First Pitch is going to have a different format on this site going forward.
That’s nothing new. I think First Pitch has had about 78 different formats since I started the daily article around 2011 or 2012.
This change is going to be a sort of greatest hits edition.
It’s still going to be the first article of the day on the site. We may even transition back to the days when First Pitch went up at midnight.
It’s going to have all of the new daily stuff we’ve added in the last two years, with a Song of the Day, Sporcle quiz, random stuff of the day, and more. A lot more. Last time John Dreker and I discussed the ideas, I think we were up to about seven daily sections before John suggested a daily Simpson’s reference.
I know why you’re here.
I’ve been catching up on emails this weekend, and a lot of the issues are the same.
“How can I change my display name?”
“How can we do [insert feature] in the comments?”
“I never got the email.”
You have choices.
You can find Pirates coverage anywhere. There’s no shortage of it. One of the dumbest business moves I ever made on this site was trying to fill big league coverage like every other outlet.
“If we play like them in here, we’ll lose to them out there.”
Whether or not our coverage was as good, we were going up against a billionaire backed paper, a racist millionaire backed paper, the official site of MLB.com, and then later an online startup with millions in investment capital.
I’m a thousandaire in my best months, but that largely depends on how well the craft beer, vinyl record, and retro video game markets are faring at the moment. Eventually the interest in the team would dip, and I had the least equipped outlet to weather that storm, no matter how many subscribers we had.
I knew that we needed to provide something different. That’s why we focused on the prospect niche, while focusing more on mechanics and player development in the majors.
I think that because we were providing something that no one else had, we ended up getting something that no one else had:
I might be a bit biased, because all of you pay me, but this is the best place on the internet to discuss Pirates baseball.
It’s not like there aren’t good communities elsewhere. Many of you participate in those as well. But there’s something about this place and the discussions. We get past the usual tropes that derail every chance at a good discussion, and dig deep into the issues. Sometimes I’ll post an article just to see where you guys will take it in the comments.
So when I was building this place, the main focus was on the community. I built this place with a few crazy, but maybe not so crazy predictions about the future:
1. That there will be some kind of work stoppage in 2021. I didn’t realize that this would come a year ahead of schedule.
2. That there would one day be another professional baseball team in Pittsburgh not named the Pirates, or no professional baseball team in Pittsburgh at all. (This is a low hanging fruit opportunity for a joke, and I expect better from you, but honestly it’s Monday and the world is on fire, so make the joke you need to make to get you through the morning.)
3. That anyone cares about college and prep baseball in the area.
Build a site about Pittsburgh baseball, but reduce the focus on the Pirates, and expect that there might not be baseball to cover in specific years.
I don’t know if this was obvious or not, but I absolutely hated being a reporter.
That didn’t click in until I had an agent text me about an article I wrote, telling me I reminded him of Jeff Passan. It was at that moment that I said to myself: “That’s so cool! I’ve got to get the hell out of this job!”
That’s not a knock against the person. It’s a knock against the life. It’s the same reason I’d never work for any team as a scout, or why I’d never want to be a team beat writer. You can’t pay me enough to be away from my home, family, and friends for the majority of my life between February and the following January.
I’m here because I love baseball. I was a quiet kid from a very, very small town in central PA. This town still has a single stop light, to this day, and I believe the population is over 300 now.
I moved to a bigger town that was in the thousands in population, but when you grow up with no kids around for five years, you are just completely behind everyone else socially.
Baseball has an amazing learning curve. You don’t need to spend X amount of years watching it to appreciate it. If you’re like me, and I’m guessing if you’re like you, then you fell in love with the game instantly.
I remember watching the Cubs on WGN in the afternoons. Then the Pirates on the local channel and the Braves on TBS. I hated that I could never watch the Orioles.
We played baseball in our backyards. The tall tree was the fence. The sidewalk was first base. The swing set was second. You sometimes ran straight through the wall of bushes that were third base. And then home plate was some kind of off-white, hard rubber or flimsy plastic type material, and the only base we had, because the others were thrown like frisbees at some point, and lost behind the shed.
Baseball is one of the great escapes in life. It’s something, like all other sports, that allows us to unplug and get lost in another world for a few hours. It also provides us a chance to interact with other people who we already know we share at least one thing in common.
Baseball took me from a kid who didn’t know how to talk to anyone, all the way to an adult who still really didn’t know how to talk to anyone, but at least I knew one subject that could bring me closer to another person. I added subjects along the way, as we all did with our interests, and in the process I found my people.
You’re here because you followed a similar path at some point in your life.
Baseball spoke to you. Something inside of you identified with the sport. Maybe memories of going to games with families. Maybe you played as a kid.
You sought out a deeper understanding of the game, going beyond the MLB team to follow the guys who might be part of the MLB team one day.
Some of you sought out more of a community that made it so you don’t have to keep bothering your significant other about the bad moves the Pirates are making.
You can go anywhere for Pirates coverage.
But where can you go for a community of Pirates fans, discussing things as in depth as we discuss them here, with a chance for daily discussions on everything baseball related in Pittsburgh’s past, present, and future?
That’s what we’re building here. It will take some time to get ironed out.
Until then, First Pitch is going to be a daily entertainment post. The article section will have my daily updates on what I’m fixing/adding to the site. Everything in the following sections will be the standard fun stuff that’s not always baseball related, because sometimes you need to take a break from your break.
Today I’ll be working on the community issues, specifically the ability to change your display name, and making sure everyone can log in and comment. If you have noticed a problem, let me know in the comments. We’re in Beta mode, and your feedback helps speed us through this process.
SONG OF THE DAY
I’m sure many Pirates fans would love having Mr Burns as the owner, spending more money to make sure he wins, despite the fact that his team was already winning