February 25, 2011, 1:04 p.m. He's the man behind Vin Scully is My Homeboy, easily the hottest Dodgers blog going, and the man behind the Dodgers.
He's the man in front of the Dodgers, he's beside the Dodgers, and along with the Dodgers, wherever they may be. Name a preposition as it relates to the Blue, and it applies.
He's everywhere – the veritable Forrest Gump of Dodger bloggers. He is Roberto Baly; writer, editor and publisher of VSIMH.
In the past ten days alone, Roberto has gotten the scoop on having a beer with Vin Scully, a give-away from KABC, appearances by Steve Sax, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda, and Roger Craig, and has posted all manner of neat photos and videos sent to him by his devoted readers. If it's happening and it's Dodgers-related, Baly has it.
During the same ten days, Baly has himself appeared with Sports Illustrated swimsuit covergirl Irina Shayk, at the Dodger Stadium monster truck show, with Jerry Buss, and at the Dodgers beach cleanup event in Santa Monica.
In this first-in-a-series about new media covering the Dodgers, featured is a question-and-answer with Baly, which follows.
BaseballSavvy: "Can you tell me how you got started with VSIMH. When did you have the idea? What were your goals?"
Roberto Baly: I had been blogging over at MLBLogs.com here. I didn't like the setup and had trouble with glitches. I decided to start fresh and move to Google Blogger. With the move, I changed the name of the blog to 'Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.' Not sure why. Scully certainly is not my "homeboy" (I wish), but I thought it would be a great blog name. Plus, I do have a picture with him, so readers might really think I have this connection with Vin.
BS: What are the things you are most proud of about the site?
RB: Many things. My first post was on October, 2008. I had a good following from MLBLogs but nothing big. Kinda like an underground or secret blog that few people knew. I'd write about my experiences in meeting players, and post things that other blogs didn't talk about. I just tried to be myself.
A few posts come to mind. I wrote about a second Manny Ramirez bobblehead in 2009. I told my readers to buy tickets. Few believed me. But it was true, the Dodgers gave away a second bobblehead later that season. It was cool to break that story.
Also, the "Los Doyers" posts were very popular. But meeting new people is what I'm most proud of. People like [Dodgers VP of Communications] Josh Rawitch, [PR staffer] Amy Summers, [Dodgers historian] Mark Langill, [Daily News columnist] Tom Hoffarth, and [MLB National Correspondent/Producer] Ben Platt have been really nice to me, and always take the time to answer my questions."
Speaking of which, here's what they had to say about him:
Tom Hoffarth: "I have so much fun reading Roberto's site, and because of that, I enjoy helping him out with whatever journalistic entry pass I have through my connections that may get him into more events that he might not otherwise be invited to.
But that's seemed to have changed as the team sees him more at events, press conferences...look at what he's able to dig up on his own? I sometimes don't even consider his a so-called 'fan site' any more because of the stuff he finds.
And he's doing it from a good place, not someone trying to tear down the front office or players or whomever because he's created a credible forum."
Mark Langill: “I enjoy reading Roberto’s blog because of the range of subjects and the obvious baseball knowledge behind the keyboard. And no blog has a better title. He does a really good job…many thanks for asking!"
Ben Platt: "Roberto is one of the most ardent and knowledgeable Dodger fans I have ever seen. He truly loves doing his blog and what I admire about him is he shows up at events and tries to stay in the background and report what he sees. It's never about him, it's about the team. I've seen many people try and be part of the story, Roberto is just genuinely happy to be there and share his love of the Dodgers with like-minded fans around the world."
Josh Rawitch: "We have taken the approach that if someone has a public forum, like a blog, and they're seeking to cover the team on a regular basis, we want to help keep them informed so that bad information isn't spread. That means receiving our news releases and, in many cases, granting access to decision makers, players and others who can help our fans get the information they seek.
There are a lot of mainstream media members who also visit blogs every day for information, so it behooves us to have the right information out there. It's not a free-for-all with anyone who starts a website suddenly walking into the Stadium with a press pass. But for those who have shown that they are professional and dedicated to covering the team, we are open to helping that happen. Dodger fans are going to go wherever they get the best information and the most interesting opinions and that can be any number of places online.
Roberto has found a nice niche in writing about the things that die-hard fans really care about – everything. He’s clearly passionate about the team and his blog and it seems like every event we have, he finds a way to attend it.”
Back to the Q & A. I asked Baly for personal background.
RB: "I'm a mutt. Cuban/Mexican/Jewish/Catholic. I grew up in La Puente, California, and have been living in San Dimas for the past 14 years. Married four years this June."
BS: What are you fondest memories of the Dodgers?
RB: "Karros, Piazza, Mondesi, Nomo, Hollandsworth. The mid-90's. Those were great years. It was a pleasure watching Mike Piazza and Raul Mondesi smash the ball. I didn't experience "Fernando Mania" but I did experience "Nomo Mania," and that was so cool. Half the park was filled with Japanese fans.
I was at the Alex Cora 18 pitch at-bat game with my girlfriend. That was awesome. Playoff games were great too. Sweeping the Cubs in 2008. Going to Fenway Park."
BS: VSIMH is extremely popular. How do you feel about the success you've had?
RB: "Define 'popular.' I think it's doing well. I mean, I'm sure it's not as popular as some of the other Dodger blogs, and it's not my intention to be the best. I'm just having fun with it. At the beginning, I'd get about 100 page views per day, and I'm thinking to myself, 'nobody is reading this.' But I kept going. In a slow day [now], it might get about 2,000 views. And in a great day, maybe 5,000 views.
I'm just having fun. I like interacting with the fans and I'm happy to know that someone is actually reading my posts."
BS: Do you sit in the press box at the games, and go into the locker room afterwards?
RB: "I didn't this past year. I'm a bit uncomfortable [in that setting]. Or maybe I'm too shy to ask. But I did go to the press box two or three times in 2009, and it's a blast. It's kinda cool seeing how everything works. The bad part is you cannot cheer. We are lucky that the Dodgers have embraced bloggers, and made them feel a part of the media family."
Finally, I prompted Roberto about the Forrest Gump idea, asking him if he has a regular job, and how he finds the time to be all-Dodgers, all the time. He demurred at first, a bit uncomfortable revealing something perhaps a bit too personal. So I shared about my own situation, about being a kidney transplant patient, and while mostly healthy, I'm not able to work a traditional work schedule. And he opened up.
"Oh, Howard, you are getting the exclusive. Not sure how you do it! I can't work the 9-to-5 either. I've had many surgeries (at last count, around eight) due to CGD. Google it. Chronic granulomatous disease. But been healthy lately. As for work, I get some revenue from the blog. My parents have their own business, so I try to help them with that. And my parents and wife have been really supportive."
Google it, I did, and the easiest-to-understand definition is courtesy of the National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD), which explains that "Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) is a rare inherited primary immune deficiency disorder that affects certain white blood corpuscles (neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, eosinophils). The disorder is characterized by an inability to resist repeated infectious diseases and a tendency to develop chronic inflammation. Life-threatening recurrent fungal and bacterial infections affecting the skin, lungs, and bones may occur along with swollen areas of inflamed tissues known as granulomas that can be widely distributed. Symptoms usually begin in infancy or childhood. Individuals with mild forms of the disorder may not develop symptoms until the teens or adulthood. Chronic granulomatous disease is a genetic disorder and is caused by inherited defects in an important enzyme in white blood cells that manufactures oxidants for microbial killing."
Serious stuff, obviously. But not enough to distract this extremely busy blogger. So Roberto does what he loves best, writes about the Dodgers, and takes it a day at a time. Happily, keeping it as positive as any blogger out there. And we salute him.
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