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Rob Neyer debuts at SB Nation

Feb 1, 2011, 10:28 AM EDT

Rob Neyer

So many eulogies for Rob Neyer’s career yesterday. And here he is today, with his first column up at his new gig over at SB Nation less than 24 hours later.  Faster than the speed of Internet!

The subject of his first column: writing, naturally. He kicks off with a fun anecdote about the time a colleague got bent out of shape over something Neyer said in the comments section of the other writer’s column:

Without meaning to, over the years I’d annoyed most of my other colleagues … and nearly all of them with reputations as incredibly nice guys. So I figured it must be me. I hastily e-mailed this particular colleague to apologize.

His response: “Rob, no problem at all. I just thought the comments section was for them, not for us.”

This isn’t the place to enumerate the differences, for most of my career anyway, between me and the great majority of baseball writers in the mainstream media. They did finally let me into the Baseball Writers Association of America a few years ago, which I appreciated, plus (did I mention this?) they really are a bunch of really nice guys. And I’m not making value judgments here.

One difference, though, is that I’ve never thought of myself as a member of us rather than them.

This hits home.  I’ve said a lot of things in this blog about other writers’ work but easily the angriest any other mainstream baseball writer has ever gotten at me came as a result of something I said — something rather innocuous actually — in the comments section of a blog.  Like Rob’s former colleague, I’m certain the other guy’s disdain had to do with the setting — down with the teeming masses — rather than the sentiment.

There’s something truly twisted about that. Something that I think is related to that stuff we were discussing recently about civility in comments sections.  Of course comments sections are going to get uncivil if you treat their inhabitants as if they’re unwashed hordes. In the Internet age, the line between fan and writer is a lot blurrier than it used to be. And that’s a good thing.

SB Nation has some professional writers and it also has a lot of amateur part timers.  Rob’s sensibility, as he clearly explains in his first column, is that it doesn’t matter who’s doing the writing. What matters is the message.  In light of that, Rob and SB Nation are a perfect fit.

Good luck, Rob.  Everyone else: adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

  1. Jonny 5 - Feb 1, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Blogger = Dog

    Writing = pee

    Post = tree

    Just as a dog get’s miffed at another dog peeing on his tree, the elusive blogger also gets angered. when another blogger “pee’s” on his “tree”.

    So it’s like that really? Such a shame, I enjoy seeing other dogs pee around here. I like the insight.

  2. Mark Armour - Feb 1, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Couldn’t we have given the guy a couple of days off?

  3. ThatGuy - Feb 1, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    “That’s not me, not yet, and it’s not anyone else you’ll find on this website. I probably shouldn’t speak for the entire website, but I can promise you that as long as I’ve got any responsibility for what you see on SB Nation’s baseball page, nobody will be above reproach. ”

    So is Rob in charge of all SBNations baseball pages? I wonder how much that responsibility will cut into his writing.

    • thelucasjj - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

      Looks like it. At the end of the story on SB’s page, next to his name is the title “National Baseball Editor”.

  4. sdelmonte - Feb 1, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Never really gave SB Nation a second look till today. Its profile clearly goes up with Rob there, though.

  5. bigtrav425 - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    iv never even heard of that site…might have to check it out now

  6. jasonc2300 - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Wow, that SB Nation homepage is busy.

  7. lordd99 - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Well, I think I already have an account there. Best go dust it off as it’ll now be a place I’ll visit more often.

  8. jh0088 - Feb 1, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    I come from a Regional Theater background and I studied Theater Management in college and one of the very first things you learn in that world is that when your theater is putting on a production you are allowed to trash the play with everyone who works at the theater if you don’t like it. The crew, the actors, the director, the production designers etc are free to say they think something is wrong…. or just plain bad.

    But you are never ever allowed to tell someone who might come by a ticket to the show that you don’t like it. To everyone outside of your small theater community you’re taught to say that this is the best production of this play that you’ve ever seen.

    So I can understand the columnist/blogger who makes his living off of people coming to his site being upset that a collegue, who they expect understands the inherent difficulties in generating eyeballs, would air their problems with his article publically in the comment section when you could send him an email. It feels like you’re telling people that his show stinks and don’t bother buying a ticket.

    This kind of thing never felt like ‘baseball writers’ are better than the masses to me. It just feels like ‘dude, we’re both trying to make a living doing the same thing, why are you making that harder on me?”

    It’s an unwritten rule: don’t step on my mound, don’t steal bases in a blowout when you’re the team in the lead, don’t trash me in the comment section if you’re another writer. Stuff like that.

    • Lukehart80 - Feb 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Any unwritten rule that’s created to foster dishonesty isn’t that great a rule. Everyone in your theater program stood to profit from as many people as possible attending, so you had a personal incentive to keep quiet on anything negative, and I can understand that sort of self-preservation. But one writer commenting on another writer’s published work is a different story.

      People banding together simply because they have something in common (we’re writers… we’re men… we’re white…), irregardless of what is true, what is just, what is best for the greater good, that kind of decision-making has led to a lot of the world’s problems.

      • jh0088 - Feb 1, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        You don’t think it’s more of a ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ thing than it is a comment on the socio political nature of post Cold War nation building?

      • Lukehart80 - Feb 1, 2011 at 2:49 PM

        Protecting your own financial interests is natural, but I’m not sure why others should be expected to cover for you. I DON’T see this as a “do unto others” situation, and besides, I don’t think Neyer has ever asked or expected other writers to “protect” him fair criticism.

        If a writer can do poor work (which is over-blowing this particular situation by a fair amount) and get someone to pay for it, good for him. If a theater company can put on a crap show but convince people it’s good and get them to buy tickets good for the theater company. If a shortstop can play crap defense and win Gold Gloves, good for him. But if independent parties have ANY obligation in such a situation, it certainly shouldn’t be to protecting the fraud.

        Thinking that writers must protect writers (or actors protect actors) is obviously a much milder version of things than the other things I alluded to, but the theme is the same.

  9. Brian Murphy - Feb 1, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    I wonder what Jeff Pearlman thinks about this.

  10. Chris K - Feb 1, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    Is Neyer still a member of the BBWAA if he leaves ESPN for SB Nation?

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