I'm Overwhelmed

This isn't meant as a direct response to John Sickels' post from the other day. It's related, but if you're looking for a more direct response, go here, or here, or here, or here, or pretty much anywhere.

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I get up every morning with a plan. According to that plan, I wake up, spend a reluctant half hour crawling from awake to alert, and wash my face. Then I'll come out, pour my coffee, check the news and blogs, and make myself some breakfast before sitting down to write a few posts and think up some others. Once the writing's done, I'll check the news again, answer my email, and prepare a little lunch to be enjoyed somewhere away from the computer. Following lunch, there's managing, more writing, maybe a walk, email, making dinner with my girlfriend, beer, and sleep. It's a nice plan. It's a hell of a plan, actually, and I can only imagine how pleasant it would be to follow it sometime.

But I don't. While the plan has changed a little bit depending on my day-to-day responsibilities, at its core, there's always been light reading and writing at a casual pace. And I don't think I've ever been able to stick to it. Not once. Because from the very beginning, every day, it always seems to go off the rails.

Each day begins innocently enough. I do take forever to get out of bed, and I do sit down to read with a fresh cup of coffee. But that's where everything goes awry. After responding to emails, I'll check LL, and USSM, and Rotoworld, and Twitter. For some reason, in my head this is only 10-15 minutes of reading, but without fail my head forgets what comes next. Some commenter will link to an article, or some Tweet will link to a cool new study, and that's it. That's the end. That's the precise moment at which the rest of my day is taken out of my hands.

The article or study itself will take a little while to read, because it's early, and my contacts aren't yet settled in my eyes. Then - no matter what it's about - that article will remind me that I need to check Fangraphs. Fangraphs has approximately 71 new posts every day, so I'll read most of those, and then begins the link chasing.

Link chasing. I don't have business cards, but if I did, they might as well read "Jeff Sullivan, Link Chaser." There'll be links to updates of current roster news, like the Mets' catching situation (Rod Barajas!). There'll be links to cool new PITCHfx work at THT. There'll be links from articles on THT to previous articles on THT. There'll be links to some studies on BtB. There'll be links to studies on smaller blogs. There'll be links to funny posts on smaller blogs. There'll be links to Twitter status updates from Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal. And so on and so forth. It never stops. It is a furious avalanche that begins with the press of a finger.

And there'll be links to the Book Blog. Oh, God, the Book Blog. I love the Book Blog. I love Tango and MGL and all of the work they do every day. But whenever I'm about to click on a link to the Book Blog, I sigh and slump my shoulders the way you might on a hike when you look to the summit, because I know that after I click the link, I won't be doing anything else for an hour. I'll read whatever's been linked, and I'll read the comments, and then I'll read the rest of the front-page posts and comments and force myself to understand every point that comes up. Which - well I don't know if you've ever read the Book Blog, but in case you haven't, and you think you're smart, you're not smart, and the Book Blog will prove it to you. While I can't get enough of the new content and conversation over there, I have never once hung out in a place that makes me feel so inadequate, and I've shaken Felix's hand. And you know the only way to leave the Book Blog without feeling like a complete retard? Reading and re-reading until you make yourself understand what they're talking about. "Oh yeah. Yeah, that's a good point."

And I'll link chase from the Book Blog.

By this point, my coffee is cold and I haven't had breakfast and it's like 12:45 and I'm thinking about lunch. I tell myself "you can have lunch after you do one last sweep of your email and the news," but then I have four new pages of Tweets and the link chasing resumes. Giants sign Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract? I didn't expect just a minor league contract. How bad was he in 2009? Was it sustainable? Why did that happen? How was he in 2008? Who's his competition for the 5th spot? Has Madison Bumgarner's stock risen or fallen? What ever happened to William VanLandingham?

Link chasing. It's becoming a popular term, but while people are more familiar with it in the context of Wikipedia, this is the age of link chasing everywhere, and baseball's no different. There are so many people writing so many good articles, there are so many people talking about so many transactions, and there are so many people making available so many pages of information. It's all good stuff, and it's all interesting stuff, but it's also nigh impossible to keep up. Sometimes I think I can do it, but then I'll end up on the Book Blog or Fangraphs or a PITCHfx database or Baseball-Reference and I'll realize I don't have a prayer. A new PITCHfx analyst is born every 30 seconds. I have an insatiable appetite for learning, but there is so much out there, and so much more getting put out there all the time, that keeping up is a full-time job. Or two full-time jobs. Nevermind actively participating and contributing. I can't imagine what it's like to be interested and have a family.

Eventually I'll force a break and we'll make dinner. By 10pm I'll remember "dammit you're a writer too" and plan some shitty fun fact about Carl Everett. All this learning has an effect on my writing, because for one thing I want to make sure that all of my points are correct and up-to-date, and for another, I have to check Twitter every 20 minutes to see if I missed anything. In the Twitter era, it's easy for one to lose his train of thought, and then the train comes off the rails and it goes into traffic and it falls over and everybody's screaming and cars hit it and then Tommy Lee Jones is like "WE CAN USE THAT TRAIN TO RE-ROUTE THE LAVA" and the other guy is like "there are people on that train!" and Tommy Lee Jones is like "THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THESE STREETS" and then bulldozers start moving the train in front of the lava and the camera zooms in on one of the train windows and there's a child and he's clawing at the window and he's only eight and this is the first time mom let him take the train to see his dad on his own

Then I'll go to bed and get up with a plan.

I don't feel like I've done a great job here of explaining my point, but I think I've made it well enough, and I know a number of you will be able to relate. I don't care who can't really write, and I don't care who's studying something small, something that's borderline irrelevant. I love to learn, and I live to learn. People like John Sickels and many others have either directly expressed or implied that following along with the dialogue can be difficult these days when you have to sort through so much to find something that appeals to you, and they're right. With so many people providing so much information, it's tough to be a baseball fan who's interested in some things. But it's tougher to be a baseball fan who's interested in everything.

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