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Makers of the New: A Tribute to Tyler Bleszinski

I am informally connected with a couple of new and impecunious papers . . . the latter can pay a little, the former practically cannot pay at all, we do it for larks.

The foregoing quotation, originally directed at James Joyce by Ezra Pound in December 1913, appears on the frontispiece of a book called Makers of the New: The Revolution in Literature, 1912-1939, which was described as "a blend of biography, literary history and criticism" by its author, Julian Symons.

Symons wrote for the purpose of tracing the course of Modernism from the founding of Poetry to the publication of Finnegans Wake and the closing of the Criterion's doors, charting the course of a literary movement through the actions and writings of its four principal figures, Pound, Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Wyndham Lewis.

As we sit here, 101 years after Joyce first began mulling over a short story that he intended to call "Ulysses," Modernism is old hat, a spent volcano, and technological advances not only unrealized but unimagined in Joyce's day have pushed back the frontiers of the free press . . . to the point where, now, the very idea of describing the guarantee of the right to publish by reference to the moldy old printing press seems quaint at best and archaic at worst.

A recent effort to acknowledge the transcendent figures of the transformative new medium recognized Tyler Bleszinski as second only to Deadspin's Will Leitch among the 20 most influential sports bloggers.

Blez is the proprietor of Athletics Nation, the Oakland A's weblog that is consistently praised by no less respected a blogger than Burnt Orange Nation's Peter Bean as the very model of a modern sports weblog.

Even more important than that, though, is the fact that Blez is the president of SportsBlogs Nation, which Mr. Irrelevant author and FanHouse editor Jamie Mottram rightly described as "the top sports blogging network."

Dan Shanoff, a denizen of the blogosphere for the last six months and a BlogPoll voter, co-authored the list with Mottram. With regard to the list, Shanoff shared the following observation:

The only definitive analysis is that there is so much talent pushing up through the pipeline that a year from now, we both expect that there will be dramatic shifts on this list. What really separates sports blogs from traditional sports media is that it's far closer to a meritocracy: The best stuff - the fastest take, the freshest angle, the most prolific posts - tends to create its own influence.

No one is more committed to scouting out that fresh talent than Blez, who is always on the lookout for gifted and devoted writers toiling away in the obscurity of the blogosphere's equivalent of the farm system and who has the credibility and the influence to pick up the phone and call up a rising star to the big leagues. It is my own great good fortune that, when Peter Bean declared Kyle on Football to be "almost there," Tyler Bleszinski was willing to summon me up to The Show as the sixth college author at this blogging network.

Blez would be the first to point out that SportsBlogs Nation is not a one-man operation and the many others to whom he would deflect praise all deserve tributes of their own. Without taking anything away from Blez's fellow architects of this burgeoning enterprise, though, I must echo Mottram's and Shanoff's placement of Tyler Bleszinski on their list . . . and a quick glance at the sidebar to your right reveals part of the reason why in a very tangible way.

Whatever your athletic preference or team affiliation, SportsBlogs Nation is here to serve your need as a fan for information, insight, and interaction. Under Blez's guidance, the growing sports weblogging network has established sites covering boxing, cycling, fantasy leagues, golf, minor league baseball, mixed martial arts, soccer, 10 N.B.A. teams, 30 major league baseball teams and baseball generally, 25 N.F.L. teams and football generally, and 28 college teams representing seven conferences and football generally.

As a proponent of polls rather than playoffs, I am only too happy to see Blez given deserved recognition at the second spot in the rankings. (I would add, as well, that, in each of the last two college football seasons, the No. 2 team scored the upset in the national championship game.)

Mottram and Shanoff are right to heap credit upon Blez for his influence as a sports weblogger, as a mentor and an example to other sports webloggers, and as a principal architect of the network that led the way in taking the sports weblogging enterprise out of the realm of individual writers typing away in darkened basements and into the arena of fan-friendly, community-based, legitimate sportswriting. Shanoff likewise is right that sports weblogging is a meritocracy in which the players constantly are changing and the best eventually will rise to the top.

While there will be significant, sometimes seismic, shifts on future editions of that list, there nevertheless will remain some fixed constants, the immovable polestars shining in the firmament providing the infinite reference point by which the revolving legions of finite reference points may guide themselves across turbulent seas using celestial navigation, the towering sculpted figures standing untoppled amid the changing arrangement of statues comprising the pantheon.

My friend and colleague, Tyler Bleszinski, is one of those few fixed constants. While weblogging may be something most of us do for larks, a tiny handful of universally respected revolutionaries will stand tall above the rest when our era is looked back upon by biographers, historians, and critics in the way that Julian Symons looked back upon the Modernists of a century ago. As proved to be the case with Eliot, Joyce, and Pound in an earlier transformative movement, Blez will have his name called among the makers of the new.