THE AUTHOR

Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, MLive.com and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in blogging (16)

Monday
Mar302015

Where I am, 2015 edition

It's been a couple of years since I did this, but it seemed like a good time for a refresher. (For me, if not you.)

"Who I am and where you can find me" is all over this website, so this post might seem redundant. (An old friend and co-worker actually did find me over the weekend through this website, not social media, so apparently I'm doing this correctly.) 

In 2013, I noticed writer Warren Ellis (not the musician) post what was essentially an online business card on his website. I'm not anywhere near as accomplished nor my resume as diverse, but I wanted to do something like that too.

And with that, this is the first "I'm really going to try and keep this blog updated" resolution of 2015. There will probably be at least three more of those to come. But I'm aiming for a mix of original writing, links to what I'm doing elsewhere and links to stuff I've enjoyed reading in a particular week. Hopefully, that keeps the lights on and the dust off around here. 

Besides the addresses listed above, I am currently writing for the Bloguin network. Thanks to Ben Koo, Matt Yoder and Joe Lucia for making a very welcome home for me. 

The Outside Corner is where you can find my baseball writing (both columns and news). I'm the editor for the network's pop culture site, The AP Party. And I've been contributing more recently to Bloguin's flagship site, Awful Announcing, writing mostly about the intersection of sports and pop culture, but also a bit of media analysis and commentary, for which the site is best known. 

Unfortunately, I will not be writing about the Asheville Tourists this year for Ashvegas. I very much enjoyed writing about minor league baseball and doing some work (including movie reviews) locally, but with my other commitments, I just don't see being able to commit the time necessary to do a good job. I'm grateful to Jason Sandford and the Tourists' Doug Maurer for providing the opportunity. It wasn't an easy decision, but was completely amicable. Jason is my homey, man. 

I'm not sure if I'll be blogging about the Tourists on this site. I've shuttered AVL Tourists Trap for now, but would like to revive it and keep writing about the team. But I feel like it will be located elsewhere. 

So I think that about covers where I am these days. Thank you for checking in, and I will try harder to keep it current around here! 

Monday
Feb102014

A personal addendum to Sunday's Pistons post

Wait a minute — don't I have a Pistons blog to write stuff like saying Joe Dumars should be fired? Well... that didn't exactly work out. Mo Better Pistons hasn't been updated since before Thanksgiving, and it's probably just a matter of time before we shutter that blog. I mean, the site is named after the coach that was just dismissed.

I was excited about collaborating on a Pistons blog during a season in which it appeared the team would be much improved. I was eager to write about basketball. But it soon became clear that the time and interest wasn't as strong as that initial excitement may have indicated. The fact that the Pistons played far below expectations and became difficult to watch didn't help matters. 

Instead of updating a blog, the Twitter account received most of the attention. (R.I.P., The Blog, 1997-2013.) It's certainly easier to tweet than write a longer piece of analysis or commentary. I understand that, especially when time and desire are precious. The Pistons blog was always supposed to be a hobby. I suppose I had bigger ambitions than that, just because I've always looked at blogging that way. But I also never intended to do it on my own. 

I realize that sounds bitter, but I'm really not. This was the second time in a year that I thought I'd be collaborating on a sports blog (devoted to the Tigers or Pistons), and it just didn't work out as I hoped. I think I've learned from that. Though I'll always have interest in tackling new writing projects, I have to realize that blogging is a major time investment that isn't easy. Especially when other, far more important matters take precedence.

Writing for The Outside Corner, editing for The AP Party and trying to keep this site updated is probably enough to keep me busy. (Hopefully, there are some outside projects to come. But pursuing those takes work too.) Blogging with friends sounds fun, but I don't want it to lead to disappointment — or worse. From here on out, I'll try to stay focused on what I can control myself. 

Sunday
Feb092014

Joe Dumars is the next guy Pistons should fire

Joe Dumars is one of my all-time favorite professional athletes. If I were to make a top five list, Joe D would be on it. Hell, he might be in the top three. But that was as a player.

As an executive, as the general manager of the Detroit Pistons, Dumars has done a terrible job — especially during the past 10 years — and needs to be fired. I hardly think that's a controversial stance. I would love to hear from someone who would argue that Dumars should keep his job at this point.

On Sunday, the Pistons fired head coach Maurice Cheeks after 50 games into his first season with the team. Cheeks didn't even make it to the NBA's All-Star break, which is next weekend. The Pistons originally signed him to a two-year contract. Considering Dumars' history with hiring and firing coaches, two years is probably as long as Cheeks was going to keep his job. 

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Many criticisms could be leveled at Dumars (and Bill Simmons listed several bad moves the Pistons GM has made over the past 10 years on Sunday's NBA Countdown) for his poor job performance. But his hiring and firing of coaches has to be near the top of that list.

As ESPN's Jeff Goodman points out, Dumars has gone through eight coaches since 2000. Eight coaches in 14 years. The past three he hired — John Kuester, Michael Curry and Lawrence Frank — didn't last more than two seasons. Curry was fired after one year. Dumars has topped that with Cheeks, not even sticking with him until this season ended. 

According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski (who broke the story of Cheeks' firing) and Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, Pistons owner Tom Gores was the one who made the call on dismissing Cheeks.

Gores made it clear that he expected the team to make the playoffs. Right now, Detroit's 21-29 record has them on the fringes of playoff qualification. The Pistons will probably battle the Charlotte Bobcats and New York Knicks for the Eastern Conference's eighth playoff spot for the rest of the season. Apparently, Gores felt a coaching change — even to obscure assistant John Loyer — might give the team a push toward that goal.

But the owner reportedly fired Cheeks without anyone in mind to take over the job. Good planning there. Oh, and the Pistons players found out their coach was gone via Twitter. That gives Dumars further mess to try and clean up. Or maybe it's setting him up to deliberately fail. 

So does that mean Dumars should get a pass here? Reportedly, he favored giving the coach more time. But maybe that's just because Dumars knew how bad it would look to fire a first-year coach 50 games into the season. Who's to say Dumars wouldn't have fired Cheeks at the end of the season anyway? Especially if it meant saving his job? 

Cheeks appeared to lose the team anyway. His argument with Will Bynum on the bench during the Pistons' 112-98 loss to Orlando last Wednesday was the latest example of the coach not getting through to the players. Cheeks had also been publicly critical of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings during the season, which couldn't have gone over well in the locker room. 

However, Gores dumping Cheeks puts Dumars on notice. Maybe the owner and GM mutually made the decision to hire Cheeks in the first place, but the coach's failure ultimately falls on Dumars. His job is to run the basketball operations, and Gores obviously doesn't feel that's being done very well. The next move is obvious. Who else is there to be fired? Dumars put this team of mismatched parts together. 

Among those who follow the NBA and Pistons regularly, the prevailing opinion is that Dumars overpaid when he signed Josh Smith to a four-year, $54 million contract. Smith could score some points, but needed a bunch of shots to get there. He's a terrible three-point shooter, yet insists on continuing to jack up long-range, low-percentage shots. And he doesn't fit well with Detroit's young big men, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. 

Dumars will probably try to trade Smith, attempting to fix the mess he created. Trading a high-priced free agent during his first season with the team looks almost as bad as firing a head coach after 50 games. Will another team take Dumars' mistake off his hands? 

Frankly, I question whether or not Dumars should be allowed to do anything with the Pistons' roster for the rest of the season. Obviously, his mandate is to make the team better and qualify for the playoffs. But what if Dumars actually makes the team worse in the process? For instance, what if he trades Monroe, hoping to get something in return in case the Pistons can't re-sign him? If Dumars is a lame-duck GM, how can he be allowed to make such a decision? 

He most certainly shouldn't be allowed to hire another coach. Besides, what coach would want to work for Dumars and Gores, knowing how quickly they fire coaches? Someone will be willing to take the job because there are only 30 head coach openings in the NBA. But that doesn't mean the right guy will make himself available. Dumars hasn't shown he knows who the right guy is since firing Larry Brown. (OK, maybe since firing Flip Saunders.) 

These are just the latest in a dumpster full of mistakes by Dumars. Drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over University of Michigan star Trey Burke (followed by signing another shoot-first point guard like Jennings to a big free-agent deal) hasn't worked out. While we're at it, let's go back to 2003, when Dumars selected Darko Milicic instead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

He traded Chauncey Billups, the leader of the Pistons' championship run through the 2000s, for a past-his-prime Allen Iverson, in a failed attempt to shake up a complacent team. He inked Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to ridiculous contracts, just because the Pistons had salary cap room and money to spare, adding two players who did nothing to make the team better.

Dumars certainly was entitled to some benefit of the doubt and respect for his playing career with the Pistons and for the deft touch he showed especially in signing free agents in building the 2003-04 NBA champions and keeping that team in contention for several seasons. But eventually, Dumars began to make moves out of desperation, rather than rational evaluation.

I'd argue that the beginning of the end was signing Nazr Mohammed in 2006 to replace Ben Wallace. Mohammed wasn't that good, but the Pistons signed him because they had the salary cap room and needed a center. That's the mentality Dumars has applied to almost every decision he's made since then. 

How many more mistakes can Dumars be allowed to make? As much as it still pains me to say so because of how much I loved him as a player (and as a GM early in his career), Dumars should be the next one to be fired.

Tuesday
Nov052013

What? A Pistons blog? 

I promise I will post some original content here this week, but for now, I'm linking to yet something else written elsewhere and a new blogging venture that I hope becomes a lot of fun. 

My friend Brian DeCaussin and I are both intrigued by this year's Detroit Pistons, with exciting scorers like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings added to the team. They have a new coach in Maurice Cheeks. And Chauncey Billups, the leader of the last great Pistons club, is back.

I knew I wanted to follow the Pistons more closely this season after losing interest over the past few years. So when Brian told me he was thinking of starting a Pistons blog, I told him I wanted to contribute. We'll be writing about the team at MoBetterPistons

We don't know what the blog will be. As with most any blog, it will be a work in progress until we figure out what works for us. It's not going to be nightly recaps because neither of us is interested in that. Of course, we'll try to analyze the team as best we can. I'm sure I won't be able to resist indulging in some nostalgia along the way. 

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The NBA is the sport that really formed me as a sports fan. That also made me a Pistons fan. I lived and died with the "Bad Boys" championship teams. My favorite sports moment is the Pistons beating the Celtics in Game 6 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals. That meant more to me than winning a NBA championship the following year. 

When the Pistons again played for a title in 2004, I was a student at Iowa. There was a power outage in my apartment complex before Game 5 of the NBA Finals and I watched the first half at the bar of an Old Chicago pizza. I went back to my place at halftime and fortunately, power had been restored so I could hoot, yell and celebrate without worrying about making a scene. 

Yet those Pistons eventually became a team I just didn't like and my interest in the NBA soon followed.

What's bringing me back six years later? As I said, this edition of the Pistons has piqued my curiosity. I also wanted to watch a different sport besides baseball. Football wasn't really doing it for me. But what really stoked my interest was Golden State's Stephen Curry lighting up the Knicks last February for 54 points. I peeked in on the game because both teams were contenders and saw the sort of performance that pulled me in as a fan so many years ago. 

As far as blogging goes, I'd like to do some writing on something besides baseball. Not only do I think it will help keep me sharp during the offseason, but to be frank about it, showing I can write about different sports isn't a bad thing for me, either. 

So here we go. I spent $130 on NBA League Pass, despite the warnings of several online friends about the quality of the product. I just hope the Pistons — and blogging about them — turn out to be worthwhile. 

Monday
Sep302013

Has baseball become irrelevant, as the NY Times argues? 

Has baseball become irrelevant as a major pro sport in this country? Jonathan Mahler asked that question in a feature for the New York Times this past weekend, arguing primarily that baseball has fallen behind the NFL and NBA in national TV ratings. 

That's sort of a "no shit, Sherlock" assertion by Mahler, isn't it? It's pretty apparent that Major League Baseball (MLB) is nowhere near as popular in the culture these days as the NFL. Yet I'm not so sure he makes a convincing argument that the national pastime has passed its time among sports fans. 

Comparing MLB TV ratings to those of the NFL or the NBA is basically comparing apples to oranges. Baseball is largely a regional sport during the regular season, since individual teams broadcast their games on regional cable networks, some of which the clubs now own themselves. Mahler even admits this in his article, yet leans on ratings (the NBA drawing better regular-season numbers than MLB, for example) to make his point.

One thing he neglects to mention is that FOX, ESPN and Turner recently signed eight-year deals with MLB for TV broadcast rights worth a combined $12.4 billion. Would those networks pay that kind of money if baseball was irrelevant? Or is it just that important to find content that will fill air time? 

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I'm also curious where packages like MLB.TV and Extra Innings factor into ratings. If I watch a Tigers game on MLB.TV via my Roku or iPad here in North Carolina, does that count in the Tigers' local ratings? Does it factor into national ratings at all? I have no idea, though you would think that sort of viewership information would be easier to track than the antiquated Nielsen system. 

Personally, I've been thinking about baseball's standing in the marketplace for a while. For one thing, it's obvious when looking at pop culture that football is more prominent. But as someone who's made something of a living over the past few years writing about baseball, I've also noticed what's going on in the media with regards to the sport.

Before being fortunate enough to land at Bloguin, I wondered at times if I could find another baseball-writing gig. Maybe it was time to diversify that sportswriting portfolio to increase my chances of getting hired. I still think it might be the right thing to do, depending on whatever opportunities are available. 

My former employer recently hired a writer from CBS Sports to cover the NFL. Maybe that sort of move is in store for its baseball coverage next season, but I never felt like baseball got the same kind of love over there. (Prominent NBA writers — including one from the NYT — were recently hired to cover that beat. But partnerships with Turner Sports and the NBA figure more prominently into that.) 

ESPN and the new FOX Sports 1 devote far more programming to the NFL and college football than baseball. The slightest minutia of a story is blown up, dissected and analyzed in the name of filling broadcast time. Other than its games, baseball is fortunate to get one hour of studio time on ESPN. (FS1 might give baseball more love next season, since FOX is one of MLB's broadcast partners.) 

Football — pro and college — is just a less demanding sport to follow, with games played once a week on Saturdays and Sundays (and now, sometimes Thursdays). Every game is an event with only 12 to 16 of them on the schedule. It basically caters to the casual fan.

That works really well for TV. When people tune in, they know that game matters. With baseball, yes, the game matters and could help determine who makes the playoffs, but it's just one of 162 games. It's even one of three or four in a particular series. It's not a chapter, it's a piece of a chapter. 

MLB is an everyday sport with so many games. How many fans, besides the diehards, watch every game their favorite team plays? It almost encourages people to check in every now and then, especially after the summer is over, there's less free time to go to the ballpark and other sports — notably football — start up. 

Mahler also points out that the popularity of college football and basketball has helped to fuel interest in their professional counterparts with so-called amateur athletes moving on to ply their trade in the NFL and NBA. Fans can literally watch these players grow and their careers develop from very early on. He then wonders why college baseball hasn't achieved the same level of interest. 

But again, this just isn't a fair comparison. In baseball, many of the best players may not even go to college as MLB teams draft them out of high school. College players don't even get full scholarships as football and basketball players do. The college game is also quite a bit different from the major leagues, with starting pitchers throwing only once a week, players toggling between pitching and playing in the field, and hitters using aluminum bats. 

One good point Mahler makes is that baseball doesn't seem to be a part of the national sports discussion these days. That is definitely a concern. 

Of course, ESPN has something to do with that, gearing so much of its programming and SportsCenter coverage to football. But nothing happened in baseball this season that really seemed to grip fan attention, other than the latest PED scandal involving Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. And even there, I'd argue that fans largely don't care about that stuff as much as the media. 

Going by "The Mother Test," in which I measure something's cultural significance by whether or not my mother knows about it, she knows all about A-Rod because that's what gets on the news. She'd certainly have no idea about the wild-card playoff race in the American League or the MVP contenders in the National League. Same goes for most of my friends, except those who are Tigers fans following a successful team. 

The cynical would say that Mahler finds baseball less interesting this season because the New York Yankees (and Mets) had poor seasons and didn't make the playoffs. (Mahler wrote about the 1977 Yankees in The Bronx is Burning and is a New York resident, writing for the NYT and New York magazine.) East coast bias!

Yet attendance was down in MLB this year, according to Baseball-Reference. Some might point out that the Miami Marlins essentially giving up on being competitive and ripping off their fans skews those figures. But disappointing seasons by the Phillies, Brewers, Yankees and White Sox also resulted in attendance drops. The Red Sox were also down despite their success this year, but last year's failure surely affected ticket sales early in the year. It also didn't help that none of the six division races were very compelling in the second part of the season.

So is Mahler right about baseball becoming irrelevant? I say no, but may be too close to the sport to see this objectively. I think I also just take issue with that word choice. "Irrelevant" seems too strong to me. I would point out, however, that simply posing such a question — and doing so in a publication like the NYT — means that MLB still has plenty of cultural significance. 

A few years from now, baseball might also be a pleasant alternative to football, which is becoming increasingly uncomfortable to watch with the increased awareness of concussions and debilitating post-career injuries that have resulted in far too many tragedies. But I don't think anyone prefers to see baseball become more popular again because of that. The sport needs to speak for itself and shine. 

Thursday
Aug152013

Do we need to know Prince Fielder's personal business? 

I feel like I — we — shouldn't know that Prince Fielder is getting a divorce.

Yet we do now, thanks to perhaps too much being said on sports talk radio and a blog that has some good sources. Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that such news came out in our current media climate. Virtually everything seems like fair game these days. Those in the public eye have difficulty keeping anything in their personal lives private.

For those unfamiliar with this story — and maybe I'm being just as bad in recapping what's happened and bringing further attention to it — the Detroit Tigers first baseman hasn't been having a strong season.

Fielder is hitting .262, which would be the second-lowest batting average of his nine major league seasons if it holds through the rest of the year. He's not getting on base as much (.352 on-base percentage) and not hitting for as much power (.430 slugging percentage). Basically, he's on pace to have one of the worst performances of his career. 

Naturally, fans, reporters and commentators want to know what's going on. Fielder is in the second year of a nine-year, $214 million contract. He's being paid $23 million this season. 

Of course, the first thought is typically that something is physically wrong with Fielder. Was he hiding any sort of injury? The more cynical among us might have presumed that Fielder is content after cashing in with a big free-agent contract, and thus isn't trying as hard.

That's the sort of sentiment that teammate Torii Hunter was likely responding to when he felt the need to defend Fielder during a radio interview. "A lot of people don't know what's going on in his life," he said on "The Ryan and Rico Show" on Detroit Sports 105.1. 

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Asked if he was saying that fans should lay off Fielder because of what might be going on, Hunter said he couldn't get into it.

But he still brought it up, and that stoked curiosity.

I'm guessing that most fans and reporters were content to leave it at that. Fielder had stuff going on that we didn't know about and didn't need to know about because it wasn't happening on the field. Whether or not those issues were affecting his play was simply something to speculate upon.

That is, until Larry Brown Sports reported Wednesday evening that Fielder had filed for divorce back in May. So there it was: The personal issue, revealed for everyone. 

I'm not criticizing LBS for reporting the story, as uncomfortable as it might be. I have no idea if a source tipped Brown off to Fielder's divorce proceedings or he did some reporting and found Fielder's name among Orange County, Fla. court documents. If it's the latter, that's actually some good work, even if you think it's snooping around in unseemly territory. 

Honestly, I can't say what I would've done if someone had told me about Fielder's divorce. In my current position as more of a columnist, I might have sat on that information, even if I felt people might want to know. 

The argument could be made that I would've had a responsibility to pass that information along. No one can say for certain whether Fielder's personal problems are affecting his play on the field, but it wouldn't be outlandish to draw such a conclusion.

If this is a work performance issue, do we as consumers have the right to know? I'd certainly argue Fielder's bosses and teammates should know, but it's clear that they already did. If a waitperson serving me was going through a tough time and providing poor service, would I really need to know what that person was dealing with at home? I don't know if that's the best comparison, though. 

If I was still a regular Tigers blogger covering everything about the team and running a comment-driven site, I probably would have felt compelled to run the story and let the community have a discussion about it.

That's what happened when Miguel Cabrera had a domestic incident in 2009.

Obviously, that was a different situation. There was a police report. He was out in public. Cabrera had played with visible scratches on his face the following night. What had happened actually did have an effect on the field, as Cabrera may still have been drunk.

At the time, I didn't feel it was my place to do anything other than provide fans a forum to talk about all this. 

Of course, drawing traffic is a consideration. Breaking a story like that would get plenty of hits for a website. It would surely get frequently linked on Twitter and Facebook.

I don't know if that's a temptation I would have been able to pass up. But that certainly would've opened me up to some justifiable criticism. 

I'm sure there are some opinions out there that say this is what's wrong with sports these days. In a 24/7 news cycle with so much time and space to fill, so much more gets reported than before. Anything can get out there fast with social media. 

Back in the old days, these sorts of matters — any personal indiscretions — wouldn't have been revealed. Babe Ruth could stay out until early morning getting drunk and spending the night with women that weren't his wife. That had nothing to do with what occurred on the field, so it wasn't news.(Although back then, sportswriters may have been out carousing with the ballplayers.) 

Was it better back then, when we didn't know virtually everything going on with our favorite athletes and celebrities? I can't really say. Maybe that knowledge helps us as fans realize that these are actually human beings, who go through much of the same crap in their personal lives that we do, regardless of wealth, fame and success. 

Sure, some asshole fans will use that information to insult him from the stands, in blog comments and message boards, or on sports talk radio. But I think most of us will actually show some sympathy. Fielder is going through something none of us would prefer to experience, especially when two children are involved.

In that case, maybe it's a good thing that this got out. Even if we might wish that it didn't.

Wednesday
Jul032013

The frequent insecurity of the writer

As a follow-up to my post about writing less these days, I'm finally getting around to addressing two things I recently saw online (and have been sitting on) from two writers (both of whom cover politics) that I admire. Both posts detail the process of writing a column.

The photo above was taken by Slate's John Dickerson, showing how he mapped out a story on the White House trying to manage its priorities as scandals, natural disasters and more scandals piled up for President Obama's administration. 

After seeing that photo and then reading Dickerson's final product, it occurred to me that I may have no idea what I'm doing. That insecurity was further reinforced when the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza posted a picture on Instagram of his work process for an upcoming column. (Perhaps he was inspired by Dickerson.) 

The craft of writing a column as opposed to a blog post is something I've been thinking about ever since joining up with The Outside Corner as a featured columnist. It's a process I struggle with weekly. Sometimes, I think I figured out how to boldly take a stance or assert an opinion while backing it up. Other times, I worry that I just wrote a lot of words, trying to appear informed or authoritative.

Obviously, blogging about baseball is far different than covering the Washington political scene. There are so many moving pieces and personalities to follow. Dickerson and Cillizza are doing actual reporting. Most of what I write is responding to what's been reported. 

I will say, however, that while I might not have stuff color-coded and outlined, my web browser is often overstuffed with more than a dozen tabs by the time I'm done writing a particular article. It's sort of the same thing, isn't it? Although it's far less organized. Maybe that comes across in the writing sometimes. 

I think I was pretty good at writing "bloggy" things, quick posts that briefly mention a news item or link to another post elsewhere. Paragraph, blockquote from the original source, paragraph — and there you have it.

That's not to say I never wrote anything original. But when you crank out 3-5 posts a day, you learn to be pretty fast. Although I'd like to think I put more thought into formatting than some of my peers. Is that paragraph too long? Should it be broken up into smaller pieces? 

At some point, however, I got out of that style. Maybe because I didn't have to run a daily blog anymore. I went on to write longer weekly posts for MLive and Big League Stew. More thought, research and analysis went into those articles — even if some of them had to be produced relatively quickly due to timeliness. They had to be more substantive. 

Unfortunately, I think I spiraled downward into long-windedness during my last writing gig. I initially thought I'd be cranking out shorter posts to keep a 5-6 article firehose going throughout the day. Months later, the decision was made to write longer, analytical pieces.

It wasn't the job I thought I'd signed up to do. And I don't know how insightful those pieces could really be when we had to produce four of them per day. In addition, because of the outlet I was writing for and its reputation, I often felt the need to prove I knew what I was talking about. 

Somewhere along the line, I feel like I lost my writing voice. I wondered whether I was becoming a worse writer. It certainly didn't feel like I was getting better. I think I've been trying to recover from that in the months ever since I left. Am I capable of writing shorter and getting to the point anymore? Am I still trying to prove myself every time I write something? 

Though I probably don't give it enough attention on a day-to-day basis, I do still care very much about getting better as a writer. Sometimes, there's just not enough time to think about it. The work has to be done.

But I have more time now. And I believe there's always room for improvement, always something to learn. I'm certainly grateful that Dickerson and Cillizza reminded me of that. 

Tuesday
Jul022013

Writing more about writing less

A few weeks ago, my dear friend A. told me that it didn't seem like I was writing very much recently.

That kind of knocked me off balance. It felt like I was still writing quite a bit. I've been writing columns for The Outside Corner. I was contributing Tigers stuff at The Daily Fungo. And I've been trying — with admittedly varying levels of success — to boost the content at this personal blog.

But as she often is, A. was right.

Lately, I've probably been on the radio discussing baseball more than writing about it. I do put work into those appearances, doing research so I know what I'm talking about and don't get thrown off by a question. Yet unless you're listening live via streaming audio or in those stations' local markets, there's nothing tangible to read. 

Writing less was a near-certainty after cranking out four posts and 4,000 words a day for my previous baseball-writing gig. That level of output — with no real break, even when no baseball was being played or no offseason news was being made — burned me out. I was a writing zombie for a month or so after leaving. 

Just trying to get through a typical day now, I don't know how I did it. Actually, that's not true. There was a stretch when I was doing a lot of writing at night while helping take care of my Little Niece during the day — not ideal when you're trying to draw traffic to your posts during the day.

I was sleeping a whole lot less (and became borderline obsessed with the science of sleep as a result). That made me constantly irritable with what I think are occasional moments of insanity. And I had no personal life. (Not that I had much of one to begin with.) 

It's occurring to me as I write this that I may be killing future employability. Oh, he doesn't like to work. He can't handle a big workload. Of course, I don't think either of those statements is true. I'd certainly like to try again, if for no other reason than I believe I could do it by applying some changes to my life and daily routine. But I wouldn't do it for that previous job again. 

So as much as I don't want to admit it, I am writing less. And that bothers me, even if I feel like a healthier person for not matching my prior output. (Those around me would probably argue that it hasn't made me less irritable, however.) 

But I do think that will be changing in the next few weeks. At the risk of being a tease (and fearing the jinx), I should be starting a new gig soon that I'm really excited about. Better yet for those of my friends who aren't sports fans, I won't be writing about sports. Stay tuned.