A little over a year ago, I entered a situation I did not understand. This website had no manager. Joe Schwarz had written one post and we exchanged a couple emails to try and figure out when we should post. Everyone was upset and I was an unknown. Confusion and skepticism were abound when I made my first post. I had spent the last year writing about the Yankees. I had never made a single comment at VEB. I used to read VEB for the articles. Yet there I was, posting an article on what is generally considered the best Cardinals blog that had no site manager and and an unknown direction.
In my first post, I wrote that the Cardinals power should come back in 2014 after a drop in 2013. The comments section as a whole was not as optimistic about the future of the site as I was about the Cardinals power. I believe we were both wrong. The comments and questions directed to me were generally positive and I kept writing. I would have kept writing even if the comments had taken an unsightly turn, but wanted to show skeptical commenters that I was legitimate and I wanted to reinforce the positive commenters optimism. Also, I really enjoy writing about baseball.
I can't say enough what a great job Ben Humphrey did smoothing over a lot of the anger at the site at the time. He did and still does continue to deal with a lot of the messier things so that VEB is more enjoyable for me. The same goes for those who thanklessly monitor the comments section for inappropriate and offensive content. I continued to write and eventually began wading deeper into the morass of the comments section and VEB Twitter. I was invited to play ottoneu. Much of my time was spent trying to understand the many in-jokes throughout the comments. It was like reading English transalated to Japanase translated back to English in a Macho Business Donkey Wrestler type of way. I've now made over 2600 comments. I don't know quite what that means. I don't think anyone does.
I do not know when the nerves went away. There might have a been one moment at some point where I really started to feel comfortable, but I doubt it. Comfort takes time. It is gradual, and it is difficult to say whether being separated by computers makes it easier or harder. Explanations are sometimes made more difficult as meanings pass by without understanding, but the upkeep is so much incredibly easier. Getting online takes a few clicks. Making a comment takes a few more, made easier by my lazy refusal to even check how autocorrect has mangled my comment.
When I started writing at VEB, one of my biggest concerns was that people would think that I believed VEB was my site. When I started it was your site. Now I believe it is ours, and I want it to stay that way. A few weeks ago, I applied for a position as a writer on FanGraphs. I have wanted to write for Fangraphs for a really long time. Fangraphs helped me change the way I think about baseball and shaped some of the most important tenets in baseball analysis. This was not the first time I have applied, and I did not know what my chances were going through the process.
As I was working on a draft of my first post for FanGraphs yesterday, I started getting a bunch of mentions on Twitter because of this:
ICYMI - FanGraphs: Introducing Our New Writers http://t.co/RMbwDLo000— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) February 16, 2015
and then this:
Many of the very first people to congratulate me came from this site. The comments in the VEB Daily post yesterday and on twitter were almost all very encouraging. That encouragement and support is meaningful. I write here because I love to write about baseball, especially Cardinals baseball, and VEB has given me an incredible forum to do that. Knowing that what I write will be read by people who care about it, that they will comment, agree, and challenge assertions is very motivating. VEB has made me a much better writer, and helped me evolve as a person as well, exposing me to views and ideas that I often ignore and avoid when I'm away from the internet.
Everyone reading this has helped make me want to write. I want to write at FanGraphs because it is a tremendous opportunity at a website I admire, but I also want to write here. I asked Ben if I could stay on in a slightly less active role. I am really happy that I am able to stay.