Off Base
Q & A With MSTI

March 7, 2011, 3:08 p.m. Here's part three in our series about the Dodgers and new media, which is about to be expanded to include old media. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, is pleased to have Mike Petriello, of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness, as today's subject.

It's one thing to provide interesting analysis; that much more appreciated when it's offered with a dash of edge, but to go for the trifecta, you've got to have fine writing. Mr. Petriello provides just that. I imagine he's bookmarked already, but if not, please do so now. A little background on yourself. Career highlights, married, kids, what part of L.A. are you from, etc.

Mike Petriello: "I'm 29, not married, live with my girlfriend...and not actually from L.A. I currently live in the Hells Kitchen section of Manhattan in New York City, and I'm originally from New Jersey, though I spent several years living in Boston as well.

I get asked why I'm a Dodger fan a lot, and rather than reiterate it all here I'll just direct you to the post I wrote about it several years ago. On one hand, it's kind of fun to cheer for a different team here in a sea of Yankee and Mets fans; on the other hand, it leads to a lot of late nights since the games don't start until 10 p.m."

BS: When and how did you get started with the blog? What was the thought process?

MP: "I started the blog in the summer of 2007, and at the time I was the definition of a blogger stereotype; between jobs & living with my parents (though not, I should add, in the basement). I had largely stopped following the Dodgers between 1999-2003 (partially because of the Mike Piazza trade, partially because I hated Kevin Malone and the FOX ownership, but mostly because that was when I was away at college) but really started to get back into it in late 2004 with the Lo Duca trade and the playoff run. 

For the next two years or so, I posted regularly on the Big Blue Wrecking Crew message board and after a while decided that the long posts I was writing would be better served on a blog rather than a board. It was really more of a place for me to log my thoughts (so, uh, I can always go back and see that I wanted Wilson Betemit to play 3B instead of Nomar. Hooray?) than to become well-read, but happily that's what ended up happening."

BS: Why the name, "Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness?"

MP: "It's a reference to the best Simpsons episode of all time, "Homer at the Bat." The end of the episode featured a parody song of the classic "Talkin' Baseball" - you can listen to it here. People who get it love it; people who don't think I'm wishing for Mike Scioscia to die. It was a lot funnier when I thought of it four years ago, not realizing I'd ever have to say it out loud or try to deal with the short form of Twitter, or how hard Scioscia is to spell, but it's sort of too late to change it now."

BS: Do you make a living with MSTI, or do you have a "real" job as well?

"I wish! I actually have several jobs, though fortunately a few of them are baseball-related. My "real" job is as a digital producer for a big PR firm, getting tons of websites built for clients, which is occasionally soul-crushing but pays well and allows me to dick around on Twitter all day. I also have a freelance gig at, where I used to work full-time, and I write a weekly fantasy baseball column at Baseball Prospectus."

BS: Can you tell me your thoughts about the "writing life," the struggles, the joys and the daily routine?

"It's changed a lot since I started. At the time, I was looking for work and had nothing but free time to spare, including staying up until 2am to catch the 12th inning of a West Coast game. Now, with the extra jobs, girlfriend, social life, etc., it sometimes gets more difficult to find the time. I also view my blog a little differently than many others; a lot of them like to have three or four shorter posts a day, including every bit of news, game threads, game recaps, etc.

That's fine, but I prefer to shoot for one good solid post per day, unless breaking news calls for more. There's so many sources of news between the traditional guys, other blogs, Twitter, etc., that I don't think people are really going to come to my site to learn about breaking news, so I don't generally feel the need to post everything immediately.

I like to think they come to me for reasoned reaction to the news that happened and new viewpoints on topics they already thought they knew. Sometimes, I get a stroke of genius and hit on something really great, and there's no better feeling, but there's also those days where you're staring at the screen thinking, 'uh, okay, what now?'

It can be hard work at times, but I'll never overstate the effort of writing about something you love; in the end, you have to do it for yourself, even if no one's reading or cares. Otherwise, it becomes a chore, and that's not worth it."

BS: Is it a means to an end? Where would you like it to take you?

MP: "I'd love nothing more than to be able to turn this into something more of a full gig, and while I realize that's unlikely, each year has brought new opportunities. I've been lucky enough to have been interviewed for the Boston Globe and on DodgerTalk, been invited to contribute to books like last year's Maple Street Press Dodger Annual, and then also the BP gig.

If that turns into something more down the line, that'd be a dream come true; if nothing else, I'm getting my baseball fix on the side while getting my name out there, meeting a lot of new people, and making some small income."

BS: With the Anianna Huffington's of the world selling their publications for hundreds of millions of dollars, and the writers, mostly working for peanuts (sometimes Cracker Jack), are you discouraged or that much more motivated to make a name for yourself.

MP: "It depends on the source, really. When talented writers get paid, then all the better for them and for the rest of us. Every now and then you'll see this blog or that blog get picked up into something larger, and 99% of the time that's because they're a respectable site creating valuable work, and that's great.

It only really bothers me when it's an atrocious content farm like Bleacher Report, daily churning out hundreds of mindless, uninformed pieces of SEO-targeted garbage slideshows just to get hits. If there's motivation there for me, it's keep trying harder to write worthwhile pieces, even if it's not going to get grab as many eyeballs as "the ten hottest wives in baseball," or whatever dreck B/R is spewing out these days."

BS: How would you like the Dodgers ownership situation to play out and what do you think will actually happen? And when?

MP: "Not to be too harsh, but if each of the McCourts spent the rest of their days in a Ukranian prison, I wouldn't shed any tears.

What I think will happen is that both will do their best to drag this out and keep their claws in the team, either totally ignorant or dismissive of the public distaste for them, until all of the legal options are exhausted and they realize that neither can afford to run the team, finally forcing a bankruptcy sale. Unfortunately, I don't expect to see that day for at least another year, if not longer."

BS: Are you ready for Don Mattingly?

MP: "It's still an open question, but I'm warming to him. I was definitely part of the "Hire [Tim] Wallach" contingent last year, due to Mattingly's inexperience and the danger that he learned too much from Joe Torre. (I couldn't stand Joe Torre.) We still don't know how he'll react once the real games start, but so far I like what I hear; his style seems to mesh better with the younger players and I like that he's making decisions early in camp rather than letting people hang like Torre did. Also, I really like the new coaching staff; replacing Schaefer, Duncan and Bowa with Hillman, Lopes and Wallach is a big win for me."

BS: If you had your way, whether he's on the roster at the moment or not, who would you like to see in left field this season?

MP: "Cop-out answer: Andre Ethier, because he's not a great right fielder and ought to be in left.

Seriously though, I'm not happy with the Gibbons / Thames / Gwynn situation (or as I've been referring to them, "JaMarcus Gwybbons, Jr." but I do get the thought process behind it. With Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson both looking like they'll be ready either later this year or in 2012, there was no need to go block them with a mega-deal for a Carl Crawford or a Jayson Werth, even if the Dodgers could have afforded them. (They couldn't.) So going with a one-year stopgap solution is fine.

The problem, though, is with the guys making up the solution. Neither Thames nor Gibbons can field, Gwynn can't hit, and Gibbons may not be much of a hitter either. I'd much rather have seen a Matt Diaz type, who can field a bit and who crushes lefties, or to not have had Gwynn at all and instead had two righty bats so you could sit Ethier against lefties. In addition, I know he's headed out the door, but I'd really like to know what Xavier Paul and his .302/.380/.502 career AAA line could have done with some real playing time."

BS: Anything else you'd like to talk about?

MP: "Just that if there's one thing I've learned since doing this, it's that the Dodgers might have the most solid collection of bloggers in the game. Jon Weisman @ DodgerThoughts is obviously the godfather of baseball blogging, but then you have Eric Stephen @ TrueBlueLA killing it as well, Chad Moriyama @ TBLA and the sort-of-dead Memories Of Kevin Malone, the hilarious guys at Sons of Steve Garvey, plus a dozen others, all putting out great research and writing. There's not too many other teams that can say that, and more than a few have just one or two readable blog at best. It's good company to be in."

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