Hello Chargers fan. I want to share a brief story with you about myself.
Almost three years ago I started reading sports blogs more than sports sites (ESPN.com and SI.com) for my news and analysis. It started with baseball. Along with being a Chargers fan I am also a Padres fan, although that team is much more difficult to follow when you live on the East Coast. 10pm start times tend to end up with me falling asleep on the couch and missing half the game anyways. So I decided that the way I would stay on top of what was happening with the Padres was to read every scrap of information I could find on them.
I started by making them my "favorite team" on the major sports sites and reading UT articles every morning online, but there was no analysis and nowhere for me to "talk shop". If there's one thing I love doing, it's pretending I'm Kevin Towers or A.J. Smith and trying to fix all of the teams problems myself. I'm a volunteer, underutilized Assistant to the GM, if you will. I came to realize very quickly that the major sports sites barely knew that the Padres existed and their comments were either outdated or completely wrong. I knew there had to be other people out there like me: addicted to the internet with a need to connect with other Padres fans.
I joined Padres blog after Padres blog to no avail. Most of them were basic forums where you'd put up a post and after six months get no response besides a spam message. There was no give-and-take and I felt that I was the part of a very sad following. Then I found Gaslamp Ball. It was like finding a hidden party, made up entirely of people that were friendly and shared an interest in this team that had been deemed unimportant by the rest of the world. It was a collection of people that liked recounting stories about 1998 in the doldrums of a bad season. A collection of people that genuinely enjoyed playing GM, going so far as to semi-stalk prospects that the Padres may or may not have a chance at drafting. It was a group of fans that were infuriated that their worn out Compadres cards would soon mean nothing! It was bliss. And although I still have a difficult time including myself in many of their conversations (since I don't get to see many Padres games), Gaslamp Ball has certainly helped me stay in touch with the die-hard fans and their die-hard knowledge of the team.
When baseball season ended and football season started, I had a hard time finding a Chargers blog that had the same type of environment (passionate, intelligent fans). I once again joined a handful of these blogs/forums and came away disappointed every time by either a lack of participation or a collection of idiots who think that yelling the loudest makes them the smartest (it's even stupider when you do it online). One day I found a bit of hope. It was a blog that was hardly ever updated, and terribly ugly, but it seemed to be written by and have the same people that were involved with Gaslamp Ball! Dex and Jbox and I think even Johnny Dub were all there. I'm pretty sure Wonko was carrying the comments section by himself. This became my Chargers blog of choice, even though it obviously was not the highest priority for the writers themselves, until one day they closed down shop and sent their readers over here to Bolts From The Blue.
This blog is still fairly new, as evidence by the staff growing every two weeks, and I am proud to be a part of it. We have created an environment that mimics that of Gaslamp Ball. Writers without good points are called out on it. We don't let commentors from other blogs come in here and take over. In reality, we let the intelligent, civil ones join in the conversation so that we can learn a little bit more about their team from someone who typically knows more than us. In the last week I have gone back to some of those others Chargers blogs to see if anything had changed. Nope. Some forums remain a mix between fans who want to fire Norv and cut LT after every loss and the intelligent fans who are trying to keep things sane but failing. Some have a collection of good Chargers news and articles with the world's worst commentors (who can say whatever they want as "Anonymous"). Some are just a collection of links, more related to the entire NFL than just the Chargers, and are usually about a week behind everyone else. Bolts From The Blue stands alone in the world of Chargers blogs as the only place to get Chargers news, un-biased and thorough analysis, intelligent commenting and debating, every stat you could ever want and a welcoming environment for all armchair quarterbacks out there. We're also the only Chargers blog out that shows up on the Chargers Yahoo! Sports page.
I guess that story wasn't so short, huh? Anyways, here's where you guys get involved. We want to make sure we're not only the best Chargers blog out there, but that we're so tied into what our readers want that there's never a reason to look anywhere else. I'm also interested to know what you guys are looking for out of us as writers. So here's your chance. You tell us what you want on the blog, ideas for now and for in-season, and we'll do our best to fulfill your wishes. Some ideas:
-Tell Us Your Story - Every month a frequent visitor/commentor gets a front page story. They give us a little insight as to who they are, who their favorite player is and how they became a Chargers fan. It's your story, so if you want to throw in something like "I bet Ted Cottrell's Prevent Defense strategy won't work in the UFL either." that's your call.
-Q&A - Ask the questions you want answered. You can direct them at a certain writer ("Richard, can you prove to me that Nate Kaeding is a good kicker through your fancy stats?"), all of us ("What's everyone's stance on 2-point conversions?") or throw it up for grabs ("How will a new stadium deal affect long-term contract negotiations?"). We could also get together and try a Q&A Roundtable several times a year to provide insight on training camp, a retrospective look at the season and a debate on picks used in the draft.
-View From The Stands - A trusty writer or commentor goes to the game and sends back messages to be posted on the site during the game. While most fans prefer to watch the game from home, there is a lot that you can catch live but never see on TV. For instance, wouldn't you be interested to know who is going to take over Waters job as Best Dancer? What about if LT and Rivers are sitting next to each other on the bench? How about if Sproles is riding around on Jamal Williams shoulders on the sidelines to rest his legs? Of course you'd like to know that stuff.
-Twitter - You've heard all about it. It's what the young kids are doing. It's the new "MySpace" in terms of trendiness. And now....we have one! Hold onto your hats, kids, because this is going to be more fun than a Cromartie interception with good blocking in front of him. The twitter account will work as an RSS feed for Front Page Stories and will be mixed in with one-liners (because that's all that's allowed) about the team from myself. So come have a look. If you already have a Twitter account, start following us. I promise it won't disappoint. Also, if you have any good Chargers pictures to use for the background (where all the action is on the left and right sides of the picture), let me know.
-More Johnny Dub - Seriously. I think he's posted here like twice and they were two of the most recommended and commented posts we've ever had. He's a fabulous writer, but like all good artists he needs to be poked and prodded. I am putting him here as a way of saying "Let out the genius!" You're welcome to do the same in the comments.
-Bolts Night Out - Everyone meets up somewhere downtown to watch the game together. Would work on Sunday afternoons, but would probably work better for a Sunday or Monday night game. A bar or restaurant with big HDTVs would be the place of choice. Something to be settled in-season I suppose, but if you're interested we'd like to hear any location recommendations you might have.
So those are my ideas. Let me know if you love them or hate them in the comments. There is no in-between. Also, put down your own ideas and we'll add them to our list. This blog is written by the readers and for the readers, so stand up and be heard!