This question from Ken below was a P.O. Sox submission on Patreon a couple weeks ago, but I get the question enough that I may as well spend an idle afternoon on it:
This is a bit meta, but: as we go into a new season, how is the Sox Machine relaunch working? Everything stable? Anything new on the horizon?
It’s going better than anticipated, actually. I expected to be satisfied on a personal level since I knew what I was getting into. I really enjoyed building Sox Machine, both the site and the community, the first time around, and I have quite a bit more help now, so there are no regrets about the second turn. I was able to get the site stable midway through the year, as your Patreon support allowed me to migrate to a superior hosting situation. That saves me the big existential headaches, and frees me up to contemplate more satisfying site enhancements.
Speaking of which, the level of support on Patreon has genuinely exceeded my expectations. Thanks to everybody who pledges. For those who don’t, thank you for not yelling at me when I keep certain posts exclusive, because little rewards here and there for supporters help keep the site ad-free for everybody.
Regarding rewards, I spent most of the last month ordering, packing and shipping promotional materials for Sox Machine supporters. The trips to the post office are calming down, so probably by mid-April I can turn my attention to building a site storefront for those of you interested in pint glasses or coasters or shirts or what have you without pledging. That’ll be another way to help support the site in place of advertising.
I can’t promise no advertising ever, whether it’s because there’s an opportunity to make the site bigger via sponsorships, or just because it’s not smart to put all eggs in any basket. For instance, the New York Times just ran a story on newsletters, positing that one of the oldest forms of online writing for a community is back in fashion. That’s great, but there’s a problem:
Spending one amount of money on a bunch of different points of view is the thought process that made newspapers and magazines so appealing. Hey, maybe cyclical technological trends will swing further back and give them a boost. There’s also a chance that subscribing is a trend, people get tired of supporting a la carte and withdraw from the whole thing. I’m aware that tastes and tolerances can change, so head on a swivel, don’t take anything for granted and all that.
Until something forces a change — economics and/or the Sox getting good — I don’t foresee the site’s rhythm or presentation changing dramatically. The “rolling conversation” is still my preferred delivery method for what will be the 14th consecutive season, and all your local favorites are still going strong. Patrick’s already cooking up his previews. Greg is returning to join Josh and I for White Sox Wake-Up Calls. Ted hasn’t run out of Sporcle topics or random box scores. Billy’s supplied us with a bunch of handsome new graphics. The farm system and draft are still far too interesting relative to the big-league product, so they’ll be a prominent part of the daily and weekly routine. I’m fortunate to have their support and we’re all lucky for getting to read and listen to them.
As for what might be new and different — besides a storefront — there will be some Black Sox stuff down the pike. It won’t be like the 1917 season recap for South Side Sox, because I think that gave everybody a sense of the most prominent figures at their best, along with the rhythm of the season and the tenor of coverage from 100 years ago, but I’ll be sure to touch on key dates and developments, especially when the World Series rears its ugly head.
(Speaking of which: I spent some of Saturday in Connecticut on a Black Sox panel for SABR’s Smoky Joe Wood Chapter, along with Jacob Pomrenke and Bill Lamb, who know way more about the subject than I do. Their work is featured on the recently unveiled “Eight Myths Out” on SABR’s site, and it’s a great overview of the most commonly held belief. You can also listen to Jacob on the Sox Machine Podcast episode from February, where he goes over a lot of these in greater detail.)
More than anything regarding slingin’ ‘tent, if this season is anything like last season, I’ll probably have to get more creative/dumber in order to address the yawning entertainment deficit. Spoonerized White Sox prospects might be a cheap laugh, yet it’s more fulfilling than writing about somebody’s 13th mechanical tweak that failed to improve results. When they go low … well, we might have to stoop lower this time.
That’s enough navel-gazing for now. The Most Essential 2019 White Sox list will start Tuesday, and all of a sudden it’ll be Thursday, with real baseball and everything. Thanks for supporting, reading and conversing.
Thank you jim! i got the care package a week or two back and my daughter promptly put the sox machine sticker on her homework folder. If you notice a sudden uptick in traffic from kindergartners, you’re welcome.
Yeah, got mine last week. I have trouble with sticker commitment, but the coaster has seen plenty of usage.
Well, it kind of feels that the world is crashing down around my head today.
Oh, you weren’t asking ME how it was going. My bad.
I hope today has gone better LL! We’re all on your team.
I haven’t seen a softball question like this since Soxfest!
Jim – thanks for the swag. A class would be lovely so looking forward to the storefront. As others have said, the coaster gets a lot of use.
I haven’t gotten my swag yet. Oh please please please let there be Sox Machine boxers in there.
Here’s hoping I formatted the address correctly.
Thank you. Sox Machine keeps me sane during these dark seasons
Thanks Jim and the rest of the machine cogs for creating an informative and inviting community. I’m still waiting on my Sox Machine swag- think I’m creeping out the mail lady a bit.
@Pointerbabe I have to replenish my stock, but you’re at the top of the next list of addresses to mail to.
Thanks Jim! I’ll stop stalking the mail lady now…
This looks like perhaps their regular lineup vs RHP. The outfield defense–woof.
I guess if you swap out Palka for Jay the defense looks better.
How much for swag? I’m obviously a piker.
@winningugly I sent out a couple of messages through Patreon asking for addresses for those at the $5 tier. If you didn’t get them, send me your address.
Thanks for answering! I love Sox Machine so I’m glad to hear that it’s going well. The site is great and deserves to succeed.
I’m really glad you posted this. I don’t think anyone can accuse y’all of getting too meta, especially since half this site’s following came with you Jim on a meta level over from SSS.
In the same way I care about Jason Bennetti’s person and life, to an extent, I also care about yours and about everyone else who makes this site work.
For example, this post was the first time I have ever heard of “Billy” and his graphics. But I love the graphics at SoxMachine. Really cohesive style. I would love some post written about who Billy is and how he came to sox machine, and maybe linking to any of his other work online.
Maybe you could write that up and save it for a day the sox get rain/snowed out?
Keep up the good work, and keep letting us know how it’s going on the backend. We care.
@John SF Billy is @billyok, and while I consider his Sox Machine period his finest work, he’s also done these: