Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back Where It All Begins

Shortly before Christmas last year - on December 23rd to be exact - I was sitting down for lunch/dinner at my company's holiday party at the 21 Club, cutting into a piece of prime rib when I felt my phone vibrate. I didn't want to be rude but I fished my phone out of my pocket with my non-fork hand and stole a glance at the incoming text message. It was from my friend Joe: "Yankees close to signing Teixeira".

My face must have betrayed something when I read the message because my co-worker Greg nodded his head towards me and went, "What's up?".

I replied, "Holy shit, I think the Yankees are going to sign Mark Teixeira".

I put down my knife and fork and stared at the middle of the table shaking my head. I honestly couldn't believe it. Maybe it was just a rumor. They had already locked up CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Did Brian Cashman and the Yanks really have the balls to orchestrate an eleventh hour coup for the most coveted position player on the market? Over the next hour or so, the texts kept flowing in from friends and cousins and college roommates, each one more certain than the last.

After the party, the other big Yankees fans from my office and I huddled up at the bar downstairs, having drinks on the company tab as groups of people would stand up and take turns belting out Christmas carols printed on a Salvation Army pamphlet they must have been handing out in exchange for donations outside. Between the renditions of Frosty the Snowman and sips of Macallan 18, we tried to get our heads around the fact that, amidst the faltering economy, the Yankees had just sent a message to their fans and to the rest of baseball: "We want to win a World Series that badly"

I got up early the next morning to head back upstate for Christmas with the family. I loaded up my car in the near-freezing rain, drove up the Westside Highway and crossed the George Washington Bridge, thinking I was going to beat the traffic upstate. I turned onto the Palisades Parkway and was met with a sea of taillights which bluntly informed me that this wasn't going to be a smooth getaway I had envisioned. The highway was a sheet of ice.

After 15 minutes of not moving one inch, I put the car in park, unbuckled my seatbelt and took out my iPhone to thumb through my Google Reader. At that point I needed something - anything - to keep my mind off the fact that I was hungover and stuck in standstill traffic in New Jersey to which there was no end in sight.

One of the first posts I came across this one from Shysterball and suffice it to say, it sort of blew my mind. An incredibly poignant blockquote from Will Leitch about Dock Ellis' no-hitter on acid and two beautifully dovetailed paragraphs from Craig summing up what writing about sports should really be about. It couldn't have been more up my alley.

And that's when I decided that I was going to start a blog. Well, I had technically already started one. I reserved a domain name wrote one post about trying to decide who to root for when the Red Sox played the Rays in the ALCS a little while back but that was the only thing on there.

Then on Christmas Day, after our visiting relatives had departed, I sat down and pounded out 1000 words on the Yankees most recent acquisition on my laptop. I drafted an email entitled "The Fack Youk Manifesto" to five or six of my friends informing them of my intentions, and said:
I realize that there is like an 85% chance that this never really goes anywhere, then dies a slow death from neglect, but there's that 15% that we can carve out this little space for our thoughts, all contribute and make it interesting/entertaining enough for some other people to check it out. I talk enough sports with you guys and hear interesting stuff worthy of a blog post and it makes me think that we could put that stuff to use and concentrate it here.
A lot has changed since then. Joe and Will don't really contribute much anymore because of the demands of studying for the bar exam and fascist corporate internet policies. I got unimaginably lucky to find Matt in the comments section, who, is not only a talented writer with a great sense of the history of the Yankees, but a great dude with similar musical tastes.

On the shortest of notice, I handed him the reigns to the blog for almost a full week back in May when I left for a road trip, which coincided nicely with a 9 game winning steak by the Yanks. He didn't miss a beat - which was far more than I had any right to expect - and the site has been markedly better ever since.

In the months since then, we've previewed and recapped every game (except for the three against the Blue Jays 4th of July weekend) and churned out almost 800 posts between us, which is very nearly 5 per day, including weekends.

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a huge sense of personal validation involved in the Yankees winning the World Series for me. Since the playoffs began, our work has been recognized by a lot of people and we've more than doubled our average daily traffic. We've received even more kind emails and insightful comments from you guys than usual, which makes this all seem worthwhile. We've got some other recognition from well-respected baseball writers that I really couldn't have imagined when I wrote that first post on the signing of Mark Teixeira.

I've devoted what can only be described as an unhealthy and perhaps inadvisable amount of time reading about baseball in order to make my writing for this site as good as possible.

Unfortunately, that not-so-indirectly led to me getting laid off from my last job - the one that brought me to that company party in the beginning of this post. I wasn't going to regret the decision either way because I've spent the last six months doing something that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning as opposed to smothering myself to death with my pillow like my last job.

I highly doubt I have a career ahead of me as a writer, but seeing someone like Craig, whose work I have a lot of respect for, make that jump just two days ago is quite inspiring. Regardless of where it goes from here, I'm incredibly proud of what we've managed to do with this site in terms of traffic and recognition but mostly in terms of content. 105,000+ unique visitors and 270,000+ pageviews later (and counting), here we are.

When I first moved down to New York City, I didn't have a real job. I played online poker compulsively until the point that I was consistently profitable at it; enough so that I could afford to live in a sick apartment on the Upper West Side with my lifelong best friend. Eventually the slimy legislative tactics involved with the SAFE Port Act dried up the new money flowing into the online poker sites and the games got harder. A lot harder. Eventually I had to get a real job.

Now I'm back in Albany, not far from where I grew up, living with two of my good friends from high school, doing something that's barely profitable at all which in no way shape or form is a real job, despite the fact that I treat it like one. In some ways, it has come full circle.

Tomorrow, Matt, a few of my buddies and I are going down to the parade, so if you are going to be there and want to meet up, use my email address on the left side of the site.

After that, I don't know. This blog isn't going to disappear regardless of what happens, but we're going to have to scale back the content here if I ever want to get my shit together. There will be still be posts - probably much more off-topic material - but they won't be going up at 9:00, 11:00, 1:00, 3:00 & 5:00 all offseason, obviously.

If you've made it this far, I'd suggest you subscribe to our RSS Feed via Google Reader (164 people can't be wrong!). It will tell you when there is a new post so you don't have to come to the site to check. It will hurt our pageviews but help your sanity.

So thanks for reading this year. Thanks for your great comments and signed baseballs and for filling in the gaps where our knowledge is lacking. Thanks to those other bloggers who were kind enough to link, especially Joe from River Ave. Blues, Craig, Jason from IIATMS, Kevin Kaduk from Big League Stew, Ross from New Stadium Insider, Pete Abe, Rob Neyer (once), and even A.J. Daulerio, you know, back when Deadspin used to link to other blogs. A big thanks to Cliff who helped me a lot behind the scenes and Boston Bren who is mostly responsible for the site layout. There are others I'm forgetting, so I apologize for the omissions.

So, before we all disperse, there of course has to be a song. And it's only fitting that what is probably the de facto band of Fack Youk provides the soundtrack to this post.

See you around.

Jay


Say you want to be a rolling stone,
Get your sail out in the wind,
Get out on the highway and let 'er roll on,
Roll on back to someplace you ain't never been.

When I was younger I was hard to hold,
Seem like I was always goin',
Whichever way the wind would blow,
Now that travelin' spirit calls me again.

Callin' me back to where it all begins.

20 comments:

  1. Much thanks for your efforts Jay.
    Remember the best is yet to come...

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  2. Well done sir. Lookin forward to the parade tomorrow and some possible Big Willie Style college basketball game previews and recaps in the off season...

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  3. Once school is over in early December, you can all look forward to some posts about how much Syracuse basketball sucks without Johnny Flynn and get some terrible betting advice.

    Also, how terrible are Kevin Dochery and CC Brown, seriously how are these two guys even in the NFL.

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  4. Well done, Jay.

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  5. I am not exactly a new reader but I am a fairly new commentor but holy shit, that Welcome to the Internet post was fantastic. Well done. It really makes me wish I was reading since Feb.

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  6. Too kind, Jay. You do great work with FY, and I look forward to it keeping up, at whatever level you decide best fits with your life. As anothe guy who got laid off, quite probably in part to his blogging activities, I can say that doing what you love is still worth it, whatever that may be. Have a good offseason, and enjoy the parade.

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  7. Damn man, I never could have imagined this shit when we first started posting. Job well facking done! I should be able to start doing NFL and college hoops stuff from home now that there will be no baseball on TV and don't have to study all night long.

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  8. Hey man,

    I've been coming to this site since mid-season, and I think your analysis is top notch, and funny to boot. I just wanted to show my appreciation!

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  9. Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    Glad we could share this awesome ride together.

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  10. What, no mention of your favorite conspiracy site?

    Although the Angels didn't go as far as I'd liked, it was fun reading your posts about us left coast loonies. You've done a great job, and I hope for nothing but good things for you and your site.

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  11. Stultus Magnus11/5/09, 8:28 PM

    Have fun at the parade. And congrats on a great year for FY, it was a pleasure checking in and reading your posts.

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  12. Living in Albany, huh?

    I lived there from '02 to '06 while I was attending The College of St. Rose. Not my favorite city, but it got the job done and had plenty of places to get drunk for cheap, or get food after said drinking.

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  13. Thanks for keeping this blog up and I sincerely hope it continues to live, breathe, and grow.

    I just settled down in Philadelphia after years of moving around for my last two jobs and I have to say that it's the Yankees blogging community that has kept me from going insane. It's great to have an outlet - any kind of outlet - to share the triumphs and defeats, second guess decisions at all levels, and just plain old reminisce.

    I didn't come accross this particular blog until September, but I'm very glad I did. I love the music tie ins and really appreciate the level headed thinking that goes into each post. I don't always agree with every point, but you express your thoughts logically and always take the time to respond to the sensible comments.

    Good luck in the offseason and maybe I'll see you around Albany (I'm pretty sure I'm relocating to Schenectady... so much for settling in Philly)

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  14. I'm very happy that such a quality blog will remain in existence. To your health, your success, and, for all of us, #28 in 2010!

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  15. Jay-
    I will miss your daily comments on The World Champion New York Yankees (and baseball in general for that matter).
    Good luck to you in the job market.
    All the best,
    Wendy

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  16. Great job this year. It has been a whole lot of fun.

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  17. btw, Jay I found you guys linked over at Walkoff Walk

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  18. Hey just another thanks to you guys for giving me another great place for an entertaining read.
    I found you around the time you had your, uh, interactions with the next door neighbor. Those posts were pure gold.

    I stayed for the Yankee info, and think you guys are the best are injecting Yankee history into your posts.

    Thanks again.

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  19. Great to get to know you guys at Fack Youk this year. You do a great job with the blog. That you guys popped by now and then into the Heartland Digital Living Room for some in-game chin-wagging about the Yanks, good beer, and music was especially enjoyable.

    Number 27 has been especially sweet, and I am going to jones off this for a looong time. Enjoy.

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  20. Thanks again guys.

    Jim - Haha, sorry for the omission. That was a fun little back and forth we had and hopefully we can put something together when the teams meet next year.

    A-Train - My Mom actually works at St. Rose. Right on about the cheap places to get drunk. Albany's not the greatest town in the world, but the bars are open 'til 4!

    Jimmy - Thanks man, glad to be of service. Hopefully the victory makes it a little easier to live in Philly.

    Upstate - I probably should have mentioned Rob in the post. It was a relatively new connection which was why I forgot.

    Thanks Mode. Those posts were a lot of fun to write. Hopefully there will be more off topic stuff this offseason - although not involving us terrorizing our crazy neighbor.

    Jason - Likewise, man. Always appreciate you stopping by.


    Thanks again for the comments, folks. They really mean a lot and make it all seem worthwhile.

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