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A Letter To My Friend Stripes

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I am leaving Fish Stripes after three incredible years.

Dear Fish Stripes,

We have come such a long way together. When I arrived I was a sophomore in college with a dream but no direction. Now I’m in my fifth year, ready to graduate and living that dream every day.

Never have I been more confident that I will live out my dream, and it is all thanks to you.

You have grown as well. It seems the platform has gotten bigger every season and grown beyond anything that any of us could have imagined. 10K followers on Twitter, a real presence around the team, and a loyal base of readers that cannot be ignored.

In my three-plus years at Fish Stripes you have become more than just a fan blog. You have grown into a major source for Marlins news and coverage.

Just this season alone we began our Fish Stripes Live series preview streams and they turned into a staple for Marlins fans getting ready for every series. We had some of the biggest names in Marlins media—people like Craig Mish, Jeremy Taché and Daniel Álvarez—and that was just the first season! In six short months it went from a mom and pop show, where Ely and I chatted over choppy video, to an entertaining show that people looked forward to every week.

You may have noticed that in the last stream of the series I mentioned that maybe next year you will have me back as a guest when it becomes even bigger and better. That was foreshadowing for the announcement I’m making today, and it is a very tough one for me.

It is time to move on. I am leaving Fish Stripes now that the 2021 season is over and will be joining the team at Just Baseball Media going forward. The vision that Just Baseball has is very similar to the one we have built together and I think it aligns perfectly with where I want to take my career. I feel like this is the best opportunity for me to take the next step.

While looking ahead is fun and exciting, it is hard for me to look back and know what I am leaving behind. However, knowing that I am leaving you in a much better place than I found you puts a smile on my face as I walk out the door.

That is not because of me. That is because of the people at Fish Stripes and the people who support you. Throughout this year I have watched Isaac Azout grow into his role as a beat writer for you, helping him behind the scenes as he molds himself into a professional. I have yet to get him to wear his hat properly, but knowing he is sliding right into my role leaves me confident that it is in great hands.

Kevin Barral, who started with Fish Stripes three years younger than I did, has turned from a shy kid into one capable of hosting his own podcast and running his own stream. I know with him taking over Fish Stripes Live, he will continue to create great discussion and provide an entertaining experience for all your fans in 2022.

Above all there is Ely, who runs such a tight ship and has been a great innovator to help this site grow. I will always be grateful to him for giving me my first opportunity at Fish Stripes and all the things I have done here since. From Earning Their Stripes—where we interviewed some of the Marlins’ top prospects—to hosting Fish Stripes Live, to the Hall of Fame podcast that introduced me to a good friend in Daniel Álvarez, and of course giving me my first chance to cover games and Spring Training.

Some good friends and me hanging out before a game.
Mark Brown/Getty Images

As long as Ely is at the helm, you are in good hands and will only continue to grow. I cannot thank him enough for the opportunity he gave me and how he has helped my career take off. I know that he knows that I will never forget where I came from, and that I will always view Fish Stripes as the launching pad of my career.

Before the start of the 2021 season I was lost. I had reached a low. The COVID-19 pandemic had taken a toll on me like nothing ever had. I was sitting at home, about to take a semester off from college, and looking around for answers. It was terrifying. I knew I had to do something and Fish Stripes provided me with direction. It was from that search for answers that I found my role as a beat writer, and the rest is history. The 2021 season has been a life changer and it is all thanks to you, my dear friend Stripes.

Now it is time to say goodbye, but you already know I will still be around. I will always be a friend—never a stranger—and I am looking forward to watching you grow from the outside. Fish Stripes gave me my start, and I will carry it with me to the finish. I will still be around, but it is time to move on and let other people make Fish Stripes even better than it already is now.

Our time together has been incredible, but there is only one thing left to say:

With love and gratitude,

Ethan Budowsky

Signing off and forever grateful.
Yordano Carmona/Pelota Cubana