“If I want to write about baseball, what should I do?”
It isn’t uncommon that I’m asked this question by some well-meaning younger person who is trying to find their spot in what feels like a crowded world. Bluntly, but as tenderly as I can, I usually say:
“Write. Preferably, about baseball.”
I’m blunt, because there are so many ways to write about baseball. Start a blog. (If you want an instant Twins audience, you can use one you get automatically for registering at Twins Daily.) Or write an email to friends. Or use a forum thread as a chance to research and write about a topic. The barriers for entry have disappeared.
But I also respond with tenderness because I suspect that most of the people that ask me this question will not write about baseball. If they wanted to write about baseball, they would already be writing about baseball. What they’re really asking is “If I think I might want TO BE PAID to write about baseball, what should I do?”
The answer is the same. In fact, the answer is the same if you’re wondering which of those two questions you’re really asking. Just write, preferably every day, about whatever you want, and you’ll figure it out.
If you do that, you’re already a baseball writer, and now you just need to figure out how to get paid. You’ll also figure out that there is more to writing about baseball than writing about baseball. Such as marketing yourself, finding an audience, generating ideas and asking uncomfortable questions.
If you don’t like it, then you were interested in drawing a paycheck, but you didn’t want to write about baseball. Which is fine. Try again. You’ll likely find something you like better and get paid to do that.
Not every job is that cut and dry. I make my living as a business systems analyst and I’m happy being one. I love problem solving. I like figuring things out and teaching others what I’ve figured out. I like building things that people can use. All of these are aspects of being a business systems analyst, but I don’t know that I would do it every day just because I liked it. The regular hours and solid paycheck have plenty to do with why it’s my trade.
But writing about baseball is that cut and dry, and coaching is like that too. The litmus test that both pass is “Would a lot of people do it for nearly free?” If so, then you had better have enough real passion to do before you become.
This is why I’m always so puzzled when Paul Molitor’s name comes up as a possible assistant coach for the Minnesota Twins. Molitor last served as a full year coach for a team back in 2001, when he was Tom Kelly’s bench coach. He served in that capacity for three years. Since then, he’s had other jobs, mostly roving around the minor leagues as a special instructor, but he hasn’t managed a minor league team. I can’t recall him even being an assistant coach for a Twins minor league affiliate.
Like writing, if someone wants to manage a baseball team, they should manage a baseball team. Mike Redmond, for example, has been managing baseball teams (and succeeding) at High-A and Low-A the last two years. Not surprisingly, he’s being mentioned as an option if (or more likely, when) the Marlins dismiss Ozzie Guillen. If you remember Matt LeCroy, he’s managing too, for the AA-Harrisburg Senators, a Nationals affiliate. That’s also someone who is doing what they want to be.
Just so I'm clear - I'm not knocking Molitor. I have no doubt that if he wanted to be a coach, there are all kinds of teams and affiliates that would welcome him with open arms. I'm wondering why we insert his name in the discussion when there isn't much evidence that is what he wants to do.
Fortunately, the Twins seem to share my philosophy. The three rumored new assistant coaches, Tom Brunansky, Bobby Cuellar and Gene Glynn, would join the Twins after coaching AAA-Rochester last year. Each has shown they know how to handle the role for which they are rumored to be hired.
Because they’re already doing it.
Over at Twins Daily, Nick took a look at TwinsCentric's estimates last year for the free agent starting pitchers. We did pretty well. It'll be a lot more important this year as the Twins are clearly in the market. If you want to get a jump on the offseason, you can still get the TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook at a 30% discount here.