I never imagined I’d write for Pinstripe Alley.
In fact, I joined the staff through a series of fortuitous events. I saw a call for a volunteer staff writing gig on Twitter, and I decided to give it a spin. Why not? It sounded fun, and I had a few hours to kill. I could write a recap for my submission, no problem. After all, I spent years reading Mike Axisa break down games with razor-sharp clarity and vivid detail over at River Ave Blues.
I wrote a pretty crappy recap for a pretty crappy game. The Yankees lost; Starlin Castro broke up a no-hitter attempt by Jake Odorizzi. Nobody remembers that game. Except me. Because that recap got me hired.
My improbable run at Pinstripe Alley ends today. I failed upward from day one, and I cannot believe a story about Austin Romine breaking out at the plate would one day lead to an editor role, and then running the whole dang site. For someone with no background in sports journalism or communications, the whole trajectory is astonishing.
In my time at PSA, I wrote 2158 posts. A lot of them were forgettable. Most of them, probably. But there are a few I’m pretty proud of: The Home Run or Bust series; Rebuilt; an Oral History of Cliff Lee, Yankees ace. Gerrit Cole is a Yankee. Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee.
What I’m most proud of, though, in my time as editor and manager, is the staff I built. The group of writers and editors at PSA, they’re the real deal. I can say, without exaggeration, this staff represents the best collection of talent the site has ever seen.
What you might not know about SB Nation is that we’re not journalists. At least, not most of us. We didn’t go to J-school. We didn’t intern with the Star-Ledger. We came on as we were, fans, without any level of training. It’s a strange model, but it works to churn out content, which, in turn, drives ad revenue. It’s impersonal, and it can suck.
But it doesn’t have to.
If given the opportunity to brag for a moment, I’m most proud of turning the impersonal personal—providing training and professional development to our writers. I learned to write fast, pull in big traffic numbers, and all that goes along with running a blog in the SEO age, but most importantly, I learned to manage people, to treat them with dignity.
The writers on this team, and at every SB Nation site, they aren’t widgets. They’re people. They have goals and dreams and passions, and by God, I wanted to give them something they could take away. Transferable skills. Friendships. A meaningful experience, so they can look back years from now and say, “Wow, that was fun.” I like to think I achieved that here, and I’m damn proud of it.
I stirred up some trouble, of course, took some chances calling SB Nation out for their handling of the AB-5 situation, but I’d do that again—every time. That’s the risk you run when you do something you believe in. You can’t be careful on a skateboard, man.
No farewell post is complete without thank yous. Such is the tradition, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for traditions.
Caitlin Rogers, who herself was caught in the teeth of the business side of SB Nation, deserves more credit than I can express in words. She’s my best friend, my editor, and the reason I didn’t quit PSA on multiple occasions earlier. Anything good on PSA over the last few years? Caitlin had a hand in it. And, I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but you haven’t heard the last of her. Ask her about the mystery novel she wrote. It’s freaking good.
Jake Devin is my right-hand man. You know the expression when cooler heads prevail? Jake’s the cooler head at PSA. I’ve never met anyone so calm and cool under pressure. It’s remarkable. I hit Jake up at all hours, to interface on the subject of Shane Bieber, or to break down the 4x400 at Penn Relays.
Ryan Pavich, my man is a machine. Not only is he editing at PSA and running the mailbag, he’s the sports editor for his college paper. It wouldn’t surprise me if I opened up ESPN.com or The Athletic in a few years and saw him on the masthead.
I have a running text message with Josh Diemert, basically all day, daily. Nobody’s as smart an analyst as he is. He wants to pursue a career in public policy or economics, but we all know that he’s the next Mike Petriello. Any editors at FanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus, if you’re reading this, scoop Josh up before somebody else does.
The same goes for Dan Kelly, prospect extraordinaire. He’s the Keith Law the baseball world hasn’t heard of—yet. His rapport with the minor leaguers his interviews is the envy of many, including myself. I’m so happy he came up through the comments, and through some stroke of luck, we nabbed him on the staff.
I would call Matt Ferenchick the Iron Horse of PSA, but I think that he would appreciate a more obscure nickname. The man traffics in the weird history of baseball, and he has been entertaining readers since 2012. If you ever get a chance, ask him about the time a Yankee had a spaghetti-eating contest with an ostrich. You won’t regret it.
John Griffin wrote some of my favorite posts in PSA history. His scorebook analysis, his history of the rivalry between New York and Boston, and his ode to Gerrit Cole, in the style of an epic poem, are all worth revisiting. He’s also my go-to Latin translator, which comes up way more than you would expect. Andres Chavez, meanwhile, in addition writing some of the most in-depth Yankees analysis on the web, has helped me practice my Spanish. He’s a gem of a worker and a friend.
Ryan Chichester, Tom Krosnowki, and Joe LoGrippo—they’re the Quinnipiac Pipeline. One recommended another to get hired, and that string of luck has continued to this day. You will see them all as sports broadcasters or journalists soon. Very soon.
Peter Brody, Dan Carty, Cooper Halpern, and Erica Block. They’re relatively new to the staff, but let me tell you, it feels like I’ve known them for years. Carty writes the fastest recap in the East; Cooper delivers the best swing breakdowns you’ll read; Peter is tireless and thoughtful in every piece; and Erica’s enthusiasm for Kyle Higashioka and Paul O’Neill brings a smile to my face every time.
I loved you guys, you know.
I loved you so much.
So, what’s next? I’m not sure. I’m going to take some time to not think about baseball. I’m going to write some fiction. I have a novel in the tank, and one that’s knocking down the door. I have a few short stories in the queue, as well. If you like Stephen King or Paul Tremblay or Stephen Graham Jones, you’ll like what I write.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll get bored and write about the Yankees acquiring Francisco Lindor. You never know. Wherever that may be, I hope you’re along for the ride, because what’s a writer without a reader?
For now, though, I’m off like Bill Debrough flying down Up-Mile Hill on his rickety, old bicycle.
Hi yo, Silver! Away!