Buckle up, this is going to be a weird one. With any luck a good one, too, but a weird one nonetheless.
In the last couple weeks you've probably seen me on my Twitter account linking to stories on TheBigLead.com. It probably caused some confusion, or more likely your eyes glazed over.
Guess it's time to come out and officially say I'll be writing for Big Lead Sports on a full-time basis going forward.
That's right: you're getting more of my classic arrays of goofy links, dated pop culture references, butchered syntax and typos, typos and more typos.
Basically it'll be the classic, well-honed journalism you've come to expect from me, but on a national platform.
(Contain your excitement.)
It's crazy to think about. Right around this time last year I was about to give up on the blogging game permanently. My heart wasn't in it anymore. Hell, my heart wasn't anywhere except dead in the gutter somewhere. Let's not talk about it, suffice to say your favorite little blogger wasn't in a happy place.
Oddly enough, as my personal life hit the shitter, my professional life never was any better.
Another admission: for as long as I've maintained this ancient, prehistoric, decidedly non-web 2.0 site I've been a working newspaper reporter. It's not something I've talked about in this space. I've worked hard to keep my TOP blogging separate from my work at the Connecticut Post. Kind of a church and state thing. Two sides of a the same coin. (Anyone with a working Google could have figured this out for themselves. I didn't keep it a guarded Bruce Wayne-level secret.)
Today, after nine years working at the Post as a staff writer -- mainly covering high school sports -- packing up my sandwich in a brown paper bag each night and grinding away, I notified my editors I was leaving to take this outstanding opportunity at Big Lead Sports.
People who prattle on about the "craft" of journalism usually make my stomach turn -- take that shit to someone else, mang. Still, over the last year or so something kicked in during my work at the Post. I found myself, gasp, enjoying the job especially during high school basketball season. That's what I'm going to miss the most, being inside a hot, cramped, sweaty gym in the middle of a cold February night with the bleachers packed trying to capture that emotion inside of 15-inches of type. (Ok, I'm wordy in print as well.)
For years we've all read about the demise of newspapers, but there's still a place -- an important place -- for local, community journalism. In the big picture the outside world doesn't care very much when the Bunnell boys basketball team wins the SWC championship -- but it means the world to those involved. I always took it to heart that for the games I covered -- at least the playoff ones -- it mattered to somebody out there. Maybe it's an overly hokey notion but I'd like to think, be it a mom or a dad or grandparent, somebody clipped something I wrote and saved it to remind them of that time everything was good in their world. That they could read the words, remember and smile.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still a cynical piece of shit and all that, but somehow I softened.
The little things about what's mainly an entirely thankless job mattered.
I still won't miss freezing my ass off on Friday night in November covering a football game that just won't end or random people calling up the paper thinking they had free reign to yell at me or demand something of me, but I'll look back at my time as a newspaper reporter quite fondly.
On the flip side, the nature of the web is always going to be less personal and much more jaded, if a contest who can make the most biting comment on a particular post.
For those who've been reading this site, say since circa 2005 when it started getting linked by Will Leitch on Deadspin for soccer posts, I'd like to hope and think it's been a little different, a little more personal.
I've always been up front with everybody: all I am is a guy somewhere in the wilds of the Internet with a modicum of talent, a few original ideas and fair opinions who's sitting behind a computer trying to provide something to read ... if I did my job properly, think.
One of the few things in life (overly dramatic music) I value is the relationship I've built up over these years with the reader. The friendship, well, that's not quite the right word for people you've never met face-to-face, but you know what I mean. That kinship between liked-minded people on Twitter, a message board or whatever else form of social media is in vogue that day, isn't meaningless. There's plenty of smarter, more eloquent people who've written about our increased isolation in modern times and the relationships we develop online, just know it's something that exists -- and from my experience it's usually a very positive thing.
Guys who go back to the old days of the site like The Rev, aimorris, Erik K, the Ironic Steel Salesman (even as a Chelsea fan), Richard in Portland (another Blue scum), Mac Antigua, Brad Thrasher, Slade, Nate from Oh You Beauty, Jared Dunn, Dan from the Free Beer Movement, Drew Konig, anybody from the Unprofessional Foul gang and last but certainly not left 30f. have made following sports, especially soccer a lot more fun than it had been before the blog.
There's the Twitter crew out there -- simply too many to name -- that make watching a game all that much better in real time as well. Guys like Ricky and Evan out in Los Angeles, True Evertonian the Farmer Jones, the Miggie Team down in Texas, Kev Shaw, Chris Thomas, Fulham's No. 1 Baltimore fan: Tim, Jeff in Philly (always love a baseball/soccer guy like myself), and even Inspectah Patio out in Pittsburgh, a man who actually might be more cynical than me -- and perhaps even a bigger classic "Simpsons" fan, to boot!
My real-life friends, you guys don't want name checks do you? Too bad, Mike, Nick and Greg you're getting thanks here, too. Dad, you get a shout out here as well. (Thanks for driving up ad sales.)
Also need to credit all the WFAN mongos out there who put up with my soccer crap following me on Twitter.
(If I left you out, sorry you're just not that cool. Deal with it.)
These guys -- and EVERYBODY -- who's taken the time to read something I've poured a lot of time in to write, if only for my only amusement or to fight off boredom during the summer months ... there's no way to repay you guys or thank you adequately enough. I've always genuinely appreciated the time you've taken to comment on stuff I've written, because you too have put some thought and effort into it. (Plus you rarely tell me how much I suck. Or you do it nicely.)
My "success" would be impossible without the readers. You guy have pushed me and made me better and most importantly -- want to keep doing this.
Is that enough rambling and self-indulgence for one post?
Felt something like this was necessary to get everything out in the open.
So yeah, going forward you can keep up with me on Big Lead Sports. I'm already working on some good USMNT related stuff, making calls, learning how to blog on a big platform -- namely the best brand of sweat pants to wear.
In closing, let's quote from the Book of MA$E:
Now, who's hot who not
Tell me who rock who sell out in the stores
You tell me who flopped who copped the blue drop
Who jewels got robbed who's mostly
Goldie down to the tube sock,
the same ol pimp
Mase, you know ain't nuttin change but my limp
As always, thanks for reading.