First Pitch: Try Again

It’s been a long time.

We shouldn’t have left you.

Without a dope beat to read a mediocre article to.

(article to, article to)

Sorry, it’s just…

It’s a different feeling.

Writing for night time.

For the first time in a long time.

The best way I can describe it is this: I’m sitting here at the time of writing this final draft, watching Tyler Anderson in the fourth inning against Manny Machado as he throws his seventh and final pitch of the inning.

There’s a certain calm that comes with west coast games. At least, I’ve always felt that way. It’s a hard feeling to describe, and I don’t assume it’s universal for everyone. But, for me, it’s there.

Obviously, being on the East Coast, it’s night time. Late at night. Everyone in my neighborhood is sleeping. Except for the people like me who are naturally awake late at night, hidden inside their homes.

Turning the volume down low, but still hearing everything clearly, because sound carries more at night.

Everything is darker at night.

The world is cooler at night.

The cats are all sleeping at night.

The unappreciated teacher wife grabs the very little sleep she can steal before slaving away again to devote every ounce of energy into educating other people’s children, at night. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

And on the big screen, there’s live baseball.

The world is still spinning.

Everyone you know might still be sleeping.

But you’re up.

Right now.

Reading this shortly after midnight.

Or, maybe around 3 AM EST.

Or, maybe tomorrow morning or afternoon.

Or, maybe next week, month, or year.

Or, maybe never at all.

For the longest time, First Pitch was a nightly article, going up anywhere in the midnight to 3 AM range.

I’m horrible with deadlines. I try to get everything done eventually. But, my schedule gets interrupted often, and I overload it.

I get migraine headaches on the reg.

People who have read this site for forever probably know this. And honestly, right now we probably only have our core audience of people who have read this site for forever.

It’s very difficult to maintain a schedule when your head feels like it has a knife in it every time the pressure changes or every time it rains.

I’ve tried eliminating any potential triggers throughout my life, and have found a way to eliminate about 90% of my migraine sources.

Those final 10% are massive. They’re from the outside world that I can’t control.

I can try to prepare for an upcoming storm, but it does no good. Even when I haven’t looked at the weather, or looked outside, I can feel it. Like an old man grabbing his arthritic knee, predicting rain, my head does the same.

I started this site as a way to build a job that I could do, because it’s difficult to do any job when you’re puking from pain at least once a week, and getting headaches multiple days per week.

In the process, I’ve learned one thing.

The Michael Scott Paper Company episode is the best thing that has ever hit any form of media.

It displays how easy it can be to form a business. How you can buy from the same places as the big guys, sell to the same customers that used to buy from the big guys, and build up a business.

And then, volume.

We’ve managed a few volume jumps on this site, expanding operations to the point when we had people covering every level of the system on a regular basis.

And then, the Pirates started to turn away their fans, I kept pouring money into content and live coverage, and we went broke. That was 2018.

Of course, I started this site broke. That was 2009.

I paid everyone after pissing a few of our writers off in the process. That was unfortunate.

The worst thing is that this was the peak of my migraines. That wasn’t just correlation.

At some point between 2018 and now, I completely went back to the drawing board.

I don’t believe my body was assembled correctly.

I didn’t know who to talk to about this. There’s no class action lawsuit that I could find.

So, I laid on the ground in my garage.

Pushing over 300 pounds, failing at the best thing I had done in life, unsure where it all went wrong, frustrated at the outside world factors I couldn’t control, and knowing I could do it better the next time. However, unsure what the next attempt would be, or if it would exist.

I laid on the ground and thought.

Thought about my whole life. What worked best. What work tactics worked best. What went wrong with the site from all sides, including my end. How to avoid that going forward. How I could still build a site aimed at helping other writers get an opportunity. How I could eventually also get healthy in the process, and maybe eliminate these migraines.

I laid on the ground.

Every night.

Moved around a bit. Stretched.


Stretched a bit more. Added a foam roller.

Laid and thought.

Came up with ideas. Scrapped them completely, or just kept one piece.

Asked if I even wanted to do this.

Stretched, and one day I just sat up suddenly with no effort in surprise.

Pittsburgh Baseball Network.

A concept so simple, that I was surprised no one had taken it, but so complex, that I can see why no one took it.

I think it only exists in my mind, and some days feels impossible to fully extract.

Challenge accepted.

Except, you and I are approaching this from two different extremes.

I literally have been building this site from the ground up.

We used to be Pirates Prospects.

Pittsburgh Baseball Network is not Pirates Prospects.

It will have prospect coverage, with a Pirates Prospects approach on one section of the site.

It will feature some of the daily features you used to see on Pirates Prospects.

It will still feature player analysis, interviews, and live reports.

But, we’re doing things differently.

If you’re comparing this site to what Pirates Prospects once was, you’re looking at it different than where I’m coming from.

We’re not close to where Pirates Prospects once was.

We’re heading in a different direction that is bigger and better than what Pirates Prospects could be.

The best part is that, in this project, Pirates Prospects is just a cog in the machine.

Unfortunately, this has been a very difficult time to start such a project.

Part of the plan involved moving to North Carolina, for travel budget purposes, along with a few other strategic reasons that would bore you. Ultimately, this was cutting costs that were unnecessary. That move took place in 2019.

Then, Neal Huntington was fired. Ben Cherington was hired.

Our biggest strength: Our knowledge of the system and how it worked under Huntington, was reset.

Not only would we be launching a new site, with plans to expand widely in the long-term, but we’d be doing it while trying to understand and learn the approaches of the new front office.

Then, the pandemic hit.

There was suddenly no minor league baseball to cover. The MLB season was up in the air, then shortened. The threat of labor issues reared its head, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already preparing for a potential MLB strike in the future.

After a year of no minor league baseball, the Pirates started their rebuild.

Then, MLB turned minor league baseball into a figurative clown show, for that’s the only way I can describe the reduction of teams and the implementation of the gimmick college summer leagues.

And now, after 20 months, including almost a year of Pittsburgh Baseball Network’s slow growing pains — including my slow packing of all of the Prospect Guide book and merchandise orders — we finally have minor league baseball to cover!

I’ve been waiting for this point, to start growing this network the right way.

Based on the thing we cover the best: Minor league baseball.

We’ll have live coverage, but it will be different. We’re going to be experimenting as we go, as coverage in 2021 and beyond is going to be much different than it was in 2019 and earlier.

We’re going to be working to add writers to provide analysis. My vision is having a local version of FanGraphs, with a roster of contributors adding to a community of analysis that can grow upon its own work. We’ve added Jason Gindele as a contributor already, and he’ll be adding a few articles per month. If you haven’t read his work yet, you can check out his previous articles here.

I’ll be building up to the point where you’re hearing from at least one contributor per day, plus the regular stuff from John, Wilbur, and myself.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. A chance to just run with the site, talk about baseball, find other talented people who want to analyze baseball, give them a space for their work along with a little something for the effort, and continuously evolve our coverage, in response to the ever evolving sport we’re covering.

In the process, I thought it would be best to finally return First Pitch to its rightful spot at around midnight. I say that when it’s 12:11 AM EST on my clock, and Tyler Anderson once again is facing Manny Machado in the seventh inning.

I’m bad at deadlines.

It doesn’t help that it always rains in North Carolina, leading to constant migraines.

I realized something about that recently.

Something that might explain why I’ve always gravitated toward night jobs, and why so many articles on this site were geared toward night.

There’s something about a night game.

That you need to watch for work.

But you’ve got a migraine.

It is quieter, darker, and cooler at night.

The pain from the migraine never really goes away. Because, the storm is still approaching.

But, when you turn down the lights, sound, and temperature, it helps to manage the pain so you can otherwise function.

I’ll always have migraines to deal with. It’s why you’ll always have me to deal with on this site.

One of the many downsides to constant migraines is they can leave you feeling detached from the outside world. You know, the feeling that many felt throughout the COVID lockdown. Except, my entire life.

Unless there is west coast baseball.

Offering up that reminder that somewhere, the world is still spinning, even as my head is stabbing.

Fortunately, the migraine I’m describing was Sunday.

It rained today, and it’s weird how that just alleviates the pain.

Tonight, I get to write. And package more orders to go out. We’re a step away from delivering orders in a Korean church van.

Tomorrow, minor league baseball returns!

It’s good to be back, and good to be getting back into old habits!

And now, like Tyler Anderson at 12:23 AM, I’m out!

See you tomorrow night!

After midnight!

Daily Links

**Williams: Travis Swaggerty is One Step Away From the Majors

**Pirates Sign Catcher Christian Bethancourt to a Minor League Deal

**Pirates Activate Michael Feliz from Injured List; Option Sean Poppen


**Indianapolis Indians 2021 Preview

**Draft Prospect Watch: Potential First Overall Pick Falters Over the Weekend

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 3rd, Major Trade with the Brooklyn Dodgers

**Card of the Day: 2011 Topps Heritage Neil Walker

**1925 Pirate Replay, September 27: Pirates Win Rain-Shortened Game

PBN Updates

I’ll be tweaking this site all season like I’m Josh Bell at the plate. I’ll have the latest updates posted here.

Tomorrow we will be posting two live discussion threads. One will be the classic Prospect Watch, which we will post before the first game starts at 6 PM. The idea is to give a central location to discuss all prospect-related items for the day.

We will also have the usual live game discussion for the Pirates. We’ve had discussions on whether we should have one discussion thread per day, covering MLB and minors, or this separate approach. The approach of two live discussion posts is similar to what we’ve done before, so we’re starting with that.

We welcome your feedback on what you’d like to see for discussion threads!

Check back in this spot tomorrow for new updates!

Song of the Day

First Pitch