First Pitch: When Do You Know You Can Do Something You’ve Already Done?

Today is the final day of our Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, which allow you to get discounts on subscriptions, baseball cards, and free shipping deals in our shop. That includes 50% off PBN subscriptions.

It was almost one year ago today that I purchased the domain I had been looking for a way to expand operations at Pirates Prospects, helping to diversify away from just covering the Pirates with a niche approach, thus making it less likely for the struggles of the Pirates to invade my business and personal life.

The idea was to expand on the strength of this site, which is knowledge of the game of baseball and baseball development. We could do that by staying in Pittsburgh and extending our coverage further down the ranks, following college and high school ball in the area. We’ve built the best site for analysis of the prospects on the Pirates. I wanted to do the same for the local college teams and prep prospects, giving a look at these guys that you wouldn’t normally see in traditional coverage.

I spent the next few months working daily on building up my vision of what the site would become, getting ready to launch the expanded site in the spring when minor league Spring Training went into full effect. I purchased the premium domain name. I purchased all of the expensive security certificates, plugins, and hired out some help in building areas of the site.

Then, a pandemic hit the world.

MLB shut down just as minor league Spring Training was about to begin.

The NCAA and prep seasons were done.

I had just dedicated some of my remaining personal savings to build what I anticipated being my business for the next decade-plus, with a goal to provide the best baseball analysis in Pittsburgh, and there was suddenly no baseball to be played for the foreseeable future.

It’s difficult to launch a network dedicated to baseball when there is no baseball. So PBN’s launch got delayed, and the site adapted. The version you see now went live at the end of July, and has pretty much been in beta mode, reacting constantly to this strange year.

In the mean time, I’ve had to react by diversifying away from baseball completely, which might not be a bad thing. I started selling vinyl records online, and the early results are akin to Pirates Prospects 2010-11 — meaning that it’s showing potential as something I could turn into a full-time job that can help support my family.

Or, maybe just turn it into a business that helps support this business in the downtimes…

By July of this year, I had a small stock of records to sell, along with a few bigger ones from my own personal collection, which allowed me to keep the lights on and build up PBN in the beta mode we’ve been in. By the end of July, baseball had returned.

A pandemic was raging with no end in sight.

MLB and the MLBPA had been going back and forth on whether they’d even play baseball this year.

I had two business ideas to go with, and no guarantees that either of them will work.

I started selling records. I started building PBN. I even diversified further and started some writing projects during what free time I have, which already has me two chapters into a novel series pitting Time Travelers against Vampires, and 50+ poems deep into a poetry book.

It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve damn nearly gone insane during this process.

If my brain was a computer processor, it damn near led to the blue screen of death on a few occasions.

There were times when I didn’t think any of this would work, and wanted to abandon it for another career where I could do a normal 40 hours a week and be responsible for one job, rather than the 4-5 different jobs I’ve got now.

I’ve had to remember that I’m human, with a finite amount of hours in the day and week.

But I’ve long had a super power. An ability to transition into a machine and run for days with little rest. That has allowed me to get to the point we are at today, at the end of a long journey.

What point is that?

The point of hopeful uncertainty.

The point that every small business circles back to on a routine basis, like a neighborhood cat doing his rounds and fortifying every checkpoint of his perimeter to ensure his safety and survival.

I don’t know if Pittsburgh Baseball Network will work in the long-term.

I don’t know if I’ll start a vinyl record store that will turn into a legit business.

I don’t know if I will write a novel or poetry book that people want to read.

What I do know is that I can do all of those things. Whether it’s having the idea, putting in the work behind the scenes to build it, and then the continued work to maintain and grow the business.

A decade ago, my life was constant uncertainty. I didn’t know if Pirates Prospects would work. I didn’t know if it would be something that would allow me to escape my small town in Virginia and build a job.

The uncertainty never really left, even when I was sitting in the press box years later, covering the Pirates in the MLB post-season.

It never really left, even when I was offered the position as Pirates Correspondent with Baseball America.

Uncertainty is a core to every human’s emotion.

None of us know what is going to happen next. None of us know what we’ll end up accomplishing. And yet, we all want to know what could happen, so we can better prepare for our futures.

We all have goals and visions, but until you step into the batter’s box and hit a home run in an MLB park against an MLB pitcher, all you really can say is that you think you could be a good hitter in the majors.

Maybe you could. But you eventually need to show it, and show what the hype was about behind your prospect status.

And then what happens when a young prospect comes up and homers in his first game?

Does he know at that point, in his head, that he can do it again? Does he even realize how he did it the first time? And if he continues to do it, and has a successful career, at what point during that career did he finally realize that he belonged in the majors?

At what point in his career does a good MLB hitter know that he’s a good MLB hitter?

More importantly, at what point in his career does a good MLB hitter know how and why he’s a good MLB hitter?

I feel like the last decade running Pirates Prospects has been akin to my journey through the minors, and PBN is the call-up to the big leagues.

Then said season was cancelled, and I feel like all of those prospects in the minors who missed out on a crucial year of development. I’m sitting at home, grinding away to do anything I can do to maintain my position in the game and my future shot at the majors, while waiting for the world to re-open.

My hope is that there’s a “season” in 2021, and we’ll be able to show you what we have planned for PBN, whether it’s from the original plan a year ago, to the adjusted plans along the way, to the current future I see for the site now.

Until then, we appreciate all of your support in keeping things going during this impossible year. It hasn’t been what I envisioned a year ago when I purchased this domain name. But, if you would have told me a year ago that we’d still be in business at this point as Pittsburgh Baseball Network, I would have been relieved knowing that I was able to extend my playing career one more year.

A year from now, I anticipate looking back on this moment and checking off another year, while looking ahead with more optimism for future expansions and plans.

The cycle never ends.

There’s always a new season on the horizon.

And we’re planning for a winning season at Pittsburgh Baseball Network in 2021.

Check out our Cyber Monday deals below to see how you can help us get there.

If you’d also like to support in a round about way, and you’re a music fan, you can check out the records I’ve got for sale.

PBN Card Packs

We’re offering custom baseball card packs, full of Pittsburgh Pirates cards.

Order your PBN Card Packs today (limit of 10 packs per customer) by heading over to the PBN Shop!

Each pack of cards will include:

  • 10 Cards Total
  • 7 Prospect Cards
  • 2 MLB Cards
  • 1 Rare Card
  • Bubblegum Not Included

Rare Cards Include:

  • Jameson Taillon Rookie Cards
  • Jameson Taillon Refractors and Inserts
  • Ke’Bryan Hayes Rookie Cards
  • Ke’Bryan Hayes Refractors and Inserts
  • Mitch Keller Rookie Cards
  • Mitch Keller Refractors and Inserts
  • Travis Swaggerty Rookie Cards
  • Travis Swaggerty Refractors and Inserts
  • Cole Tucker Rookie Cards
  • Cole Tucker Refractors and Inserts
  • Aaron Shortridge Rookie Cards (Small quantity with refractors included, only available on PBN via card packs)
  • Clay Holmes Rookie Cards (Card photo shot by Tim Williams of PBN, refractors included)
  • Refractors and Inserts of Quinn Priester, Sammy Siani, Deon Stafford, and other players!
We’re also offering 30% off individual cards using the code CARDS at checkout.

Subscription Discounts

We’ll be putting the paywall back up this week, restricting all of our articles to subscribers only ahead of the winter meetings and our annual prospect reports.

We’re offering massive discounts on subscriptions, giving you access to the site for 50% off our regular prices. Your subscription will help support this site over the offseason during this difficult time, while also giving you access to our updates on the Pirates, 365 days a year.

Click here to subscribe!

Note: Subscriptions are purchased separately from other products.

Free Shipping

This weekend only we’re offering free shipping for all orders of $40 or more. The shipping option will automatically appear in the checkout once the total is reached.

Prospect Guide Updates

Last week we finalized the top 50 prospects for the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Prospect Guide. The final edits and roster moves are being made to the book now, and it will be sent to print in the next week.

This has been a strange year for the Prospect Guide, especially regarding getting information on players during a year when there was no minor league baseball. Rather than releasing what we knew on each player at the end of last year, we worked to get new information on everyone in the top 50, and on as many other players as possible. The result will be the most comprehensive source of information on the Pirates’ farm system, with our exclusive rankings, grades, and reports on every player in the organization.

I know a lot of you have waited patiently for the book to be released. Our goal is to make sure you end up getting the best product possible, with as much information as we can get included.

The digital version of the book will be made available when the book is finalized. We’ll have some previews from inside the book in the next week, detailing some of the new changes to this year’s edition.

The Prospect Guide has always been a massive lifeforce for this site, while also being a key resource that we use to reference prospect grades and tools. I thank everyone who has purchased the book, and can’t wait to get this year’s copy to you!

The 2020 Prospect Guide returns to print for our tenth¬† we are releasing two variant covers, featuring Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes. Visit our shop to order these extremely limited items!


First Pitch