Joseph Nathan Cohen

Department of Sociology, CUNY Queens College, New York, NY

Ben Lindbergh (The Ringer) on Sports Podcasting and Writing

This livestream was produced as part of the QPL Learning Series project.

Original Video Description

In this installment of the Queens Podcast Lab‘s Learning Seminar, we will discuss sports podcasting and writing with acclaimed baseball journalist Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer. Ben is a creator and host of Effectively Wild, one of America’s most popular baseball podcasts. In addition, Ben has worked as a writer and editor for Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, Grantland, and FiveThirtyEight, and is the author of two excellent books about baseball. He also writes about Culture for The Ringer.

Transcription (Auto-Generated)

okay we are live welcome everybody to the queen’s podcast lab learning seminar uh for those of you who don’t know us we’re a group of students and faculty mostly at queen’s college who are interested in content creation and managing or running creative enterprises my name is joseph cohen i’m a professor in the sociology department here at queen’s college and co-director of the podcast lab and today i am extremely excited uh we have an amazing guest uh this is a creator who i really admire and he works in a space that a lot of us dream of working in sports uh actually now he’s pivoting to the one space that is even more popular among the students that we teach which is uh culture uh but ben lindberg is an acclaimed baseball writer and podcaster he is a former editor-in-chief of baseball prospectus a publication that has served for a as a waypoint for uh many analysts journey into major league baseball front offices and some great major sports media journalism outlets he is also a pioneer in baseball podcasting he is creator and host of effectively wild a nationally ranked sports podcast uh which many of you baseball fans i’m sure will know and he writes for the ringer another successful sports and culture outlet and i just want to put in he he also wrote he’s written several books but there’s one that’s really terrific uh that i have to find a way to teach to my uh data analysis grad students uh the only rule is it has to work it’s a stats nerd it’s a baseball statner’s dream mr lindbergh and his colleague two numbers guys uh got to be general manager of an indie baseball team and the uh book is an account of what they experienced and it’s just terrific so he’s a very prolific creator i’m a big fan of his work thank you very much for joining us ben lindbergh thank you very much for that intro that was very flattering happy to be here so start off uh we’re talking about your job as a sports content creator is that how you see your job do you see your job as like are you a writer a journalist how would you describe what you do to people it’s a bit of both right and it kind of is all over the industry now right where you start out doing one thing and then hopefully you’re able to do more than one thing that is certainly beneficial of course if there’s one thing you prefer to do there are still ways to do that but it seems like whatever you come up as you inevitably kind of get pushed toward or gravitate towards other media so i was a writer exclusively i was an english major i set out to do writing and editing and then that turned into podcasting and occasional tv work and i didn’t have training to do those sorts of things so it just kind of came with experience to the extent that it’s come at all but i still love writing and editing and that is the bulk of my work at the ringer certainly but i do a lot of podcasting too so yeah you have to wear a bunch of hats and hopefully they fit fairly comfortably after enough time a lot of our students want to know how did you get started like what was the first step when you got out of college well initially i thought that i wanted to work in baseball in some capacity all i had really ever imagined myself doing was either writing or working for a baseball team and i guess i ended up kind of combining those things but i initially had envisioned myself as you know the future gm that everyone thinks that they’ll be when they read moneyball and so i did some internships with sports companies and sports teams and baseball teams and that was rewarding and eye-opening in some ways and i was with the yankees as an intern in 2009 when they won the world series the last time they did maybe they never should have let me go but it was i think revealing in the sense that although i learned a lot i i didn’t feel like i had the skill set to stand out necessarily as an english major it’s more useful for someone who is doing english major things than working for a baseball team and i was conversant with stats and probability and so i kind of went into sabermetric analytical type of baseball writing but once i was with a team i was not really the stat head because there were people who had computer science degrees and advanced math degrees and actual literal rocket scientists and so suddenly you know being somewhat stat savvy for an english major was not cutting it and i hadn’t been a high level player or anything that would lend itself to a scouting job for instance so i figured i could kick around and maybe keep finding internships with different teams in different cities and a lot of people do that and eventually hopefully they catch on and maybe it works out but i missed writing which i had started to do by that point with baseball prospectus and that interaction with the audience and so when that internship ended i just went back to that at bp and at bloomberg sports and worked my way up at baseball prospectus and then eventually went to grantland which was an espn site at the time and then when the founder of grantland bill simmons started the ringer i eventually went over there after a little interlude at 5 38 so i’ve uh bounced a bit from place to place not nearly as much as some people do you you really have to be pretty flexible and itinerant in this industry these days but i’ve been able to work at places that really let me pursue passions and do a bunch of different things and i’m happy with how it’s worked out so it sounds like you you you started with the passion for baseball and then you found a way to be part of that world with the skill set that you had is that kind of what you did yeah i’d say so and i never set out to be a sports writer really i kind of fell into that i had never really imagined myself as a beat writer a baseball writer i had grown up as a baseball fan and liked reading baseball books but i imagined myself more as a fiction or science fiction author potentially than someone who wrote about sports but i was really interested in baseball and i had that writing background and some proclivity for that so i started doing that and found that i had some knack for it it seemed and enjoyed it and got better at it and really liked reading all those things and so it was a thrill for me to write that stuff too and i was never totally married to the idea of just solely being a sports writer and so i’ve tried to branch out a bit wherever i was that was one reason i went to greenland is that it was not exclusively a baseball site and i could contribute on the culture side there too and then the ringer the editors there knew me and had the confidence that i could do that and so everywhere i’ve gone i’ve tried to make myself more valuable i guess which is useful during say an mlb lockout that there are other things that i can cover and other ways that i can contribute but i also just value the variety and the challenge of just being on multiple beats or writing about things that i haven’t covered before so sports and baseball writing is still rewarding but i just love being able to do different things from week to week if possible i guess that’s one thing that young people don’t understand is that your interests will evolve over a lifetime maybe being interested at the beginning is good because then you’re really dedicated to creating on your topic and then you learn the business and you’re able to branch out maybe as you mature yeah i think that’s true and these days you know people change careers multiple times typically over the course of their life and certainly move a lot within their career and if you find something that you love to do and you can do it your whole life and feel fulfilled then that’s wonderful but i think a lot of people end up going down different roads whether by necessity or just because their interests evolve and i do think that even if you are focusing on one area even if you’re just writing about baseball i think it is really helpful to have that background just the multi-disciplinary approach and knowing things about various subjects i mean my favorite baseball writer growing up and still is roger angel of the new yorker and he was someone who really brought that sensibility of someone who knew a lot about a lot of things and he just happened to end up writing about baseball but he could bring in all sorts of literary illusions and make comparisons and analogies and so if you’ve only done one thing your whole life you know it’s like for an athlete often it’s helpful to play multiple sports up to a certain point so that you develop that framework and that foundation and multiple skills so i find that that’s useful for a writer and a media member as well we have a question one of our sports writers at the school newspaper couldn’t make and he had a whole list of questions what it’s holden velasco by the way just in case because i know holden’s going to watch this later on youtube live and one one of coldin’s questions was concretely for like a young sports writer like him uh what is a smart move in early career management how would you uh what would you advise them to to do to get a foothold in the business well it depends somewhat on the sport but i’d say that there are probably a number of things that would make you more attractive regardless obviously one is maybe knowing multiple languages especially in a sport with such an international player pool and audience as baseball for instance if you study spanish or know it already that is something that can give you a big leg up and enable you to do a broader range of stories and talk to more players and just get better reporting and build those relationships and i think in virtually every sport now it’s helpful to have some handle on the statistical side of things so that doesn’t mean you have to be a math major but it can be helpful to take a probability course or even learn a little bit of light coding is something that i’ve kind of dabbled in but i’ve never pursued as much as i still feel like i should have but having that kind of backgrounds i think is helpful these days even if your main strength is writing all teams and to a large extent players are pretty knowledgeable about those things these days and that plays a large part in how teams are constructed and how athletes evolve and so you kind of need to be able to speak that language a little even just to understand the sport i think so those are probably two very broad things and then just generally i mean i’m sure it’s the the most common piece of advice you get but just reading a lot you know just be familiar with the literature with the research you know you don’t want to end up duplicating work that’s already out there you want to be able to build on it and hopefully learn from it studying the craft of other writers and trying to figure out how they do what they do i think early on in any writer’s career you tend to almost unconsciously emulate other writers that you’ve been reading and that can be helpful at first you know you kind of kick yourself if you look at what you just wrote you think oh i’m doing a poor impression of this writer that i’ve liked for a long time but i think even just sort of trying to channel that voice and figure out what works for them what do i like about how they write and if you can even mimic that then maybe eventually i think you kind of grew out of that you develop your own voice and you start you know forging your own path instead of sort of imitating someone else’s but i think that’s kind of a crucial stage that almost everyone goes through but it sounds like fundamentally all of these are building blocks to just making articles that impress people like at the end of the day is that what it’s about just writing pieces that people love i think so ideally that’s what it’s about and hopefully that’s something that enables you to make a living as as well um but i still get a thrill out of that i mean that’s still a big part of the pleasure for me is just being able to put these thoughts out there and have people read them and hopefully enjoy them and respond and have a bit of back and forth so and i find that with podcasting there’s a bit of an intimacy maybe that is hard to cultivate when it’s just writing i think obviously people still appreciate good writing and you know of the forecasts of no one’s going to want to read anymore and you know all these dire prognostications about writing i mean certainly some of those things have come true but i think there’s still an appetite and a need for that but podcasting i found doing effectively wild a few times a week and daily when we started out that just seems to build a kind of connection to an audience that i think is tough to forge just through the written word it can be done but if you’re in someone’s ears every day you know during their commute or as they’re falling asleep you know kind of in these intimate moments and there’s a parasocial relationship that that tends to develop i guess where you feel like you know the person maybe a bit better than you do and i certainly have that myself as someone who listens to a lot of podcasts but i have found that to be rewarding in a a different way just that interaction as a podcaster has been pretty fulfilling over the years all right for everybody else here just uh for those of you listening uh over the course of this if you have a question uh of mr lindbergh you can uh put it in the chat window either on youtube live or here on zoom or if you want to ask it yourself just use the hand emoji uh for uh zoom um how did you get started on effectively wild and what did you learn about uh successfully starting up a podcast gosh a lot well i never would have anticipated that i’d still be doing it after all this time it’s been almost 10 years and it’s changed sites and it’s changed co-hosts multiple times and it’s now listener supported so it’s gone through all sorts of evolutions and has become more professional probably from a production standpoint over the years as all podcasts have but we started it almost on a whim really it was uh you know i was an editor at baseball prospectus at the time and and started it with sam miller who was a co-editor with me at the time and we just felt like it was something the site needed and could benefit from and it was something we hadn’t really done before and we just felt like it filled a niche and a need for the site and didn’t know whether we would be good at it and i’m not sure we were good at it at first but uh you know it’s it’s evolved very much over the years so that initially it was we’ll just do this every day and it’ll be 15 minutes and now it’s morphed into you know much longer episodes a little less frequently so the format is completely different but we learned a lot obviously just from a production standpoint from a recording standpoint technically you know the importance of having the right gear and the right software and all of that but i think just as a host also i have hopefully learned things over the years where again i had no broadcast training and i wouldn’t say i’m a natural public speaker and so i you know go back and listen to early episodes or or don’t go back and listen to them because at the time you know i was talking i guess the way i would when i’m just at home you know kind of talking casually not really conscious of the fact that i’m an entertainer right i have to you know have a broadcast voice to some extent not being phony or fake like it’s me and it’s my thoughts and my personality but maybe in a more elevated way than if it were just kind of casual conversation so i just became more conscious of hey i’m trying to entertain and keep people’s interests here in addition to just saying whatever’s on my mind you know just off the cuff so i think preparation wise and just you know speaking wise and i edited and produced the show for many years as well and so that taught me a lot i think about my own verbal ticks and some of the little time wasters that i would stick in there and when it took me hours to edit out a bunch of ums and oz and awkward pauses i found that that helped me filter that out of my speech eventually if only because it would save me a lot of time on the back end so that’s just the product of doing hundreds of episodes over the years and really i don’t know that there’s a shortcut to that so it might just be about the rep and the reps and the number of hours that you put into those things but really i don’t know that we ever you know we never advertised or promoted the show in any major way it was just kind of a word of mouth thing and we make the show that is interesting to us and that’s really all you can do i i guess you could do something that is not interesting to you that you still think would be popular but i wouldn’t enjoy that very much and i don’t know that i would be able to maintain the enthusiasm for it so we do it the way that we want to do it and that we would want to listen to as listeners and we hope that the audience will be there and i don’t even look at metrics or anything even though i’m sort of a stat head when it comes to baseball i don’t really look that closely at how many people read my articles or listen to my podcast just i feel like that would get in my head probably and i’m already doing the best job i can do and if i were to look at something and see that it wasn’t as well read as i would have liked it to be i don’t know that i could necessarily change things maybe i could maybe i should look at these things more and study what’s working but i just tend to write about what’s interesting to me or talk about what’s interesting to me and so if the only solution to be more popular was to do something that i found less engaging then maybe that would make me more money but i don’t know that it would make me happier yeah you know ryan and i are interviewing uh chartered podcasters as part of this larger project and we’re under the impression that the creator’s buy-in and the creator’s continued desire to create is the critical factor because now you don’t need money so much to run these media enterprises so i think the idea of creating something that is satisfying to you personally is important just to keep the thing running long enough to grow um that’s awesome what’s that what’s your creative process i mean you’ve done a lot of work and you’ve got a lot of projects on the go um like how does your work week like what does it look like and how do you organize and manage all those projects it’s very unpredictable which i like in some ways and in some ways can be a pain but i often don’t know what my week will look like until it actually starts and sometimes not until well after that obviously if i’m working on a reported feature of some sort then that’s something that i’ll have been doing interviews for and laying some groundwork for for a while but you just never really know from day to day i try to get some degree of control over my schedule because i don’t love it if i have to suddenly leap into action and do a blog or something when i was in the middle of working on something else so i do value having some consistency in being able to tell what i’ll be working on but generally i write maybe a couple times a week at this point and edit as well and do a few podcasts and so it’s all very sea to the pants sort of sometimes i’ve been working on things for a while but often i won’t know what i’m writing about until the week starts and something happens and news prompts a response of some sort or an idea dawns so it really varies and i think you have to be kind of comfortable with that to work in the industry to some extent not that you should be working 24 7 or burn yourself out but it’s not the typical nine to five go to an office type of job for most people i think who do what i do so you do have to be a bit adaptable when it comes to that you know i’m doing a podcast after i talk to you today and i don’t know exactly what time and i don’t know exactly what we’ll be talking about so i have a general idea of both of those things but the specifics we’ll see we’ll do it live so i think part of it is just you get comfortable i think with adapting on the fly after a certain number of years and a certain number of articles and a certain number of podcasts and obviously the first time you’re doing those things it’s very momentous and there’s a lot of stress associated with it and you want everything to be perfect not that i don’t want things to be perfect now but i accept that they can’t be and so i try to do the best i can and try to plan ahead as well as i can but just the business by its nature i think demands some flexibility okay i got another question uh let’s see uh how do you come up with creative content that sticks out from other media outlets this is another question from a student that sticks out uh in the same news cycle so what do you do like how do you more generally you come up with a lot of content and you seem to be able to just get a steady stream like you don’t get or i don’t know if you wrestle with writer’s block or things like that but you do manage to produce a lot of stuff that is discussion worthy how does somebody do that somebody who you know might be a little more riddled by a writer’s block um yeah i wish i had an easy solution for that i don’t know that there is one i don’t get writer’s block in the sense that i know what i want to write about but then end up staring at a blank page and just am unable to summon the words that doesn’t happen to me so much but there are definitely dry spells when it comes to topics and i think that’s half the battle if not more is figuring out what you want to write about before you figure out how you’re going to write about it i think it helps now that there are so many things i can cover at the ringer and so if i’m out of ideas in one area then there’s always something else you know if there’s a mlb walkout and you’re not bombarded with baseball ideas well i can write about video games or i can write about music or tv or whatever it is there’s always something happening which can be a bit overwhelming because i feel some pressure to stay apprised of all these things that are happening and if you have one beat i think it’s easier to really be an expert and feel like you have a handle on it whereas if you’re trying to do a bunch of different things then you feel like you’re always falling a bit behind especially just with the quantity of music and tv and movies and video games it’s just such a deluge of content right so yeah i think in my current role that’s a mixed blessing you know it’s hard in some ways to keep up but it also gives me a greater range that i can pull from for topics but when i was covering baseball exclusively it’s tough you know if you’re just writing about say a free agent signing or a trade you may have to accept that what you say is not going to be brilliantly original and completely unlike what anyone else has ever said on that subject there are certain cases where what you write about might not be so dissimilar from what other people write about and that’s okay because you have to serve your site and your audience to an extent but i think more and more i’ve tried to gravitate toward ideas that are not that kind of commodity where it’s everyone will have a piece on this that falls in the same general bounds right and you have to do that to some extent but it’s tough to stand out and i think when i started just having more of the sabermetric bent and that knowledge helped me stand out a bit because i could bring a statistical rigor to a topic hopefully combined with engaging writing as well but maybe provide some analysis that was lacking in most coverage these days that’s hard to do too because almost everyone seems as familiar with those concepts and maybe is not doing the the deepest dives when it comes to stats but is at least familiar with advanced metrics and looks at things in the similar way or at least knows how to look at things that way so i really try to look for out of the box topics which is hard i mean you can tell someone hey come up with ideas that no one else has easier said than done i try to read a lot so that i know what is being written about a lot and therefore i hopefully know what not to write about and can look for something different but it’s definitely just something i’ve gotten better at over time i think just that idea generation because you do it long enough these things just come to you or hopefully you know you think of things that you’ve done before that would apply in this new subject area or you could adapt something that you’ve thought about before or you just i feel like my mind forms opinions more easily than it used to or crafts those opinions into topics that i can write about you know kind of just consolidates things condenses things into well instead of here are my many meandering thoughts on the subject here’s my take if you want to put it that way you know here’s my angle on this and i think just the practice really has made me much better at that and again i don’t know if there’s something i could have told myself 10 years ago or that i could tell a younger writer now and say skip that whole practice part just you know go straight to the expertise i’m not sure if that’s out there but again i’d say if you’ve identified other writers you think have some knack for that then read what they do and try to backwards engineer it in a way you know how do they come up with these ideas many writers are responsive and receptive to questions so if you want to ask hey how did you get this idea often it’s just sort of serendipitous you know you stumble across something as you’re working on something else and it leads you down a different direction or once you have a bit of a following i think the ideas come to you more readily because people reach out to you and suggest topics maybe it’s pr people or maybe it’s readers or listeners who say hey did you hear about this i’d be interested in hearing what you have to say on that subject and then suddenly you have people supplying subjects to you which again not something that when you’re just starting out you can necessarily have come to you but i’m just explaining how it has become a bit easier for me over the years it was not easy initially so you got a pretty severe i guess ryan you’ve got a question yes uh thanks um this is all very interesting to me especially because we’re studying podcasts and i’m a sports fan too so i listen to a lot of sports podcasts also and i’ve listened to the ringer a lot it’s pretty big platform for sports podcasting and all kinds of different subjects what would you say is the the benefit of being a part of a network like the ringer is it would you suggest to podcasters starting out to join something like that if they can um what do you get out of it really you think i think it’s helpful to have that ecosystem and and that platform set up i mean for one thing there’s an infrastructure when it comes to production and recording you know we have producers and and very skilled ones who can handle all of that and make you sound smarter than you would on your own and handle booking for guests i mean having that whole support system can be very helpful and can save you a lot of time and can make you sound better at what you do and of course there’s promotion that comes with it and you know you have hosts on one show saying hey listen to the hosts on that other show and you have cross promotion and you have people appearing on this podcast in that podcast and it kind of cross-pollinates so yes i would say if you can find a way to do that then that would be great often you have to establish yourself before you can do that and you have to kind of make yourself attractive to one of those networks and demonstrate that you can do this that you have some track record that you’ve been able to amass an audience of some sort and hopefully they’ll bring you on so at effectively wild we never really have been part of a network we’ve been part of a site baseball prospectus or fan graphs which are not enormous sites in the larger media media ecosystem but are well known among baseball fans so again you know if i had started that exact podcast just as someone with no platform no starting point then who’s to say whether it would have ever caught on or whether i would still be doing it or whether it would have generated any revenue i don’t know i’d like to think so i’d like to think it would have found an audience anyway but having a head start in that sense has been helpful so i’d say even if you can’t immediately get on the air and host your own show on a network like that if you can find a way in somehow and maybe it’s as a writer maybe it’s as a producer maybe it’s as a social media person if you can get in the door and become known to the people there and maybe impress upon them that you have thoughts to share that you have ideas then i think it’s possible to work your way in even if you’re not coming in day one as a established famous media person with a big following so it’s tough i mean there are millions of podcasts out there right so how do you differentiate yourself unless you have a bit of that backing behind you it’s it’s tough to do and not getting any easier i got a chat question for you how do you balance respecting the players on both the professional and personal level when giving your personal take about them yeah i wouldn’t say that’s been a a big obstacle for me because i i’ve never been someone who’s gonna come out and say oh this guy is garbage you know kind of like your sports radio hot take type so i think you know people expect me to to give uh you know an evaluation of a player’s performance at times and if that performance is not great then i will say so but hopefully in a respectful way i mean i think there’s a presumption really anyone who covers sports that well all of these people all these athletes are incredible and are among the best in the world at what they do so if we you know critique their game then we’re talking about their performance relative to the other very best people in the world and so we’re not saying that they’re bad at baseball we’re saying that they’re not as good as the you know 0.0001 right so i think you have to couch it and be conscious of the fact that these are people they may be very talented and in some cases famous and wealthy people but they are people and they do have feelings and so i think it’s good to be conscious of that and there’s been a larger awareness i think of the fact that players are human beings you know they’re not just a a bunch of numbers and you know you’ll see differences in the terms that people use to talk about players you know where people won’t say oh players are assets anymore i mean you might still hear that but i think there has been a greater reluctance to speak about them like that or you know the idea of the the fantasy baseball auction draft right like that terminology has changed in recent years as people have become more mindful of these things of the fact that these are human beings and they deserve to be valued for their labor and you know not to be turned into commodities right and you know people who you are harassing on social media because they have a bad game so i think it comes naturally if you try to be objective and fair in your analysis and if you try to support it with stats right i mean stats can be biased in some ways too but if you say that so and so is in the you know 10th percentile of this metric or whatever i mean that might not reflect well on them but it’s not as if you are uh being excessively cruel you’re just sorting the leaderboard right so i think as long as there’s a sense that you have done the research and you’re basing your opinion on something meaningful and measurable and you maintain the the proper tone when imparting this information i think you can’t go wrong all right we we’re actually coming near the end i wanted to just make sure that uh andy or david uh or chris had a a chance to ask something if you were interested i’d just like to say ben it’s been a pleasure listening to you you’re really very thoughtful um and i agree with so much of what you said you know it’s good to try to be wide in your knowledge um for a few reasons as you mentioned it gives you options to do other things gives you you know it makes you more valuable but also enriches the work that you do um you know bringing in other aspects of life um to the work that you do so i couldn’t agree with you more thanks yeah so let’s first of all it’s been a real thrill to meet you and uh i i’ve learned oh sorry david go ahead oh yeah i wanted to ask ben uh what were the steps you took to become a great sports writer and what would you say are the struggles to becoming a great sports writer gosh uh well thanks for suggesting i’m great first of all but um i really think it it started with just having a base of knowledge and familiarity with the subject matter and with writing and certainly i had advantages i had a good education when it comes to writing i had a background in that and so i was lucky in some respects and when it came to applying it to sports really i just tried to read as broadly as i could and then tried to push myself i guess to do other kinds of coverage and to do more reporting i don’t think every piece needs to have a reported element necessarily but i have found that to be helpful and that was not something that came naturally to me i wasn’t naturally the most outgoing person and i think almost anyone feels some sort of imposter syndrome or apprehensiveness when it comes to say walking into a locker room and talking to athletes right and you worry am i gonna say something silly and they’re gonna know that i’m a pretender here and maybe you will you know but probably everyone does so i think you just have to be okay with that and most people are pretty understanding i’ve found and other writers tend to be pretty supportive i’ve found in most cases too so i’d say you know don’t be afraid to ask people for advice which i guess you’re not because you just did and i don’t know whether i’m giving you useful advice or not but um i think other people will help to the extent that they can and again like i don’t know that all of it is so easy to boil down into here’s how you do it and here’s step one and here’s step two because if you could do that then everyone would reach the point that they want to reach and that’s just probably not the case but yeah there are more ways to get there than ever and whether it’s video or audio or social media i mean i have colleagues or former colleagues who have just gotten their breakthrough tweets or you know i mean they’re all sorts of different ways that you can come to people’s attention and show that you have a voice that stands out and that’s just something you have to work on again by just consuming as much as you can that will hopefully give you some sense of here’s how other people do it here’s how i can do it and then from that you can sort of springboard into well here’s how i can do it a little bit differently from other people to it hopefully to stand out a bit and you know i’ve kind of gone into the generalist route where i try to cover a bunch of different subjects not just because i think it makes sense but also just because it’s what i enjoy but other people kind of go in the opposite direction say i’m gonna be the absolute expert on this one single subject and it might be a narrow subject but if you’re the go-to person when it comes to that that might be all you need too and if that is fascinating for you and it remains so then that’s perfectly fine also so i guess just don’t be bound to any particular path you know i need to go to journalism school and get this degree or that degree or get this internship i mean you know i didn’t go to grad school i i just felt like i want to write and i want to do the things i’m interested in you know i didn’t even work on my school paper or anything like that which a lot of people do and that can be great experience but i just went right to i want to work for baseball prospectus and you know was able to get an internship there and kind of learn on the job to a certain extent so there are just so many ways to do it and so many more ways i think than there used to be that it’s hard to say here’s the way which can be discouraging but also encouraging because you can make your own path and it might be something that no one else would have thought of sounds like you’re saying you got to put yourself out there you’re just in any way you can because you never know where your bricks gonna come from i think so yeah and you know that maybe means that you have to be more of a self-promoter at times than you’re comfortable with and i’m not really inclined in that direction and you know i’m not tweeting all the time and i’m not on every conceivable social media platforms so i sort of value my privacy to an extent too and even though i do a ton of podcasts and appearances like this you know if i’m not doing one of these things i’m probably sitting there silently for hours at a time so that’s not the way i’m wired necessarily so yeah i think if you are a very public person and that comes naturally to you that can be helpful but i wouldn’t want to say that you have to be or that you can’t succeed as an introvert too because i would consider myself one and i’ve kind of had to push myself not to be for isolated bursts basically i know you’re super low on time but i got asked this fault question like because i remember years ago you you took scout training right you went to scout school and you tried yeah and you were trying to be a gm for an indie team and it’s like you kind of jump straight into stuff is my impression of you like you’re a you’re a tryout guy always with misgivings and hesitations but sometimes you do have to make yourself do those things and sometimes the discomfort that you feel can be good material the book that you mentioned the only rules it has to work a lot of it is just about the fact that we were fish out of water and we did not feel comfortable and so a lot of the book is about us feeling that way right and trying to figure out how to get over that so i think you can embrace that and not pretend that you’re you know mr cool who’s comfortable in every situation right so if you have some uncertainty or some insecurity then maybe be upfront about that at times i i think that makes sense too but yeah that kind of experiential writing can be pretty helpful you know the i’m never gonna be a scout i’m never gonna be a gm i’m never gonna be an athlete but maybe i can pretend to be i can dabble i can explain a little bit about what it might be like so get a taste yeah i went to scout school and i wrote a series on that for grantland and i didn’t aspire to be a professional scout and i don’t know if i had any special scouting acumen but going through that program was fun and distinctive and obviously a lot of people were not doing that and so that was one of the early freelance projects i did for grantland and maybe that was one of the things that helped me get hired there full-time because again not everyone’s going to be able to do that or be willing to do that well it generated a great podcast mature i mean you have listeners like me who remember it years later so i guess it was good material i know you’re super busy so we’re gonna let you go i wanna tell you it was really great i’m very grateful for the time uh that you gave us and i’m a huge fan of your work i think you’re a terrific uh creator so it was a real thrill to meet you thank you very much and i really appreciate the invitation all right ben lindbergh of the ringer creator and host of the effectively wild podcast thank you very much i’m just going to end the stream to everybody thank you for joining us all right okay the stream is done thank you