General, Indians

So about that open WFNY Indians writer position…

I swear I meant to get to this sooner than the gosh-darn beginning of Spring Training, but life kept getting in the way.  Which, come to think of it, is kind of the point…

When I joined WFNY five years ago (FIVE YEARS AGO), I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I mean that narrowly—I don’t know if I should write about David Dellucci or Josh Barfield—but also more broadly. I had a nothing job that made me feel trapped and alone. I had a useless graduate degree that qualified me to do the one thing I was realizing I didn’t want to do. I loved baseball and my girlfriend and was otherwise fairly empty.  Life was a big blank space, and I had no idea how to go about filling it up. I started writing about baseball as an attempt to confront that void—to make the endlessness of my days go by a bit more quickly. (We’re going to set a record for sentences that start with “I”, you guys.)

There are all sorts of interesting hypotheses as to why so many practitioners of sports analytics are young, insulated, white males, but at least one reason has to be the simple fact that no one in the world has more time to dick around without consequence. Don’t like your job?  Here, aimless young man without direction or moral compass: here is the ENTIRE FUCKING INTERNET. GO PLAY WITH IT. And beneath the veneer of value and efficiency that analytics likes to ascribe to itself, I’m still convinced that most sabermetricians are really just playing with stuff while they figure out how to make it sound profound. This was my way in, at least: surreptitiously refreshing pivot tables at work.  Luckily, Scott broke down and met my salary demands over a beer one night (he bought the beer—the extent of my salary demands) and I was up and running, wearing the mask of WFNY’s Sabermetric Sherpa.

There are all sorts of interesting hypotheses as to why so many practitioners of sports analytics are young, insulated, white males, but at least one reason has to be the simple fact that no one in the world has more time to dick around without consequence.

The guise of competence didn’t last long. I quickly found out two truths that have since served me fairly well, both as a writer and a fella: (1) I am not smart enough to be of real analytic value; and (2) I am far more interested in the writing than the analytics anyway. As I got bored with the straightforward statistical pieces to which I’d committed myself, I started writing more confessional, ruminative pieces. They were nominally about the Indians (mostly), but they were really just about me. Why do I feel this way? What am I trying to say?  How can I say it best? I even squeezed in some Diff’rent Strokes pictures, if I recall correctly. I don’t know why the editors let me get away with this, but it meant (and means) a good deal to me to have been allowed—even encouraged—to write the things I wanted to, even if they didn’t drive page hits quite like a Manziel nude. In so many words, they let me become who I wanted to become. So once again, with as much conviction as I have: thank you to Scott, Rick, Andrew, Craig, and everyone else who has curated these pixels during my tenure here.

While I was figuring out who I wanted to be as a writer, there was a parallel process going on in my non-writing life. I found a day job that made me feel less useless and alone. I bought a house that connected me to Ohio in a way I hadn’t been before. I married that girlfriend from before, who still asked to read whatever silly thing I was noodling away at.  I had a baby; I changed jobs.  I had another baby, and changed jobs again. I installed car seats and changed diapers and took family vacations and built a career. Clark Griswold became both more and less funny to me. What had been so empty was filling up. The blank spaces were being pushed to the margins and corners, further away from me.

Last week, I looked it up and realized I hadn’t written in months. Which is a problem for all sorts of reasons. It’s a problem because I’m letting down the other writers on the site, who deserve to have someone help them bear the burden of content production. It’s a problem because you folks deserve to read about the Indians more than once a quarter. It’s a problem because I’m taking up someone’s spot—some anonymous person out there with something to say and no place to say it.

It’s a problem because I didn’t miss it as much as I know I should.

I’m unbelievably—undeservedly—lucky to have so many great things to fill my life with now. For half a decade one of those things was writing at WFNY. I’d guess that one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to leave is that so much of me—who I was and who I’ve become—is all over this place. Buried in the liveblog game recaps or the asides on Justin Masterson’s platoon splits or the snide remarks about Chris Perez is the stuff that made up my life, the moments that made me feel less alone and empty. And that’s hard to leave behind, even when you know it’s time. Maybe especially when you know it’s time.

I am tempted to apologize for going out in such a blaze of self-indulgent navel-gazing. But as I hope I’ve made clear, navel-gazing was more or less the whole point. I tend to agree that all writing is, in one way or another, autobiography. Thanks for letting me write a piece of mine here.

Also, Orly Cabrera is the scourge of my memory.

  • boomhauertjs

    Thanks Jon for all your writing. I always enjoyed your game recaps. Stay active on the Twitter machine during Tribe season.

  • Denny

    Cheers, Jon. I very much enjoyed your writing, and am quite appreciative of your help that one time.

  • mgbode

    Jon, I have always appreciated your writing especially the style and substance of it. You were always weaving a narrative into everything you wrote even though the topics were often the potentially dry analytics or game recaps. I understand that life takes us all in new directions and wish you blessings in whichever ways you go from here. However, I have been trying to figure out how to properly display the loss that we have without your writing. As usual, I fall back onto one of the great cinematic masterpieces of our time, Despicable Me 2. Jon, your writing has been our beloved unicorn that we didn’t even know we wanted until we happened upon it. We have now seemingly lost it, but hope that we can regain it at some point in the future. And, we might hold our breath until that happens.

  • Garry_Owen
  • Eric G

    Nice kick in the junk on a Wednesday morning.

    God speed, good sir. Your musings will be missed. And congrats on the void-filling. It’s a long journey for most of us, but the other side is well worth it!

  • Ann Steiner

    Since I met Jon, I’ve been reading his writing and loving him for it — from graduate school poetry to his ruminations here. I’m sad to know I won’t be asking him what he’s working on when I hear him clicking away on his laptop anymore, or sending him emails reading, ‘I enjoyed your piece, love’ the next morning. Luckily, I still get to enjoy baseball (and life) with him going forward. Look for us at the game and say hi — we’ll be the ones trying to figure out how to eat helmet nachos while juggling a toddler and an infant.

  • Harv 21

    Confession: sometimes I’d hope the Tribe lost in some especially despicable or somnambulating way, just in the hope that your tribe-loathing/self-loathing live blog would cover it. Then I’d get to guffaw and not hate myself for wasting 3 hours of my life the night before.

    Hope Craig still corrals you now and again for Tribe-related podcasts. Really enjoyed those as well. Godspeed, sir, and thanks for the great contributions here.

  • nj0

    Guess Disqus ate my post…

    Long short: By far, Jon has always been my favorite writer here. If Cleveland sports was the bait that brought me over here, his writing was the treble hook that kept me around.

    New guy has some pretty big shoes to fill.

  • nj0

    There’s poetry, Jon? You’ve been holding out on us.

  • Denny

    You can always email him about tacos.

  • Greg Popelka

    Wish you well. Don’t stop writing. Maybe do a journal, just for you and your wife.

  • JNeids

    Googling “somnambulating definition”…
    Ok got it! Thumbs up!

  • LilBoyBlue


  • Scott

    Loved your writing, especially your live game blogs that meandered perfectly in and out of the action. Your layman’s use of analytics is exactly what is needed, any more and it becomes a science journal. If you decide to write a piece every now and then or live blog a game when you get in the mood, I wouldn’t mind.

  • ScottAtchison’sBrother

    Agree with nj0, Jon’s always been one of my favorites here if not THE favorite. Jon, hope you come back once in awhile and maybe write a one-off piece!

  • maxfnmloans

    if I already knew the definition does that mean I’m still part of the WFNY nerd club?

  • maxfnmloans

    Like I said yesterday on Twitter, Vaya con dios Jon. Your statistical based analysis and recaps will be missed. Best of luck in the future

  • TParker3neo

    This was a nice post. But I’m having difficulty gleaning any reason why Jon must stop writing. Why should he be any different from the rest of us sport fans who are pressured by our muse to write something? We should demand that he continue to write, but to do so his spare time like the majority of blog writers must. I’m sure the boss would still meet his salary demands even if he contributed only a couple times a year. He does not miss it? I don’t believe it. Apparently neither does Ann Steiner.

  • dwhit110

    As can only be properly communicate in gif form.

  • dwhit110

    Now that this is out of the way. Jon, let me be the first to welcome you to the WFNY Commerati (is that what we call ourselves?) You’ll fit right in.

  • I always lovingly use the phrase Commentariat to refer to you guys.

  • Mike Reed

    When I saw there was position open on here for Indians coverage I feared it was because Jon would no longer be contributing. Thanks for the last 5 years and hopefully we can keep the discussions going on Twitter during baseball seasons.

  • Harv 21

    don’t you even paint me as the pointy headed commenter. Dolanz cheep, ok? Ok?

  • Jon you’ve consistently my go-to for Tribe writing, because in an age where the storytelling side of the game has lost ground to the advanced metrics, you’ve always provided both in a very approachable and enjoyable manner. So thanks, and best to you going forward.

  • Pat Leonard

    Why does everything I love go away? It’s a bittersweet day with Michael Bode joining WFNY and Jon Steiner leaving. I’ll miss you the most, Scarecrow. Be free.