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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lookout Landing: Lookout Landed (Jeff Sullivan retires)

I’m genuinely gutted.  Sullivan was hands-down my favorite baseball writer on the internet.

For a guy who makes his living as a professional writer, I don’t know a whole lot about quality writing. This is one of the reasons I don’t like to self-identify as a writer, not that “blogger” is any better. But I do know that, when reporting news, you’re supposed to lead with the substance. This is why they call it the “lead”, or the “lede” if you want to seem smarter. With that in mind, my lede: this is my final post for Lookout Landing. [...]

But that comes with its attendant upsides and downsides. LL has been a side job, but it’s felt a lot like my regular job. When you turn a hobby into work, you sort of lose the hobby. For a while, LL hasn’t served as a hobby; it’s served as an extension of what I do, and it’s at the point where that’s just become too much writing, too much baseball. I haven’t had time to develop other hobbies. I know that I could still run this place, but I know I’ve never been less motivated to do that. I don’t see that turning around with the season around the corner.

So long, Jeff, and thanks for all the fish.

Esoteric Posted: March 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, obituaries, seattle mariners

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   1. Esoteric Posted: March 13, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4387730)
Still can't get over this. It really is sad. Truly one of the all-time greats.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 13, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4387738)
First Richie Sexson, now this. Haven't Mariners fans suffered enough?
   3. Esoteric Posted: March 13, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4387745)
Haven't Mariners fans suffered enough?
I'm just waiting for Felix to blow out his elbow. That'll be the capper. Ugh.
   4. Austin Posted: March 13, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4387770)
Jeff had seemed burned out for the past year or two, so this was pretty much inevitable. But yeah, it's kind of sad. LL was where he did all of his best writing, some of it genuinely profound. I hope he's able to find a real career; if I remember right, he was educated as a chemist, and either has a master's degree or has a few years' experience as a lab tech, so he may be able to get a job with a pharmaceutical company or something if he wants.
   5. Esoteric Posted: March 13, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4387775)
Jeff had seemed burned out for the past year or two, so this was pretty much inevitable.
Yeah, I've been reading and commenting at LL since 2006 or so and it was impossible not to notice. I wish him happiness and freedom -- and he actually discusses this specific issue if you RTFA.
   6. vivaelpujols Posted: March 13, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4387782)
Jeff had seemed burned out for the past year or two, so this was pretty much inevitable.


I agree. I used to read archives of Jeff's posts and the older ones were generally a lot better (no knock on Jeff, this happens with essentially every artist, musician, director, etc.), so it was only a matter of time.

He's still writing for FanGraphs, right? That probably pays better than SBNation anyway.
   7. Austin Posted: March 13, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4387785)
I wish him happiness and freedom -- and he actually discusses this specific issue if you RTFA.


I RTFA'd before commenting. He said he was going to keep his day job (I assume he means FanGraphs), and he referred to applying to a job at a brewery, but he wasn't clear about whether that was going anywhere. What I meant was his post-blogging career, because I highly doubt he'll want to stick around at FG for more than a couple of years.
   8. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: March 13, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4387786)
FTA:
I'm not going to abandon Mariners writing entirely. I don't think I'm capable of that -- the Mariners are still my favorite team. I'm just going to do less of it, and beginning at some point in the future, I'm going to be doing it at USS Mariner instead. By cutting back, I think it might start to feel like a hobby again, and it was USSM that inspired me to start blogging in the first place. I'm sure I had the option of cutting back and staying here, but I didn't want to take a reduced role on my own site. I'll write about the Mariners at USS Mariner, and I just won't write as much. I won't write recaps unless I actually feel inspired. And I'll focus more on my day job, and on other pursuits.

And his work will continue to appear at Fangraphs.
   9. Der-K, the bloodied charmer Posted: March 13, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4387793)
Sullivan's great.
   10. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 13, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4387886)
I can definitely see where Jeff is coming from. What he says about the intermingling of hobby and job, while having some terrific positives, does have a downside as well, as it can really change how you look at and feel about your hobby. I'm lucky to have a schedule that is flexible and the ability to write about a vast assortment of baseball-related things - doing stuff like recaps for a specific team's games, day-in, day-out, can really end up being a marathon of a grind. As tough as it is for him to walk away, not having to worry about LL may very well, in the long run, make his other baseball writing more enjoyable for him and easier to write.
   11. Tuque Posted: March 13, 2013 at 07:19 PM (#4387921)
I started reading Jeff Sullivan because I thought he was funny (with that weird article on baseball players as represented by volcanoes), and I keep reading him because his analysis is great. Super smart and talented guy. His stuff on Fangraphs steals the site.
   12. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 13, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4387929)
doing stuff like recaps for a specific team's games, day-in, day-out, can really end up being a marathon of a grind.


The one time I tried that, I lasted three weeks, and I was only doing a game a week or so. From what folks are saying here, I should try and read some SUllivan. I'm sure I read a thing or two of his in the past, but I don't recall.
   13. Esoteric Posted: March 13, 2013 at 08:36 PM (#4387960)
From what folks are saying here, I should try and read some SUllivan. I'm sure I read a thing or two of his in the past, but I don't recall.
There's a reason I used "Hall of Fame" as one of my tags. I'm not kidding when I say that Jeff Sullivan is/was my single favorite baseball writer on the planet. Thoughtful, observant, quirky, extremely witty, and a great stylist. The most impressive thing is that, even though he had a certain perceptible "schtick" (i.e. a set of tropes and or writing tics that consistently popped up in his work), they never got old. I think the key was that, while he normally operated on a level of ironic/sarcastic distance, he was also perfectly capable of shifting into moving sincerity at the blink of an eye.

The DFW of baseball bloggers, and that's literally the highest conceivable compliment I could ever pay to anyone in this field.
   14. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 13, 2013 at 10:03 PM (#4388006)
love the last paragraph
   15. Tuque Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:32 AM (#4388069)
Dallas-Fort Worth is the highest possible compliment in the field of sportswriting?
   16. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:43 AM (#4388072)
Sayonara, Jeff. Brought me back to the Mariners after many years in the wilderness.
   17. Der-K, the bloodied charmer Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:56 AM (#4388076)
Gonna be literal...
DFW = David foster Wallace, though I imagine hw meant from the excerpt or tfa, I could be mistaken.
If you haven't read DFW, do so - then come back to Sullivan.
   18. Esoteric Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:28 AM (#4388083)
HW is almost certainly referring to Jeff's final paragraph in TFA, about King Felix's at-bat against Johan Santana back in 2008.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:59 AM (#4388092)
I'd be curious to see some of Sullivan's DFWish writing. I've been reading him on Fangraphs this offseason - I think he's terrific, very clever, but I wouldn't have thought to compare him to someone like DFW.
   20. Floyd Thursby Posted: March 14, 2013 at 02:30 AM (#4388096)
Jeff Sullivan is a gentleman and a scholar, but he smells like burning hair.

(I'm sad I won't get to read him on the Mariners every day, but he'll still write for USS Mariner occasionally, so I wouldn't say "retired." Doing a post on the same team 700 times a year or so is an unexpected grind, and I'm surprised he lasted this long. He's one of my favorite writers and people.)
   21. bookbook Posted: March 14, 2013 at 05:25 AM (#4388106)
Yeah, Derek planned to occasionally post on USS Mariner after "retiring" as well. Other than a short stint when Dave was ill, I don't think he's done it more than once or twice.

Sometimes, you move on. Maybe it's novel-writing time?
   22. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 14, 2013 at 09:27 AM (#4388160)
Vox Media's losing a great writer/blogger/whatever he calls himself. It's their loss.
   23. Shibal Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4388323)
How much does Fangraphs or SB Nation pay anyway? I don't see any ads on Fangraphs so doubt they have much money to throw around. No clue about SB Nation.
   24. Austin Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4388327)
You must be using AdBlock, because FanGraphs certainly does have ads, although they're not very intrusive. I don't think anybody except the people involved has a good idea of how much the writers are paid, but I would guess it's not a lot more than the equivalent of minimum wage (perhaps $20k/year for a full-time writer).

When Jeff said he was quitting his LL job, SBN would have been incredibly stupid if they didn't offer him a large raise. He's got to be worth way more than his salary.

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