Rob Neyer to leave ESPN

I can remember hiding in a cubicle (and later an office) to check into Rob’s chats on ESPN, even his I’ll-top-Simmons’-record-chat from back on Opening Day in 2008. I’m probably “in” that chat at some point but I’m not looking back through that archive to find my name. Of course, back then, just getting a question answered by Neyer in a chat was a pretty big deal for me.

On Opening Day 2008, my original blog was just about three months old. The number of readers aside from family could probably be counted on two hands, max.  Time sure flies.

I’ve told the story before, but given today’s official news, it bears a quick retell:

During one of Rob’s chats in the late Fall 2007, someone asked Rob which non-mainstream blogs he reads regularly and he mentioned one called Shysterball. Now, leading up to this, I had been dabbling in some fantasy baseball writing but it wasn’t scratching my itch. I was concerned about being able to hold down a full-time job and write before/after my day. So after learning of the blog with the funny name, I emailed the blogger to get his thoughts on my concerns. This guy, Craig Calcaterra, didn’t know me from a hole in the wall, but was nice enough to trade emails with me, and by accident, push me towards starting on own blog. We’ve been e-migos ever since.

When I started this blog in December 2007, I had a fairly modest goal: Get ten people who I didn’t know to regularly come back and read what I had to say. That’s it: ten people. When I started, as awkward as a newborn fawn, ARod had just re-signed with the Yankees, following an equally awkward opt-out during the 2007 World Series. During a debate with a friend about why he’d come back to the Yanks after having a miserable three years in New York, my answer was “It’s about the money, stupid. It’s always about the money, even when they say it’s not. It always is.” And the blog was born. I found myself using the “It is about the money, stupid” line often and that became the working name of the site. The name has been shortened since but the IIATMS shorthand has stuck, thanks mostly to the then-Shysterball Calcaterra needing a way to shorten my site’s name when he first linked to me after I launched.

My blogging future changed on June 2, 2008, when I was stuck without much to write about and noticed a tidbit on B-R about Josh Hamilton’s draft date anniversary and I decided to write about it. It wasn’t more than a few hours later that I posted an update that Hamilton fired his agent due to a religious epiphany. I noted that I felt bad for the fired agent, Matt Sosnick, as he had been helping Hamilton get back on track since joining the Reds.

Out of nowhere, I get an email from someone purporting to be a Matt Sosnick. What happened next (my interview with Matt Sosnick) resulted in my first link from ESPN, from Rob. There were other links that followed over the next few months, but the euphoria of that first link from Rob, that first contact with an agent in Matt, will never be forgotten. There have been days (or weeks) when I thought about shutting this little operation down, but I try to remind myself of those feelings I felt that day and one I press.

In the Fall of 2009, as the Yanks were preparing to embark on what would be their 27th World Series blitz, I got an email from Rob.  It said, in typical Rob Neyer simiplicity:

Jason, I really enjoy your work.

We’re putting together a mini-network of blogs, just the eight postseason teams, with a launch in October. If things work as well as expected, we’ll then expand to all 30 teams at some point before next spring.

I’m hoping you’ll consider being one of the charter eight.

It went on from there, but I didn’t need to read further. On October 2, 2009, I was able to announce the news. It wasn’t long after that the Yanks won #27. Since then, I’ve been able to add some wonderful people to this site, all in an effort to continue my mantra to bring the most unbiased view of the Yankees possible. We might not always succeed, but we’re trying damn hard, every single day.

I am beyond grateful to Rob for bestowing in me his trust to represent himself and the ESPN network/name. That alone, believing that we are representing Rob, has forced me to try to become better than I ever have been, which is difficult because I am not a professional; just some lunkhead with a computer and the audacity to think that my opinion has any validity (it doesn’t, by the way). We do what we do here because we love the game. Sure it’d be nice to be able to make a living doing this, but it’s OK that this is just a hobby.

So, to Rob on his departure: Thank you.  Thank you from all of us at IIATMS: writers, readers and commenters. We’re truly sad to see you go but wish you nothing but the very best. You’ve brought us all together to talk baseball and what’s better than that?

-

Now, since it will be asked: It’s my understanding that the SweetSpot Network will continue to operate. Someone will be hired to replace Rob and that person will surely be motivated to take the contributions from around the SSN to even greater heights. Rob would probably be the first to tell anyone that there is much more to do to get the SSN really to the next level. Who that will be and when it will happen is a giant TBD. Stay tuned; I will let you know as soon as I am able. Until then, thanks for your continued support, banter, humor and contributions.

-Jason

Jason Rosenberg is the founder and lead writer of the ESPN-affiliated SweetSpot Network site, It’s About The Money. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

IIATMS overlord and founder. ESPN contributor. Purveyor of luscious reality.

18 thoughts on “Rob Neyer to leave ESPN

  1. billybeaneismyhero

    Wow. I don't know what to say. Rob Neyer has long been my favorite sports writer. Without his writing, it's possible that I may never become interested in the statistical/analytical side of baseball. Furthermore, it's very likely I never would have discovered this site along with many others including Craig Calcaterra's old Shysterball site, Baseball Analysts, Platoon Advantage, and many others. Rob is one of a kind, and he will be missed.

  2. yankees will lose 90

    So you have done a good job in telling us how awesome Rob thinks you are. Now tell us where he's going and why.

    • Thanks for the snide comment.

      No idea; he's not sharing it yet.

    • billybeaneismyhero

      If this comment were on Twitter it would get the #epicfail hash tag.

  3. yankees will lose 90

    How did I insult you? Isn't that what this article is about?… how highly Rob thinks of you? I'm trying to figure out what's up with Rob.

    • Roly

      I thought the article was paying homage to a guy who motivated Jason and made him feel his efforts were worthwhile.

  4. HIM

    HIM will miss him…

  5. Frank S.

    Dude, if you don't like Jason and you don't like the Yankees, why are you wasting time on this blog? Get a life (or reach out to Rob Neyer himself and ask him where he's going and why).

  6. jay_robertson

    I for one am glad Rob "thinks you are awesome." Paraphrasing, of course. I like this site – and I've never even been to NYC, nor am I a family member. I'm just happy to have something in common with Rob Neyer.

    Hope SSN stays the same (or, of course, improves.) I'd vote for you to succeed him, Jason, except I'd hate to see you give the reins of IIATMS to Brien. ;)

    • Thanks Jay. That'd be a nice "problem" for me to worry about.

  7. Great read, Jason. I share your sentiment.

  8. mikeNicoletti

    Rob was really the first guy to get me to stop reading baseball only in the Times/Post/NYDN and look at it objectively like I do any other bit of data. Funny how I needed a Shepard, and amazing how many new sites put out quality analytical articles as opposed to the "olden days". I just hope he pops up somewhere again soon!

  9. LarryAtIIATMS

    Let's hope that Rob is moving to something bigger and better, so we don't have to miss him.

    Rob has been my one and only must read of the day. I turn here second, if I have time … and I WORK here!

    I've never read anyone who wrote as honestly, as elegantly, as intelligently, as Rob. I once heard Bruce Springsteen quoted to the effect that he wrote his songs with one ear to the street, and the other ear to his own heart. That sums up Rob Neyer for me, too.

  10. Anonm

    Heard Neyer is going to SBNation to build an MLB blog network

  11. Mark

    Neyer will not be missed.

    Be sure to send him a new pair of knee pads and cases of Vaseline and mouthwash for his endless worshiping of King James.

    No, not the twerp in Miami. The Cyber Chump from Kansas.

  12. DustyYF

    This is bittersweet news. ESPN has some good guys in personality (or at least as I can tell by how they interview people and by what comes through in their writing), but not many guys who approach baseball analysis in the way Rob does. Over the years, the list of ESPN writers whose work I actively followed has worn down more and more until it was pretty much only Rob Neyer. His affiliation with ESPN gave him a larger audience, even though his analysis was under-represented on Baseball Tonight and the MLB pieces on Sportscenter. But I hope greater autonomy and a fresh setting serves him well wherever he ends up.

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