IN THE cramped
bedroom of his Minnetonka, Minn., town house, Aaron Gleeman is surrounded by
the accoutrements of any self-respecting sports blogger: a 35-inch television
with multiple premium sports packages; stacks of dog-eared reference books;
piles of periodicals; and a laptop that's aglow at all hours of the day. "I
write almost entirely from bed," says Gleeman, an online baseball columnist
and blogger who, on a typical day, pumps from 5,000 to 15,000 words into
cyberspace. Although he seldom leaves his mattress, he might be the most
prolific baseball writer working today.
A 23-year-old who
majored in journalism at Minnesota but did not graduate, Gleeman is proof that
in the Generation Google era, all you need to launch a sportswriting career is
a working computer, a broadband connection and a supply of opinions. Four years
ago Gleeman turned to the Web after he couldn't land a position at his college
newspaper, the Minnesota Daily. "I couldn't even get a gig covering women's
gymnastics," he says. Gleeman devoted much of his blog to his beloved
Minnesota Twins. "At first I was lucky if two to three people from my
immediate family did me a favor by checking the blog out," he says.
"But, thankfully, since then the readership has steadily grown. And a few
[readers] aren't even related to me."
The blog is, in
fact, a daily fix for thousands of readers (2,500 unique visitors a day), and
its success has landed Gleeman regular gigs at websites such as Rotoworld.com,
a popular destination for fantasy-sports geeks, and insiderbaseball.com, for
which Gleeman writes about minor league prospects. Baseball blogs, in
particular, are well-suited to the Web's around-the-clock discourse: There are
games every day, off-seasons full of player movement and an endless supply of
stats for analysis. Two years ago Gleeman cofounded hardballtimes.com, a site
devoted to the statistical analysis of baseball that has provided a platform
for aspiring writers. The site attracts more than 15,000 visitors a day and has
been lauded by baseball beat writers around the country.
attends a half-dozen Twins games a year but has never covered a game from the
press box, says that he earns more than the average entry-level reporter at a
newspaper--and that he's not looking to get off his bed. He grew up dreaming of
becoming a sportswriter at a newspaper or magazine, but his goals have changed.
"If I'm in the exact same position five years from now," he says,
"I'd be very happy."