“I feel like you’re one of the only people I can lean on.”
That (slightly paraphrased) message—one I’ll never forget—changed my life in a lot of ways. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, those ways were minor. But as I sit back and recollect my time at Purple Row and SB Nation, I can’t help but think that I’m perhaps underestimating the statement’s true impact.
It was former Purple Row boss Andrew Martin who delivered that message to me one day in early 2012. A-Mart’s intention wasn’t to disparage anyone else on the staff; it’s just that it can be hard to find the time to do essentially free work with a perennially bad team as the primary subject. Heck, I rarely wrote more than my required 1-2 articles per week.
Purple Row was truly a labor of love for all of us, but eventually, that wasn’t enough. Rox Girl left. Russ Oates got an actual job (with SB Nation!) that paid actual money. Andrew Fisher struggled to find the time after the birth of his child and the landing of an awesome professional gig. Jeff Aberle’s time was consumed with his day job (though he eventually took the reins of the site before I did). And even A-Mart found himself unable to continue for a variety of reasons.
I, too, nearly stopped contributing to Purple Row in those days. I worked 50 or more hours every week and was struggling to maintain my relationship at home with my wife. But when A-Mart delivered that message, it motivated me to dig deep and do my best to keep at it.
I’m so glad I did.
It’s not just the bond I built with A-Mart—a close friend whom I love dearly—and the rest of the staff, though that would’ve been enough in hindsight to justify my decision to quit making excuses and Be Better (TM). And it’s not even the professional relationship I came to cherish with the Colorado Rockies (I’ll get to more of that in a bit). Rather, it’s the community—the readers and commenters, the Twitter followers, even the hot take bots on Facebook—who really made all of this so fun and rewarding for me.
I used to comment on the site a lot. I was no SDCat09 by any means (love you, Cat!), but my presence was frequent. And, again, I bonded with people I eventually met and became friends with in real life: Muzia, Resolution, FI#2, The Ghost of Marv, Goeldfinger, TLMM, et cetera. And I argued with papality, ESterps and Rocked Up, because who hasn’t? But it was all a blast, and—though I never realized it back then—was time well spent.
Then came the unintentional (I think?) decision by SB Nation to render the commenting feature useless on mobile (sorry not sorry)—a decision that forced me, and many others, to Twitter. On that god forsaken social website, I made so many more friends and formed so many working relationships. @PurpleRow became a must follow. I created a stupid March Madness-like Rockies Twitter Tournament that, for some reason, was hugely popular.
It all circles back around to someone I respect immensely telling me they needed me, and from there, the personal satisfaction I got from providing a service to content-starved fans of a mostly bad (on the field), purple-clad baseball team. For every piece of negative feedback I received from the people who populated the mediums I listed above, there were at least five who were quick to let me know that they appreciated what I did. That fueled me for years, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
And then there’s the Rockies. This year ended up being just the third winning season of the nine I spent covering the team, but even the down years were extremely rewarding because of the great people I had the honor of meeting and working with. The most unforgettable of those, for me, were 2012 and 2013. In the former year, I roasted the Rockies’ public relations staff, who for some reason ended up giving me—and us, as a blog—unprecedented access to the team as a result. In the latter, I got to cover my first few Rockies games in person and Purple Row posted its first real exclusive interview content.
I’d like to think that access turned out to be a great benefit to our readers (the traffic numbers over the last few years have certainly shown that), but I know that it was a huge benefit to me in a myriad of ways. For one, I was able to get to know a lot of good people, both inside the organization and out. In addition, a wide array of opportunities—a monthly installment in Rockies Magazine, endless radio interviews, discussion panels, et cetera—presented themselves.
And, because of all of the work that running this blog has allowed me to do, I recently received the best opportunity of all: a career change.
No, I won’t be working in baseball, or sports, or even journalism. But I will be working in communications, which is, in its own way, a field in which I’ve always wanted to work.
Unfortunately, that career change—and all of the focus and reprioritization that will be required—will result in me stepping down from Purple Row, effective Nov. 1. It has been a phenomenal ride that has truly changed my life for the better, and I have so many people to thank.
I’ll forever be indebted to Russ Oates, Rox Girl, Justin Bopp, and Mike Prada for allowing me to first write for this wonderful site as well as the parent network. The guidance I received along the way from Andrew Martin, Andrew Fisher, Jeff Aberle, Sage Farron, and Matt Gross, in particular, was pivotal and will never be forgotten.
To the current editors—Eric Garcia McKinley, Adam Peterson, Ryan Schoppe, and Jordan Freemyer: thanks so much for allowing me to lean on you over the past couple of years. I hope you know how much I appreciate you all, and I’m sorry if I didn’t tell you that enough. It’s not yet clear who will be taking reins of the site, but I’m confident that Purple Row will be in good hands.
Thanks to Grant Brisbee and Eric Stephen for the continuous inspiration. Both of you are so good at what you do, and I hope you never, ever stop doing it.
Special thanks to Jay Alves, who opened the gates to my personal heaven: the Coors Field press box. And to Warren Miller and Buddy Black, who put up with way more than they had to from this site but have always remained professional, reliable, and extremely patient resources. I speak for everyone on staff when I say that it has been an honor to work with both of you.
My sincerest gratitude goes out to Julian Valentin, whom I’m beyond lucky to have worked with and gotten to know a little bit. Julian is the best social media person in sports, and whatever he gets paid, he deserves at least 10 times more than that. Thanks for the Rox Mag opportunity, all of the good words I know you’ve had to put in for me, and the countless other great things you’ve done for me and Purple Row as a whole.
And thanks to my “Rockies media” colleagues—particularly Drew Creasman, Jake Shapiro, Thomas Harding, Patrick Saunders, and Ryan Spilborghs. I’m honored to call you guys friends, and I appreciate all the advice you’ve given and the examples you’ve set.
But mostly, I thank you, the reader. The community member. The Twitter follower. Everything I’ve done for the last nine years has been with you at the forefront of my mind, and I can only hope that I’ve made you as happy as you’ve made me. You’re all people I can lean on, and I hope those words go a long, long way with you—just as they did for me.
I’ll see you around.