On semi-retirement

It was about four and a half years ago I started writing, on a regular basis, about baseball. In April 2009, I started a blog on Blogspot (or Blogger, or whatever it was called; it blew) and started making myself do it every day. I did it partly just to give myself something of my own to do, partly because I really had something to say, and mostly because my best friend since forever was doing it and I felt like I knew I could do it better than him if he could do it. And, I don’t know, I was probably okay at it, and said friend and I got some attention and joined together, and we happened to come up with a couple pretty unusual ideas (did you know that Jack Morris’ entire career plus Mariano Rivera’s entire career through 2010 was almost exactly equal to Bert Blyleven’s career?) and got some more attention, and eventually I was getting paid — in money! — to write about baseball. We’re not talking about quit-your-job money, but we’re talking about actual currency that is exchanged in the real world for goods and services, and that alone, to me, was amazing, the sort of thing I’d dreamed about for the preceding ten years or so without, by and large, taking any steps toward making it happen.

And, okay, it still is amazing. That one might spout opinions (however backed up with research, etc.) on the internet and have them read by any number of real people living real lives is, itself, quite something, and that other people might pay such a one in real money for the privilege of hosting and publishing such opinions is a whole other crazy thing entirely.

But it’s over now, if only (probably) temporarily.

I’ve just come through a period in my life that was many things, almost all of them awful. In 2011, I jumped from a good job in Chicago (a perfectly lovely town, but not home) to a perfectly horrible job in a horrible (to me) small town because it was a bit closer to home, and then to a much-better-but-not-quite-right-for-me job in the town that is home, with great people. But this last was one that left me separated for most of the time from my family, leaving me living mostly in the same bedroom (and, stereotypically, the basement) I’d lived in when I met my first girlfriend and was awkward on the Mickey Mouse Club and was co-captain of the debate team, going to work and then going to the gym and then coming “home” to that, my loving (though Big-Bang-Theory-watching) parents who go to bed at 9:30 and then nothing, two hours’ drive from my wife and kids.

That was my life, for most of this past year. I didn’t tell you that, or not really, because you are the internet, and who wants to talk about things like that to the whole internet? But that sucked. There are a handful of things that kept me sane through that time; among them was that I had this whole second life, writing dumb little baseball things (mostly dumb ones, anyway) and, more than that, interacting in person and on Twitter and elsewhere with a crowd of baseball folks I’d come to know, many of them more prominent (and much better) writers I could never have imagined regarding as something approaching equals a few years earlier.

Here’s the thing, though: stuff has very quickly come together. Life is good again. Very suddenly, I have a house, and a cohesive family, and a job downtown (starting tomorrow) that pays me pretty well and justly demands a whole bunch of my time, and while I love baseball and will always continue to love baseball, it’s become priority number, like…twelve? Something like priority number twelve. We didn’t reactivate our television when we moved, which means I can’t watch the Twins live anymore, and I have to say that so far I haven’t missed much.

So the upshot is: I have to stop that second life. At least for now, at least until I really know what my real life is now and how much extra time I have and what it is I want to be doing with that little bit of extra time. I want to do exceedingly well at this job, and to continue to do the best I can as a dad and husband, and to write the things I want to write, and how can I commit to writing baseball things until I know about all those things and how much time they take and how much they leave me with?

Thus the reason I’m “retiring” at age 34. I’m not going away; I’ll stay active (probably not during the day much) on Twitter, keep being a part of the community, and I’ll keep writing things here as they come to me, and I imagine there’ll be times when I get moved to write something baseball-related and put it up on TPA (which I hope to keep active as an editor; I’ve scrounged up some guest posts and am on the hunt for more). Maybe (as Mike has suggested) I’ll be storing up good ideas and come back on fire in a few months, once I’ve figured things out. But for now, at least, I’m out of it (almost) altogether.

This is a hard thing for me. I make a lot of jokes about how little I actually watch or pay attention to baseball, I talk a lot about Doctor Who while there are twelve or fifteen baseball games going on, but the fact is that it’s a huge part of my life, and giving the writing part of it up — even partially, even temporarily — feels like letting a dream die, a bit. But in this world of finite time, it’s a sacrifice that (temporarily) has to be made.

And in the early going, let me tell you: it can be incredibly freeing to watch a baseball game, notice something interesting, and realize you don’t have to write 1200 words about it. So I have that going for me, which (among many other things, just now) is nice.