Ten years ago right about now, I was a columnist for MLB.com, based in New York. I’d never worked a beat before, never spent any significant time in a clubhouse before. I was 27 years old and definitely punching above my weight class, so my superiors decided that perhaps I could use some seasoning. The company had an opening in St. Louis, and it seemed like a good fit.
Three weeks after my first conversation with our editor-in-chief, I was on a plane to West Palm Beach, covering my first Spring Training on the Cardinals beat. I had no clue what I was doing. I was totally untrained, and should have been more nervous than I actually was. The idea, I thought, was to get two or three years of seasoning, then get back to columns.
Two or three years became five, became eight, became 10. I met my wife (and her cat) and then we got married (not to the cat). We got a dog and bought a house. I made friends. I learned just how hard and rewarding it is to cover a beat, and learned a great deal about being a professional. I covered two World Series champions, three MVP seasons, and at least two future Hall of Famers. I started tweeting and blogging. I covered two player deaths — two too many.
And now, after 10 seasons in St. Louis, I’m leaving the beat, effective next month. As of the Winter Warm-Up, I’ll be handing over the reins to a really talented, dedicated replacement. I assure you the beat will be in excellent hands, and the announcement on who is taking that job will follow this announcement closely. You won’t have to wait long, and you won’t be disappointed in the choice.
As for me, I’ve been promoted to a job I’ve dreamed about for a long time, serving as a national writer/columnist (title to be determined, actually) for MLB.com. My wife and I will be leaving St. Louis within the next three months or so (the exact time frame remains a bit flexible), bound for New York. I’ll still be writing baseball, I’ll still be working for a company I absolutely love, and I’ll still be in St. Louis sometimes. But this job, this consuming, amazing, overwhelming job, will soon be in someone else’s hands.
The main thing I want to say, as I head east and transition to a new role, is thank you. Thank you to everyone who has read Cardinals.com and read this blog. Thank you to everyone in the St. Louis media, and in the city, who has been so good to me.
Thank you to my wife, Erin, for patience, support, dedication and general amazingness. None of the rest of this matters nearly as much as you, and I try never to forget that.
Thank you to Joe Ostermeier, R.B. Fallstrom and Dave Wilhelm, who gave me guidance when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Without your kindness, patience and direction, I probably wouldn’t have lasted two years, never mind 10.
Thank you to Derrick Goold and John Marecek, who have become two of my best friends and who have helped keep me sane over the years. Each is as good as anybody around at what he does, and Derrick in particular has made my work better every day by upholding an extremely high standard in his own work. This market is lucky to have them, just as I’m lucky to have them as friends and colleagues.
Thank you to Rick Hummel and Joe Strauss, two of the best in the business, who set a standard that I strived to match. Thank you to Bernie Miklasz and Frank Cusumano, who have promoted me more, and spoken more kindly of me, than I could ever deserve. Thank you to Brian Bartow, Chris Tunno, Melody Yount, Terry Rodgers, Jim Anderson and Brad Hainje for always being good to me no matter how much I asked of them. Thank you to Stephen Norris, Conor Nicholl, Daniel Berk, Lee Hurwitz, B.J. Rains, Michael Bleach and Austin Laymance, who gave the best they had as associate reporters, committed to making Cardinals.com the best site it could be. Thank you to all of the players, coaches, front office people and manager (yes, I covered one manager in 10 years) who treated me with respect and courtesy.
Thank you to the many other friends I have made, both in the press box and outside, who have made Erin and me feel at home. We’ll miss all of you. And anyone I didn’t name, it’s because I’m forgetful (surely you know this) and not because you’re not important.
I’m ready, and excited, for the next gig. It’s what I’ve been seeking for years. But I’m also more than a little sad. This has been not just a rewarding job but a defining one. Y’all have humored me when I’ve gone off on tangents, kept me honest when my work has slipped, and always reminded me that I have this job because people care about the team I’ve covered. It’s a job and a period in my life I will always treasure and will never forget.
I’m not entirely sure how to wrap this up. I never really covered Jack Buck. He passed away in my first year on the beat. But I do know that I can’t say it any better than his sign off, so here goes:
“So long, for just a while.”
Thanks, everybody. I’ll miss you. Stay in touch.