Goodbye and Thank You

More than 10 years ago, my first piece of published baseball writing appeared on the Community Blog at FanGraphs. It was on Adam Wainwright’s curveball. About five years later, I joined FanGraphs as a part-time contributor. I read the offer email in line at Costco of all places. A few years after that, I joined the staff full-time. For nearly six years, I’ve written almost every day, doing work I love focused on a sport I care deeply about. It is a privilege to work at FanGraphs, and while I’m not tired of the work, I’m moving on. I’m leaving the site to join the Major League Baseball Players Association as their Senior Analyst for Economics and Collective Bargaining.

As I was writing this piece, I thought about the others staff members who have moved on and read through the many farewell posts to grace this site since I joined (remember correlation doesn’t equal causation). Managing editors and writers like Dave Cameron, Carson Cistulli, August Fagerstrom, Corinne Landrey, Kiley McDaniel, Chris Mitchell, and Jeff Sullivan went to work for teams. Writers like Mike Petriello, Travis Sawchik, Eno Sarris, and Kiley McDaniel (again) pursued other jobs in media. Some, like Paul Swydan, pursued other dreams. While every post represented the individual writing it, the goodbyes generally contained three themes: the people here, the work, and the opportunity.

David Appelman created a site for people who love baseball. FanGraphs helped me to appreciate baseball more than I did as a kid growing up on baseball cards,
Sports Illustrated, and a playing career that peaked at the age of nine. As a writer at FanGraphs, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work for and with some amazing people in a welcoming environment fostered by David and all those he’s hired over the years.

I’ve had three Managing Editors, all uniquely brilliant. Dave Cameron interviewed me, sent the email hiring me, and helped shape many of my early posts as I was getting my footing. Carson Cistulli spent considerable time editing my words, and to this day, uses the Socratic method if I ask him a question about baseball. Meg Rowley takes great care in her work and encouraged me to use my own voice. Many others have edited my words, their work is mostly unsung. Hopefully I’m not missing anyone, but I owe a debt to Robert Sanchez, Paul Swydan, Dylan Higgins, Brendan Gawlowski, Rachael McDaniel, and Jon Tayler, as well as Christina Kahrl at ESPN.

And while I don’t expect them to be strangers, I will miss working with the current staff at FanGraphs. Eric Longenhagen is serious about his craft, honest in his work, provides evaluations you can trust, and has always been willing to pass along information to help make a piece of mine better. Jay Jaffe is the foremost expert on baseball’s Hall of Fame, but continues to do the work that got him there rather than coasting. Dan Szymborski is well-known for his ZiPS projections, but he has long been one of the most eager to welcome and support new voices in the sabermetric community. Ben Clemens has a great mind for analysis and more humility than he should. I was reading and listening to Paul Sporer’s work long before I met him, and his enthusiasm for life is worth emulating. Jason Martinez’s work tracking the league’s rosters and maintaining our Depth Charts makes the lives of everyone who follows baseball a little easier.

Many people aren’t aware of the work Sean Dolinar does for the site, but he and I were hired at the same time back in 2015, and he’s now the last person standing from that cohort. His work is invaluable to FanGraphs, and he has made countless articles of mine better due to his help on the back end. His love of arcades, a shared enjoyment, has caused me to own and proudly wear what my wife calls, “the nerdiest shirt I’ve ever seen.” And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention David Laurila, whose Sunday Notes columns have been a must-read for me for as long as I have been visiting FanGraphs.

To be able to wake up in the morning (or sometimes the middle of the night), ask myself a question about baseball, and then spend my day (or days) trying to answer it might not be everyone’s idea of a dream job, but it is mine. I’ve been incredibly privileged and amazingly lucky to work at FanGraphs. When I wrote that Community Blog post more than a decade ago, I was 29 years old and working full-time as a lawyer. I didn’t write about baseball more than once a week until I was 32, and didn’t start writing about baseball full-time until I was 34. I’m not about to tell you that anything is possible, but for me, this didn’t seem possible when I was 20, and it was more imagination than reality even after I turned 30. And I didn’t do this alone. I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my wife, Natasha, as well as our two children, who inspire and tire me.

My love of baseball is what brought me to FanGraphs, and it is also what has motivated me to leave. I will still be able to wake up in the morning and try to solve some of the sport’s more vexing issues. The opportunity to spend time thinking about some of the biggest concerns facing the game — competition, fairness, pace of play, and the best way forward for generations of players to come — is a great one. To be able to think through those issues and potentially help address them was simply too enticing a chance to pass up. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s work I love. I’m grateful I had the chance to work at FanGraphs, to meet and count as colleagues some incredible people, and to interact with a great baseball community. I look forward to continuing my work with the Major League Baseball Players Association. Thank you for reading.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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2 years ago