The word came down yesterday, and most people who are fans of the blog medium recognized the signals. First are life changes, some gaps in posting, alternate writers, fewer and shorter posts, and no real end in sight. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that Anne Ursu gave us her farewell post at Bat-Girl.com yesterday.
But it still sucks ass bats.
Anne was more than just a Twins blogger, and more than just a fantastic, creative writer. In my mind (and it’s admittedly a limited mind literarily) she pioneered a new style of sports writing, in the same way that Rob Neyer pioneered daily sabremetric baseball analysis, or Bill Simmons pioneered the fan’s point of view. She made real sports figures became fictional super heroes, characters in one of her stories, adding a dimension to sports that went way beyond anything to do with the actual games.
So while I enjoyed (and will hopefully again enjoy) her writing, what I really appreciate is the impact she’s had on the future of sports writing. She demonstrated what can be done, and inspired others to give it a try, and there are plenty of disciples that will continue to play with the medium. More than the morning laughs and the head-shaking off-the-wall concoctions, I think that will be her true legacy, even if its source is mostly forgotten in twenty years when it’s become a commonplace writing style.
In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that our efforts are a fairly poor substitute, and it will be that way for a while. There is always a lull before the next writer takes the breakthrough to an even higher level. But it’s finding a place, and that is one of the real benefits of the Internet. When someone like Anne has a breakthrough, it’s like a virus, except like one in a science fiction novel, because it’s a virus that makes everyone it touches better.
That couldn’t happen a couple of decades ago, or at least it was rarer. Now, it just takes one person of vision and courage. Before, that person was just the beginning. At the very least they had to have an editor who matched them, not to mention an owner, or a president of media operations or an editorial board or whatever. Anne’s writing, as good as it is, wouldn’t have flown fifteen years ago in any major publication. In fact, it wouldn’t have gotten close, save maybe for a campus publication.
Now? Frankly, I can’t figure out why the hell some major publication hasn’t started paying her for a weekly baseball story. Surely they realize that this isn’t a niche style, accessible only to a few? That’s the beauty of her writing – it can be enjoyed even more by the casual fan. How has this not happened? I can only assume that Anne has had offers but decided to focus on her writing career instead. Either that, or every editor of any print publication in this town is a moron.
(I assure you, when the revolution comes and I’m in charge of a sports publication that actually makes money, this will be my first order of business. And “No” will not be an option, Anne. If you turn me down I will dedicate my life into turning Dash into a White Sox fan, just out of spite. A skinny, shirtless, hopped-up White Sox fan who thinks that Tom Gamboa is an Evil Teletubby. Ok, those last two words were redundant. I’m a little drunk. But you get my point.)
In the meantime, I wish Anne and John and Dash all the best in her little vacation. You deserve every extra minute you can spend with each other and probably five time more. Thank you for sharing your talent, inspiring our efforts, showing some courage and working your ass off for us over the last three years. It made things better.