome you all to our site. Please know that we also pride ourselves on being family friendly. We work to make this site a place for parents to bring their children to also enjoy the Yankees and perspectives on the game. Come on in, sit down, please take a look. I’m sure you’ll find some good things.
As we all join together with a tear of sadness that our friend is leaving, let’s all also move forward together.
Welcome to Start Spreading The News! We hope to be your new Yankees home for many years to come!