PSaMP is excited.
June has been a pretty good month. You, the visitor, have made June the most visited month in PSaMP history. Yes, PSaMP’s history is pretty short, but June is really bringing it.
Between the reads, your suggestions, cool links from bigger sites and my writing, PSaMP is reaching a wider audience every day. Last week, I brought you the initial installment of Inside the Athletes Studio, a segment in which PSaMP interviews prominent people with ties to Pittsburgh sports. Torina Henley, Running Back of the still-undefeated Pittsburgh Passion, was a great first guest.
Today, I have a treat. PSaMP was able to throw some questions at a guy named Don. “Who is Don?”, you might ask. Don owns/operates/writes for a little sportsblog that you may or may not have heard about. Its called Mondesi’s House, and its well worth your time. Go there. They can use the visits.
In all seriousness, Mondesi’s House, Pittsburgh’s most-read sportsblog, was a huge inspiration to PSaMP. I started this site primarily because of the great content over at Mondesi’s House. With his unique style and countless radio interviews, Don proves that Pittsburgh fans can have a voice, and that voice can be heard by countless readers worldwide.
Within the Pittsburgh sportsblog community, there is a sense of camaraderie. I mean, there is only a certain amount of stories that the growing list of Pittsburgh sportsbloggers can write about. However, each brings their own style, which provides fresh views on popular local stories. Visit any of the Pittsburgh sportsblogs out there and I’m sure Mondesi’s House was an inspiration to a good many of them.
Oh, and this week is the one-year anniversary for Mondesi’s House. PSaMP didn’t even think about this when asking for an interview. But I guess all things work out if you try hard enough.
So I’ll stop gushing, and let you hear what Don had to say about several topics that PSaMP was eager to hear about. Don’s take is peerless, and is a major reason that Mondesi’s House is so successful. I’ll shut up now, and let Don take it away.
I count Mondesi’s House as a major inspiration for starting PSaMP. Were there other sites that inspired you to start MH? Was it more of, “Hey, I could do that” or was the site well-planned?
As it stands now, there are a number of Pittsburgh-based sites that use Mondesi’s House as a model. Many of them were, or are, readers of mine. I take great pride in inspiring someone to write.
Are there any writers or journalists that you model your writing style around?
Jerry Seinfeld: The king of observational humor. I try to catch things in Pittsburgh sports that might fly under the radar.
What’s the best thing to happen to you since you started the House?
Realizing that I have a voice and the ability to shape opinions. And getting to know so many of my readers on a personal level. I feel like I’ve made thousands of new friends in the last year.
You’ve done plenty of radio interviews. How do those stack up against actual blogging?
Tougher than you would think. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not rocket science, but it certainly takes some getting used to if you want to do a good job with it. You have to have quick answers, you have to be prepared, and it certainly helps to get a laugh from the host. I think I’ve gotten better, because my comfort level is much greater now than when I did my first interview last year. When you’re in front of the biggest radio audience in the city [WDVE] and it’s your first radio interview ever, it can be a little intimidating.
I count the ’04-’05 playoff game against the Jets, where Doug Brien missed two field goals and the Steelers won in OT, as one of the best games I’ve ever gone to. Also, Bettis’ last home game and the game where Polamalu intercepted Carson Palmer and weaved through the entire Bengal offense for the touchdown are also on that list. Do you have any unique games, Steelers, Pirates or Penguins, that you went to, that stick out in your mind as exceptional?
—It wasn’t a Pittsburgh game, but Super Bowl 31 in New Orleans, 1997, Packers-Pats. My dad actually got a pair of tickets from a business associate, and even though the Steelers were eliminated, it was still a sight to behold. I’ll never forget Bourbon Street littered with drunk Packers fans. I could have only imagined the scene if the Steelers would have represented the AFC instead of the Patriots.
As a Pittsburgh blogger, I read Mondesi’s House as often as I would the Post-Gazette, Trib, or other news service. How do you approach a day of blogging? Also, what blogs out there in the blogosphere do you frequent?
I actually do the bulk of my work the night before, so I can have things ready for the early risers who enjoy frittering time away at work. First I go through my email and see what the readers have sent. That’s usually where most of “The News” comes from. I’m on a pretty tight schedule, so I can’t visit as many sites as I would like. But I’ll hit a few sports destinations for some of the bigger stories: ESPN, Deadspin, the PG and Trib, and The Big Lead. And a stop on WWTDD.com to let the readers know the latest in the world of Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans.
Gwenjen. Ronnie Florian. Now Cheap Sexson Mondays. You have a gift for creating internet celebrities. How does it feel when something like that takes off?
It’s fun, but I can’t take full credit. In a way, I’m like the messenger, delivering what the people are telling me. The Gwenjen pics were sent in from a reader. Cheap Sexson Mondays was a story from a reader of mine in Seattle that somehow made it to SI.com. And although I’ve been talking about him for a while, it was readers who sent in Ronnie Florian photos from various games. I’m telling you, it’s the readers that make this site go.
I remember being young and rather disappointed after the ’92 NLCS. A lot changed after that game. My team lost, and I felt odd about it. Obviously, the Buccos were a lot better back in those days. What stands out most to you when you think back to that game?
I remember being so confident when Cabrera came to the plate, thinking he was an automatic out because he was a nobody. And then came the hit. And then came me shutting off the TV in disgust at age 15. And then came my 11-year-old brother throwing his mangled Green Weenie at the same TV set. It’s 15 years later, and the pain is still there. The Green Weenie, however, is not.
You reach a large audience. Did you ever think Mondesi’s House would grow to the level it has in one year?
I’m very proud of how the site has caught on in the first year. I put in hours and hours of hard work: writing, research, radio appearances, and the hardest part, actually watching the Pirates. That being said, there’s no other experience like getting fan mail. Having people say they start their day reading your site, telling all of their Pittsburgh-loving friends about it, all of the positive feedback…as a creative person, it’s incredibly rewarding to know that people enjoy your work.
Where do you see Mondesi’s House in another year?
I want to grow it as much as possible, but remain true to the roots. This site will always be dedicated to Pittsburgh. I have so many ideas for new and fresh angles, it’s just a matter of having adequate time. I have enough content for years, and that’s if the sports world shuts down tomorrow. I just love to write.
What are your feelings regarding ESPN. A lot of bloggers despise the big E. Others love it. I’m kinda in the middle, whereas I enjoy it for the news/highlights, but still take it with a grain of salt. Plus, that Hashmarks link has got to be a bonus.
And yes, it’s very cool of ESPN to link to my site.
Should the Buccos ditch Dave Littlefield for Ray Shero? And what’s your take on the Buccos and their recent first-rounders.
Shero has been nothing short of amazing. Just look at the Chris Thorburn trade. Here’s a guy he plucked from the waiver wire, and he turns him into a 3rd-round draft pick. I’ve been very impressed at the way Shero has built the team so far.
Last Friday was big. First the Pens re-sign Roberts and Recchi, then draft a former top prospect in Angelo Esposito. Does Esposito make the club this season, and can the Pens win it all?
I think they can contend, but they might still be a piece or two short at this moment in time. But they are close. Very close.
Finish this sentence. Honestly. “By September, the Pirates…”
“…will be out of my mind because it will be football season.”
Favorite Pittsburgh sports moment/memory?
And moments? Even though I wasn’t alive, the Maz home run was sweet because it took down the Yankees. I always think it gets historically short-changed behind The Shot Heard Round the World, which was merely a playoff game. The Immaculate Reception is great because it usually does get the recognition that it deserves. As far as things that I actually saw in my lifetime, there’s Mark Smith’s Walk-Off “Freak Show/No Hitter” Home Run in 1997, James Harrison’s bodyslam of a Browns fan, Roethlisberger’s tackle against the Colts and Vanderjagt’s subsequent miss, Larry Fitzgerald’s 2003 season, the Steelers’ trick plays in the 2006 playoffs, Mario’s five goals five ways, Sidney’s regular season debut, the playoff comeback against the Browns a few years back…I could go on and on.
– Don (Mondesi)