Note: I get to the game - I swear. Just stick with it.
There are many challenges to being a writer. I feel weird saying that, considering I'm not a writer in the sense that Joe Posnanski or Rob Neyer are writers. I'm not traveling and following a team, a slave to deadlines that must be met and obligations I can't turn down. I'm not pulled away from home for days or weeks at a time, spending chunks of time alone in hotel rooms or trundling my bags through airport after airport. I get to sit at home, watch a baseball game, read stuff from my favorite writers, write a bit in my spare time, and go to sleep in my own bed. It's a pretty sweet deal.
But like I said, there are challenges to this job as well. You can put in hours of thought and deliberation into an article, striving to make it as informative and well written and entertaining as you can, but at the end of the day, what do you have to show for it? The article is a success - you get a couple pats on the back and a couple critiques - and then in three hours, the world has moved on and is demanding more. Games end at all hours of the night, yet recaps must be written by the next day. Slots must be filled, games must be covered, and new ideas are needed every single day. It's a marathon race, but the internet always wins; it has demanded content before you were around and will be demanding more long after you leave. You do what you can to make your mark, no matter how tiny, and you have to prove yourself each and every day. Time moves fast in this online world, and memories are forgotten even faster.
And yet, I love all of that. I love the challenge of coming up with new ideas all the time; it forces me to continuously re-evaluate the Rays and look at the game from yet another angle. I love the constant need for content; as a practiced procrastinator, I seem to function best when I have a deadline staring me in the face. I love the art of writing and the thought that I might be entertaining someone or enlightening another. Is that selfish or selfless? I can never tell.
For me, the biggest challenge of being a writer is controlling your own emotions. As a fan, it's tough to watch a game and not have a reaction one way or the other, whether it be elation or depression. But then as an analyst, I want to point out logically why those emotions were over or under stating the situation. This and this was due to poor luck. Oh, their offense isn't as bad as it has seemed because blankity blank. How do I get those emotions I felt to jive with the logical facts I want to present? Facts tell us that things are almost never as extreme as they feel, and yet, I feel like we lose something vital if we abandon our emotional, knee-jerk reactions.
Good writing needs emotion - it feeds off of it. Emotions are important. Emotions are powerful. They are the reason we watch sports and love them so dearly. So how do I do justice in my writing to the emotion that I'm feeling, yet keep myself from making hyperbolic statements or distorting the truth? In trying to find that balance, sometimes the facts win out over the emotions; those are the game recaps that are easy to write. This and this and this happened, and this is what it means. Done, easy, check that box off.
But then, there are nights like last night where emotion overpowered any attempt at logic. It sucked losing that game, and I'm not too interested right now in rehashing the positives and negatives to take away from it. I'll say one thing at least: James Shields pitched well last night despite giving up three runs. He was efficient and let up almost exclusively bloop hits, and he would have pitched through seven innings if it wasn't for National League rules.* It was an encouraging outing from him, our second strong pitching performance in two days.
*Not to go on a rant like Erik did, but I don't understand why it's a good thing to put an inferior team on the field every night. Should I want to see my ace pitcher get pulled in a close game for a pinch hitter? Should I want to watch a handful of lousy at bats by pitchers over the course of the game? I suppose I'd feel differently if I watched the games more often, but I don't get the appeal.
But anyway, that's all the game analysis I'm going to do right now. The Rays lost two of three games to another first place team and while I'm refuse to say the sky is falling, watching the Rays lose again last night hurt and I can't deny that. When the final out was caught, my mind refused to believe that the Rays had just lost. This can't be real; they can't have lost again. And yet, they did. They'll turn things around eventually, I'm confident in that, but as a fan I don't want to see them lose another series. It hurts too much.
Addendum: As many of you probably already know, I am getting married tomorrow. My weekend is going to be hectic and then I'll be without internet access for a week, camping on our honeymoon, so this will be the last article I'll have on DRB for a bit. I hope the week goes great and the Rays finally pull themselves out of this skid; when I return, I hope I can still see them in first place!