Adventures In Extreme Makeover, Blogging Style

We all can relate to this, I’m sure. You’re at a party or at the office and the topic of someone’s recent… shall we say… makeover… comes up. Then someone (hopefully not you, but hey, it happens) says something clever about the new [insert "clothes", "facelift", "tummytuck", or whatever has been "made over"] and then everyone realizes it might have been said a little bit too loud and that the recently “madeover” person heard the comment. Now, this can go one of two ways, depending on the particular personalities of the parties involved.

Feelings could be hurt, harsh words could be exchanged, friendships could be ruined… or the person could take the comment in the spirit it was intended, everyone can have a good laugh, maybe make a new friend and, if you’re really lucky, maybe you find out the person who made the comment is in the business of doing “makeovers” and you learn something that helps you improve your appearance!

“What does this have to do with the Twins?” you ask. Well, nothing. This post is entirely about this blog. (That loud clicking noise you hear is 150 people simultaneaously exiting this site.)

Those of you who have been stopping by for a while are aware (I hope) that we’ve been undergoing a few cosmetic changes over the past couple of months. It started with a change in “theme” (that’s a fancy blogging term for the look and style of the site). We chose EvoLve. It has a ton of customization options, it’s generally easy on the eyes, it made transitioning from our old theme almost completely painless and, best of all, it was free.

We also found a new blogroll plugin that lets us list the most recently updated Twins blogs, rather than just listing them all alphabetically. (The downside to this is that K-bro’s Baseball Blog and Curve for a Strike will notice a significant drop in “hits” as I used to click those sites several times a day to find out which blogs had been updated recently… sorry k-bro and Topper).

Which brings us to the final (for now anyway) cosmetic enhancement here at Knuckleballs… our new banner. Funny story how that came about…

You may remember this post that CapitalBabs put up a while back about a cool “What baseball team should I root for?” flowchart developed by Paul Caputo over at Interpretation By Design. It’s one of the most clever things I’ve seen in a long time. In fact, it’s so clever, you probably saw it posted and linked to by several blogs, tweets, etc. Actually, there were so many of us linking to their site that all the hits crashed their site!

I’m certain there wasn’t much humorous about that to the folks at IBD at the time, but as tends to be the case, passage of time allows for those involved to reflect on the event and smile a bit (if not quite laugh, perhaps). And that’s what Paul did recently. He put up a post on the site about what had happened and how so many sites had said such great things about the flowchart and how much he appreciated all of that. Here, let me paste a paragraph from that post:

I’ll admit that it was a thrill to see something I created shared so extensively. Because the Internet mob tends to deal in extremes, the words “genius” and “hilarious” were thrown around next to my name on Twitter and on various blogs (trust me, I have screen captures of all of them). Though some of the nicest comments came from a site that uses both type on a curve and Comic Sans in its banner, so I’m a little conflicted.

Yes, he was referring to us in that last sentence.

Now… those of you who haven’t yet started your own blogs may not be aware of this, but a funny thing happens when someone links to your site… you get a “pingback”. I’m sure really popular sites get a ton of those, but here at Knuckleballs it’s enough of a rarity that we notice. We also click the link to see who’s linking to us. And we read what they say about us.

I have to be honest here… while I recognized the reference to “type on a curve”, I have NO idea what Comic Sans is. But I’m bright enough to recognize that Paul wasn’t a fan of the use of either in our banner.

Obligatory Picture of Joe Mauer's Swing

Normally, I’m one of those “I don’t give a hoot what you think” kind of people. Most of you know that if you told me you didn’t like our banner, I’d respond with some sort of smartass retort that would clearly communicate that I don’t give a hoot what you think. But this was a guy who runs a blog about web design and stuff. I mean… I wouldn’t care what any of you thought about the way I swing a baseball bat, either, but if Joe Mauer told me I’m doing it wrong, I’d listen (probably, anyway) or I would at least try to explain to Joe WHY I swing the way I do (“Joe, I know you don’t have this issue, but I’ve got a 38 inch waist I have to get the bat around.”)

So I did leave a comment on Paul’s post, letting him know WHY we used the “type on a curve” (after all, STRAIGHT text on a site named for a pitch that changes direction several times on its way to the plate just seemed wrong). Having done so, I merrily went on my way.

Well Paul responded, both in a follow up comment and in a personal email. He explained that the references to the type styles we used were a bit of a running joke over at IBD and he apologized for his snarky (his word, not mine) reference to our banner. This is where, like with our friends at the party from the opening paragraph, things could have gone one of two ways. If we really took ourselves seriously around here, I could have lashed out at Paul (“you may know web design but I bet you pitch like a girl!”) and things might have deteriorated from there. But as you all know, we really don’t take ourselves all that seriously… and I assured Paul such was the case.

Actually, I did a bit more than that. In an email back to him, I mentioned that he was welcome to take a swing (note clever baseball reference) at improving our banner.

A few hours later, our new banner came back to me in an email from Paul.

I admit I wasn’t really expecting him to take me up on my offer/request, any more than I would expect Mauer to take an interest in correcting my swing. These people are professionals, after all.

I love the banner. I’m grateful and I’m honored that the guy who came up with that website-crashing flowchart (or as it has become known over at Interpretation By Design, the “Information Design Example That Shall Not Be Named”) thought enough of our blog to design a new banner for us.

But… in the back of my mind, part of me wonders if he did it just because he really was so offended by the type on a curve and Comic Sans font (or our dominant use of the color red in the old banner… which, as it turns out, is also not a recommended thing to do. Who knew?). In the end, though, it really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we’ve made a new friend (even if he is a Phillies fan). Thank you, Paul!

- JC

26 thoughts on “Adventures In Extreme Makeover, Blogging Style

  1. Jim, we have a stated goal over at Interpretation By Design to make the world a better place one typeface at a time. Eradicating the world of Comic Sans is step #1.

    It was a pleasure for me to work with real baseball fans (unlike my soulless Yankee-fan co-author), and I was happy to have the opportunity to make amends for my snarky comment.

    Best of luck to your Twins, unless, of course, they’re playing my Phils in the World Series.

  2. It’s funny how I never realize what I’m getting myself into when I post random things sometimes. I’m glad I have personal rules about always giving credit where credit is due and I can’t thank Paul enough for his kind words and the cool new banner!

    After recent jokes about our “Art Department”, I’m amused to discover we apparently HAVE one! All I can say is for all the trouble caused to your business, I hope we are able to help out in increased business!

    We might be a Twins blog but as we state in our FAQ, we are a BASEBALL blog and fans of all teams are welcome to join us and comment as the feel the leading. Paul, we even have our favorite Yankee Fan who drops in frequently to remind us that not all the fans are soul-sucking, spectacle-seeking, howlers. So we’re glad to have a truly, baseball-loving Phillies fans amongst us.

  3. Thanks again, Paul.

    The “snarky” comment really didn’t bother me at all. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m above using it to guilt someone in to giving free services (not to mention material for a post).

    So if being snarky means you turn around and do stuff for us for free, by all means snark away. But be warned, a little free graphics design work may not be enough next time.

    I could use a new roof.

  4. What he’s NOT actually telling you is how much we tend to appreciate “snark” in these parts and quite frankly, we’re likely to be MORE friendly with those willing to partake in a bit of well-aimed irreverence.. *GRIN* but don’t let that change your guilt any..

  5. Ah, I see your site has been blessed with the presence of Paul from IBD. He has helped me with design, graphic and font issues too. He is the man. I think he has an extra computer that just searches the Internet for the use of Comic Sans, and then he can try to “fix” that, I site at a time. A word of advice, do not ever center your text either. Like Paul, I am a baseball fan, and root for the Phillies, but as my second choice. My team is the San Diego Padres first and Phillies second. As long as you do not root for the No-Good Stinikin’ Yankees, you are okay in my book.

  6. Jim, Paul was actually worried that you were going to let people know that he actually does throw like a girl and he would no longer be able to be the statistician for the IBD softball team. Go Yankees!

  7. JEFF!! congrats on being a Padres fan and having a new relief pitcher that we here in Twins Territory are still extremely fond of! Pat Neshek is a local boy who is literally one of the most fan-friendly baseball nuts you will ever find playing the game. His own baseball card collection is EXTENSIVE and I encourage you to get to know the new guy a bit – we called him Sideshow amongst other things just because of how entertaining his side-arm delivery (and the faces and postures that went with it) could be on every pitch.

    As far as Paul’s advice – I’m perfectly pleased to take it any time it’s offered – especially from a guy who clearly needs to use that extra computer to host his blog now instead of searching out unflattering font stylings!

  8. Jeff, at least now I know what Comic Sans is! And it’s fine to be a Padres fan… in fact, we hope you’re enjoying having all the former Twins on that roster this year (Bartlett and Hudson, in addition to Neshek…). In fact, if things go as planned, I think I’m going to be making a trip to the Twin Cities in June and will be catching one or two of the Twins/Pads series while I’m there.

    Shea, I’m actually more afraid of getting beat up by some of the women who frequent our blog for that “throw like a girl” comment than I am Paul. Oh, and around here, the term “Yankees” must, virtually by rule, be preceded with “F’ing”… as in “Go (far away) F’ing Yankees!”

  9. I feel like I should confess to a not-completely-secret loathing of Comic Sans. However, since I have absolutely no graphics skills whatsoever (I didn’t even apply for the Art Department job) unless it’s an actual graph (preferably in PowerPoint) or a map (ArcView right now, but I need to teach myself new software soon), or maybe something in Visio, I tend to keep my trap shut about it.

    I was very sad to see the abhorred font adorning the paper towel dispensers at Target Field last night. *shiver* I nearly took a picture, but my phone battery was already terribly close to dead.

    In any case, the new banner is awesome–many thanks, Paul!

    In other news, I’m still sad I don’t have tickets for the Pads series in my season ticket package. I wasn’t really planning to buy tickets outside of my package, but I might have to make an exception.

  10. Wow, my first post and I get shout-outs back. Thanks all. I feel the love from the Twins fans all the way out to California. Something you would never get from a No-Good Stinkin’ Yankees fan, like Shea.

  11. Well, Jeff, I’m assuming whatever the trick is, you found it, because I see your gravatar attached to your comments this morning! I’ve always assumed you just register it at gravatar.com and it shows up. Anything that’s more of a trick than that is probably over my head.

    As for feeling the love… it’s all the “Minnesota nice” people talk about. I happen to be from Iowa and we aren’t QUITE as nice as Minnesotans, but we’re still well up the nice-meter most of the time.

    And KL… who knew we had a closet Comic Sans hater in our own midst? Especially one with strong enough feelings to have noticed it on paper towel dispensers! I’m not sure I’ve even noticed that there are words on a paper towel dispenser!

  12. Hmm. The gravatar thing is weird. I know I have one set and it normally shows up just fine, but even as an administrator mine’s not showing up right now, for me anyway. I checked another browser to make sure it wasn’t just Chrome, but it didn’t show up there either.

    If I have time I’ll try to look into it further.

  13. So now I really have no idea what’s going on with the gravatars, because I checked on my phone, and sure enough I can see all of them there, but on my computer I can’t see mine, Jeff’s, or Shea’s. I cleared my cache and restarted Chrome, same thing. Goofy.

  14. Oh, and about the paper towel dispensers, I don’t think they normally have anything on them, but this was something additional and attached. I don’t even remember what it said I was so distracted by the font, though I do remember it was in both red and blue.

  15. the gravatar thing is weird – all of them are showing up fine for me on Mozilla.

  16. KL, good for you. Fight the good fight against Comic Sans.

    And for the rest of you, I’m afraid this is something of a sickness. You’ll be seeing it everywhere.

    I should point out, too, since he chimed in, that my Yankee-fan co-author Shea has never lived within 1,500 miles of New York.

  17. Thanks James!

    Weird on the gravatars. We still use IE 7.0 at the office and they show up here. I wonder if this is a glitch in our theme or if it’s more universal than that.

    I do know the new blogroll doesn’t work quite right with IE 7.0. Instead of just listing the 20 most recently updated Twins blogs, in order of how recently they’ve been updated (which is what it is supposed to do), in IE 7.0 all 34 or so of the blogs in our Twins blogroll are displayed, in the order in which we added them to our widget. The most recent post under each is still listed, so it does make for one very long blog list.

  18. A second or third in agreement with James, that the new banner looks great! Thanks Paul!
    Makes me yearn for seeing the old one as a reminder.
    …as to the rest of the re-design; I like it. Makes this one of the easiest sites to access other Twins blogs. Moving up the list of ‘must opens’.

  19. I forgot to check this last night at home, but today at work the gravatars are all present and accounted for, at least for me. Still baffled, but I’m not going to worry too much about it.

  20. SeNDai, maybe we’ll have to have some kind of “throwback” day when we reactivate the old theme and banner for a day every once in a while! Hey, if pro sports teams can do it, why couldn’t we?!

    As a matter of fact, Paul also did a “blue on red” version of the new banner for us… so maybe we could be just like the sports teams and have “road”, “home”, AND “throwback” banners!!

  21. I love the idea of home and away banners. The away one could have a gray background. There could be a throwback version in light blue with script lettering. Maybe a green one for St. Patrick’s Day that you could sell for charity after the fact.

    By the way, going on the DL with a “weak leg” sounds like something that should happen to someone of Shea’s physique rather than Joe Mauer.

  22. I think we’re on to something here, Paul.

    With the Twins, the tradition is that the starting pitcher gets to choose whether the team wears the standard home/away uniform or one of the alternate navy jerseys. Last year, they wore throwbacks for all home Saturday games, but I’m not sure that’s the case this year.

    We could have the author of a given post get to choose which banner goes up when they post their new article! (So just how many of these banner alternatives do you want to do, Paul, because you know if you leave it to us, we’re bound to end up using Comic Sans or text on a curve or some other equally offensive font!)?

    Of course, when we do “throwback” days and use the old banner, we’re going to have to remember to delete the acknowledgement in the blog’s footer… or people may mistakenly think our Comic Sans/text on the curve banner was designed by Paul… and I suspect that might not be good.

    I dunno… suddenly deciding on banners is starting to sound like more work than writing the posts themselves.