This is a painful and difficult thing for me to write, and yet it also represents something that is long overdue: It is time for me to say goodbye to the Pinstriped Bible.
I began the Pinstriped Bible back in the 1990s, at a time when baseball coverage on the Internet was scant and the number of team blogs were few. At the time, I had to convince the decision-makers at the few platforms that existed that there would be interest in a regular baseball feature, one that attempted to build community around common interest in a team, and that it was worth their while to pay me (or anyone) to write it. The focus wouldn't be on reporting, but conversation and analysis. I called what I was proposing a column, but it was really a blog -- the term just hadn't yet come into common usage.
Over the years that followed, the Pinstriped Bible had many homes, including the original Yankees.com, MLB.com, YES, and finally here. The feature opened many doors for me. I made many good friends and came to the attention of Baseball Prospectus. I joined BP in 2003 -- in company parlance I became an "author" -- and over time, my work there gradually became the focus of my professional life. The Pinstriped Bible remained important to me, but it no longer commanded my full attention. The same was true when I came here to SB Nation. My job had two distinct functions -- the Pinstriped Bible and duties around the network, which ultimately coalesced in the editorship of sbnation.com's baseball coverage.
Somehow, the latter always seemed to win out. This was in part due to the fact that in my old age I tend to work slowly and methodically. As such, splitting time between roles became difficult, but it is also true that it had been a long time since I considered the PB my most important or interesting job, and though it was never my intention to put it in second place, it just kept happening. When I came to SB Nation, I thought I could reverse the flow of energy away from the PB that had begun at Baseball Prospectus, but that was simply unrealistic. I had changed too much.
Keep in mind my well of fandom was never deep. I was brought up as a Yankees fan, to a certain extent, but baseball was not a huge part of my family or my identity. As a small child I got caught up in the excitement of the 1976-1981 Yankees, the Reggie-Billy teams, but mostly because it was something that was omnipresent in the culture, not because those around me were highly invested. The emergence of Don Mattingly as a star when I was 13 led me to a more mature, thorough interest, as well as to Bill James. Yet, I was never a diehard fan of the team in the same sense that many of my readers were. This was in part due to my upbringing, which taught me to be analytical and agnostic about most things, but also due to a quirk of my personality: The bigger the crowd I am in, the lonelier I get and the more alienated I feel. Essentially, as Groucho Marx said, I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member. I am not a joiner or a follower, and never will be. Blind allegiance to anything is not something to which I can relate.
I think it also mattered that during that part of my life when I was most susceptible to learning to be a fan in the bumper-sticker sense of the term that the Yankees were not always easy to root for: When I was very young, the team was winning World Series, but the dysfunctional romantic triangle that was Reggie, Billy, and George (or George, Billy, and everybody else) meant that those wins were tinged with a kind of stressful negativity that I could sense even then -- as a kid, you just want everyone to get along, especially mommy and daddy, but also your favorite team, its biggest star, its owner, and its manager. Subsequently, when I was rediscovering baseball in the Mattingly years, the team represented a paradox: they won more games than any other team in baseball, but without ever reaching the postseason, and on many levels they were run -- there is no other word for it -- stupidly. You could love Mattingly, but you couldn't love the team -- that would mean embracing George and everything he stood for. By the time that period ended, I was in my early and mid-twenties, too late, I think, for me to find that old-time Yankees religion.
Finally, my whole baseball experience wouldn't have happened without the support of my closest friend, whose boyhood dream it was to work for the Yankees. His dream came true, but as a nightmare, and ended in a way that I can never forgive. In the many years since, I have had to tell myself repeatedly that Derek Jeter and the other players on the field had nothing to do with that. Still, it was inevitable that I would feel even more distanced from Yankees fandom. Rooting for them felt like a betrayal of someone I care for deeply.
And so, over time, I became more interested in baseball in the overall sense than I did in any particular team. I no longer care if the Yankees win or lose, and haven't for many years. I'm more interested in how they win or lose. This wasn't a bad thing for the Pinstriped Bible at first -- one of the things that distinguished it in the early days was its objective tone -- but it made it absolutely wrong for SB Nation, where the team sites very clearly have a rooting interest.
Another thing that changed for me, and this was an issue long before I came here, was that I felt like I could no longer diversify the feature. In its earliest days, the PB represented not just baseball, but all of my interests. I would alternate Yankees coverage with discussions of other teams, movies, politics, music, and history. This seemed acceptable and interesting to the readership at first, and helped build community. That changed. I think my growing focus on Baseball Prospectus and other venues meant I had less time to post things that weren't strictly on target, and so as those entries became less frequent, they seemed more like non-sequiturs to readers. It also seems to me that as the Internet diversified its offerings, the readers actually became less accepting of sites that mixed content. They wanted like things with like, going to movie sites for movies, political sites for politics, and baseball sites for baseball. I grew tired of responding to complaints of, "I thought this was a Yankee site!" with, "This week I have posted multiple articles on baseball and one on other stuff. I have always mixed things up. This isn't a baseball blog, it's my blog and therefore conforms to my interests," and just surrendered to the inevitable.
Well, that's not quite accurate. From time to time I stubbornly tried to force the issue. I did that early on here at SB Nation, and it was a terrible mistake. I wanted to establish early on that I would not be straightjacketed by Yankees coverage and never had been. Instead, I alienated a readership that did not know me well. That is my one great regret in terms of my tenure at SB Nation.
All fault lies with the author if he has failed to offer the public something it wants, even if he once did that easily. In this case, the breakup cliche of "It's not you, it's me," is utterly true and appropriate. Casey Stengel once said that anything you can't do well and don't enjoy you generally fall behind in. That has been true of me and the Pinstriped Bible. That gradually became obvious to both me and the powers that be at SB Nation, and by mutual agreement we have decided that it's time for a change. Things run their course, and 15 years is a nice, long lifespan for any feature. I am not who I was 27, and it is fruitless for me to pretend any longer. I will no doubt continue to write about the Yankees often at sbnation.com/mlb, but it will be as part of my mandate to write about all the teams rather than my sole focus.
I have asked that the name of this web site revert to the old Pinstripe Alley, and it is my understanding that this will happen in due time. In the meantime, I am pleased to commend you to the hands of Tanya Bondurant, who will take over as site manager. Getting to know Tanya has been one of the real pleasures of my experience here at SBN. It is rare that you meet someone both so young and so capable. I know she will do a far better job than I ever could have.
I would also like to thank Andrew Mearns, Jason Cohen, Cliff Corcoran, Keith DeCandido, and Jon Lane for their unique contributions during my brief stay here, as well as all the other writers new and old, and of course thanks are also due Jim Bankoff, Kevin Lockland, Tyler Bleszinski, and Eric Simon both for inviting me over in the first place and for allowing me the chance to flourish in other corners of the empire.
Sometimes you stay in a relationship even when you know it's over because the memory of the love you had has a more powerful hold over you than the love you have. This change is what I want, and yet I cannot help but feel a sense of deep loss in closing this book for the last time. Still, there will always be more stories to tell regardless of the venue. When asked about the site's name, chosen more or less at random off of a free-associated list, I always said that as the real Bible was an argument about how to live a moral life, the Pinstriped Bible was an argument about winning baseball. That discussion goes on, and Casey, Donnie Baseball '85, Billy, and the rest of the characters who have informed my vision of it will still be there with me, waiting for one more chance to grab the stage.
Thank you for your time, all of you.
The Pinstriped Bible