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May 30, 2011

The BP Broadside

The Evolving Prospectus

by Steven Goldman

There is a part of all of us that, having found something that we like, would like to be able to rely on it to stay the same. Please, don’t reformulate Coke, don’t hire a new chef at the local Italian joint or change the oil in which the fries are cooked, don’t change your makeup or my hairline, I love you just the way you are. Oh, and Whitey Herzog should still be managing the Cardinals. Really, life was better that way.

Before proceeding with this line of thought, I would like to introduce the newest member of our staff, Derek Carty. Mr. Carty, whom I already think of as “Rico” in the way that I think of Ben Lindbergh as “The Colonel” and Bob Denver as “Gilligan,” is our new Fantasy editor and will be contributing his own fantasy columns as well. Here is the official bio:

Derek Carty is a fantasy baseball writer and analyst living in New Jersey. Before joining BP, his work had been published by The Hardball Times, Sports Illustrated, NBC's Rotoworld, FOX Sports, and USA Today, among others. In 2009, he became the youngest champion in the history of LABR—the longest-running expert league in existence—taking home his first title as a rookie. Derek is a proud graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau's Scout Development Program (aka Scout School) and is one of just two active fantasy writers to have graduated from the program.

I hope you will all join me in welcoming Derek and will check out his first piece, which appears elsewhere on the site today. Even for those not into fantasizing, and I number among you, you will find that his work has some interest, as his sabermetrically-oriented approach defies the boundaries of mere gaming.

And so it goes. When reading the comments on Marc Normandin’s final Fantasy Focus piece last week, there were several of the comments that we always get when someone leaves:

  • Wow, there continues to be lots of turnover here at BP...
  • While I understand that some turnover is a necessary thing (and perhaps even a good thing) at BP, I am becoming alarmed at the number of fine contributors here who have left in 2011. What's going on, BP?
  • I have to say, even though I've enjoyed a lot of the new writers, it is a little bit worrisome that almost all the long-time BP-ers are leaving.

Now that I am editor-in-chief of the big Beta-Pi, I had planned to say a few dramatic words about the nature of the comings and goings that have attended our operations over the 15 years we’ve been here writing about baseball. Yet, now that I am here with the keyboard under my fingers, I find that most of what I had planned to say is unnecessary. You all have almost certainly experienced the same kinds of changes that we have, and for the same reasons, at your own places of work.  

BP has changed greatly over the years. Of our departures, some left for their own reasons, and there was not a thing we could have done to keep them no matter how hard we tried. There were others where it seemed clear that it was time for a parting, so when they spoke of leaving we acquiesced. The reasons for our feeling that way might not have been obvious to you, but it was inescapably clear on our side of the curtain. In both cases, our hands are often tied—you really have to want to work here at BP; it requires certain sacrifices, and that can be tiring. Sometimes a guy just wants to move on. Sometimes he gets a job offer from the Milwaukee Brewers.  

Over the years, there have also been occasional contributors who failed to reward our initial confidence in them. You don’t have to be able to spell “Mientkiewicz,” quote Casey Stengel, or even keep a reliable schedule to write for Baseball Prospectus, but you had damned well always be interesting. These are extremely rare cases.

In all of these things, we are much like any publication or business, except for one significant factor: you also get a vote. Every time you click the link above an author’s name, you, the reader/subscriber, are casting a vote in favor of that writer. If you are consistently avoiding his entries, you are sending us a clear message. Every writer is someone’s favorite, but if there aren’t enough someones to form a reading populating around that writer, that puts us in a difficult position. Sometimes we are forced to conclude that we should take those same resources and show you something new.

That brings me to my good friend Marc Normandin. I am especially sentimental about Marc, because I have known him since he was a mere teenager. On one of my first trips to Boston for BP, Christina and I took him out for a soda pop—he wasn’t yet old enough to drink. Now, when he tweets about what beer he’s having, I feel odd about it, because I’ll never forget that under-aged kid. In between, I got to watch Marc grow into being a writer, into being an adult capable of dreaming grand dreams and managing others, and I still believe he has more growth in front of him, more achievements that he hasn’t yet imagined himself capable of. And I believe these things even though he seemingly spends 3,000 hours a week thinking about video games and he never takes my advice on old movies.

I described four kinds of partings from BP above: (1) writers we could not keep, (2) writers we would not keep, (3) writers who failed to meet basic standards, and (4) writers who, for whatever reason, failed to establish an audience. Marc’s departure is firmly in the first category and none other. We part as friends, the door remains open, and I hope that he will always feel, as I do about so many of those who have been here and gone on to other things, that once a BPer, always a BPer. We shall all be reunited in the next world, at that great baseball roundtable in the sky.

That brings us full circle. I wish that Herzog were still with the Cards, although I recognize that at 79 he probably doesn’t have the stamina he did at 55. I wish Alan Moore were still writing Swamp Thing, but if he were, we would have been deprived of a lot of other cool things that he has created since, like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls. (I’m even glad that they reformulated Coke, because Coke isn’t good for you anyway, and better not to like it as much.) There are few publications that have had an unbroken 15-year run with the same creators. Creators and publications must keep changing or they ossify, and BP and BPers are no exception.

As such, while I will always cherish the fine writers we’ve had here at BP in the past, I am even more excited about the writers we’re bringing you in the present and will continue to add in the future—writers like Derek Carty (no pressure, Derek!). Try as we might, we cannot promise you that we will always have the same staff, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That ship had sailed long before I joined up. What we can promise you is the same dedication to high-level baseball analysis that we have always had, and that while we might not always stay the same, we will always get better.

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

Related Content:  Derek Carty,  The Who

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