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you may have noticed a few new links on your menu bar. if you haven't noticed, i now direct your attention to the upper right corner of your screen . . . .

the fourth line down takes you to a page titled Why El Birdos? it's simply a reprint of the first post at this site --- a statement of purpose, a fan manifesto. the corleones are involved, which is one of the reasons i like to look back on that post occasionally. whether a given day has brought a disheartening loss or an exhilarating win, the "Why El Birdos?" page will always be there to crack open a beer with you.

or whatever.

click on the line right below that and you'll be directed to the Community Guidelines, a.k.a. the "detestable code of conduct" page. many of you probably recall that toward the end of last season, the game threads at VEB got pretty snarly. too many people were taking cheap shots at one another, arguing about each other's personalities instead of talking baseball. i was getting emails from people who said they no longer cared to post comments, because you couldn't get an intelligent discussion going for all the sniping and ranting. hence the Guidelines. i'm a little sheepish about posting them, because 99 percent of the members of this community already observe these rules and don't need any scolding reminders. but for the 1 percent who do need it --- well, now we've all got a reminder page to refer those people to.

they're called guidelines, not "rules"; they're meant to intrude as little as possible. the intent is to help us all interact with just enough decorum to get by. i won't say "help us all get along," because lord knows the blog would die if that ever happened. sparks gotta fly sometimes. but if any discussion ever starts getting uncomfortably testy, use the Guidelines page to cool the warring parties (or yourself) down.

by the way, the off-season has been blissfully peaceful --- hardly an uncivil word spoken all winter. kudos ev'ybody, and thanks.

finally, there's a link to the Guideline Enforcement page. i'll refer you there for all the specifics, but the gist of it is this: i asked six longtime readers / posters to sit on a Community Board, with a mandate to ensure that all posters respect the Guidelines. those who egregiously or chronically ignore the Community Guidelines will be hearing from the Board in one way shape or form.

i'll probably issue another reminder or two about the Guidelines and Board once the actual games (and game threads) begin. this is one of the best, smartest communities of baseball fans anywhere on the web. i'm proud to belong to it, and i just want to make sure that our standards stay high and our conversations are rewarding.

by the way, if you have a suggestion for how to improve those guidelines or the enforcement mechanism, post a comment here or send me an e-mail.