10 months ago I worked to launch Call to the Pen as the flagship site of FanSided’s MLB team. In doing so I started to pull away from my team oriented work on Kings of Kauffman. I made the move with a lot of hopes, plans and dreams, but I also had a lot of reservations on making the move.
I was unsure if I would be able to thrive in a general baseball format. I was unsure if I could competently cover all 30 major league organizations with a sense of expertise and insight that even team based bloggers/writers would appreciate or at least respect. I was unsure if my passion would carry over from covering the Royals to covering baseball as a whole. Among a million other things, I was unsure if the site would have any sort of success in the long or short term. Of course all of this doesn’t even touch upon the reservations I had about splitting my focus between a general baseball site and Kings of Kaufman which I had worked so hard to build in the previous 13 months.
It was a great opportunity but with all my internal uncertainty in tow, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I sought out the consel of many members of my “inner circle” of family and friends and put a great deal of weight into their advice and opinion.
Ultimately – even with all of the uncertainty – I took the plunge and pushed forward with the knowledge that having baseball coverage on a general level was critical for the growth and validity of our network. I also knew that at my core I love to build things and the challenges that reside in the creative process. For the betterment of the Network and the inherent challenge I just couldn’t walk away from the opportunity that was in front of me.
So now here I am 10 months later. I’ve learned a lot on the fly and lord knows we have made many adjustments along the way, but all in all Call to the Pen has been reasonably successful. During 2010 – by and large – the site and the staff I assembled have surpassed my expectations. I can’t thank that staff enough for giving their time and effort to the site along the way.
I’m not going to lie. It has been a battle. The task was far more time consuming than I had anticipated. First to go was my involvement on Kings of Kauffman. Initially I stepped down from my position as Lead Writer but later (this fall) would have to accept that even staying on as a contributor for our Royals site was not a feasible option. In September I stepped down as MLB Director for our network as I continued to try and carve out more time for Call to the Pen and some other facets of my life.
But … for me personally covering baseball as a whole has been a struggle and a chore. My writing on the site has been, for the most part, devoid of passion and largely uninspired (at least in my own mind). I have struggled to find ways to live up to my own expectations in terms of productivity and quality of content. I say this despite trying to approach things from a variety of different directions.
I have come to the conclusion that as far as my writing goes, I operate best in a team-specific (as opposed to a general baseball) environment. As a result I have decided to ease the internal struggles and return to team-specific coverage dealing with a team that is near and dear to my heart.
It’s all about strengths and weaknesses and that is why earlier this week I made the decision to step down as the Site Editor/Lead Writer of Call to the Pen.
I made this move with a lot of mixed feelings. In some ways I felt like I was letting down the FanSided network and letting down all those writers who have invested their time in to helping build the site. In some ways I felt like I failed to achieve what I set out to do.
On the other hand, I took that leap of faith 10 months ago and while it became readily apparent that Call to the Pen/general BB coverage was not a good fit for my writing I have really enjoyed building the site and the staff to where it is today. I step down being able to look proudly upon what Call to the Pen has achieved thus far.
I went into this unsure of whether or not general coverage was a better fit for me. Now I know and I have no regrets on that. My decision also led to Michael Engel being able to establish himself as a lead writer on Kings of Kauffman. He has done an incredible job with the site since the moment he replaced me and that fact alone is a source of pride.
Along these lines, I am hoping lightning strikes twice and Call to the Pen will be able to surge forward under the guidance of the site’s new Lead Writer and Site Editor Nathaniel Stoltz. Things are already looking very promising and we have made a number of changes to improve the framework surrounding Nathaniel. The primary change is that Call to the Pen has been relocated. Instead of operating as our network’s 31st team site, we have moved it onto our network’s main page where it can serve as the true flagship site of our MLB coverage. You can still get to the site via the old URL or you can head directly there by clicking here. This move kicks off a slew of beneficial changes for the network and our baseball coverage as a whole that aren’t really applicable to this post.
So what does all of this mean for the future of my writing career?
Again it is all about strengths and weaknesses.
In the last 2 years I’ve written and worked for FanSided in a number of roles. I have been much more productive, motivated, and content in some as opposed to others.
Obviously covering baseball on a general level was not a good fit for me. I believe my writing in that capacity can holds up well against many of my peers but the productivity and motivation was always a struggle for me. When I was covering baseball on a team specific level those elements were not problems and the quality of my work was also at a higher level.
Beyond just the writing, there was another role that I held at FanSided that I excelled at. Not only did I excel, I was productive, motivated and engaged with my work. That role was a MLB Director for our network and oddly enough my work as a writer was also at its best during this time.
So I have returned to my “roots” on both levels.
This week I again became our network’s MLB Director, but with a twist. As we have grown, the job has become far too much for just one person to handle. It’s part of the reason I burnt out in that capacity back in November. So to prevent that from happening the MLB team will have not one but two directors. John Parent, who stepped in when I resigned the position a few months ago, will be my partner-in-crime on the baseball side of the network. Honestly this change in title is more symbolic than anything since I really never left his side and have been supporting him in whatever way I could over the last several months while also maintaining an active role in the leadership of our network as a whole.
As a writer, I will be taking on a “new” challenge and will be heading up our network’s Minnesota Twins coverage. It is a return home for me in a lot of ways.
For those of you who don’t know, when I started with FanSided back in February of 2009 I actually signed on as the lead writer of BOTH our Royals and our Twins sites and operated in that capacity for about 2 months. Then I broke my hand in softball and continuing on at both sites was simply not feasible. I opted to focus on my Royals writing but the Twins have remained near and dear to me despite my decision.
Since we are in the mode of change on a network and staff level, we have decided to rebrand and relaunch our Twins site. I have never been enamored with the site’s name of Twinkie Talk both because I felt it blended in with a large chunk of the Twins blogosphere and because “twinkie” can be used as a very derogatory term.
In the very near future, Twinkie Talk will be “reborn” as Puckett’s Pond with a new look, new logo, new feel, and with yours truly at the helm. I am elated to be returning to my Minnesota and Twins background. With a great group of contributing writers (Erin, Steve, and Josh) already in place and me returning to my strength as a team-based writer I think Puckett’s Pond has a very bright future.
Incidentally the AL Central will be the home of both MLB Directors. John with the Tigers on Motor City Bengals and myself with the Twins on Puckett’s Pond. With Michael proudly representing the Royals over on Kings of Kauffman the three of us will present a powerful divisional trio. Hopefully we will be able to find similarly productive writers for our Indians and White Sox coverage sooner rather than later.
I have every intention that Puckett’s Pond will become the long term home for my baseball writing career. Any branching out I do in the future will only be done so if I can continue on in my role on “The Pond.” The door remains open for me on Call to the Pen as well, but as of now I am unsure whether or not I will remain on staff over there. Just because general baseball coverage is currently a weakness of mine doesn’t mean that it won’t become a strength in the future.
It’s all about strengths and weaknesses. That and self-improvement.
Strengths, weaknesses and self-improvement. Those and following a dream.