Everyone around the baseball blogosphere has been writing thank you posts for Rob Neyer, who announced this week he was leaving ESPN.com and joining SB Nation, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t add something as well. But before I thank Neyer, I should thank Joe Posnanski. Or ESPN.com. Or Twitter.
In September, Posnanski granted me an interview that went for one of the greatest hours of my writing life. I’d have been okay if the Sports Illustrated writer, blogger, and busy family man had offered five halfhearted minutes. Posnanski was one of the best subjects I’ve ever encountered. And I say this as someone who’s interviewed Rollie Fingers (who was dull), Jose Canseco (who subtly asked me if I’d read Vindicated— I hadn’t), and Ozzie Smith (who was the commencement speaker at my college my sophomore year and was wonderful.) If I ever make it as a baseball writer, I hope I’m half as humble as Posnanski.
Within hours of me posting the interview, it was up on Baseball Think Factory, and they referred a heavy amount of traffic by their standards (500 unique visitors– I’m happy to get 100-200 from them.) A few days later, a visitor commented that he’d seen my article up on Neyer’s ESPN blog, the Sweet Spot. That was the day my blog got almost 2,000 unique visitors, which was the record here until Neyer linked again in December and gave me so much traffic the server crashed. It remains my high water mark as a blogger, and friends give me high fives when I tell them about the server crash. I hear it’s called being aneyerated.
One other cool thing happened after Neyer linked to me: I got an email saying he was following me on Twitter. I thought it was a joke at first, and then after checking his page, seeing it was a Verified Account and that he had 300 people he was following and more than 15,000 followers, it just seemed surreal. Every other big name sportswriter has ignored me on Twitter. Even Posnanski. I keep worrying that Neyer will get sick of my random Sacramento Kings Tweets (a man has to rep his hometown) and attempts at humor, or that I’ll sneeze and he’ll unfollow me, but it hasn’t happened yet. He’s even linked to me a couple more times because of Twitter.
I wish Neyer well in his new endeavor and applaud him for trying something new. After reading his inaugural SB Nation post today, I Tweeted that Neyer had made the boldest move in sports journalism so far this year. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope to eventually write for ESPN or SI or most any other major publication that would have me. But maybe Neyer has the right idea, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out better for it, with the media landscape continuing to change. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s set a great example for an up-and-comer like me. I just hope he does a link post in his new space.