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.