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Alex Haley died on February 10, 1992, at the age of 70.
February 10, 2018
As announced Thursday, I’m coming aboard MLB.com as a senior writer, starting on Monday. I’ll be writing three columns a week, typically on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes there will be more than three; there will rarely be fewer than three. I’m getting back on my regular schedule.
The transition was about as simple as it could possibly be. MLB Advanced Media has been the sole owner of Sports On Earth for the past three-and-a-half years, with (theoretically, anyway) the same corporate structure the entire time, so moving over to MLB.com was so easy it barely even qualified as a job switch. I don’t even have to change my insurance. Considering the support that MLBAM gave SoE for all those years, they automatically had considerable goodwill with me; negotiations were pretty basic and straightforward. I write a ton about baseball, they’re OK with my outside work and they’ll never have to worry about me missing a deadline. I prefer to keep these things mostly uncomplicated. I write, you post, let’s make everybody’s lives nice and easy.
I’ve gotten a few questions about the gig, and because I don’t have an immediate topic in mind and I’m in a bit of a hurry — I’ll be coaching my older son’s baseball team this year, and we have a coach’s meeting this morning; considering my son is six, I assume the meeting will be mostly, “remember to make sure everybody wears their helmet, and don’t forget snacks” — I’ll just answer them here as this week’s newsletter. We’ll be back to our usual navel-gazing and lamenting of the executive branch next week. Let’s make this an FAQ:
So you’re gonna be OK with just writing about baseball?
Baseball is the reason I care about sports at all; other sports are just what keep my mind occupied until baseball season. (Illinois basketball excepted.) I will talk to you about baseball forever. When I was in NYC last, I got to sit down for drinks with Mike Petriello, one of my favorite baseball writers, and I swear, if he would have let me, I would have talked (and listen to him talk) for hours. Some people get excited about celebrities; I get excited about talking baseball with smart baseball people. Joe Sheehan, Keith Law, Meg Rowley, Ben Lindbergh, Derrick Goold, Jeff Sullivan, Sam Miller, Alyson Footer, Jay Jaffe, Anthony Castrovince, Joe Posnanski ... these are my celebrities. I’m missing a bunch there. (I see Peter Gammons every World Series, and when he says, “Hey, Will, good to see you,” I’m basically one of those teenage girls at Beatles concerts in the ‘50s.) The Baseball Prospectus annual comes out this week, and I will read that thing cover to cover like an old Stephen King novel.
Plus, if I have the jones to write about something other than baseball, I do have other outlets. One of the key parts of our negotiation was making sure I’d be able to keep writing for New York and NYT and WSJ and everywhere else, and keep doing the SI show. Focusing on baseball for them actually makes this easier, not harder.
Do you get to write about the Cardinals as a fan?
If I pretended otherwise, I’d be lying to you, myself and the reader. I’ll be doing the annual Cardinals Roster Audit in a few weeks, and I’m sure there will be Cardinals stuff when the situation warrants. It seems silly to say, “here is this thing that I spend hours every day thinking about but I’m not going to write about it.” Besides, writing about the Cardinals will make sure that a large percentage of the readership dislikes me. Always a goal.
Will you not be able to write about certain things because it’s on MLB.com?
I’ve been on the MLBAM payroll for more than five years now at SoE and I’ve never been told not to write something. That is even less likely to be the case now. They are smart enough to realize that the best way to make your site irrelevant is to turn it into Pravda.
Will you keep the podcast going?
I am not certain yet. We’re still figuring this part out. But it also looks like I may be starting another side project podcast in the next coming weeks that, theoretically, could scratch this itch either way.
What’s the primary focus of what you’ll be writing about?
When it comes to sports, I’ve always considered myself, basically, a reporter with fandom as my beat. I write about how fans experience sports, how it is part of the fabric of their lives, how deep down they’re the only people who really matter in all this. In 30 years, all the players on your favorite team will be gone, all the coaches will be gone, maybe even the owners will be gone. (They might be, even likely will be, playing in an entirely different stadium by that time.) The only constant in that whole time is the fans. They are what hold a franchise together, not owners or general managers or players. Someday all those players will play somewhere else, all the coaches will coach somewhere else, the owners will all find other rich people things to occupy their tim. Those people are all just temporary caretakers, stewards, there to keep the lights on and not leave the place worse than the way they found it. But they are not the team. That’s what the fans are. That’s not only whom I write for; they’re essentially whom I’m writing about.
I’ll also probably do the occasional trade analysis.
Otherwise, will anything change at all?
You shouldn’t email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anymore. That’s it, though. If you have any other questions, though, just respond to this newsletter.
Don’t you want to tell us about the new episode of “The Will Leitch Show?”
I do! Thank you for asking! It’s with The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay, and it’s about media. You can watch the whole thing right here.
We tape Episode Three on Tuesday.
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)
1. Review: “15:17 to Paris,” Paste Magazine. This is, uh, not the film Clint Eastwood will be remembered for.
2. Debate Club: The Best Action Sequences of All-Time, SYFY Wire. I could watch all these scenes over and over and over.
3. The Super Bowl Was the Culmination of the NFL’s Year of Injuries, NBC News THINK. I feel like I’ve written this one a few times.
4. 2018 Tortured NFL Rankings, Kinja Mothership. I just did a list rather than a full writeup, but I had to keep the series going.
As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the three podcasts I do. You don’t even have to listen to them! Just download them. Here they are:
Grierson & Leitch, “A Fantastic Woman,” “Winchester,” “Legally Blonde,” and, hey, “The Big Lebowski.”
The Will Leitch Experience, I will know next week whether this is still going or not.
Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, no show this week.
I hope this is the last job-related newsletter I have to write for a long time. Also, William lost his first tooth this week. He was very strong and brave and we are very proud of him.
Have a great weekend, all.