When I set out to write a tribute to all the writers we’ve had at TPOP over the years in one piece, I didn’t realize what I was getting into.?? Turns out it would’ve been impossible to squeeze it all into one post and do any of them the justice they deserve. I’ll start by thanking our writers from the early years.
It’s amazing how the process of recruiting writers for the site changed over time. In the early going, we had to dig deep and “discover” writers from unconventional channels. We scoured message boards and social media to find people with the right approach that we could help to develop their voice or expand their platform. These are the folks we built a reputation on that helped make it easier for us to find writers already putting in the time at other outlets. I’m incredibly grateful for you putting your faith in Kevin and I!
I want to pay tribute to all our writers by showcasing their best work on the site. I’ll share my favorite article by each as well as some thoughts about their style, and how they personally helped shape TPOP. For the writers who have moved on to a new home, I’ve shared where you can find them now.
In the beginning, there were three of us, myself, Kevin and Dave Barkovich. Dave wrote a few pieces that revolved around doing weird things with community leaders. My favorite came on the very first day of TPOP when he went carpet sliding with County Councilman Tom Baker.
Michael Bradley became the next to join the team. Kevin and I got to know him from our message board days, and he’s always brought an outside the box perspective perfect for TPOP from the jump. He’s the only writer besides the two of us who really has made it from the early days until the end. While my favorite piece of his was his most recent, he also penned our post with the highest single day page views, and set us on an adventure that ended with us giving a painting of Roberto Clemente to Pirates Charities. Not only have I gotten to know Mike thanks to TPOP, I’ve met his wife and three boys. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him that likely would not have happened without this site.
One TPOP oddity. I think we recruited as many Steeler writers from Ontario as we have from Western Pennsylvania. Connor Isted of the great city of Toronto joined the team to give us our first dedicated Steelers writer. He caught my eye with his extensive breakdowns and film review. I thought he deserved a new platform. Shawn Lemon never made it in the NFL, but Connor’s breakdown at his signing showed his skills as an analyst.
Connor introduced us to Tiger Rowan, our second Steeler writer.?? Tiger embodied our quirkier side and veiled his arguments behind a thick cloak of humor. In his best post, he compared the Steelers to a cat that may or may not be alive. He also did a great job covering Steeler drafts for us over the years.
Nick Vucic became our first dedicated hockey writer helping the site cover all things Pittsburgh as we intended from the start. His analysis of the of the Simon Despres – Ben Lovejoy trade was top shelf.
Ben Samson didn’t write many pieces for TPOP, but he thought big. We appreciated his vision for our City Life side, and my personal favorite was his post on redeveloping the former Civic Arena. Sadly, we don’t green terraces, and Mario still has his giant parking lot.
Based solely on following her twitter feed for years, Leah Blasko loves two things, cats and the Penguins. Leah’s fandom unapologetically featured in everything she wrote here and while that can diminish content for a less skilled writer, she blended passionate support and pointed arguments in a way few that I’ve read can. My favorite article explained how Party Hard became the Pens goal anthem.?? You can still catch her content at the Sports Daily.
Unfortunately, we had a couple of writers who only wrote one article each. By process of elimination, those are my favorite pieces by Tom Hoffman and Matt Gajtka. In all fairness, I had a blast with Tom visiting Beaver Brewing, and it inspired my more recent trips to breweries. Matt’s gone on to do some bigger things with the Riverhounds.
Brian Harker has been one of the most prolific Steelers bloggers over the years and we were fortunate to have him share his work with TPOP. Brian’s work here and elsewhere has a strong reverence for history. However, it also includes a fairness towards the present that doesn’t put the past on an insurmountable pedestal. He captures this spirit nicely in a piece comparing the 2015 wide receiver core with it’s predecessor from 1995.?? ??You can find Brian at Pittsburgh Sports Zone.??
Brent Rogus was one of my partners in crime at We Wear the Ring. I don’t know if I’ve known of or read read too many people who have a stronger grasp on the national NCAA women’s basketball picture. He’s brilliant and we were lucky enough to have him talk women’s bracketology for a year. He absolutely deserves a platform larger than we provided.
As much as TPOP has really evolved into a Pirates forward outlet, it’s remarkable that we didn’t recruit our second baseball focused contributor nearly two and a half years into our existence when Kurt Hackimer joined the team. Kurt’s best piece was ahead of it’s time and one of our most memorable pieces featured on TPOP In 2016, he tackled the sexual assault allegations surrounding Jung Ho Kang.
Zach Metkler joined the staff via a partnership with GZ Sports Report. In his time with us, he seemed to celebrate the little guy, and always had an eye out for the next breakout player. His take on Vince Williams late in tenure was my favorite.??
My sincerest thank you again to those of you who got us started, Without you, it’s unlikely I’d even need to thank another batch of writers in a second post.