So many eulogies for Rob Neyer’s career yesterday. And here he is today, with his first column up at his new gig over at SB Nation less than 24 hours later. Faster than the speed of Internet!
The subject of his first column: writing, naturally. He kicks off with a fun anecdote about the time a colleague got bent out of shape over something Neyer said in the comments section of the other writer’s column:
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.
This hits home. I’ve said a lot of things in this blog about other writers’ work but easily the angriest any other mainstream baseball writer has ever gotten at me came as a result of something I said — something rather innocuous actually — in the comments section of a blog. Like Rob’s former colleague, I’m certain the other guy’s disdain had to do with the setting — down with the teeming masses — rather than the sentiment.
There’s something truly twisted about that. Something that I think is related to that stuff we were discussing recently about civility in comments sections. Of course comments sections are going to get uncivil if you treat their inhabitants as if they’re unwashed hordes. In the Internet age, the line between fan and writer is a lot blurrier than it used to be. And that’s a good thing.
SB Nation has some professional writers and it also has a lot of amateur part timers. Rob’s sensibility, as he clearly explains in his first column, is that it doesn’t matter who’s doing the writing. What matters is the message. In light of that, Rob and SB Nation are a perfect fit.
Good luck, Rob. Everyone else: adjust your bookmarks accordingly.