In June 2009, when I was trying to find a job after graduating college, I started writing for a small Phillies blog run by a longtime friend of mine, Paul Boye. He wasn’t doing much with it, I figured, so why not let me on board? That site, The Phrontiersman, trundled along for a while at about 1,500 hits a month for seven months. We each probably posted about twice or three times a week, and it was fun, but we knew that only a couple hundred people read our posts. That site served the purpose of helping Paul and me find our voices as sports commentators, all the while developing this strange sort of comedy double act, with me playing the role of Groucho Marx and Paul as Margaret Dumont.
In January 2010, I wrote a post trying to project the Phillies’ history if they’d kept Scott Rolen. MLB Trade Rumors linked to it, and the site blew up. A couple weeks later, Paul called me at work, saying this site called Phillies Nation had gotten in touch with him and wanted us to move over and write for them. I couldn’t say yes quickly enough, and for the past two years, I’ve written anything from a short poem about Cliff Lee facing the Mets to 2,000 words on attending the 19-inning game against the Reds this year. Over 23 months, we’ve been on a journey together, you and I, that’s featured both emotion and logic, with a touch of confrontation thrown in.
Today, that journey comes to an end. This will be my last post as a member of the Phillies Nation staff.
I know that in the scheme of personnel moves this winter, my leaving for Crashburn Alley is hardly Pujols-to-Los Angeles, but Pat’s asked me to put something together on my time here. I thought about trying to explain what goes into this site, maybe tell a funny story or two, but instead, I thought it more appropriate to let you know why I think this Phillies Nation is so great.
Being a writer for Phillies Nation has become, strangely, part of my identity. It’s given me an opportunity to grow as a writer to the point where I’m embarrassed by some of the things I wrote at The Phrontiersman, or at The Daily Gamecock in college. Writing at Phillies Nation is a deeply social experience, not just because of the people you meet (though that’s pretty cool; after having had a few at a tailgate last summer, I declared Pat Gallen “the sexiest man in the Phillies blogosphere”), but because whatever you write is going to get immediate and passionate feedback. As a group, there’s a lot of badgering and debate over (the aptly named) Yammer as Pat tries like an overwhelmed shepherd to get everything covered.
Speaking of which, I need to express my appreciation for the people I’m leaving behind, and frankly, so do you. Brian and R.C. don’t do much baseball writing as such, but what you see is possible because of their hard work. They made the transition from “no one reads what you write” to “lots of people sort of read what you write and want to kill you” easier than expected.
I leave here confident that the site will continue to thrive, thanks in no small part to an incredible stable of writers who do the heavy lifting for no pay and less praise. Jay is unique among bloggers I’ve known in that he’s carved out a niche for himself, gotten access, and made himself into the foremost expert in his area through old-school reporting. He does a difficult job with verve and panache. Corey gets statistics, he gets controversy, and he can write. I suspect that in my absence, most of your internet vitriol should be directed toward him. Kieran, Amanda, Jonathan, and Ian are the reason you have a place here to gripe, as their news and analysis posts keep this site populated with the very latest, which is what sets Phillies Nation apart. Then there’s Pat, whose leadership and hard work keep Phillies Nation spinning on its axis. Not only is he one of the most underrated sports voices in the area, he’s a charming person, a good friend, and an inspiring leader whom I’ll miss working for.
The point is, we don’t appreciate my now-former colleagues enough for the great work they do, which sustains our discourse and has allowed me to sit in a corner and spew my bullshit for 23 months.
The defining memory of my time at Phillies Nation, however, will be the comment battles. We’ve gone back and forth, you and I, on Domonic Brown, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard….actually, pretty much everyone who’s put on a Phillies uniform in the past two years except for Chase Utley and Roy Halladay. I think we can all agree that their excellence is beyond reproach. I’m sure there are many of you who will greet my departure with celebration, but frankly even the negative comments have pushed me to write better, argue better, research better, and think more creatively. So while I won’t miss the flame wars, I’m probably better off for having had them, and I hope you can say the same.
So while I’m excited to work with Bill, Ryan, and Paul over at Crashburn Alley, my going there is bittersweet. I’ll miss the helter-skelter of slamming out an unclaimed gameday post at 6:30 p.m. I’ll miss the excitement of having two people writing posts that analyze the same topic and coming up with completely different conclusions. The past two years have been exciting, fun, and challenging, and most of all, gratifying. Phillies Nation, as much as any of its competitors, is an inclusive community, one that I’ve been proud to call home. Now that the time has come to move on, there’s more than a small part of me that’s filled with sadness at what I’m leaving behind.
Thank you all for your kindness and attention for the past 23 months. I’ll see you around the internet.
Most importantly, continue to read and support Phillies Nation and the fine people who work here. I know I will.