Baseball, Writing and Despair

Adam Kilgore Emma Span Michael Lewis
Adam Sobsey Eno Sarris Michael Schur
Alex Speier Eric Koreen Mike Lupica
Allen Abel Erik Malinowski Mina Kimes
Andrew Zuber Ernest Hemingway Mitchel Lichtman
Andy McCullough Gary Parrish Nathan Bishop
Anna McDonald Gary Smith Patrick Dubuque
Arden Zwelling Geoff Young Peter Gammons
August Fagerstrom Gordon Wittenmeyer PFT Commenter
Barry Svrluga Grant Brisbee Randall Mell
Ben Lindbergh Greg Howard Ray Ratto
Benjamin Hochman Holly Anderson Red Smith
Beth Bethel Jamey Newberg Rembert Browne
Bethlehem Shoals Jared Dubin Rian Watt
Bill Barnwell Jason Clinkscales Richard Deitsch
Bill James Jason Concepcion Richard Griffin
Bill Lyon Jason King Ring Lardner
Bill Madden Jason Parks Rob Arthur
Bill Petti Jason Whitlock Robert O’Connell
Bill Simmons Jay Jaffe Roger Angell
Brett Taylor Jay Yencich Roger Kahn
Brian Phillips Jeb Lund Russell Carleton
Bruce Arthur Jeff Passan Ryan Young
Carson Cistulli Jeff Pearlman S.L. Price
Cee Angi Jeff Sullivan Sahadev Sharma
Charles Pierce Joe Posnanski Sam Miller
Chris Ballard Joe Sheehan Sam Smith
Chris Brown John Choiniere Sean Mcindoe
Christina Kahrl John Lott Shea Serrano
Dan Moore Jon Bois Simon Kuper
Dan Szymborski Jonah Keri SL Price
Dave Cameron Jonathan Bernhardt Spencer Hall
Dave Stubbs Julie DiCaro Stacey May Fowles
David Foster Wallace Kate Fagan Steve Rushin
David Halberstam Kate Morrison Steven Rosenbloom
David Roth Katie Baker Tabatha Southey
David Wallace Katie Sharp Thomas Boswell
Dayn Perry Ken Arneson Tom Tango
Dillon Friday Kiley McDaniel Tom Verducci
Dirk Hayhurst Lee Jenkins Toni McIntyre
Drew Creasman Luis Medina Trill Ballins
Drew Magary Matt Ellis Will Leitch
Ellen Etchingham Meg Rowley Wright Thompson
Emily Gregorcic Michael Baumann Zach Lowe
  Michael Farber  

Recently I read an article that was written so well that it made me sad. After thinking about it, I put out an anonymous poll with one question: what are up to three sportswriters that, when you read their work from time to time, fill you with a sense of awe bordering on despair? That make you feel like hanging it up, if only for thirty seconds?

It wasn’t a scientific survey, nor a particularly representative sample. But the results say something, I think. The 150 ballots returned 136 different names. And though reporting gets most of the fame (and most of the money), it’s interesting to see so many different types of writers and so many different types of writing. There’s longform, human interest, analysis, statistical analysis, comedy, poetry, and scouting; professional journalists, freelancers, amateurs, dead comic strip authors, and novelists.

The idea wasn’t to make people dwell on the fact that they feel inadequate sometimes, but the opposite: we all get so busy staring at other people’s greatness that we don’t notice people staring at our own. There is so much writing in the world, so much amazing writing, that there’s no way anyone could write it all, even though it’s our instinct to feel like we should.

There remain troubles. The untimely demise of Grantland heavy-handedly reminds us that quality and money are often nearly inversely proportional. And there are inequities and imbalances that prevent us from having a true meritocracy. There are names absent from the list that deserve to be there, deserve to be envied. They just need to be found.

But as a powerless observer I can afford to be an apolitical optimist, and what I see is that there is more room than it often feels like. That we can all combine our individual, necessarily limited perspectives together, on something as arbitrary and pointless as the game of baseball, is an amazing thing. I’ve liked baseball ever since I was a kid, but it’s the community that follows it – and creates from it – that I truly love.

Keep it up, everyone.