Over a 30 day stretch within my last five weeks writing for Viva El Birdos, I wrote 46 posts. I don’t know what possessed me to count the exact number. I knew it was a lot. During those thirty days, there were exactly two in which I didn’t publish anything. By this point, I was exhausted. On most nights, I was coming from my full-time day job, immediately downing a 44 ounce Diet Mountain Dew to stay awake, and writing until I couldn’t concentrate anymore. On the rare night I had social plans, I would compensate by staying up even later once I got home. It was miserable.
SB Nation websites are infamous for not paying writers, and while I did get paid, given the amount of hours I was working, it certainly wasn’t close to minimum wage in 2018 (or 1965). I never took the job expecting to earn much, if any, money, but I also never expected it to feel like a job. Near the peak of my exhaustion, a Vox higher-up (to be clear, not a Viva El Birdos employee) had suggested to me that my efforts were actually insufficient. A day later, I quit.
Writing about baseball is one of my favorite things to do in the world. Truthfully, I don’t really enjoy watching baseball any more than I enjoy watching other sports, but for me, it is by far the most interesting sport to discuss. The easily accessible, intuitive data of baseball dwarfs that of the other major team sports, and the constant evolution of the numbers is unparalleled elsewhere. And above all, writing about baseball is just a fun way to bond with people, and I wanted to use my free time doing something I enjoyed. For most of my time at Viva El Birdos, I had fun. For that month of 46 articles in 30 days, I hated it, but soldiered on under the belief that it would eventually end. And once I realized that I had given that effort for absolutely no reason, I felt like a sucker, and there was nothing in the world I wanted to do less than write about baseball.
I have cultivated an online brand built largely around the premise that I have a ton of free time, and I do this mostly because it’s the opposite of most people I know, who use social media to constantly complain about their lack of free time (now that many of my peers have children, this rate has exploded). But as it turns out, once I left VEB, I did have a ton of free time. And it was boring. A man can only sleep so much. I didn’t regret leaving Viva El Birdos, and I still don’t, but I did miss writing about baseball.
I knew some people who would be interested–a few former VEB writers and a few people who I knew would cherish the opportunity to write regularly about the St. Louis Cardinals–so I sent out some messages, and got back some interest. Suddenly, I saw an exciting opportunity ahead of me. I had always wanted to manage a Cardinals blog–those who wrote with me at VEB during the interim period after Craig Edwards had left the site to go full-time at FanGraphs and had to deal with my group e-mails arranging schedules for season preview posts probably figured out quickly that I had that desire in me–and I had no contractual obligations to keep me from starting one. And I had an interested army of writers. I sat on the idea for a day before settling on one of my site name ideas (based on the assumption that the revamped Cardinals bullpen would make for an attractive site name–I never claimed I was good at baseball analysis) and a couple weeks later, we launched. 14 hours later, Greg Holland blew a three-run save and the Cardinals lost. As one does on the launch day of St. Louis Bullpen.
We never claimed that we would be reinventing the wheel on this site–at the end of the day, we weren’t going to be that much different from the more established blogs. Even if I’d had motivations to compete directly against Viva El Birdos (I don’t, for multiple reasons–one is the obvious point that it is a far more popular blog with far more brand equity than this one, and two is that, despite its gradual transition into a marketing arm for mediocrely-designed t-shirts about rally salsa or whatever, I remain a fan of the site’s generally top-notch baseball analysis), what would I possibly do that would be truly inventive? But we did have one “premise” in mind–no filler. We’d rather not have posts than clutter the site with mediocrity just to fill some quota.
But for a new site to just not have content felt absurd, so I maintained that we should always have something going up, at least on weekdays. I knew in the early going that I would have to shoulder a heavier load, and that was fine–the manager-less period at VEB had prepared me for that–but by now, I’m just so tired of writing about baseball. I haven’t done 46 in 30, but I’ve written a lot more for a full season than I ever had before. I need a break.
Barring major, major Cardinals news, this will be my final post at St. Louis Bullpen for a while. I do have a few ideas ready for the off-season, and I’m excited about them (and might pre-write some of the ones that can be pre-written), but with the Cardinals not in the postseason, I find that I have an opportunity to do something fun in October–sit back and just enjoy baseball. Postseason baseball, with or without the Cardinals, is a truly amazing experience. I can’t imagine why anybody would care about the Cardinals while it’s going on (unless the Cardinals are in it, of course).
To be absolutely clear, this isn’t a going-away post: I just didn’t want those who check the site regularly (side note: I love you dearly) to think I stopped. Other writers may pop in but I’ve told them that I was going to slow down and told them that I wouldn’t blame them if they did the same. But when I come back, I might slow my own writing down a bit. I feel like my quality has declined recently (whether or not this is true is beside the point–my own sense of self-satisfaction is important to me in a job I do for free), and at some point, I realized that my main motivation in depriving myself of sleep was to prove a point to a Vox higher-up who questioned my work ethic and dedication, a higher-up who almost certainly is not aware that this site even exists.
I’ll be back later.