Aug. 31, 2009: Q&A with Dan Moroz and Ian Oland
By Daniel Rifkin
I recently sat down and watched a ballgame with graphic designer Ian Oland and Dan Moroz, the minds behind the Web site, Mattwietersfacts.com, which earlier this baseball season became a nationally-known phenomenon, topic of conversation on ESPN’s SportsCenter, the Washington Post and USA Today among others. Additionally, Moroz is the writer of the blog, Camden Crazies.
Here are a few excerpts from our conversation.
Could Matt Wieters throw a ball to second base so fast, that even Matt Wieters couldn’t steal on him?
Dan Moroz: Um, Matt Wieters is slow as crap, [laughs] so I think I could throw a ball to second base fast enough to get him stealing. I mean his arm is … it’s like different kinds of infinity. He’s infinitely fast … but he’s more infinitely good at throwing fast.
Ian Oland: [Laughs] Well done. Well said. That’s my answer, too.
How did Matt Wieters Facts come to be?
Moroz: Well, I noticed every time someone wrote a story about him before he came up about whether or not to bring him up, they would always say something ridiculous about how good he’s going to be, something really hyperbolic, and I also noticed every time there was a story about Wieters, [on the Internet] the comment section just devolved into these kinds of comments. So I was just like ‘Hey, I should gather all these together and put them on a blog for comedic reading.’ So I did that, and people liked it and started linking to it and at one point, Baseball America interviewed Wieters, and they asked him if he had seen this site, and he said he hadn’t, but we got so many hits from that, and I showed Ian, and Ian at that point was like, ‘Well this is getting really big.’
Oland: ‘This is gold!’
Moroz: The original design, it was just awful. It was just plain orange and really messed up looking.
Oland: It was almost unreadable, [laughs] which is why I was surprised Baseball America linked to it.
Moroz: It was like 99 percent content, 1 percent appearance. So Ian, who is quite good at graphic design if you haven’t noticed, decided to … spruce it up a bit.
Oland: For me too, it was the fact that I have been reading Moroz’s blog … every day the stuff was fantastic. And so part of the reason I wanted to get involved and spend my time -- like I didn’t think I’d make any money from it at all -- I was really excited to just promote Moroz, and I felt like, that would be a great thing to promote his blog and get him more known. So that was one of my main motivations, and also I’d been looking for projects just to get into sports, so for about two to three weeks I worked on the design of it, and do you remember when I got done? It was like late April?
How did the site become so popular?
Moroz: There was no one particular thing, but people started submitting facts, and they’d see their facts up there and get excited, so at first it spread mostly by word of mouth.
Oland: And by forums, on forums it was huge.
Moroz: Forums spread the word a little, but we didn’t get very many links from forums. But eventually it got up to the lower-level blogs, a lot of times it was just people commenting on blogs in articles about Wieters and somebody would leave a comment saying, ‘If you’re talking about Wieters, check this out.’ So it kind of built up from there till we started getting attention and links from you know, once his debut was really arriving, everybody was writing stories about him, and it got to the point where pretty much every time somebody wrote a story about him, they’d link to us.
Oland: And it’d be the biggest blogs, like the Baltimore Sun’s Toy Department. Rick Maese, now the Washington Redskins beat writer, he wrote a whole long thing about it.
Moroz: One of the first big things we had was with Liz Farmer of the Daily Record. She actually wrote, not about Wieters, well, partially about Wieters, but a large part of it was about our site.
Oland: And our entrepreneurship.
Moroz: So that was the first one that actually mentioned us. All the other ones just mentioned the site. This one, I left work early and went down to meet Ian at his work and a photographer came to take a picture of us for the article.
What’s next for you guys?
Oland: Well, I’m doing a site for Caleb Joseph, one of the [Orioles] players down in the minors.
Moroz: I always thought this would be a lot bigger for Ian than for me, because I didn’t really do anything, you know. I thought of it; you could say “O this guy is an idea man,” but I’m not really an idea man. Ian is a graphic designer and he did the graphic design. So I think for Ian, who would like to do a lot of these sports things, it’s a really good intro. It says, “Look at what I already did and how popular it was. You can trust me to do what you need me to do.”
Oland: And it’s a great starting point to say, ‘Hey, look at something I made, I got it on SportsCenter.’ If someone wants a Web site done they want attention and hype and they want people to know them, and that’s the type of stuff you need in this day and age. What I really hope will happen is I can carve out my voice as one of the designers for Orioles players that want sites done even if it’s just minor leaguers or something like that where they’re not even paying me that much. I have such a love for sports. I really want guys to be able to promote themselves well.
Posted: Aug. 31, 2009