Reaction: Neyer Leaves ESPN

At the end of the latest post for his SweetSpot Blog, baseball writer Rob Neyer announced that after 15 years he was leaving ESPN:

Today, I hand off this space to whoever’s next. I don’t know yet who is next, but I’m highly confident that this blog and the SweetSpot Network will soon be in excellent hands. Meanwhile, I’ll be around. The kids tell me it’s all about search these days. You won’t have to search real hard to find me, if you want.

I think Jonah Keri’s tweet nicely sums up what Neyer has done for online baseball coverage:

Rob Neyer was the gateway drug for baseball on the Internet. Can’t imagine how many of us would be doing something different if not for him.

Personally, Neyer’s clear, concise and intelligent writing style, that remains highly readable without ever pandering to a lowest common denominator audience, is exactly the way that I want to write and exactly the writing that I want to read.  His ability to use simple reasoning and logic to explain seemingly complex ideas is a quality that I admire very much and often wish I could reproduce as effortlessly as Neyer makes it seem in his writing.

As is to be expected, his departure has inspired several online tributes.

From Will Leitch:

When I was reading him on espnet.sportszone.com back in 1997, he opened up my brain in a way hardly anyone was. In 1997, there wasn’t much I cared about on earth more than baseball, and Neyer’s writing was a revelation. He was a blast of cool air to the middle of my brain. How could I know so little about something I loved so much? I used to hit refresh on my browser repeatedly before I thought his columns would post, desperately wanting more more more, and if you were using Netscape like most of us were back then, you know that refreshing could take 15-20 minutes. It was always worth it. Some people’s — including Neyer’s — baseball education was Bill James. Mine was Rob Neyer.

From It’s All About The Money:

Like most of you, I began reading Rob daily back when he started with ESPN so many years ago. I’ve pretty much read everything he’s written. I, and others, haven’t always agreed with everything, but say this about the man: he’s fair and he’s thoughtful. Rob was among the first, if not the first, to bring sports blogging into the mainstream. For that, we should all be grateful for his contributions to the MLB community. I know I am.

From The Platoon Advantage:

Look, we have no idea what the first column we read by Rob Neyer actually was.  But it forever changed the way that we looked at baseball, writing, baseball writing, and the world at large.  You’re going to accuse us of hyperbole, but because of Rob Neyer’s work, we became a bigger fans of baseball, better writers, more critical thinkers, and, because of these skills, ultimately better people.  Because Rob helped me learn to think critically, to not accept “truths” at face value, and to have a strong curiousity into how underlying systems worked.

From Hardball Talk:

While Bill James is rightfully credited for revolutionizing baseball analysis, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the revolution doesn’t happen — or at least doesn’t happen as quickly and as thoroughly as it did happen — without Rob Neyer. Rob, who was once James’ assistant, popularized sabermetrics via his ESPN column/blog, reaching far more people in his first few weeks as an Internet writer than the number of people to whom James sold his original Abstracts. He was the gateway drug for stat geekery. At least he was mine.

Comments (3)

  1. When I was reading his last entry, I honestly thought I’d missed something. There was no way Rob was leaving, couldn’t be. Sadly he is. His efforts to create the Sweet-Spot network were magnificent. I remember waiting day in and day out to see who he’d finally announce as his pick for the Jays (sorry you lost out there Parkes.)

    The man has a knack for making sense, and for instead of calling a person a fool for having a particular thought or viewpoint, brought in facts for you to think about and draw your own conclusion. It’s near impossible to write and not impose your views on others, yet he pulled it off with mastery and impeccable class.

    We can only hope someone fills his shoes admirably, but there will be no replacement for who he was.

  2. He’s been saying some odd things that could be construed as hints about this, recently, so it’s not a total surprise, but it’s still a loss. Fortunately, as he said, he’ll still be around, elsewhere, presumably still sharing his opinions with the masses.

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