Early in 2011 I was training for a job at MLB.com when I got a call from David Appelman that changed my life. He gave me my dream job that day, a full time job writing and editing at FanGraphs. I’ll forever be grateful to him.
It’s not only the job that Appelman gave me that day. He rewarded me for taking a risk. I haven’t taken enough of those in my life, especially in my work life — I’ve worked mostly for three companies so far. By giving me what I had desired lustily for years, he helped alter my internal calculator.
Now risk meant opportunity. Now change was worth it. I am not the same now.
Back when I was graduating from Stanford University, I was afraid of change and risk. After four years at that institution, I’d found myself a niche in the Enchanted Broccoli Forest — I was an official host, a Social Manager for that co-operative, and in my element as a professional talker and party-thrower. I’d found classes I loved, from Jungian Psychology to Queer Theory, Abstract Expressionism to an entire class on Blade Runner. I’d found the girl I loved, who I’d later marry.
So when the job market crashed around us my senior year, I did what any good risk-averse groundhog would do, and returned to school for a fifth year and a masters in Communications. I’d hoped to get a job writing about the arts (I was the Arts & Events editor at the Stanford Daily) or sports, and spent that extra year writing cover letters to every daily in America, it felt like.
But my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t want to cover local politics in a small town, or high school track. I didn’t want to leave my girlfriend, or the region I’d come to love. I didn’t want change.
I took a job, any job, turns out it was an editor at Wadsworth Publishing. But if my heart wasn’t in it, my mind soon followed. The overhead at a company like that forces them to require ridiculous profit margins on every book. Having just spent five years taking out loans to buy books, I felt the enterprise was corrupt. I spent my days playing fantasy baseball and my nights enjoying being young in San Francisco.
When my now wife got into a school in London, I jumped at the chance to leave. I worked at Laurence King publishing on books like coffee table surfboard art and bar and club design. And I watched postseason baseball at two in the morning. And I played a ton of fantasy baseball, and even started writing about it on a blog called Fantasy Lounge Sports.
You could call going to London a risk, but the reward there was a life partner that has been supportive and loving. Not a job I loved with my whole heart, and I certainly wasn’t risking that by leaving.
When I returned, I was hired to be the founding American editor for Kumon Publishing and stayed there five years — but I didn’t put my entire intellectual energy into that enterprise either. I was writing more and more about baseball, and playing fantasy, and dreaming of writing about it for a living. When I was in Tokyo for business, there was always time for a baseball game.
So the big risk, when my wife and I moved to California to start our family, was trying to go full time with baseball.
I won an award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for a piece on Kevin Maas and age-at-level that got some attention. Jonah Keri hired me to Bloomberg Sports, Eric Simon hired me at Amazin Avenue, and Appelman gave me a part time job at FanGraphs, and with the help of family and friends, I made it work for a year before that fateful call from Appelman that gave me a full-time job. A lot of luck, a bit of risk, and some good timing, and I got a job that I’d always wanted but didn’t exist when I was growing up.
There’s been some change since, of course. FanGraphs took a chance on me when they put me forward for membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America, which allowed me access to our greatest baseball athletes. I’ve slowly begun shifting more of my writing to the exploration of mechanics and on-field play along with those players in a way that has made writing about fantasy uncomfortable at times. RotoGraphs has grown in leaps and bounds along the way, but I’m not sure how many more ideas I have for it.
Anyway, I drone on. The point is this. It’s time for another risk.
This will be the last column I’ll write for RotoGraphs for the forseeable future.
I love baseball, and I will still write about baseball daily for the front of the site. I’ll still interview baseball players. I’ll still answer your questions on twitter. I’ll still podcast with Paul Sporer once a week. So I’m not taking the full risk here.
But I won’t be editing RotoGraphs, one of the best jobs in the world — that I will hand over to Paul’s capable hands. Expect a super sweet Draft Kit this year, and more writing from your new editor. I’ll give AL LABR one more shot if they’ll have me, but I’ll be quitting a good portion of my industry fantasy leagues — at 15 leagues a year, I was spread a little thin.
People do change, if slowly, and over time, and in small ways. This risk I’m taking — I’m moving my editing work into the craft beer space — is maybe smaller than the few I’ve taken in the past, but also notable since it wasn’t something I was capable of doing at other points in my life. In this case, I’m still writing about baseball, and doing so at FanGraphs. But my editing work will come from a new venture.
It’s a risk nonetheless, and it’s made possible by what I’ve learned while I’ve been here. So a very big thanks to Appelman, to FanGraphs, and to all of you for reading along the way. There’s still so much to learn, so I hope we keep in touch virtually, either on the front page, or on the podcast, or on twitter. You’ve always been the very best of readers and commenters — politely pointing out error, or providing inspiration for future study — and I’m sorry to risk losing your support.
I just have to remember: Change is good. Change is growth. Change is progress. Don’t ever stop changing.
See you around.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.