In April of 2009, FanGraphs CEO David Appelman announced that his growing site would be adding two part-time writers effective immediately or something like immediately. Having produced some vaguely analytical work for my own weblog, I sent a collection of story ideas, a CV, and an overwrought cover letter to the email address provided in his announcement. In a turn of events that speaks both to Appelman’s discretion as a leader and his capacity for identifying talent, he made a decision that would benefit FanGraphs for some time — which is to say, he hired someone else.
As if to prove, however, that even the most towering intellects aren’t immune from errors in judgment, Appelman and his future managing editor Dave Cameron would undo their good work just a few months later. Acting on a recommendation from Jonah Keri, who’s culpability in this process can’t be overstated, Appelman and Cameron invited me, at the beginning of August 2009, to begin contributing twice a week to fangraphs dot com.
To suggest that my first posts at the site were met with a “mixed response” would be to make full use of the rhetorical device known as “euphemism.” While I received no actual threats of bodily harm to my person, that didn’t prevent my person from crawling into the fetal position and weeping like a child. And while the vigor with which some readers expressed their dissatisfaction was probably unnecessary, the basic gist of their comments — namely, that I was single-handedly ruining whatever goodwill FanGraphs had cultivated with the public — seemed, at times, to possess merit.
When I asked Appelman if I should stop, lest I topple his fledgling empire, he suggested I not do that. “Keep going,” in fact, was more or less the tenor of his message. And whether that was the soundest advice or not, it seems in retrospect to have worked out. I have kept going for over nine years, enjoying (like other FanGraphs writers) an editorial freedom and collaborative spirit that is rare for any publication. One of Appelman’s great strengths as this site’s guardian has been to trust his writers. It’s an ethic from which I’ve benefited as a contributor and which I’ve attempted to preserve as an editor.
Starting today, however, I will no longer serve as a writer or editor for this site. After a tenure that has lasted far beyond even my most optimistic projections, I’m leaving FanGraphs to become a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.