From a Big Ten Hardball perspective, I almost hate to see 2006 end. This year has been remarkable for myself and this blog. In almost every way imaginable, BTH has exceeded my expectations in '06.
I attended more games than ever before, including every contest of the Big Ten Tournament. Although, I nearly had to go into rehab for baseball addiction afterwards. It took weeks to adjust to not having games to watch before lunch. Needless to say, I crashed pretty hard when the conference tournament concluded. Going cold turkey was difficult, but I'm much better now.
For the first time, I promoted the blog some in '06. The results have been measurable. More on that in a minute. This year, I also found more college baseball related sites to link to and received more links from others than ever before. That's not only good for Big Ten Hardball, but it's good to see more information about college baseball available.
In 2006, I got to meet -- either in person or via email -- many people associated with the game. I've crossed paths with sports information directors, radio broadcasters, writers, booster club members, parents and fans. I've been very impressed and rather humbled with the courtesy those I've come in contact with have exhibited. It appears college baseball fans tend to embrace their fellow college baseball fans. Birds of a feather, I guess.
In particular, the people around Big Ten baseball programs have been very gracious to me. They have shared insights on their team, the game and the occassional darn funny story that I cannot repeat. While a handful have been regular readers for nearly two years, the majority of these folks have stumbled upon Big Ten Hardball in just the last 365 days.
Which leads me to, perhaps, the most surprising fact of 2006 -- the number of visitors to BTH. In May, propelled by the conference tournament, BTH climbed above the 1,000 visitor mark for the month. While that's a rather small figure in comparison to blogging's big boys, for a lightly promoted blog covering a non-revenue college sport in a region of the country that supposedly doesn't care about it, 1,000 hits in a month caught me completely off-guard.
While the hit total did diminish in the summer months, September saw BTH have its second highest traffic volume. Even more astounding, is that the hit total has increased in each month since. Increased traffic to a Big Ten baseball blog in the middle of football season? I never would have envisioned that. I doubt all those who dismiss college baseball, especially college baseball in the snowbelt, would have guessed that, either.
More hits than I ever dreamed of, meeting people I never thought I would meet, going to more games than ever before, posting more than I ever thought I would, is it any wonder I hesitate to relinquish 2006 just yet? However, I am encouraged about what lies ahead for BTH. I'm hoping to build on what occurred in 2006 and, hopefully, make Big Ten Hardball better in the new year.
I thank each you for making 2006 such an unexpected success. Here's hoping you visit often in 2007 and the Big Ten gets at least two teams in the NCAA Tournament. Happy New Year!