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It's time to recharge my baseball fandom

I'm officially stepping down as managing editor of Purple Row and Bryan Kilpatrick will be fully taking over the site after coming on as co-manager this past spring. Bryan has been excellent in this role and he will continue to make Purple Row the best Rockies community it can be as the head honcho.

Purple Row got me in the press box, somewhere I never thought I would be
Purple Row got me in the press box, somewhere I never thought I would be
Jeff Aberle

I don't want to bury the lede here: I'm stepping down as managing editor of Purple Row and Bryan Kilpatrick will be fully taking over the site after coming on as co-manager this past spring. I'll still be around the site of course, posting when help is needed or when I have some thoughts I'd like to share (like with the PuRPs list). There are a lot of reasons why this is the case, but a big one is that I need to rekindle my passion for the Rockies without the pressure of running a Rockies fan community on my mind 24/7.

Those of you know me (or at least, have read my work) know that I'm not a sentimental person and that this feeling carries over to baseball. I very much root for the laundry more than the individual players, and I ground much of what I write on statistics and/or economics. Still though, I am at my core a man who loves baseball, the Rockies, and writing about the two of them. When I started out here, I figured that keeping these passions aflame was a given. The problem is, quite simply, that what is required of me by SB Nation to continue to expand the quantity and reach of content produced on a daily basis is not a task that I have the time or energy to execute. It's time instead for a break.

It's a funny thing - I've realized looking back that I really haven't written much at all about my personal fandom on this site. Maybe that was because my strength has never been expressing my feelings. Maybe it's because I didn't think you cared (you probably don't). In any case, I'm going to write a little about it here and now as I exit stage left.

The Rockies have been my obsession for a long time now; I think that's a commonality that most of us share. I was five years old when I attended one of the first home games in Colorado's history, the perfect age for me to get hooked on the team and on baseball.

Baseball became the avenue through which I was taught many important lessons, whether that be reading (to figure out how the Rockies had done the night before in the sports section), math (to figure out a player's ERA or batting average), or public speaking (my mom might say that broadcasting imaginary Rockies games in a public pool for all to hear was a little over the line of what is acceptable). A curiosity in baseball history and baseball fiction begat a passion for the written word, a habit I hope to never break.

As time went on, I went through ups and downs with my level of baseball fandom. The elation from the 1995 playoff run was eroded by the 12 mostly unsuccessful and hapless years that followed. It got to the point where I got strange looks anytime I wore Rockies gear to high school during the terrible stretch in the early 2000s. Still, the fire of that passion lay dormant, just waiting for the right spark.

The spark I needed was, as it may have been for many of you, the 2007 season. I had seen the promising 2006 team and followed the 2007 squad with great anticipation, but it was not until Rocktober that I first discovered Purple Row. I absolutely could not get enough Rockies news and analysis and Purple Row provided me that fix. I lurked for much of the 2008 season (under the Jabberwocky pseudonym), posting only occasionally (and tentatively at that), but I was encouraged by the consistent quality of not only the writing but of the commentary from the site's members.

When Russ and Rox Girl announced the Purple Row Writer search, it was a complete leap of faith for me to apply. After all, here I was, a college student with no professional writing experience, limited to no knowledge of the minor league system, and a lot of outdated ideas about what was important in baseball. What I did have was time on my hands (never underestimate that, young-uns!), a passing knowledge of grammar/sentence structure, and an intense curiosity about the game I had loved for as long as I could remember. Fortunately, that was enough to get my foot in the door at Purple Row.

During my first few months in particular I became much more knowledgeable about baseball statistics and the business of baseball because I had to stay one step ahead of the community. The MLB transactions series on Purple Row Academy was written by a professor who had read only a chapter or two ahead of the class. It was a joy to spread the gospel of advanced baseball statistics to the Rowbots here and to whomever stumbled onto this corner of the internet. As time went on I became more and more confident in my ability to get that Rockpile up in less than an hour on four hours of sleep, which has in turn helped my communications skills in my real job.

Over the next few years, I was linked to by Bill Simmons, name-dropped in the Denver Post, sent correspondence by Keith Law, and appeared as an expert on radio shows. I was in the Rockies clubhouse interviewing players, rubbing elbows in the press box with the very writers who fed my passion for Colorado in the first place.

And that's just outside of Purple Row! I had so many good times on the site: using the Rockpile to explore anything and everything, learning more about sabermetrics from some of the best in the business, plumbing the depths of the farm system to find the hidden gems, and interacting with our fantastic community members on a wide variety of baseball topics. All of these were good things. Great things, even.

Still though, the product on the field became less enjoyable to watch when I knew that I would need to write something about the team. Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings were a drag when there wasn't anything to write about but something non-terrible was required. The direction of the team was such that I felt like I was writing the same stupid article -- we are headed down the wrong path and we won't head down the right one again in the near future --  over and over again . I was writing at times because I had to, not because I wanted to, and that's not why I got into this baseball blogging business.

In addition to the baseball-related reasons, as I became more successful at my paying job, it required more and more of my time and energy, particularly over the last couple of years to the point where doing a whole lot of research for an article became an impossibility. As a result, I haven't been able to put forth the kind of product I expect from myself on a consistent basis, the kind of product you've come to expect day in and day out from Purple Row. That's not fair to you and it's not fun for me. As Andrew Martin put it perfectly when he resigned two years ago, "when a hobby becomes a job, it becomes work, and I don't like work. I like fun."

So I'm going to use the 2015 season to try and go back to basics a little bit. To see if I can just watch Rockies baseball without thinking too much about it, to find again what it was about the Rockies and baseball that I found so intoxicating in the first place. I want to sleep in on Wednesday mornings for the first time in six years and not worry about a deadline. Most of all, I want to have fun being a baseball fan again.

So this is where I leave you. Bryan has been doing a lot of heavy lifting this past year anyways, so he knows what's up. He will continue to be an excellent manager and a great evangelist for Rockies baseball and Purple Row. The staff will continue to strive to bring you daily the best Rockies analysis on the web, by fans and for fans.

To Thomas Harding, Patrick Saunders, Troy Renck, and the rest of the Denver baseball media, thanks for all the great content you produce so that we can read and react to it on Purple Row. Thank you to Russ and Rox Girl for giving me a shot at writing. Thank you to Andrew M. for being a fantastic manager and compatriot. Thanks Bryan for shouldering the load with me this past year and for taking the whole thing on going forward. Thanks to Justin Bopp and the rest at SB Nation baseball, I've become a much better writer and manager because of your insight. Thanks to the Andrews and Bryan for being the best new writer class a guy could hope for, and thanks to the rest of the staff that has grown into quite the group over the past few years.

Most of all, I'd like to thank the Purple Row community for nurturing and expanding my love for baseball and the Rockies throughout the years. If you didn't come to read and react to what the staff writes about, well ... what would be the point of any of this? Thank you sincerely for that.

I just came to tell you both good luck, we're all counting on you.