January 3, 2013

Thirty

Today is my 30th birthday. It seems unreal to me, but it's true. I double-checked and everything.

I began writing on the internet as a 19-year-old in 2002 and back then a big part of my identity, for better or worse, was being extremely young. Hell, this blog was started in large part out of boredom while home from school for the summer and the first post was written on August 1, 2002 while I was literally sitting in my bedroom at my mom's house. Not quite the old "blogging from his parents' basement" cliche, but pretty damn close.

In the months that followed I wrote about moving back into my dorm room and getting rejected by the college newspaper and attempting to make small talk with attractive girls on the bus and various other things that made it very clear I was just a kid. Even two years later, while attending my first Society for American Baseball Research convention in Cincinnati, my age was a frequent topic and many people there were amused that I was barely old enough to drink alcohol legally.

I never quite advanced past that "you're just a kid" mindset and now more than a decade later I'm still doing basically the same thing, writing about baseball and myself on the internet, but there's no 30-year-old "kid" unless you start hanging out with your grandparents. Sticking with something for that long can certainly be a source of pride and I'm also proud of the work I've done here and elsewhere, but having spent your twenties doing one thing is jarring to think about.

And turning 30 will also get you thinking, about good things and bad things and important things and silly things. By age 10 or so I knew I wanted to be a writer and I've been gainfully employed as one since dropping out of college to take a job with Rotoworld in 2005. I've got a house with a mortgage and a car and a retirement account and most of the stuff that always signified adulthood to me. And yet I still think of myself as anything but an adult. I'll have to get over that.

Mostly what I've been thinking about lately is what comes next. What happens when you can no longer cling to any semblance of childhood? What happens when your dropping out of college doesn't really seem to matter any more? What happens when you're nearly the same age your parents were when they had you? What happens when you've spent an entire decade of your life with the thing you dreamed about doing serving as both your job and your hobby? What then?

I'm as happy and comfortable and content as I've ever been since starting this blog in 2002, but within the context of turning 30 that mostly just has me pondering what happiness and comfort and contentedness really mean. I'm very certain that 20-year-old me would look at 30-year-old me and say don't change a thing you lucky bastard, but suddenly that doesn't seem as important as what 40-year-old me would say. And that's an impossible question to answer.

I've always struggled with two primary issues. One is food, against which I've made major strides by losing 150 pounds in one year and keeping that weight off for a second year. The other is social anxiety, but while I've made some strides there as well--going out far more often now than I did a few years ago and expanding my list of friends (or at least acquaintances)--fixing my lack of drive to interact with friends and strangers alike has proven much more difficult than losing weight.

And so I think about what is fixable and what isn't, which life changes should and shouldn't be made, and perhaps most significantly whether I even want to fix those things and make those changes. I'm very much a creature of routine in every aspect of my life and I'm lucky enough to have carved out a pretty nice routine for someone who prefers to be by himself, in his house, the vast majority of the time. But is that "happiness" or is that just "comfortable"?

My age-29 season was a productive one. This blog maintained an audience that motivates me to keep chugging along for another decade, getting paid to write about baseball for NBCSports.com every day remained a dream come true, the growth of "Gleeman and The Geek" surpassed my wildest podcasting expectations with 10,000 listeners per episode, and getting more opportunities than ever to appear on radio was a thrill for someone who grew up obsessed with the medium.

I've luckily never ceased enjoying writing about the Twins on AG.com and about MLB in general at HardballTalk, but I have wondered if I might also enjoy writing more about movies and television and music and comedy and more personal topics here. As someone who spends much of his time thinking about that stuff and loved creative writing once upon a time that sounds appealing. As someone with a baseball-fueled audience and a nice, comfortable routine that sounds scary.

Throughout my decade of baseball writing I've been fond of using the phrase "on the wrong side of 30" to describe a player who's no longer within the typical prime age of an MLB career, with the implication being that his value is more likely to decline than improve or even remain the same. That phrase "on the wrong side of 30" has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks and it's never before seemed so blunt and forceful. Or maybe just truthful.

I went back and forth about writing this post and then about actually publishing it, because I know people come here for the Twins talk and links. And also because I'm not even sure what my point is, although the more I think about it the more I'm convinced not being sure what my point is may be the point. Plus, after a decade of revealing way too much about yourself to strangers on the internet why stop now, right? That's me, at 30 every bit as much as it was at 19.

Mostly, though, I wanted to thank the readers of this blog because just about everything good in my life, professionally and personally, can be traced back to having a loyal audience here. And as I imagine what my thirties have in store I can't forget how in my twenties this blog and its readers enabled me to cross so many goals and dreams off my list. From the 19-year-old me with so much in front of him and the 30-year-old me with so much behind him, thank you.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Paul "Fantasy Camper" Bennett, who'll be blogging and tweeting about his annual experience at Twins fantasy camp in Fort Myers the week of January 6. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

January 3, 2012

Beginning my age-29 season

I started this blog as a 19-year-old and today is my 29th birthday, which probably qualifies as more depressing than impressive. I'm not big into celebrating birthdays--as of now my exciting plans for the evening involve recording a podcast--but it does seem like a good time for a little state-of-the-blog (and state-of-the-blogger) address. And to say thanks, because despite the Twins having arguably their worst season in team history 2011 was a pretty good year for me.

Writing about a 99-loss team wasn't much fun and I certainly can't blame anyone who decided that reading about the Twins was equally bleak, yet even though late-season traffic was down compared to past years AG.com surpassed 1.2 million visitors in 2011. Back in 2002 that many people coming here would've sounded impossible and the motivation that comes with a larger audience than I ever expected is a big part of why I'm still blogging nearly a decade later.

I'm also grateful for the response to "Gleeman and The Geek" with John Bonnes. In retrospect starting a podcast in September of the worst year in team history and without any idea what we were doing wasn't the brightest decision, but the audience topped my long-term hopes in the debut episode and we're now getting 5,000 listeners per show. As a lifelong talk radio fan who's now obsessed with podcasts, having one of my own with an actual audience is fun.

Blogging about baseball as a job can often make blogging about the Twins as a hobby sort of challenging, but there's no doubt that loyal AG.com readers checking out NBCSports.com was a major factor in the encouraging progress Hardball Talk made in terms of audience and content in 2011. And as I've said many times, ultimately any success I've had in the writing and media worlds stems directly from this blog and the people who read it.

On the personal side of things I lost 125 pounds in 2011 and socialized a bit more than usual, both of which have been lifelong struggles for me. I'll probably never cease being a hermit, but I left the house a lot more and fit into my jeans a lot better at 28 than I did at 27 and progress is progress. Plus, when the overwhelming urge to stay home gets the best of me socializing on Twitter is a great alternative that makes me grateful for so many nice, interesting followers.

I'm already dreading turning 30, but all in all 2011 was a pretty good year and whether you've been reading this blog since August 1, 2002 or this is your first day here ... thank you.

September 29, 2011

The End

Well, at least they avoided 100 losses.

I paid my last respects to the worst Twins season of my lifetime Tuesday night at Target Field, enjoying nine innings of perfect weather and a game that meant absolutely nothing. It was an odd feeling after nine seasons of blogging about a team that was at worst on the fringes of contention every year and more often than not advanced to the playoffs, but the evening (and last night's MLB-wide craziness) was also a nice reminder of how great baseball will always be.

At times this season it was easy to forget that, as the Twins ceased playing meaningful games two months ago, had nearly the entire roster wrecked by injuries, and limped to the finish line with an execrable 13-43 collapse. It wasn't much fun to watch and it wasn't much fun to write about, so perhaps more than ever before I really appreciate everyone who continued to stop by here on a regular basis.

My hope is that you'll continue reading AG.com throughout the offseason, because I'll be trying to figure out how the Twins can get back on track while analyzing potential free agent targets, speculating about possible trades, jump-starting my long-delayed series on the best players in team history, and rolling out my annual ranking of Twins prospects. I might take a few days off to decompress before diving into the offseason, but it'll be business as usual here all winter.

Thank you for reading this blog, thank you for listening to my podcast and radio appearances, thank you for following me on Twitter, thank you for supporting my writing at NBCSports.com, Rotoworld, and MinnPost, and thank you for all the kind words and even the not-so-kind ones. If you'll keep reading and listening I'll keep writing and talking, and maybe this time next year we'll be looking over playoff matchups again. And if not, at least baseball will still be baseball.

October 12, 2010

Thanks

Before turning the page on a frustrating yet all-too-familiar end to the Twins' season, I want to say thank you to everyone who helped make my ninth season as a blogger such an enjoyable one. I started this blog in 2002 and enjoy doing it as much now as I did then. I'd understand if you were sick of me by now, which is why I'm so grateful that AG.com traffic was at an all-time high this season despite my posting frequency dropping from 4-5 per week to 3-4 per week.

Whether you've been reading since 2002 or this is your first day here, thanks for stopping by. And thanks to all the media members and my fellow bloggers who helped send new readers to AG.com. After a little break to decompress I'll be diving head-first into offseason coverage that includes analysis of free agents and trade possibilities, my annual ranking of Twins prospects, and (hopefully) the continuation of my long-delayed series on the best players in team history.

In other words, if you liked reading this blog for the past seven months you'll probably also like reading it for the next five months. If nothing else, hopefully it can help pass the time and fill the Twins void between Danny Valencia making the final out Saturday night and pitchers and catchers reporting to Fort Myers in the spring. And maybe the links to weird news stories and pictures of Mila Kunis every Friday will help somehow too. Anyway, thanks for a good season.

March 18, 2010

“Look away, I’m hideous”

This is how I feel right now:

To make a long and boring story marginally shorter and less boring, Blogger has recently made some big changes that forced me to alter the way this blog is published and in the process of making that switch earlier this week everything basically fell apart. Suddenly all the pictures ceased displaying, none of the links to old entries worked, and I saw my blogging life flash before my eyes. Rather than attempt to patch things back together, I got fed up and decided to ditch Blogger after seven years and switch to WordPress.

I've since learned that this is a fairly huge undertaking, particularly when it wasn't even planned, so you'll notice that things look slightly different and quite a few aspects of the blog are out of whack. Hopefully by Monday things will be mostly back to normal, but in the meantime I apologize for the mess and also for the lack of new content.

In the long run WordPress should be a better experience for everyone involved, although as a control freak with some weird OCD-like tendencies for the appearance of this blog the whole process may forever haunt me. Thanks for being patient during the blog makeover and please feel free to leave comments or drop me an e-mail with suggestions for the overhaul or notes about anything that just seems "off."