randballThe first post in this blog’s history was Dec. 8, 2006. It was a test post about a kitten, which makes no sense and all the sense in the world. It ended with the words, “that kitten is practically begging for Randball.”

Yes, that was 10 years ago — which is about 100 years in internet time. It’s so long ago that the server that housed the first 4 years or so of posts no longer exists. I couldn’t even show you the first post if I wanted to (I don’t want to). But trust me, it exists — as do about 8,000 other posts.

I started blogging back then basically as a side project. I was reading a lot of Deadspin and thought, “hey, we should be doing something kind of like this” (albeit with more of a Minnesota focus and fewer swear words) at the Star Tribune. I was already doing the Page 2 feature and was about to become the high school sports editor. I certainly didn’t need more work to do.

But it was — and remains — a labor of love. I had just turned 30 (so math can now tell you I just turned 40). I was engaged but not yet married. I was about 7 years away yet from having any children (now I have two). Basically in those early days, I would get up in the morning, think about what I wanted to write about, and write it. Then I would go for a run, come home, maybe post again, then come into the office.

I was posting up to eight times a day back then, which is crazy when I think about it now. A lot of the posts were short and played off of some breaking news or funny thing that happened. Most posts didn’t take more than 15-20 minutes to put together, which is probably how I kept up that pace. Also, there was far less content on startribune.com so I kind of had the run of the place.

Over the years, I experimented with some different styles of post. Early on, there were a lot more reader contributions. A lot of those folks have busier lives now, too — though I still maintain that Clearance Clarence and Stu’s Hunt Down were some of the best things on the blog. And many of the original blog commenters are still some of my very good friends today (Internet friends, as my wife calls them).

I got a little hot take-y for a while, then (tried) to dial that back. I got a little stats-crazy for a while, then (tried) to dial that back. I used to say “we” when I was referring to myself. Now I just say I.

Nowadays, I try to post a few times every day with a mix of humor, perspective, context and “utility” — a buzzword in our industry that basically means that readers would find it useful.

Sometimes I write things that look terribly dumb in retrospect. Other times I write things I actually like as time goes on.

Some days I wake up knowing exactly what I’m going to write about. Other days I have no idea. Still other times, I go into a day or week with a plan and it gets totally torn up by something that happens in this crazy sports market.

But for 10 years, I have had an amazing freedom to write so much of what I wanted to write — things I thought were important, things I thought you would read, things I thought we could all engage with in a meaningful way.

I am still grateful for that opportunity and for anyone who has ever read a word I wrote. Let’s keep doing this as long as we can.

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