It took me several weeks to be mentally prepared to say what I am about to say:
I am stepping down as one of the lead editors here at Fish Stripes effective today.
I was not at all surprised that I hesitated for several weeks to write this article after announcing this decision to the SB Nation staff and the other leaders of Fish Stripes a few weeks ago. For five years, Fish Stripes has been a retreat for me, a place for me to enjoy putting out my writing to a readership that wanted something new in the way of Miami Marlins coverage. When I first embarked on blogging about the Marlins back in 2009, my goal was to bring analytic coverage of my favorite team, a team to whom I had recently returned after being estranged for a few years. I want to believe that, in the eight seasons of Marlins baseball that I have covered since, I have accomplished that goal.
It was not always easy, just like it is not easy today to say goodbye. After the 2011 season, I had struggled with the idea of retiring from blogging as well after only three years. I was in the midst of medical school and thought I was too busy to continue pumping out articles on my own. I enjoyed writing but thought the responsibility was too much for a hobby. Then I received an email from Eric Simon of SB Nation’s MLB network that took me by surprise: Craig had decided to leave Fish Stripes and they were looking for a replacement. Fish Stripes was a bigger platform with an established readership that could provide me the audience I always looked for, but it would come with a bigger responsibility to provide content. At the end of the day, that offer was too tempting to pass up, and after the 2011 season ended, I took over the Fish Stripes blog and introduced myself to this wonderful group of readers.
Along the way, I had brought some readers over from my past spots, and with my new approach I would like to believe that I brought on new folks interested in baseball in a different fashion. Fish Stripes grew more than I could have expected in those first few years, and I honestly thought we were making great progress. Even as the team struggled on the field, Marlins fans still banded together on game days here and enjoyed reading about the team, even if the news of 2012 and beyond was often more frustrating than optimistic. The biggest difference, I felt, was that Fish Stripes became a place where you could come almost every day and read something of interest about the Marlins from an outsider perspective. Outside of the news outlets tasked to cover the team on a daily basis, that amount of Marlins content just was not available almost anywhere else. Few other fan-based blogs on the web had the amount of writers and daily content that we had, and that made the difference between building a tight-knit community around game threads and building a wider, more expansive community that read and discussed the Fish daily. I think that is the most important thing that I will leave here in Fish Stripes.
In some way, having that spot to always say my thoughts is what I will miss the most. I genuinely love the Marlins and will always have something to say about them, even after I stop writing about this club. I’ll never stop being a fan, but this will be the first time in eight years that I will not have a dedicated place to write down my thoughts on a trade, a signing, a move on the field, a player of interest, or anything of that nature. It will be weird to house these thoughts in my head rather than putting fingers to keyboard and writing another 1000 words on Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and the other Fish. It does not feel normal to not have that freedom any longer, and it may be one of the hardest things to get used to.
Along with that place to house my thoughts is the community that would gather for discussion, and to those in that community, I thank you for finding us and sticking with us through my tenure here. I met many of you on the introduction post and the first few analysis pieces and game threads years ago, and a lot of you have stuck around. Jigokusabre, Marlon D, Jeremy Hulme, Andrew Townes, rsanchez1, and everybody else who has helped grow Fish Stripes from the beginning, thank you for being friends and comrades in our fandom. As Marlins fans, we are misfits in the world of baseball to begin with, so all the more reason for us to band together and stay with the site rather than disperse. I hope you all will stick with Fish Stripes in years to come.
The writers of the Fish Stripes staff have been just as important as me in attracting new readers and building this tiny site into the best Marlins community around. A special thanks goes to Scott Gelman, a young man I met (Internet-wise) several years ago when we had an initial roll call for new writers. Scott had writing experience but was early in his career and in my view needed a little time to find the right voice to fit the site. When I expanded the news coverage team a little less than a year later, he was among the first guys who reached out to me, and I am proud to say that he has been an amazing writer and now editor of the site since then. Scott will continue as editor of the site, and I could not be happier to leave the website in his capable hands.
To those of you who began with me and moved on to better things, I am happy for you as well. That includes (but is not limited to) Chris Towers, Conor Dorney, Andrew Townes, and Sam Evans, four guys who spent a good amount of time on the site helping on the analytic content end who did marvelous work and are now doing even better things on their own. For the news crew under Scott who have been devoted to covering this team whenever breaking news hits, I want to extend my thanks as well. Guys like Danny Smith, who has been with us since our news/Fish Bites expansions began, and Thomas Bennett, who has moved up in our hierarchy in a short time frame because of his eagerness to help, are irreplaceable in work ethic and professionalism in their duties.
If I loved this site as much as I say I have, why am I leaving? Unfortunately, writing about baseball is a hobby for me and not a job, and though I love this team and this site, it was beginning to feel like one for me. I could not point out just when this started happening, but this season has been a difficult one for me to cover despite all the success the team has had. As my day job grew busier and busier, I felt I had less and less time to devote to this site, and the time I did have felt like a responsibility. I wanted rest and reprieve after work, but I had to put out content, and I said to myself that I never wanted writing to become a task. It was always supposed to be fun, and it increasingly was not being fun. There were other factors, including community changes and my own desires to pursue other creative goals, that contributed to this slow change of heart.
Ultimately, though, I decided a few weeks ago that I needed a break from nonstop Marlins baseball coverage. I needed to recharge my batteries and pursue other things, writing and otherwise, first. I knew my year ahead and the final year of residency for me would be busy with administrative goals as I furthered my medical career. At the end of the day, time was not on my side with regards to the Marlins. I felt I would be doing a disservice to a place like Fish Stripes, a fledgling, small but growing community that needs constant care and nurturing to improve, by devoting only a small amount of time and effort to it. You deserve better, Fish Stripes community, and right now, I cannot provide it. Perhaps in a few years, when my schedule lightens and absence makes the heart grow fonder, I will return.
For now though, I leave you in most capable hands. So long, and thanks for all the Fish.