Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanks, Pinstripe Alley

It's a strange thing, to walk away.

I've been writing for Pinstripe Alley for 5 seasons. That's nearly as far back as the pinball machine of my memory goes. That's before I got my first job working for Keystone College after graduating from Bing. In the time I've been a writer for PA, I've lived in 5 states. I've gotten serious with my girlfriend, gotten engaged and gotten married. I remember writing on rainy days with nothing to do, and writing hurried posts before racing out the door or on lunch hours.

In all, I've written 1750 posts and 16633 comments on Pinstripe Alley. If my average post was 200 words and my average comment was 10 words (I'm kind of long winded, so I'm willing to bet it was more than that), then I've poured in 516,330 words. I just looked it up, and that's basically The Grapes of Wrath plus Huck Finn plus A Tale of Two Cities plus To Kill a Mockingbird. Or, a little less than Atlas Shrugged.

It's been a lot of writing.

I don't think I'll miss it, in the sense that the blog is only a click away when I need to talk baseball. I'm not sure I'd have been able to leave otherwise.

I searched out PA after reading about it in the New York Times just before the 2004 postseason. I was going to college in Maryland, and I had no one I could talk baseball with who could match my obsessive intensity. It was a lonely feeling, having this interest that no one else could relate to. So I found the community and dove in.

My favorite thing about PA was how much I've learned there about baseball. Internet communities are at their best, I think, when they are receptive to the work of teaching new members the things that are important to know. They are at their worst when members are impatient with new members stubbornness/ ignorance.

(Take WHIP: fancy name, odd numbers [1.12, 1.36, 1.5], no apparent connection the game and stats most of us grew up with. Call it baserunners per inning, and a baseball fan can understand it. Explain how a pitcher's baserunners per inning is more consistent year to year than their earned run average, and how WHIP has less luck involved with it, and it starts a great conversation that could turn the ERA proponent into a fan of WHIP- but you've got to want to have that conversation [and, in some cases, have it again and again]. In a lot of ways, running a baseball blog is like teaching: every year, new students who need to learn the same things, but you have to be as excited and engaged as though you were teaching it for the first time, never expect them to know the material already, because they are learning for the first time.)

My other favorite thing about PA was fitting in. My brother and father like baseball around as much as I do, and they are Yankee fans. That's everyone in my life I can talk to about the details of the game. I think I'll still need PA to feed that beast. Carol has learned a little bit about baseball, and she did get the trivia question right about teammates winning Cy Young Awards, but it's not quite the same intensity.

So, thanks Pinstripe Alley. I'll be seeing you soon.

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