This isn’t a post I thought I’d have to write so soon, but some stuff has come up in my personal life and, unfortunately, I have to take a step back from writing for this site.
If you’ve read my content here over the last year and a bit, you’ll know that I’ve never really been one to shy away from talking about my story, so I hope you’ll allow one last (not-so-) quick little divergence.
On the bright side of things, “some stuff” refers to overwhelmingly positive things. It means a new job — my first ever full-time writing gig, and at my alma mater no less — and a return to school to sharpen my storytelling skills. In another life, I was a graphic designer in the publishing world for quite a few years, but all of my professional training was actually in written communications, so it’s exciting to get back on that horse again and immerse myself in the field I love so much.
But, as we all know, there’s two sides to every coin. In my case, the flip side of the wonderful, exciting stuff is the return of some not-so-wonderful stuff: Namely, a pretty brutal struggle with anxiety and depression. One that I thought was over.
I wrote about this a while ago, but I started writing at Pinstripe Alley as a way to cope with some struggles that had resurfaced during the pandemic. Notably, my nerves were shot — I was virtually unable to leave the house, even for small things like grocery runs, without experiencing near-paralyzing panic attacks — and my social anxiety was even more elevated than it typically is. Also, at the time, I was living in the midst of one of North America’s longest lockdowns, so you can imagine what all that solitude did for a dude whose brain is constantly trying to eat itself from the inside.
When I saw the call for writers go live, I thought that joining a community like this one to write about my favourite team and my favourite sport would help keep my mind at ease, or at least help me pass the time in a somewhat productive way.
And it did. For a while, at least.
I had always wanted to write about baseball and, specifically, the Yankees, and this site gave me that opportunity. As a Yankees fan living just outside of Toronto, there aren’t a whole lot of us here, so it was nice to have a community of people to talk to — even the ones who told me to go [expletive deleted] myself and that my writing “disgusted” them* — while also writing about the team and the game that I love.
*Author’s note: This is a joke. I mean, both of these things did happen, but that ignore feature is oh so sweet.
Anyway, long story short (too late), the ol’ brain factory isn’t doing so hot these days and I need to take a step back to recalibrate. This is the fourth time I’ve gone through a cycle like this in my adult life and it probably won’t be the last, but it’s become urgent enough that I, unfortunately, don’t have the mental energy I need to continue writing at the standard that I demand of myself. This is also why I’ve been less present in both the comment section of the site and the team Slack channel for the last few months.
But this was supposed to be a happy post, dammit, and god willing it’s going to be!
The night I was officially brought on board was the same night that saw the arrival of Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo in New York. I’ve sat here for about 15 minutes now trying to make a joke about new beginnings, but all I can come up with is, “Please god tell me I wasn’t as bad of a writer as Joey Gallo was a Yankee,” so needless to say words are failing me right now.
I started off doing a lot — and I mean a lot — of statistical deep dives before Andrew finally, mercifully said, “Hey, you know what, you’re pretty good at that whole telling stories from a fan perspective beat, so keep up with that!” For the sake of everyone involved, I like to think that this was widely regarded as the correct move, even if you had to stomach stories about antiquing in Waterloo or my undying inability to ever forgive Jayson Nix for (unintentionally) hurting Mariano Rivera.
In between all that nonsense, though, I was allowed to write some of my best stuff over the last year or so.
I got to revisit how Wendy’s — yes, the fast food restaurant — nearly prevented me from witnessing Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, and I had the opportunity to channel the magic of baseball through Jose Trevino’s journey.
I got to write an entire series of essays comparing the experience of watching Aaron Judge play baseball to a religious experience and how ... Actually, come to think of it, as someone who grew up in the Catholic church, I’m probably going to hell for those ones, so let’s just leave it at that.
I got to write an essay about Judge’s record-breaking home run, and I know it’s overwritten and melodramatic, but I’m really proud of that piece. It’s probably my favourite non-academic thing I’ve ever written.
I also got to write a lot about my dad, who I love very much, and I found a way to re-connect with a grandfather I hardly knew, and that just means more to me than I could ever put into words.
All of that was my long, roundabout way of saying I hope that you’ve enjoyed at least some of the content I’ve produced for this site, because I’ve enjoyed producing it for you.
Anyway, in my typical overwritten fashion, I’ve far exceeded my word count, and I imagine that I already lost most of you a few paragraphs ago, so I’ll wrap up now.
For those who stuck around to the end of this, well, whatever it is, I just wanted to express my deepest gratitude for letting another Canadian join the ranks, if only temporarily, and hang out with you for a little while. Writing about the Yankees was a dream come true. These last two seasons have been a lot, but getting to write for this site and interact with everyone made a lot of the frustration well worth it.
And, also, a hearty thank you to the editors of this site, for not only allowing me to write some stuff that I never dreamed I would be allowed to write, but also for consistently allowing me to blow past a respectable word count.
And, finally, the biggest thank you of all goes to Aaron Judge, for supplying me with limitless content. (I like to secretly tell myself that he’s read my shit.)
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Editor’s note: It’s been a thrill to watch Jesse develop as a sportswriter. He already came to us with a strong writing background, and he really came into his own telling stories like the ones he referenced above (and was obviously far better at this than Gallo was in pinstripes). Best of luck, Jesse!