John Kruk, the famously scruffy, squat and rotund first baseman of the Philadelphia Phillies was in a restaurant one time, eating a big meal, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. A woman recognized him and went over to his table. She told him that she was surprised that a professional athlete wasn’t taking better care of himself. Kruk leaned back in his chair and said “I ain’t an athlete, lady. I’m a baseball player.”
I know how John Kruk feels sometimes, usually when people talk to me about my job. I ain’t a baseball writer, lady, I’m a baseball blogger.
Of course, I usually tell people I’m a baseball writer because it’s easier, but I don’t normally feel like the sort of baseball writer most people think of when they hear the term. I don’t travel with teams and write about games on deadline. Nor do I often sit back in deep thought and write Fine Prose about the Nature of the National Pastime. Paul Hoynes is a baseball writer. Roger Angell is a baseball writer. I’m a baseball blogger.
I make no apologies for this. I react quickly and write in bulk, posting as many as 15 to 20 items a day. Sometimes there’s humor, sometimes there’s deeper insight and sometimes there’s not much more than a link and a few sentences. Which is fine. I do not consider myself some sort of Final Word or Authority on baseball. I consider myself a conversation starter. As my friend Ethan once put it, I’m not a musician. I’m a D.J. My blog is called “HardballTalk” not “Hardball I Dictate Things To You From Some Position of Authority.” I view most things I write to be invitations to people to chat about a sport we all love. Not much more.
Sometimes it’s different. This past week was different. I was in St. Louis and Boston for the World Series and I was not expected to spin a dozen or more records a day. Instead, I wrote a couple of longer things a day with some time to contemplate them, complete with datelines and more original thoughts. They were very baseball writery, with interviews, quotes, ballgame descriptions and, to some degree, well-considered prose:
- A man-on-the-street piece investigating baseball fandom;
- A deadline game story about Game 3 of the World Series and how the Red Sox manager seemed to embrace chaos;
- A contemplation of the essence of baseball couched – somewhat unwittingly – in science, technology and society studies;
- A (data-based) rant against those who claim that baseball is dying and that World Series TV ratings are in the toilet;
- Without pressure you don’t get diamonds: Jim Joyce has the plate for Game 6; and
- Fenway Park: Absolute Bedlam
I don’t know that I’d like to do this sort of thing all of the time. I like the immediacy of blogging and contributing to the larger baseball conversation on my site and on Twitter. But these were fun to do and I’m kinda proud of them.
Maybe one day I’ll think of myself as a Baseball Writer. Or maybe just a Writer. For now it’s kind of neat to at least dip my toe in those waters.