A lot has been happening, and I’m not just talking about the news or my never-ending quest to get this blog and Patreon to play nice together. I want to catch you up with what’s going on in my life. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking and overwhelming. Mostly exciting. I think.
On Sept. 4, I’m leaving MLB.com. I have loved working there … obviously I have loved it. I wrote about baseball. There’s nothing better than that. I loved working with all the people there. I have nothing but good things to say about MLB and how they have treated me. I fully hope and expect to cross paths with them again.
I’m leaving because I’m going to try something entirely new.
I’ve written before about Passions In America, this incredible project about our passions and why they matter. A year or so ago, my friend Dan McGinn — who is an extraordinary story himself — asked me to help him develop this idea that our passions have never been more important than they are right now.
And so we have spent that year studying passions. We already have interviewed a number of extraordinary people about their passions (I have done this publicly as well on my Passions in America podcast). We have read everything we can about passion. We’re talking with academics. We have done some opinion research. We have gone to numerous passion events. There’s so much more to do, and we’re doing that stuff every day, but I think we believe that this is a big and important idea in the crazy, tense, saturated and bewildering times we live in.
And so we are going for it.
That means that after 30-plus years, I’m leaving sportswriting, sort of. Passions is an amazing and daunting project that requires the bulk of my time, effort, creativity and will. I’ll tell you all about it as we go. In the meantime, we would love it if you would check in on the podcast and the website when you can.
But I’m not fully leaving sportswriting. For one thing, beginning Sept. 5, I’ll be writing a couple of times a week for The Athletic. I’m planning to do the Browns diary there, and that’s where my live baseball thoughts will be. Other sports too. It will be fun.
And then, I’m thoroughly focused on what we’re doing here at JoeBlogs. I’m blown away by your faith — the number of you who have signed up, well, it staggers me. Yes I have had a couple of sleepless nights because we’re going through a few technical glitches here on the blog, but I can tell you that I have now hired a Patreon-WordPress guru named Oz to make this work. He’s confident that he will. As I’ve said many times before: Fingers crossed.
And I should also say: I’m so thrilled to have the time — to MAKE the time — to write for you on this blog with regularity again. I’ve missed it. I think I have found some balance. Thanks to those of you who are coming along for the ride. I think there are great things ahead.
And thank you to those who are even thinking about joining up — you can sign up here.
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Let me add a personal note in here because many people have said the same thing since hearing about the job change: “Wow, you change jobs a lot.” I have. Over the last decade, I really have. Sports Illustrated. Sports on Earth. NBC Sports. MLB.
It’s not something I intended to do. I thought I’d be the person who worked at a newspaper for 50 years and at the end, if I did the job well enough, they would name a high school award or something after me.
Newspapers struggle to survive. Magazines struggle to survive. Internet versions of each struggle to survive. You know all this. I have many friends, dozens of friends, sensational reporters, brilliant editors, who cannot find any work at all. Others pick up a few odd jobs when they can. I hear all the time about unemployment numbers across the country being at all-time lows and the economy churning, but that does not register with my life. Every day, I see and hear from wonderfully gifted people trying desperately to find a place for their talents in this crazy business. I see even more of them who give up the business and move on to something else.
We are told daily, in countless ways, that what we do has little to no value. It isn’t just Fake News and all that garbage. We are told about the collapse of the advertising model. We are told that people will not pay to read our words. We are told that the value of words drops every single day. We are told there’s no viable market for what we do, for penetrating reporting, for powerful storytelling, for a compelling narration of all that happens around us.
I don’t believe any of that. I believe what the best reporters and storytellers do is more valuable now than it has ever been. The last decade, people in this business been on a quest. For me, I’ve loved every stop along the way, I really have, but at each point I have wanted and needed to try to find a new way, an audacious way, an imaginative way to push forward. That’s what Passions in America is for me. That’s what this blog is for me. They are my best attempts to find my place — and, sure, our place — in this new world.
None of us chose to be born in this volatile time in our business. You don’t get to choose your time. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the last ten years, wouldn’t pass up any of the wonderful opportunities I’ve had. It is also true that if I had been born 20 years earlier, I might have that high school award named for me.