The Daily Prospectus: Breaking the Keyboard

by Joe Sheehan


My first exposure to Bill James was in 1998, via his last Baseball Abstract. My friend Eddie Kneafsey lent it to me that summer. It remains my favorite Abstract, my favorite James book, really. It wasn't just the ideas, but the writing style, the humor, and the love for baseball evident throughout the work. I read it and re-read it, finally giving it back to Eddie only because he was headed to Providence College that fall.

At the back of the book was James' farewell to the sabermetric world, "Breaking the Wand." It was strange to be hearing "goodbye" from someone to whom I had just said "hello," but I knew I was late to the party. I would go on to read (and own) all the Abstracts, as well as a number of other James books, and come to respect him and the ideas he developed and popularized. If I had never read Bill James, it is highly unlikely that I would have ended up involved with Baseball Prospectus.

Today, I do what James did in 1988, only on an infinitely smaller scale. I'm leaving Baseball Prospectus, breaking my personal wand. There's no particular reason other than that it's my time to go, having been involved from the start and having run the Web site since 1999. I don't have any plans--well, I'll be in Havasu the next four days--and that's a freedom both exciting and terrifying.

This is a wondrous thing, this Web site you're reading. The people who work on it love the game of baseball, and bring to the table a diverse collection of talents unlike any I've seen. I've been ridiculously lucky to be exposed to these people and to be able to work with them. I will never be involved with something so great as Baseball Prospectus, and I thank each and every person in this group for their time, talent, friendship, and, most of all, their patience with the editor.

Any attempt to mention all the people who have helped me get to this point is going to be riddled with errors of omission, so I'm not going to try. I do want to single out Dave Pease. Dave has been our Webmaster since we launched the page in 1996; he's really the only member of the group who has had the same role throughout the process. He has never gotten the proper credit for his contributions, but understand that of all the BP staffers, he's the one who makes this engine go, every single day. It's been a privilege to work closely with him for the past 3 1/2 years, and I know that he'll continue to be cornerstone of the Web site.

Finally, I want to thank the readers. We started with about 170 people buying a book with a plain white cover and some serious content issues, not the least of which was 20-odd missing pages. Somehow, we've grown from that to seven editions of an annual, a Web site that gets more popular by the day and a name that means something. We didn't inherit the pieces of other projects, or carry in baggage from this failed effort or that one. We came into this clean, with a fresh slate, and built something in which we can take pride, something that will go on long after the individuals who started it are gumming tapioca and pawing the nurses.

From the baseball fans of 40 and 50 years who got on the 'Net because their sons and daughters made them, to an eight-year-old left-handed catcher who loves Derek Jeter, we've reached a hell of a lot of people who love baseball. I just hope that I've adequately expressed my passion for the game, and enhanced the love of the game you all feel.

Thank you.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.


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