How to Become an Internet Baseball Writer

No one has ever asked me how to become an internet baseball writer. In the event that somebody does do that someday, though, I’ve prepared the following document with a view to minimizing the potential horrors of interacting with a stranger.

1. Find Writers You Care About
This doesn’t necessarily mean other internet baseball writers. In fact, that’s probably precisely what it doesn’t mean. If you have ever said or thought “Reading is boring,” it’s probably because most books are boring and also that the act of reading itself is entirely tedious. When I was younger, I would read just so girls would notice me and then let me do things to them — like, in a sexual way, I mean. Then, as a junior in high school, I discovered the poems of James Tate, Charles Simic, and Kenneth Koch in rather rapid succession. They did things with words that I found very surprising and enjoyable — almost as enjoyable as the things I’d wanted to do to all those ladies.

2. Imitate Those Writers
For probably two or three years after discovering David Berman’s Actual Air, I tried to write precisely like David Berman does in that book. I’ve done a similar sort of thing for Arthur Rimbaud and the Roman poet Catullus and P.G. Wodehouse. I still spend about 30 minutes every day responding to a text in some way — sometimes imitating the author’s style, sometimes performing a sort of secular Lectio Divina with it.

3. Start a Dumb Blog, Write Daily
As an editor for NotGraphs, for example — and as someone, in that capacity, who’s occasionally tasked with hiring new writers — I’m always most interested in people who’ve produced regular content of their own accord. It may or may not be disheartenting to hear, but it’s entirely the case that, like, 90% of blogging is demonstrating the ability to produce content on a regular basis. Many people can produce one excellent blog post, given world enough and time; many fewer can produce, say, three or five or ten slighty-better-than-mediocre posts per week over an extended period of time. Also, when you write in your dumb blog, behave entirely like yourself in it.

4. Ask Questions of Established Writers
I was hired by FanGraphs because I’m talented and handsome, obviously — but also because, one day, I asked Jonah Keri via (an entirely charming) email, “Hey, in the event that I wanted to become a real internet baseball writer, how would I do that?” He graciously put me in touch with David Appelman and Dave Cameron. There was work to be done from there, but that was as good a start as one could imagine. In general, don’t hesitate to ask about a writer’s work and his path to that place. They probably won’t answer you (I probably wouldn’t, for example), but they might.

5. Get Comfortable with Failure
In writing, as in life, failure is the rule, not the exception. Get accustomed to it immediately.



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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Josh A
Member

What about asking major league baseball players on twitter for a re-tweet? Will that also further my standing as an internet baseball writer? Seems like it would.

Kyle
Member

I myself would be very interested in hearing the paths/stories of various Fan/NotGraphs writers. It would also save me the trouble of directly contacting you people, which sounds absolutely embarrassing and terrifying.

Ben Duronio
Member
Member
Ben Duronio

I’ll offer my story.

I started commenting on a forum called Braves-Nation.com, and after doing so for a lengthy period of roughly two years and meeting other nice Braves fans I decided to start my own blog to put my feelings and thoughts on the team. I didn’t know much about sabermetrics but as I kept writing and conversing with others (this was before my twitter days) I became more accustomed to stats and so forth, and began reading books like Moneyball and The Book.

I saw a gap between where sabermetricians were and where the casual fan was, and felt that there should be some kind of hope for both sides to want to get closer rather than continue to separate. I wrote this post explaining my issues with the gap — it was horribly written looking back on it roughly two years later. Tom Tango ended up picking it up and he and his commenters shared their opinions, which can be seen on the attached link.

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/the_problem_with_saberists/, which some people agreed with and some people didn’t

From there, someone from EPSN noticed it, I asked him how a young gentlemen who was recently graduating college would get a job at a place like ESPN. I applied for the job he suggested, got it and enjoyed it. Then from there I moved on to Capital Avenue Club as my career aspirations altered a bit and on to RotoGraphs/FanGraphs.

It’s a lot about just wanting to do it and a lot about talking to people nicely and finding out why certain things are important and why other things aren’t.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest

Bradley Woodrum’s mustache devours unwanted guests.

kdm628496
Member
kdm628496

i, too, would enjoy a “how i became a fangraphs writer” column. so get on that, cistulli.

Chris Cwik
Member
Member

Full circle here, but Carson may be the reason I’m writing for FanGraphs.

ERolfPleiss
Guest

With guns, knives, and parrots, that’s where we start?

kris
Guest
kris

How do I become talented and handsome?

deadhead
Member
deadhead

Is the Hunter S. Thompson method looked upon favorably in the Internet baseball writing world? I prefer to snort a quarter ounce of blow while downing a fifth of bourbon and pacing the halls bellowing and mumbling about the inadequacy of others before producing minimalist content.

RamboDiaz
Member

That’s precisely what occurred before the Notgraphs Company Picnic Family Photo that accompanies this post was taken.

michael caine
Guest
michael caine

don’t forget the ether. sweet, sweet ether.

Ralph
Guest
Ralph

A fifth of bourbon…lightweight…

Andrew T
Guest

I just started a blog a few weeks ago. After reading a ton and commenting on other sites/blogs I felt I was ready.

Writing regularly is the hardest part, but also it is pretty much the whole point.

It would be great to hear where all you fangraphs writers came from and where you plan to go after fangraphs

NatsFan73
Member
NatsFan73

Congrats! You are NOW an Internet Baseball Writer. Everything else is just marketing…

Person
Guest
Person

His link no longer works as of now…

JRM
Guest
JRM

My glasses need washing. I thought “Imitate those writers,” was “Irritate those writers,” which seemed just right in a Cistulli piece. I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t “irritate.”

–JRM

samuelraphael
Member

I don’t want to write, I just want to assign NERD points for a living.

Ruhee
Guest

This is pretty great, actually. At the beginning of the season I had this great big pipe dream about being a baseball writer so I started being a baseball blogger. Twitter’s pretty much the perfect in-between for learning how to do it – you get to interact with everybody you read, and it’s so great to be able to see things like that happen.

TheWrightStache
Member
TheWrightStache

Is there some explanation for the slightly endearing yet ultimately harrowing picture showcased in this post? Are those a representative sample of the countenances of base-and-ball writers? Is it a shot of loyal readers of internet base-and-ball writers seeking to convey their unspoken approval for NotGraphs via the symbolic use of firearm and fowl? Are these the parents of Carson, used to show where baby internet base-and-ball writers come from? As always, Mr. Cistulli leaves more questions than answers.

bbguns
Guest
bbguns

if the answer to becoming an interwebs baseball writer is speaking out against the haters catullus-style: well consider me in.

RamboDiaz
Member

Rather than being a baseball writer, I want to be a baseball Statler and Waldorf, sitting high up in my ivory tower providing meta-commentary.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

“I want to be a baseball Statler and Waldorf” is the best thing I have read today. Consider yourself Twitter-followed.

CFIC
Guest

the writing daily part is the hardest part about any blog, but one of the most necessary parts for continued attention

Pizza Cutter
Guest

A couple extras:

1) Keep a word doc with post/article ideas and add to it whenever the mood strikes. Whatever type of work

2) Don’t be sad when you’ve been writing for 3 weeks and ESPN has not yet offered you a daily column. It takes a few years. If you’re good, someone will eventually notice.

3) Pick a base genre. If you want to do hardcore stat stuff, go for it. If you want to do game reports, go for it. But once in a while, challenge yourself to do something in another genre.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

What I want to know is, how do I become R.A. Dickey?

Merlin90
Member

Interesting stuff, Carson (and subsequent commenters). Producing regular content is certainly the hardest part of maintaining one’s own website, but equally, it is the most important aspect of it. Unless you are producing truly unique or brilliant stuff or are well connected to popular people on Twitter who will always share and rewteet your work, you’re never likely to develop much of a readership with just an article or two a week.

As someone who is both British and only a relative newcomer to the game (but one who nevertheless enjoys baseball, writing, and writing about baseball), I’m almost certainly not typical of the type of person angling for a regular gig at the likes of ESPN, at whom this article is likely aimed. But having written about football (or, if you prefer, soccer) too, I can say that the challenge of producing content that is regular, stands out, and is of high quality is not confined to baseball.

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