January 3, 2006

The First Entry of 2006

Many of the bloggers I read regularly have written up special entries for the new year. Some of them have a bunch of lists devoted to the year's best things and others have long pieces recapping the last 12 months of their life. I don't really have any brilliant ideas for that type of thing, but rather than spend another day linking to random stuff that amuses me or debating the latest additions to the Twins' roster, I figured today would be a good time to say something about 2005.

Unlike the first three years of this blog's existence -- when the Twins took home the division title and advanced to the postseason each time -- 2005 was not a great year for the team that this blog revolves around. The Twins entered the season with high expectations and were considered by most to be the favorites for a fourth straight division title. Instead, they pitched very well, finished dead last in the league in runs scored, and won just 83 games to finish third in the AL Central.

To make matters marginally worse, the rival White Sox started out 16-4, ended up 99-63 to take the division by 16 games, and then won their first World Series title since 1917. All things considered there have been plenty of worse times to be a Twins fan -- everything from 1993 to 2000, for example -- but with the expectations involved it has to at the very least be considered one of the most disappointing seasons in quite a while.

Fortunately, 2005 was a much better year for the person who this blog revolves around. I finished up with college, saw the visitor totals for AG.com miraculously continue to rise, received several great writing opportunities that allow me to actually do this stuff for a living, and watched as my baby, The Hardball Times, got its second book published and widely distributed. And while this doesn't quite fit under the heading of 2005, I turned 23 years old today.

In the year between 22 and 23 I have taken some major strides toward full-fledged adulthood. I'm still living at home, but for the first year in my life I woke up early each morning because of a job and made enough money to start complaining about taxes. In fact, despite not being done with school until May I'm proud to say that I probably made more money in 2005 than most of the people who were in the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism with me will make in any of the next five years.

I don't mean that to sound like bragging, because if you saw my bank account you'd know it's far from something to brag about. Rather, I am simply proud that after failing miserably in numerous attempts to enter the world of newspaper journalism while at the University of Minnesota, I've found a non-traditional way to make a living doing what I love. I don't know how long it'll last or where it'll take me, but that's part of the fun and it beats the hell out of the inverted pyramid.

AG.com generates some income through various ads, but the only reason this blog is entering its fifth year is that I still love doing it. The blog has certainly evolved quite a bit over time as I've been stretched thinner and thinner with other writing gigs. I used to write thousands upon thousands of words here each day about everything I could possibly think of, whereas now this blog is mostly home to slightly less lengthy thoughts on the Twins and non-sports topics.

For the most part I've been able to maintain my goal of writing something new here each weekday regardless of what other stuff I'm working on, but my involvement at The Hardball Times has become far less than what I would like it to be. I think New Year's resolutions are silly, but I do hope to find a better balance between writing for fun and writing for pay in 2006. I'm not sure how to do that and I've found it very difficult to spread my writing between multiple places each day, but that's the goal.

I want to thank the readers of this blog for your continued support. Without the people who have read this blog since its launch on August 1, 2002 I wouldn't have any of those other opportunities, and for that I will always be thankful. Thousands of people stop by here each day, which remains astonishing to me, and the conversations that occur in the comments section on a regular basis please me a great deal. I hope you'll all stay with me in 2006 and beyond, and I hope you'll continue to support my writing wherever it may be.

Today at The Hardball Times:
- .361 in '61 (by Steve Treder)
- Daily Graphing: Wily Mo Pena (by David Appelman)
- Ramirez and Tejada (by David Gassko)

Pick of the Day (160-141, +$1,675):
Penn State -10 (-110) over Florida State

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