If you read blogs on the Philadelphia Eagles or Phillies on a regular basis, you’ve surely read a post penned by one of the Swartz brothers. Which one you’ve read, however, is probably a blur because twins Cody and Bryn Swartz are everywhere in terms of the Philly sports scene and awesome at cranking out posts on their favorite sports teams.
Recently, the two finished in the Final Four of the BallHyped Sports Blogs of the Year Tournament, a strong finish considering the two cover individual teams and were going up against blogs that appeal to a more general audience for readership.
And while their eyes were set on another title for the Swartz family (Bryn was last year’s Blogger of the Year), their third- and fourth-place finish had to be the best run by twins since Minnesota won the Series in 1991.
Today, the two reflect on the past year in the sports blogosphere and also look ahead to 2012 in our latest BallHyped Blogger Q&A:
So, for our readers who get mixed up between the two of you, explain to us who contributes most to the different Philadelphia-based sports blogs.
Bryn: I contribute just to Eagles Central, which I've been writing for since October of 2010. I used to write for Philly Buster, but Cody took over the website in April when I switched over to covering the Phillies on Examiner. I end up posting all of my articles on BallHyped under my Eagles Central account though.
Cody: I am for the Philadelphia Phillies. Bryn has been writing for the Eagles for well over a year now, and I have been writing about the Phillies for a year in February.
How great is it to be contributing to a sports blog network alongside your brother?
Bryn: It's pretty cool. Rant Sports is one of the more up and coming sports sites in the world today, and it's great being able to bounce ideas off one another, especially since we have similar interests and writing abilities.
Cody: One of my favorite parts of writing for the Rant Sports is the fact that my brother also contributes in the same network. We are always bouncing ideas off of each other. He will suggest to me that he thinks I should write a top ten list of some sort, and I'll suggest the same to him. He is actually the one who got me the position as the writer for the Philadelphia Phillies section of Rant Sports, and I have him to thank for that. Since then, we have both enjoyed our time on the site tremendously. I've been able to work my way up to being a lead columnist for the MLB section, while he is the writer for the Philadelphia Eagles page and a lead columnist for the NFL section.
What was it like to go against one another in the BallHyped Blogs of the Year Tournament?
Bryn: Haha. We didn't even try against each other in the consolation bracket, to be honest. We were both pretty disappointed about not making the championship, where we would have gotten to face each other and compete for first prize. That would have been intense. Extremely intense.
Cody: It was a lot of fun competing against one another in the Ballhyped blog of the year tournament. We only wish we had each made the finals so we could have squared off against one another. We helped to campaign for one another in the ensuing rounds - He would be sure to mention me whenever he posted a message or a tweet petitioning his followers to vote for Eaglescentral, and I would always put a shoutout for his in addition to Phillybuster. We weren't sure how it would have gone in the championship if we had really squared off against each other. It would have been tough making our friends and family members pick between us, so we would have told everyone to vote honestly on which blog was better.
You guys have been writing for a few years now, both in print and in the blogosphere, how have you seen your writing evolve and how are your writing styles different?
Bryn: I think I've become a lot more careful as a writer. If you make a mistake in an article, it ruins the credibility of an entire article and everybody calls you out on it. Perfection is what I strive for in every article. Other than that, my style has stayed the same for the three or four years since I began writing. I would say that I am more passionate in my writing after a win or loss than Cody, and I do a lot more historical articles. Cody's a great writer and his biggest strength is writing an top 20 or even top 50 article because you know it will ALWAYS be well researched and accurate.
Cody: I’ve seen my own writing style evolve in a lot of ways. I have learned how to look more at both sides of an argument, how to write without seeming biased, and how to back up my facts and claims with statistical evidence. Bryn and I have extremely similar writing styles. We both like to use numbers whenever we can in our writing, we both like to make lots of top ten type of lists, and we both often end up writing articles that are actually pretty similar without knowing first knowing it.
What makes a top-notch sports blog in your eyes?
Bryn: I think writing frequently is the most important step. You can't be a successful blog if you're only writing one, two, or even three times a week. You've got to do it every day, even if you don't want to. I think a great blogger is able to cover just about every piece of news involving his team during the year. You've also got to have something unique that sets you apart from other blogs. For me, I enjoy writing about history, and incorporating a lot of numbers into my articles.
Cody: In my opinion, a top-notch sports blog is informative, analytical, and takes a stand. Some of my favorite Phillies blogs – Crashburn Alley, Phillied In, Phillies Nation, and High Cheese – do just that. I look at a blog as what a newspaper should be like, in that it should cover all the news for that team. Theoretically, I think I should be able to focus on just one blog of a particular sports team and be able to stay updated on that team in its entirety.
What other tips would you have for fellow sports bloggers on BallHyped who are looking to grow both their traffic and exposure online?
Bryn: Try to get your name out there as much as you can. As a beginning writer, you want to be able to get recognized. Posting on a site like Ballhyped is great exposure. Getting picked up on bigger sites is also key. It's all about making connections and getting to know as many people as you can.
Cody: I would encourage other bloggers to spread their work around online. Post it on your Facebook page, create a Twitter account and link to your articles, post them on Ballhyped.com. Comment on other articles and interact with other writers. Get your name out there and build a fan base.
What were the biggest non-Philly sports stories of 2011 in your eyes?
Bryn: Tim Tebow, without a doubt, was the top sports story of 2011. He has quickly become a role model and a hero to me, somewhat for his football skills, but mostly for his character both on and off the field. I'm pulling Denver to win the Super Bowl this season. That would be amazing. Other big stories include Pujols heading to the Angels, the Manning/Luck decision for the Colts, and Lebron and the Heat losing in the Finals.
Cody: By far, the biggest sports story of 2011 has been Tim Tebow. There has never been a professional athlete like him. Love or hate the way he plays, Tebow has completely captivated the NFL world, and in fact, the entire nation as a whole. His fourth quarter comebacks, his commitment to his faith, his toughness, his leadership, his intensity, and his sincerity make him a fan favorite, and as long as he continues to win games, he will continue to dominate the sports world.
In terms of the Phillies and Eagles, how big of a disappointment were the past seasons for those two clubs?
Bryn: I could not possibly be more disappointed in these two teams in 2011, especially the Eagles. I was so excited when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha, and acquired five other Pro Bowlers, during the offseason, and I really did have Super Bowl expectations heading into this season. 8-8 is so far from anything that I expected. As for the Phillies? I understand that sometimes a team is upset early in the playoffs, and I'm hoping that was the case this year, but three hits and no runs in the biggest game of the season is absolutely inexcusable.
Cody: This was by far the most disappointing season of any Philadelphia Phillies team in my lifetime, and by far the most disappointing team of any Philadelphia Eagles team as well. It may be a stretch to call a 102-win season by the Phillies a disappointment, but the way they bowed out in the playoffs in the exact same fashion as 2010 (lack of offense and a series-ending out by Ryan Howard) was a brutal way to cap off the season. Meanwhile, the Eagles went ‘all in,’ as their big free agent signings showed, only to just waste away the year in the most painful way possible. The fourth quarter collapses were a sign of a team that lacked heart and leadership, and it’s extremely frustrating that as bad as the Eagles played, they needed just one of their five blown leads to be a win for them to have reached the playoffs.
Now that we've turned the pages on those seasons, do you feel those teams will bounce back in 2012? What needs to happen for those teams to be back in the title hunt?
Bryn: Yeah, they'll be back. Both of them. The Phillies will have their tenth straight winning season and make the playoffs for the sixth straight season. I just hope that we can compete with high-spending teams like the Miami Marlins, as well as the Braves and Nationals, in the NL East. And the Eagles have the talent to win a Super Bowl, at least assuming we draft a linebacker or two who can actually make plays. And if we don't, it's goodbye to Andy Reid.
Cody: I think the Phillies will take a slight step back in the regular season, but I expect a deeper postseason run. A win total of around 95 games sounds reasonable, and it wouldn’t even shock me to see the Phillies settle for the wild card spot, especially considering the talent the Miami Marlins have added in the offseason and the potential the Atlanta Braves have to be a threat in the NL East. I would be surprised to see the Phillies lose in the first round of the playoffs again, especially with the big three starting pitchers and Jimmy Rollins returning, and a healthy Chase Utley. For the Eagles, I think 2012 will absolutely be better than 2011 (but how could it be worse?). I don’t think either the Giants or Cowboys are a strong enough threat on a year-to-year basis, considering the inconsistencies each team faces each regular season. Re-signing DeSean Jackson is a vital move for the Eagles to make this offseason, as is replacing Juan Castillo with a new defensive coordinator.
Thanks for getting Hyped, bros. Keep up the good work!