Upon learning yesterday that esteemed baseball writer Rob Neyer was leaving his post at ESPN, which he had held since 1996, there was an outpouring of eulogies from stat-centric baseball fans around the net for him and his career. Personally, I found this odd, mainly because he isn't dead. Today, we statheads here at SB Nation for whom Neyer's work had served as an inspiration got a great piece of news: Neyer is joining SB Nation to be National Baseball Editor.
He describes the decision in his first column:
By way of introduction -- you see, I'm new around these parts -- a story ...
At my last job, some years ago, I once added something to the comments section below a colleague's story. This colleague, like nearly all of my colleagues, was a real sweetheart of a guy. But even though my comment was innocuous, suggesting that perhaps one posited explanation for a particular phenomenon might have been better than another, I heard through the grapevine that my colleague was unhappy about it.
Without meaning to, over the years I'd annoyed most of my other colleagues ... and nearly all of them with reputations as incredibly nice guys. So I figured it must be me. I hastily e-mailed this particular colleague to apologize.
His response: "Rob, no problem at all. I just thought the comments section was for them, not for us."
This isn't the place to enumerate the differences, for most of my career anyway, between me and the great majority of baseball writers in the mainstream media. They did finally let me into the Baseball Writers Association of America a few years ago, which I appreciated, plus (did I mention this?) they really are a bunch of really nice guys. And I'm not making value judgments here.
One difference, though, is that I've never thought of myself as a member of us rather than them.
For those of you unfamiliar with Neyer, here's the brief rundown from his SB Nation author page:
Rob Neyer began his career with legendary baseball author Bill James, and later worked for STATS, Inc. and ESPN.com, writing more words for that website than anyone else. Rob has written or co-written six baseball books, including Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends.
Oh yeah, and he's also a member of the BBWAA.
For those of us who have admired Neyer's work for some time, I think Justin Bopp of Beyond the Box Score sums up our feelings nicely:
We are all very excited, proud, and thrilled to be working with someone we all look up to and aspire to be.
Join me in welcoming Rob and wishing him the best of luck. This is a huge step for the network and we look forward to seeing his great work under the SB Nation banner.