So, I guess this may be it
SARASOTA, Fla. -- It seemed only fitting that I start this farewell post where it all really started, here in lovely Sarasota.
At this very moment, I'm sitting at Maria's Chicken ready for yet another great meal but an Adam Dunn homer from the Reds' spring training complex. I'm down on Florida's gulf coast to serve as best man for my dear friend Marc Lancaster's wedding on Saturday.
It's been about a year since Marc took a job covering the Devil Rays for the Tampa Tribune and I realized my dream of covering Major League Baseball, and not just any big league squad, but the one that started it all -- the Cincinnati Reds. And what can I tell you? I had a blast.
And one of the biggest reasons I had such a great time was you and this blog. We built a community (with a generous and wonderful head start passed on by the afore mentioned Marc Lancaster, who preceded me on the Reds beat for the Cincinnati Post.
As most of you know, I will be the last Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Post. The paper, a staple in the Queen City since 1881 Will be rolling the last issue off the press on Monday. It's a sad day for the people who have worked hard putting out the paper, but if you ask me, it'll be a sadder day for the city of Cincinnati. The city has lost an important and unique voice -- and in this day and age of more and more voice shouting to be heard, it's a sad day when a steady, calm voice is silenced.
As journalists, we live with constant deadlines, but Dec. 31, 2007 was a deadline in the most literal sense in the word. We all knew that this was the day that we'd be out of work. I knew that in March 2004 when I moved from Alabama to Cincinnati. I knew it then and I know it now and I've never regretted the decision for even an instant. I saw coming here as a way to achieve my goal of covering Major League Baseball and I succeeded.
I also succeeded because of the number of talented, dedicated journalists I've worked with at The Post. Everyone knew the limitations we were handed as the "underdog" paper and as an afternoon paper in a world that can't wait to get home from work to read the paper, or even wait for it to be physically printed on paper. The people I've worked with at The Post never used our numerous disadvantages as an excuse, instead it was treated as a challenge. It was like Avis, which has the slogan, "We try harder." That's what The Post did -- we tried harder. And as a result, we did beter. We took pride in what we did every day.
Starting with the man who hired me, former sports editor Frank Carini, I was led by example. No matter what jokes we had about "our reader" (note the singular) everyone worked their tale off to serve that reader (whom I dubbed Bob) the very best coverage of the local sporting scene that we could.
Please indulge me for a second as I tell you a little bit about these fine people who will be out of a job next week.
The week I accepted the job at The Post, I saw the future and was excited anyway. That week, Reds beat writer Tony Jackson left to take a job at the Los Angeles Daily News. We always congratulated those who got off the sinking ship, but that didn't mean we stopped paddling. Next, just as I started, we lost another talented journalist, Jason Williams. Jason left the UC beat to go work at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, leaving us not only a person down, but me a friend moving on just as I arrived in a new city.
Frank Carini was the next to leave, leaving us a huge void. However, we were lucky enough that the higher-ups moved Keith Herrell from the news side over to sports. Keith had the unenviable job of dealing with a sports writing staff -- one of the most thankless jobs in the world, plus doing the job of another person by working on the desk every night. Keith, who is now serving as the managing editor and the sports editor here in the last days of The Post, has never once complained, although he's certainly heard his fair share of complaints.
As noted above, dealing with writers is never easy. Writers, by and large, have an ego, and as good as our staff is, there's certainly enough ego to go around. It's the nature of the beast. And the people who deal with the brunt of the writers are those on the copy desk. It's a difficult and thankless job, especially at a place like The Post, where the typical desk shift is 9-to-5 -- p.m. to a.m. I have to tip the cap to Dan Hopwood, who doesn't have a fancy title, nor could one accurately describe the crap he puts up with. Dan had to deal with the writers the most directly, and also read our raw, unedited copy, which he was certainly not paid enough to do. But Dan, like the rest of the staff, always did everything with the goal of putting out the best product possible. We may not have always agreed with exactly what that meant, but we always had the same goal. And Dan will be working these last couple of days just as hard as he did the first, because in the end, The Post was a reflection of him and his work.
While Dan could cuss up a storm with the best of them (i.e., me), Dave Tippenhauer was the yin to his yang, the Teller to his Penn. Tippy never complains about anything, just goes out to do the best job possible. Tippy barely says anything (well, except at Frank's going-away party at his house when he took full advantage of home court), but just goes about his job. There's a reason we all love Tippy, and any organization will be better with him.
Then there are the unsung guys, John Lachmann and Tom Ramstetter. I'm not exactly sure how to explain what these guys do, but the short answer is everything. Trust me guys, it was noticed by those who worked with you and appreciated.
Then there's the writing staff.
Marc Lancaster -- Marc and I started at The Red & Black, the student newspaper at UGA, back in 1995. We've been friends since, working together at the R&B, then The Athens Daily News/Banner-Herald and finally here at The Post. You can't ask for a better friend or mentor, both roles Marc has served for me. (Or, as Hopwood would point out, the writer of the cleanest copy known to man. Unlike, well, me.) I'm honored to call Marc a friend and honored to know him as a professional.
Josh Katzowitz -- The third member of the Bulldog Mafia. I got to know Josh when I was covering UGA men's basketball for the Banner-Herald and he was doing the same for the R&B. Even then, with the exceptions of a misstep in Gainesville, I could tell this kid was a dogged reporter and an incredibly talented writer. Since he came to The Post, we've become great friends, and for that, I'm incredibly grateful.
Kevin "GoGo" Goheen -- I was introduced to Kevin on my interview here -- he tagged along for free dinner, as is his custom. And, as his custom, we had a few drinks afterward, too. You will never meet a better, more fun person than GoGo. The Bengals beat won't be the same without GoGo and his ever-present laugh. A Cincinnati native, GoGo can always be counted on to introduce the foreign members of The Post to his hometown, which he so dearly loves.
Terry Boehmker -- The nicest person on Earth. Honestly. And, well, also the person with the most knowledge of Kentucky High School sports. A good prep writer in this business is worth his weight in gold, and Terry's worth way more than that. Northern Kentucky doesn't know what it's losing, even if they think they do have an idea. Good thing I know I can always head to Herb and Thelma's and grab a beer with Terry. And trust me, I'm gonna take advantage of that.
Lonnie Wheeler -- Seriously, dude can put together words like nobody I've ever met. The most wonderful writer I've ever gotten to work with. Anyone who has read Lonnie's columns has undoubtedly had the moment where they've read a sentence and immediately reread it because it was so wonderful. It just sounds great and begs to be read aloud. A brilliant writer, Lonnie's also one of the kindest, most genuine people in the world. Although Josh and I would often pick on him, he always took it. And, he wasn't too bad at dishing it out himself. One of the funniest things I've ever heard was a couple of years ago when I was sent to cover the Flying Pig Marathon. Lonnie, there to write a column, looked at me and deadpan said, "It must be weird for you writing about one of these after running in so many." I still laugh at that one. The delivery was perfect.
I will miss every one of these people, not only because they are my friends, but also because they made me better at my job and a better person.
I'd also like to thank you guys. I started blogging for this site in earnest across the street at Ed Smith Stadium. That's where you were introduced to what I can only say is me, my flaws and everything. That's what I've enjoyed as much as anything. Part of being a journalist is playing things straight, just the facts ma'am reporting. That's what I tried to do for the newspaper, but the blog was different. The blog let me have fun, and I hope it allowed you to have fun as well. No, it wasn't always about baseball, but life isn't about baseball. There are days -- few, mind you -- that I don't want to think about baseball and want to just hang out with friends. I've been able to do that here. It reminds me of good bar conversation, you may be talking about baseball, but it can go all over the place -- music, movies, relationships, recollections, every different bit of life -- and it's a great time. That's what I had with you guys, a great time.
During spring training, someone said if I continued to do my blog like I did in the spring, I'd go crazy. Instead, it was the opposite. It kept me sane. Sure, it added about three hours of work to my day, but none of it seemed like work. That's because of you guys. Thank you, I can't think of anything more valuable.
And finally, I've been humbled by the number of emails I've received asking about my future. Honestly, right now I'm not too sure. I thought I had it all figured out at one time, but I don't right now. I'm lucky enough to have two opportunities -- one here in town and one out of town. Both are incredible opportunities working for good folks and prime jobs. I am interviewing out of town on Jan. 3, and honestly, as much as I love Cincinnati, it's doing a full-time baseball beat with all the travel and the entire spring training period. That's very important to me and something I've liked so much, I am entirely open to upping and moving once again, even if it means I won't have ready access to Skyline.
There's also an opportunity here in town that would be incredible, fun and challenging. It's an exciting new opportunity with people who are thinking forward and have some great ideas, and they want me to be involved. With that, this also won't be goodbye, just a chance to move to different surroundings. If that happens, let's just say the word will get out.
I hope to know my future by the second week of January, but there's still so much up in the air. All I know is that I'm gonna miss this spot (and even the terrible picture -- well, not that part). Thanks guys for everything.
I prefered Lancaster to C. Trent, but he was our best resource, and now he is gone. John Fay is just about worthless, and Hal McCoy seems to be a bit of a dinosour, plus he doesn't have a blog and can't "break" the news to us, the way Fay and Trent are able. I think this is going to be a major loose for Red's fans. Anytime a market loses a media source it is bad for the people. I can't remeber the last time I read a an actual Cincinnati Post, it hasn't been sold in Hamilton for a few years, but I read it almost everyday online. John Fay is so medicore, while the Post has had Tony Jackson, and Marc Lancaster. Unfortunatly I think John Fay is here to stay, I hope the Dayton Daily News replaces Hal McCoy with a strong writer when the time comes.