First Pitch: Here is What You Can Expect on Pittsburgh Baseball Network This Offseason

You ever watch a cat jumping onto a high surface?

The cat will study the surface from the floor.

Calculating the landscape from what it can observe.

Studying every obstacle that could cause issues in its ascent, or which might knock it back off the surface.

Then, with the grace of a feather moving in reverse of the laws of gravity, the cat will glide from the floor to the kitchen counter, landing so effortlessly and seamlessly, instantly studying the new surrounding surface it stands on.

And I literally just put him on the floor ten seconds before he made this jump back up.

Cats don’t give a shit about our rules.

See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Colder than the moon
It’s been so long

I haven’t been away, but I’ve been largely absent from Pirates coverage.

The last few years have been spent debating whether I still want to do this work — covering one of the worst franchises in sports and trying to find signs of hope that things will get better. This is all in the face of the same type of corporate speak from the same owner, a new General Manager who is taking a new approach to the old small market rebuilding effort, and a player development system that has seen less of an overhaul and more of a necessary adjustment.

There’s no question that I want to do this job. I love this work.

I love being able to study how a player can go from being a minor leaguer who very few of the MLB fans know, to being a major leaguer with a replica jersey worn by many of those same people.

I love the game of baseball itself, and how you can draw parallels between any part of this game and any part of real life.

Most importantly, I love writing.

I love crafting articles for you — whether you’ve been reading me since 2009, or whether this is your alarming first experience at my openly raw and honest style of trying to captivate your attention.

I’ve been on the other side.

A browser sitting open at home with all of the articles I want to read once I get off work from a job I wouldn’t do if I didn’t need it to survive.

Reading the articles before and after work to immerse myself into something that feels like real life, with a connection to people who aren’t paid to be there, but are only there due to shared free-time interests.

Drowning out the voice inside my head that wants to pull an Office Space and just tell this work-obsessed society that I’m not doing this anymore as I sleep through my alarm.

I don’t want to go back.

At the same time, it sucks covering this team sometimes. It sucks so much that I sometimes dream about going to that other side of the workforce. There are some days where I’d rather fill out a knowingly useless TPS report than have to pay any attention to what the Pittsburgh Pirates are doing.

But, I wouldn’t leave you all behind like that.

Especially not when I think the Pirates are close to being contenders again.

Feel my blood enraged
It’s just the fear of losing you
Don’t you know my name?
And you’ve been so long

Locked away in my house in 2020, mostly alone, I mapped out my future while trying to not go insane.

In the process, I figured out how I could do this job for the rest of my life, while being able to do other projects that are dreams of mine. That includes a massive fictional book universe that draws inspiration from Marvel comics, classic monster movies, my vast knowledge of world philosophies and religions, and the lyrics and personalities from many of my favorite musical artists.

As for this job, when I started, I was trying to see if I could make this a career for myself. Once I crossed that threshold, I tried to see if I could help other writers along the way. That’s largely the focus of Pittsburgh Baseball Network.

However, there was still the question of whether I wanted to dedicate so much of my life covering this organization. I didn’t know if promise would return to this organization.

So, I took a page out of Ben Cherington’s 2020 playbook: When the landscape is uncertain, stand back, observe, and when you see your opening, jump in.

Like a cat planning his third leap up onto the counter to see if I’m eating chicken again.

Still this pulsing night
A plague I call a heartbeat
Just be still with me
You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through
You’ve been so long
And it’s been so long

There was a point a few years ago when I realized I needed to change my approach — on many levels.

This is a city where authentic voices are in short supply. Instead, we’ve got wannabe wrestling heels, writers who mimic the style of relic columnists, and just daily angry Twitter fights over bullshit that we forget a week later.

I can’t say that I’ve always had an authentic voice. I can say I’ve participated in the Twitter fights.

It can be easy to fall into a trap of “This is how you’re supposed to sound and act” because it’s not really natural for me to be writing to you on a daily basis about the shared interest we both have.

There’s too much information in this game for any one person to ever learn.

The game is evolving every day, meaning that if you could learn everything about everything in the game, your knowledge would become obsolete by tomorrow.

I’m just a guy. A guy with a super power. I can take in massive amounts of information in a short amount of time and commit it to memory forever, with instant recall.

I know more about this game than most people, due to the amount of time I’ve spent around the game. I also know exactly how much I don’t know, and I know that I can never know it all.

That specific knowledge leads to an insecurity that leads to all of the toxicity you see in the Pittsburgh sports media landscape — and anywhere else, but mostly Pittsburgh.

We all prop ourselves up in some way to convince you that, yes, you should actually be listening to what we say, even though you could do all of this yourself with the curiosity you have for the game, combined with all of the time you normally spend at your job.

I didn’t like what my voice had become in that process.

I didn’t like the person I was becoming.

I pride myself on my honest approach, and that was slipping away into yet another cocky caricature.

So, I took a page out of my favorite artist’s book. John Mayer, who is basically the musical version of me, stepped away from music for a few years when his image started spiraling out of control. He returned, aimed at providing music for his fans, while helping younger musicians behind the scenes.

I stepped away for similar reasons. I went through a lot of therapy. I smoked a lot more weed and got to the core of who I was. I figured out where my insecurities came from. I removed all of the toxic people from my life who were only fueling those insecurities.

I’m ready to return now, with similar goals as John Mayer when he returned.

I hope to provide you readers daily, entertaining articles from my own unique approach. I hope to also help other writers along the way.

And I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline
Putting out fire
With gasoline

The offseason is my favorite time of the year.

Everything from the season stops moving, and you get a chance to evaluate static numbers, rather than trying to play the game of double-dutch that is in-season analysis.

To this point in the year, I’ve been treating my writing approach like Spring Training. I try to put stuff out there, but I haven’t gotten to the point of daily writing.

My focus has mostly been watching this organization and how they’ve operated. The 2021 season was Ben Cherington’s first real season with the Pirates. None of us knew what to expect, and none of us really know what to expect going forward.

The offseason is the start of my regular season.

I stare at a spreadsheet that maps out two featured articles per day through mid-November, plus a daily First Pitch. And that’s all primarily from me.

That doesn’t include additional articles from John Dreker and Wilbur Miller, who have both been killing it all year this year.

It doesn’t include additional articles from Ethan Hullihen, Jason Gindele, or other writers I plan to bring in this offseason.

There is going to be something for you to read every day this offseason, on every site that is affiliated with Pittsburgh Baseball Network.

My main goal: Dissecting every aspect of the 2021 season, and sharing with you the knowledge I’ve collected on this organization’s rebuilding efforts so that you can find ways to steal time from your workplace reading articles about a thing you actually enjoy in life.

Trust me when I say that I would not be here if I didn’t think the Pirates are heading in the right direction. I would advise you all to follow another team if I thought this was more of the same.

And that’s with the disclaimer that I feel Bob Nutting is highly unproven in providing the resources to maintain a winning team, and I don’t trust him to provide the necessary support to keep Ben Cherington’s window open when it does open. That is highly based on his approach from the last time the Pirates were contenders under Neal Huntington.

But, I’m a man of second chances.

Or, third chances.

Or, however many chances my cat jumps onto this counter as I finish this article, and get to writing the next one for you to read.

Thanks for reading along, and I hope to see you every day this offseason!

Daily Links

**Minor League Recaps: FCL Pirates

**Pirates Will Have Fourth Selection in 2022 MLB Draft

**Pittsburgh Pirates Three Stars of the Week Sep. 27-Oct. 3

**Williams: Major League Baseball Needs a Salary Cap, Salary Floor, and Equal Revenue Sharing

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 4th, Deacon Phillippe Beats Boston Again

**Card of the Day: 1912 T202 Deacon Phillippe/George Gibson

Song of the Day

First Pitch