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Trickle-Down Economics

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New opportunities are sweet. Leaving is for suckers.

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

As some of you may have heard, I’m going to be writing for Fangraphs several times a week now. Most of this article is going to be about that, because I mean, who needs an excuse to talk about themselves? Not me. If you are looking for actual baseball content, you can Control+F for the phrase ‘self-important peacock.’ That should get you to the right place.

I can trace the reason I write about baseball to a hiring decision the San Diego Padres made. That sounds kind of weird, because the Padres barely matter in actual baseball these days, but they’ve greatly influenced my writing career. When the Padres hired Dave Cameron, Fangraphs responded (I have no idea if this is how it actually worked, but it looked that way from the outside) by hiring Craig Edwards away from VEB. Hiring away is probably the wrong way to put it, because Craig was already writing there part-time, but you get the idea. In any case, VEB turned around and looked for some new writers to replace Craig. I applied and- haha, no, I didn’t get the job, because that would have been ludicrous. You see, I’d never written an article about baseball. I just applied because I have an inflated sense of my own talent, because I love writing, and because I’d been reading VEB for years. In any case, to their extreme credit, the hiring team (which was definitely Josey and probably some other people, though I don’t remember) said I should just write some FanPosts and if they had further slots they’d contact me.

In any case, eventually I started writing here (obviously). It was a great experience right from the start, though I wouldn’t say I’m proud of everything I’ve written- there were some rough stretches while I figured out how to write in the real world rather than in AP English. As it turns out, I really do love writing, and the career I’ve worked in since college wasn’t a great outlet for it, so writing for the site has been really personally fulfilling. I learned some work skills, too, hooray- all the sorting and filtering and number-crunching I do to research arcane statistical nonsense has more useful applications than whether Paul DeJong swings at too many pitches on the edge of the strike zone.

Maybe you’ve heard of trickle-down economics. It’s a mostly-discredited theory that says that if you help out the top of the economy, the benefits will trickle down to people below them. Well, it sure looks like it works that way in baseball writing. Dave Cameron got a job with the Padres, and somehow that morphed into me getting to write for this site. As you’ve probably surmised from the way I’m framing this story, that happened again this offseason when the Rays hired Jeff Sullivan and Fangraphs had some more writing slots to fill. I’m not going to attempt to replace Sullivan, because I’m not an insane person and that sounds impossible, but I can’t argue that his move to the Rays didn’t give me an opportunity to write at Fangraphs.

You know what else helped me? The VEB community. Yes, we’ve now reached the pandering part of the self-congratulatory post. Seriously, though, writing for VEB is eye-opening. You can’t just kind of wave your hands and say baseball things, because people will press you for an explanation. If you misuse statistics, there are actual mathematicians and computer programmers and whatnot to stand up to you. If you say dumb baseball things, there are seasoned veterans and actual big league scouts to set the record straight. A year of writing here, coming up with ideas every week that I thought were valid and that people would want to read about, has really sharpened my writing skills. At the same time, though, people have been really welcoming of different writing styles. I don’t come anywhere close to being just-the-facts, and at times I’m just having fun messing around with puns and just-so cute phrasing. It’d be easy for people not to put up with that, but that hasn’t been the case here at all. Sometimes, I just wanted to write about what Tommy Pham meant to me, or just talk about how I feel about baseball, and that was for the most part okay too. Overall, you guys are just a pretty ideal audience for an aspiring writer.

The great news is, that party doesn’t have to end. I’ll still be writing here- maybe not all the dang time, for now, but every Saturday and some game recaps. VEB has definitely stoked my passion for writing, and we’ll see where things go in the end, but for now I can’t get enough of it. In some totally unrelated life news, my wife recently got a job in San Francisco, so we’ll be moving there soon. It’s going to be a pretty crazy few months, and I can’t wait. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, though. I have bad news. I wrote a thing for Fangraphs already, and it will probably come out next week. It’s about the Yankees. I’m sorry, everyone. I wanted you to hear it here first.

This self-deluded hagiography is fun and all, but I’d be remiss if I stopped at just thanking the VEB community. That’s nice and all, but it excludes the VEB staff and writers who have concretely helped me out a ton. I’ve bounced ideas off of pretty much everyone at one point or another, but Heather and Tyler have been a particular help between just chatting with them and doing a few podcasts. I pretty frequently draw inspiration from everyone else’s articles as well, though I’m often humbled by the Baron’s thoroughness and John LaRue’s extreme polish- it’s one thing to come up with a good idea, and another to present it in a visual way that people can understand. Josey has also been awesome, and would have been totally within her rights to tell me to either keep writing two articles a week or get the heck out, so I’m super grateful for that. Overall, this place is great, and I think it’s no accident that Fangraphs now counts three VEB alums as writers. Thank you for listening to me preen like a self-important peacock. Enjoy your Saturday. (Oh, sorry people who searched straight to the end of the article, but I was kidding. There’s no baseball content here. My bad!)