I conducted this interview with Rev in August of 2008 before joining the staff of Halos Heaven. Some of you may have seen it, but if I remember correctly, my site didn't have much traffic so most of you missed some very interesting comments from a very interesting person.
(this was originally posted in two parts)
We Angels' fans are pretty spoiled. The Halos are about to win their 4 division title in 5 years, they play in a beautiful stadium, and the team is owned by a man willing to spend the money to put a competitive team on the field (while keeping beer prices down). Another reason Angels' fans are spoiled is we have the most entertaining and informative fansite on the internet. Halos Heaven was created by art critic, art magazine publisher and astrologer Mat Gleason, a.k.a. Rev Halofan, in 2003 and is now the highest valued Angels fansite and 59th most valuable sports blog on the internet. When asked about the high ranking of his site and if he was surprised, Gleason said, "I don't do anything without the intent of my efforts having an impact, so I cannot say I am surprised, but in the context of the Angels getting no respect in the national scheme of things it was cool." Asked if the "mission" of Halos Heaven has changed with the increased readership, Gleason added, "From day one the mission has been to be a cool non-fascist community for intelligent Angels fans. The rabid-ness waxes and wanes but we are still on target."
According to SiteMeter, the Angels site gets on the plus side of 40,000 visits per month and has had over five million page views (in the year-and-a-half since this interview was written, the average number of UNIQUE visits per month has increased to over 120,000). One of the favorite features on Halos Heaven is the game threads where fans can interact live during Angels' games. During last weekend's series against Texas, there was an average of 648 comments posted during the games (the game thread for the final game of this year's ALCS had over 3900 comments). Gleason says one of the reasons for his site's popularity is the network his site is associated with, "SBN's tech is easy to use and more sophisticated than anywhere else - just the ease of use of the game thread comments alone is light years ahead of places like ESPN's message boards - once you try ours you cannot go back to the stone age." The content of the posts is also a major factor, "...the conversation is pretty intelligent and at the same time light and humorous with out being tit and poop jokes, most message boards cannot have ten posts without talking about bodily functions. Our average is like 1 per 30, unheard of on the internet."
One of the main reasons I wanted to interview Mat was because while reading his posts and comments on Halos Heaven, I realized he had he feet firmly planted in two of the 3 main media outlets and I was curious as to his feeling about print media's future. I also wanted his take on the Buzz Bissinger meltdown on Costas Now and how it relates to mainstream media's "fear" of internet sports reporting. Gleason said he had seen the video of the Costas Now show and said, "Bissinger reminds me of the Sinatra-era establishment that could not understand rock-n-roll. Do you know that Tip O'Neill in the 1950s led a movement in congress to ban the playing of rock-n-roll on the radio since it was such obviously terrible "noise" that the only way it could be getting airtime was that the deejays were being bribed. That is Buzz Bissinger today - clueless in the greater scheme of history and evolution, a living fossil. His anger and frustration stems from the fact that in print, there are limited number of people with the resources to print and distribute content. Bissinger or his agent obviously spent as much time sucking up to them as he did writing prose." Asked if Bissinger's negative comments are indicative of print media's feelings towards internet sports reporting, Gleason added, "The internet basically allows you to get to the writing part without sucking up at cocktail parties and leveraging your ivy league connections to get a meeting with the "right people" - so Buzz wants that sort of thing to stay in place, that system of buddy-buddy, but he wants everyone to believe he got there on talent alone and that is like, well, talent is about 5% of the equation in corporate America, and as much as Buzz would have you believe he is a rock star independent writer lone wolf, he is sucking corporate dick every other day to maintain that status."
Regarding the future of print media, a media he is also heavily involved in, Gleason said, "I publish the world's largest free art magazine and the only saving grace of print is that it is a definite place to advertise whereas the web is chock full of bullshitters who want ad revenue with complete falsehoods about their numbers. A paper route is a quantifiable so print will be around for a little while longer - the web will have to have a critical mass - a few sites have this - drudgereport and dailykos are probably the best examples, so hopefully SBN will too. Gleason believes internet sports reporting will eventually surpass print media as to where people get their sports information, "The internet will surpass print as #2 but the death of print will solidify TELEVISION as #1. I have been doing a little television work lately and the one thing that teevee has that the internet cannot guarantee is that television knows how to not be boring." He added, "Love ESPN or hate them, they give you a 20-second sound bite of why some sports thing is the way it is and right or wrong that beats a 2-page dissertation on the merits of OPS and it also is above the poop and tit jokes that the internet cannot 100% screen out." Gleason would like to see Halos Heaven become the number one location for Angel's news, "The goal is to be ubiquitous. When something happens in a few years with the Angels, the goal is that when a million people hear about it they all get on the internet and check my site."
From the short time I've known Rev Halofan, and what I mean by "know" is the impression I get from his postings and comments on his website, the Rev is as fervent a fan of the Angels you'll ever meet. By reading the content of his postings, you can tell he's an intelligent, opinionated, loyal fan who doesn't take shit from anyone. There are times I don't agree with his point of view, he loves Frankie Rodriguez and I think he's over-rated, but he'll listen to your point before telling you you're wrong. I picture him having a conversation with someone in person, finger on his chin - head nodding in agreement as he listens closely to what's being said, and then replying, "I realize the point you're making and understand what you're saying, but you're f*^#king wrong." This is how he comes across to me on his site. This trait comes across when I asked him about "statheads" and sabermatricians, "I understand and appreciate stats, I have read almost everything that Bill James has written. What I am totally opposed to is the Stat Orthodoxy - the belief that stats are above the game and that they trump the human element of the game. The absolute blind adherence to "theory" especially in the face of proof that the theories are imperfect measurements is the problem. The book Moneyball has been proven as a completely inaccurate approach to assembling a baseball team - once Billy Beane lost the three aces the theories did not hold water at all. I am the same way in my art criticism; I am anti-orthodoxy and despise the academic establishment. I taught art theory at Claremont Graduate University 12 years ago and assigned Charles Bukowski on my syllabus instead of Foucalt and Derrida. My contract there wasn't renewed, by the way."
Gleason has been an Angels fan since 1975, "I went with my Webelo troop." He added the reason why he was an Angels fan; "I grew up in La Mirada and my whole family was Dodger fans, so the Angels kind of allowed me to find my own voice." I asked him what his favorite Angel's moment was. Usually the typical fan answer is their World Series victory in 2002, but I wasn't too surprised he had a different moment as his favorite. While I'm sure that season is very important to the Rev, he said, "I was in Oakland when the Angels clinched the Division in 2005. Arte Moreno was sitting in front of me. He turned around and high-fived me and said WE DID IT! My worst Angel moment was two seconds later when (Angels President) Dennis Kuhl glared at me like I was a piece of shit." What did Dennis Kuhl have against him? "I think he is Arte's bodyguard. Hey, the dude IS a billionaire and Kuhl fits the profile of the beefy security guy. I think Dennis just might be packing. He was probably sizing up my temple to plant the barrel of the 9 Millimeter. I don't begrudge anyone in the game who gives attitude to the fans, though, the grind in the big leagues can destroy the peanut vendors, the people with the team just get beaten down completely. Looking at a fan like he is an idiot is almost a courtesy relative to what some of these guys really want to do to your "begging-for-an-autograph" ass."
I was curious about Gleason's opinion of Angel's owner Arte Moreno and what's different about the Angels organization since Moreno has owned them. "I have met some straight shooters in my time but the guy is like a laser - absolutely cuts thru everything. SoCal is a such a bullshit-filled region and the guy just has none of it anywhere near him. Fundamentally Arte believes the adage that you have to spend money to make money and Jackie Autry, because she did not earn her money, she inherited it, she just was not a business person, she was just waiting for the team to give her that monthly allowance. She was terrified of letting loose a nickel because she had never had a successful experience in life where that nickel came back as a dime. Disney was just using them to promote the Disney brand and even Gene Autry was never really focused on building them up from the foundation, he was too Hollywood and used the studio formula - spend some money on the next film it might do better than the previous one and might be a hit, but Gene never thought once to build the baseball equivalent of a movie studio. I am actually pitching a book on that very subject right now. So yeah, one could write a book." Gleason does have some ideas on how to make the team better, "This might sound weird but I would move the outfield fences back in Anaheim and focus on acquiring pitchers with more groundball tendencies", and added as owner he'd change the season-ticket policy, "I would discontinue season seats and put every game's tickets up for an internet auction. I am so sickened by fans of other teams in good seats, yes, but I am just as sickened by the Newport Beach elite deigning to have a glass of champagne in the diamond club for a few innings. That class structure stuff absolutely burns me up. Scott Boras sitting behind home plate blabbing on his cell-phone hardly watching the game while his Helga there entertains clients and runs errands all while I am just watching the batter - oh it is best I stay a commentator, revolutions have a way of imploding once they get started."