There’s a lot of bad publicity out today, and somewhat deserved (RIP MinorLeagueBall.com - I fully intend to push whatever his new site is once it’s up), but I wanted to take a moment and recognize why I love this site, and the community that’s here. You can skip the My Path to Here part- as it’s more backstory of how I got to here and why I appreciate it so much.
My Path to Here
I can count the number of friends I have who are really into baseball on one hand (sorry I’m not a football guy), so I eventually searched for a place to discuss my passion with.
For me, it started with the Astros.com message board. I found a place where people loved the Astros, and it was like a giant dysfunctional family. There was a mix of everything, from trolls to extremely knowledgeable people. It was a unique community with great people, from a “mother hen” who posted recipes, a grumpy old man, a guy who basically just corrected spelling and grammar (thank god he doesn’t read my articles), a class clown, hell there was even an Australian girl and a Marine who got married after meeting in that forum, and his mom. It’s more than a decade later and I still remember all of theirs and other screen names.
At the time, I was a hardcore baseball fan, with basic knowledge, following primarily stats like RBI’s, BA and HR, and barely looking past those stats in my evaluation of a hitter. I look back now at how I thought I knew a lot about baseball.
I remember watching Roger Clemens in 2005, and coming to the realization that I hated the win stat. For those who don’t remember, he pitched to an ERA of 1.83 that year, and despite pitching the best season of his illustrious career, he ended up 13-8 and losing the Cy Young (winning 7 others with worse seasons). So I took a step back and starting using Quality Start as my “measure” since it takes the offensive contribution out of the equation. Man I was smart lol. (BTW, does anyone even use this stat anymore I couldn’t even find it)
One day, a poster named Marshall, had a long argument about Adam Everett. At the time, I didn’t really value defense, and Everett was not even making sports center type plays at that. To me he was a good defender but terrible overall. But as I read into it, it peaked my interest and made me explore other stats further.
When the Astros started tanking is when it all changed. Partially because the community on the Astros message board dwindled as fans left in hordes, leaving more of a “core” group behind. This was when I started following the Minor Leagues, and a poster - named Ashitaka, ran a thread about the minor leagues (and thus I fell in love with “NiTro”). Some of you know him as Brian Stevenson as he came over here as an excellent writer later on. (another person who taught me a lot)
This is when I found a love for SBNation sites - as I found Minorleagueball.com, which I still credit for my love of prospects and eventually leading me to find TCB.
When I first found TCB, it was intimidating. I lurked here, often citing the data here back on the Astros message boards. It took me a few years before I started posting here, working up the “courage” (ok I’m kinda ashamed to admit this lol), I mean even the slogan is “The Thinking fan’s Astros web site” .
I love the community here, there was no reason for me ever to be nervous. Sure there were tons of people who knew more about baseball than me, but it was an open and accepting community. And although it wasn’t as “social” in some senses, it felt like it challenged me every single day as I learned something new. There were a myriad of insanely talented writers and commenters here, and I’ll admit, I had no idea what 90% of the stats were and was searching what the random group of letters that were just posted even meant.
Last off-season, suddenly everything was up in the air. The leadership and writers were (rightfully) abandoning ship. And while I don’t blame them in any way, I was worried as a site I checked five times a day, suddenly turned on it’s head.
There was a time of upheaval, but I give Bilbos an insane amount of credit for steadying the ship. At the time, content was sparse, and some of the writing was hit or miss. I remember posting a long winded debate, and Bilbos telling me I should write an article. I stopped and was like - WHAT? Is he crazy? Who am I to try to do that?
And so I did, my first fanpost - Exploring the “necessity” and impact of a JT Realmuto Trade. It was a great experience, getting 25 comments, though most of them were WMT telling me I was an idiot (politely) and educating me (I continue to learn from him and others daily). A learning experience none the less. I did a few fanposts, and basically in every one, there were encouraging words - especially from Bilbos.
Then I hit the “big time” my article “Giancarlo Who - We Have KEMP?!”, which Bilbos brought to the front page. There were 77 comments on that article, and again I was addicted. I want all of my articles to be about starting a discussion, I’m not here to dictate or educate this amazing group of people - I look to do research and start the conversation and debate in this great community. What was even better - was people seemed to enjoy my work, and give me additional information and where I could find data - HELLO BASEBALL SAVANT!
I actually submitted a list of the communities encouraging comments when I reached out to Issa about becoming a writer for the site. I didn’t hear back, but Bilbos convinced me to keep going and eventually brought me on as a writer.
So why is it so great?
Honestly, it’s the community and comments here. The day I took this “job”, I felt like I was stepping into huge shoes. The writers who built this community are legends and I hope that I don’t let them down.
Some people hate advanced stats because they “ruin” the sport, and there’s a place for all of us. But I love that people are continually looking at improving the statistics in this game. Identifying what was attributed to the ballpark, luck, etc vs the actual player. Truly building predictive stats and working to eliminate the “noise”. This has always been the case - for example - people discounting offensive performance at Coors Field - it’s just a more refined version.
I wonder sometimes if I should build a guide of “advanced statistics” in common language that can guide new posters (not that I’m an expert nor qualified - but maybe I can translate it well).
I just want to thank this community, for sticking together. It makes it enjoyable. I love coming to this site and having discussions. I love when people disagree with my article. I love when the discussion teaches me something.
Why Post this?
Well I laughed at a posters ignorance, and posted a comment I regretted. It wasn’t bad, they weren’t upset, and it actually turned into a good conversation, but I realized, we have a lot of new posters on here (and hopefully many more to come), and others who lurk and haven’t posted. I want all of them to feel welcome. I want people to know that Bilbos is one of the most encouraging people I’ve met. If you want to try to write, he’ll never discourage you - even if you are as dumb as me! If you’re lurking and haven’t posted - join the conversation - I promise you’ll enjoy it!
Thank you guys. Thank you for contributing constantly. Thank you for challenging me - for the excellent discussions.
In my humble opinion, there is no better Astros website in the world.