Choosing a career is tough. Actually getting started is a whole other challenge.
But, for me, it was clear what I wanted to do: I wanted to write and report on baseball, specifically Major League Baseball.
I started by creating an anonymous Twitter account compiling all of the news and rumors from the top insiders, which helped get my foot slightly in the door. It was fun and it ended up getting me a healthy following of 900 or so people.
Although I always credited the proper writers in my tweets, many didn’t like it when I “stole” their information and I would get the occasional direct message of, “If you steal information from my article, why don’t you just tweet the link to my story.”
I realized that while aggregating all of the news may be fun, it also angers some people, so I had to find a new niche.
Seeing what Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had accomplished by breaking big stories was a big inspiration to what I try to do today: break the news of signings and trades.
At first, I had no idea what I was doing when I contacted these people. I would ask for information without even knowing them. Quick tip: That’s a big no-no. I was put in my place very quickly.
Getting in the position to break a story takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Building a relationship with someone in the game is extremely important.
I’m not talking about forcing relationships. Build legitimate friendships with these people.
There are a lot of people I talk to who I plan on being lifelong friends with. It’s not just about giving them information or vice versa. These people are friends of mine and they know I’ll do anything for them if they need it. I wish I was able to name some of the truly great people I talk to, but I can’t. They know who they are, though, and if you are reading this, thank you very much. There really are some truly phenomenal people in the game of baseball.
As I was building these relationships, I was able to break some stories, such as the Billy Butler, Francisco Liriano, and J.D. Martinez deals. That, along with getting to build these relationships, got me all-in on writing about baseball.
Source: Billy Butler agrees to three-year, $30M deal with the #Athletics. $5 million signing bonus.
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayBBE) November 19, 2014
Source: Francisco Liriano to the #Pirates on a three-year, $39 million deal.
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayBBE) December 9, 2014
Have heard unconfirmed rumblings that the #Tigers and JD Martinez have agreed to a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayBBE) February 8, 2016
This is what I want to do. I love to write and I love baseball. Might as well combine the two.
There are some experiences that stand out more than others, so let me run through a couple of them.
Before I do, let me say this: I am not a journalism expert. Far from it. This is just me sharing personal experiences of mine.
MLB Network Interview
After breaking the Butler signing, the next 48 hours for me were crazy. My following had gone up 2,000, I was getting asked to do radio interviews, and I was getting nonstop text messages and calls from family and friends. And I was doing this all at school.
One evening I was sitting in a night class and I felt my phone go off. I looked and saw an email from someone I didn’t recognize. It was an invitation from MLB Network asking if I wanted to hop on the show with Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds, and Ken Rosenthal.
After careful consideration, I decided to accept the offer. Okay, it took absolutely no thought whatsoever. There’s no way I would decline the opportunity to be on the show. Later that night, my then-partner-in-crime Devan Fink let me know he was going to be on the show as well.
The morning of the interview, I was an absolute wreck. I was nervous. I had never done an interview before and my first one happened to be on MLB Network, the most watched baseball network. No pressure.
As the interview went on, the nerves calmed down, but they were still there. To be honest, Vasgersian, Reynolds, and Rosenthal couldn’t have been nicer to us, especially off the air. I was later able to thank them in person (see Winter Meetings experience).
Joining Baseball Essential
After I left MLBDailyRumors, a site I created, I was quickly approached by Baseball Essential to come write for the site. I had known two of the owners of the site, Jack McNeil and Nick Hamelin, for a couple years, so it seemed like a natural fit.
I’ve written for three baseball websites before this and this is by far my favorite. You get to go at your own pace, the writers are very nice, and the co-owner/editor Jeff Snider is one of the best guys I know.
Baseball Essential has also given me the opportunity of a lifetime, as I’m about to dive into.
Yet again, I was sitting in class, when I got a text from Nick Hamelin, a co-owner of Baseball Essential. It read, “I have bad news. You are going to Nashville in December.”
That meant I was going to the Winter Meetings as a credentialed media member. To say I was excited wouldn’t be doing it justice.
I wrote about the experience (story here), but I will still talk about a couple of things.
Meeting the people I have talked to for so long and have gotten to know on a personal level was so important. Texting and calling these people is one thing, but meeting face-to-face is another thing entirely.
What I found to be a great help, besides meeting my contacts, was meeting with some of the top insiders in the game, such as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
When I was talking to Stark, he told me an interesting story. He was once getting information on a three-team deal and his daughter asked him, “Why do people give you this information?”
It wasn’t a question Stark expected, but he knew the answer to it.
You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. That’s something I live by every day.
Baseball, as well as life, is all about surrounding yourself with great people. My contacts in baseball are great people, and everyone at Baseball Essential is great.
If you surround yourself with great people and build strong relationships, you are in good shape. It’s all about who you know, but there is no faking a friendship. If you take the time to get to know these people and legitimately care about them and their families, as well as prove you know what you are talking about when it comes to baseball, you have a chance to go a long way.