Banished to the Pen is always looking for new writers. To help convince you that this is a great place to get your work out, we’ve asked a few BTTP alumni to tell you about their experience at the site. BTTP has been a starting point for writers at Baseball Prospectus, BP Local sites, Beyond the Box Score, SB Nation team sites, and others. If you want to start writing about baseball, this is a great place to do it. Our first story is from Alex Crisafulli of Viva El Birdos.
A little over two years ago I happened to log on to the Effectively Wild podcast’s Facebook page and noticed a thread where, appropriately enough, several members were thinking of starting a baseball blog. It called for anyone willing to cover a team to feel free to throw their hat in the ring. I did a quick scan and noticed no one had claimed the Cardinals and without thinking I volunteered. Up to this point, my experience writing about baseball was limited to: 1) a post on the EW FB page where I had a coworker photoshop a Royals cap on Walter Payton with the caption “Sweepness” (long story); and 2) arguing back and forth with a Cubs fan on a Fighting Illini basketball message board (I’ll see you in hell, DaHawk87).
To put it bluntly, I had zero experience. For a writing sample I sent in something I had written in 2008 about the 15th anniversary of the Smashing Pumpkins album Siamese Dream for an old, stupid music blog I used to write for because it was the best thing I had. Still, I had a few things going for me as well. First, I had recently taken a deep dive into my decades-old baseball card collection and found plenty of anecdotes of the weird, funny, or touching variety that I felt were worth sharing. And second, here was a platform, Banished to the Pen, that was offering a blank canvas to do as we please. Matt Trueblood summed it up well with the first post on the site: The Banished to the Pen Way.
This was important to me. My cliche line was always to compare advanced statistics to quantum physics and add that while I believe wholeheartedly in both, I’m 100% unqualified to explain either subject matter in much depth. I was a student in that regard and not a teacher. And at BttP that was fine. Stay within the parameters of common decency and pen something with at least a moderate nexus to baseball, and you’d be welcome with open arms.
With that, we were off and little by little things started happening and people were getting noticed. Ryan Sullivan of NatsGM started an excellent podcast for us. Several writers were hired by Baseball Prospectus, led by the aforementioned Trueblood. Tyler Baber put together a great oral history about the old Up and In podcast. Barely six months after I first expressed interest on the EW Facebook page, Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk commented on a piece I had written at BttP about the Cardinals’ hacking scandal. And less than six months after that I got hired to write for Viva El Birdos, which, and I’m biased, is the most essential Cardinals blog online.
The best part though are the people I have met through BttP. I participate in a somewhat sporadic podcast about the NL Central with several writers, now friends, from the site. Rob Mains, who, in my opinion, is one of the best baseball writers anywhere, is now a message away whenever I have a question on something he’s written or want his take on a particular baseball subject.
There are several people who, but for them, the site would not exist, and none more essential than Ken Maeda. He’s the behind-the-scenes driving force behind BttP and an excellent boss. If you have an analytical brain and can apply that to baseball, Ken will find room for you at BttP. If you want to write 750 words analyzing the 1989 Score Paul Gibson card that was deemed an “error” because there’s a player in the background grabbing his crotch, BttP is a wonderful platform to do that. If you want to share a story about how your aunt turned you on to baseball, you have a home at BttP.
Eventually, I’m going to write a book about the St. Louis Cardinals. Mind you, it will be terrible, and it will be self-published and I’ll have to resort to begging Eric Roseberry, who at this point will be host of the newly revised “This Week in Baseball,” to hawk it on his show (until then, you should listen to his current interview podcast, On Baseball Writing). But it will be dedicated to my immediate family, and everyone from Banished to the Pen. I’m serious.Next post: The Journey to Baseball Scout Nerdom
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