Thursday, February 9, 2017

State of the Curve: Where It Goes From Here

Last season was a struggle. I had minimal access to watching games, I bought a house and spent the playoffs remodeling it. What I did not do, was write about baseball. So many factors came into play. Not just the aforementioned excuses, but my own lack of inspiration as well. I found it difficult to sit down and write. It had become a task more than a passion. There was also something unexpected that happened- the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I guess I came to find out through my own circumstances that I needed this blog as a way to keep baseball in my life through the lean years.

In 2013, as I turned a twitter feed into a blog, the Cubs were coming off of a 101-loss season. I wrote over 40 posts that year. Some of them were pretty dull or unnecessary, but I still wanted to convey my love for the game. People latched on to that. Friends and family told me how good it was, sharing or retweeting my even mundane of baseball topics. I felt like I had accomplished something, and therein lied my inspirational demise. It all reached a head when, during the 2013 World Series, the blog was shared by Next Impluse Sports, a site that works like an aggregate of sharp news bites. I had a long conversation with one of the top dogs there about NIS even picking up the blog. A real, actual job in baseball writing?? Of course I was over the moon, but in the end I was not the right fit. So it goes.

I took that momentum into 2014, writing more bombastic and captivating posts focusing on important items. I took a road trip to Comstock Park, Michigan to do a story on the West Michigan Whitecaps home opener, the first game played after the stadium experienced a catastrophic fire. I felt like a real live sports journalist. I had business cards and interviewed locals. It remains one of the most fun things I have ever done in any professional realm, despite only losing money. Baseball was a passion and I had to seek it out no matter what.

As time went on, I wondered what my purpose was in writing all of this. Was I staging some sort of time capsule for myself or a future generation so that my love of baseball could be passed on? Was it an attempt to backdoor a job in the industry, be it in sports or journalism? Either way, I was doing it for the wrong reason. When I started Low Outside Curve, it was because I loved baseball and writing. I had no dreams that anyone would ever read my little stories. After all, I wasn't telling you anything that couldn't be obtained through highlights or a game story on a more reputable source. I did it for me, as an exercise.

So here we are nearing four years since I first wrote about Yu Darvish, home alone at my mother's kitchen table. I had a brash sense of halcyon joy that I was doing something fun that other people might think was cool. I'm still here and I plan to write again. My fiancee (yeah that happened too) keeps saying I need to write more. So I'm coming back, but first let me clear up some things:

What about last year's playoffs?

As I mentioned before, I spent all of October 2016 sanding and priming and painting and moving. I did not have much time for baseball writing. I did, however, watch a lot of baseball, and listened to games while I worked on the house. I can't say I'll go back and recreate the normal postseason stories like I did in years past, but I need to do something. After all, THE CUBS WON THE SERIES. Oh my god, did you guys see that? Of course you did, so telling the same story as you've already read or watched live when it happened is kinda pointless. I'm going to go back and revisit my own story during the greatest few weeks of my life. I'm doing this for me again, remember?

Book reviews- what was that about?

Last season I read a bunch of baseball books, and I thought it would be neat to add a book review segment to the blog. I called it From the Box Seats and I had some fun with it. There are so many great baseball books out there I thought that I might help make some recommendations. Well again, since not too many people read this blog, it was another way for me to lose steam in my baseball writing. The only one I posted was about the tremendous The Only Rule is it Has to Work by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. It's a perfect baseball book. Anyway, I plan to do that again, maybe one a month, I'm not sure.

Analytics? Stats? Will you ever get into that?

I love new statistics. All of the tiny details that turn the game into a science are so interesting to me. I'll probably never dive into them with my writing though. There are plenty of great places with great writers who discuss all that, I'm more interested in the story they tell and the history they relate to and make. If I get around to covering minor league, college, high school, etc., I might utilize them to explain better what I'm trying to get across. The motto of this site is The Baseball Narrative and that is where the site shall remain. I'm a storyteller, not a scientist.

Your Facebook page was deleted when you deleted your facebook. Now that you're back, will you make another?

Nah, I'm good.

Will Low Outside Curve be Cubs-centric going forward?

As it was, so shall it be a site for all of baseball. The corresponding twitter feed is mostly Cubs related, so follow at your own level of disgust for my team. During the first three seasons on this blog, I barely covered the team, only when I would go to Cubs games would they be fit for any kind of story. That is how I intend to keep this place.

This is the 100th published post. How do you plan on celebrating?

Well I'm sick and it's February so probably Nyquil and an early bedtime. I'm pretty jazzed to make it to 100, though. Even if this post isn't about baseball. Or maybe it is...

What the hell are you talking about?

Baseball isn't about winning. It's about falling in love and getting hurt. I came up with that slogan long before I registered this domain. Baseball is a game that drags you though half a year, many times only to leave you asking what it was all for? There's no return, no reciprocity for your devotion, just emptiness unless you're a fan of the one team left come November. There are times when the season escapes us. We lose the ability to hold focus on something that eventually becomes monotonous. Most nearly everyone who watches baseball is not paid to do so. There is no financial gain in it, more so we lose money. But its a passion, and when we see through the trees of lackluster mediocrity, we can see the forest of a diversion that can take us out of the hum-drum everyday. An escape to something that makes us, individually happy.

I felt all of that for this blog. I felt the highs and lows over four years, all while my Cubs ascended to the top of the league. I'm not "back." Back implies that I left. This site has always been a part of me, much like baseball. I think about stories I could write, yet never try to find the time to write them. In doing so, I gave up a part of who I am. Now, as the snow dresses the midwest, baseball is near again, and I plan to tell the tale in my own way once more.

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