It has been a privilege to cover baseball for MLB.com. When MLB Advanced Media took flight, it was a concept. Then it was a success. Then it was an even larger success.
I think my presence was largely incidental to that process. I do remember in 2001 people saying to me: "You're leaving a job as a newspaper columnist to work on an Internet site? You must be crazy."
I don't recall being crazy at the time. But I was probably never as intelligent as this decision later made me appear. Very few could have accurately predicted the dire problems that would eventually face the newspaper industry.
What I knew for sure at that point was that this was not simply another Internet site. This was baseball. This endeavor had the full support of then-Commissioner Bud Selig. And Bob DuPuy, at that time the president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, was putting together a truly impressive management team for the new venture.
There were those in the industry who initially laughed and scoffed at the prospects of this project. Some of them were later seen knocking on the door of MLB.com, looking for work.
The success of this operation is now somewhere between indisputable and legendary.
There was good work to be done here. Was it the same as no-holds-barred column writing for a newspaper? No. But it was still honest work.
When we started, the staff was a mixture of proven veteran reporters and younger staffers at the very beginning of their careers. Many in that second group have emerged over time as some of the very best reporters, writers and journalists in the business.
That development has been one of the success stories of MLB.com. And it has also been one of the most rewarding parts of working here. That, and the central fact that I regard many of the people on this staff, not only as valued colleagues, but as friends. I hope those friendships will survive my departure from this operation.
In this line of work, I have been fortunate to the point of being blessed. In every ballpark in America, there were people I looked forward to seeing. There were countless opportunities to talk and to compare notes and simply to smile at the good humor that survived no matter what the circumstances were.
I traveled a great deal, particularly in the first 12 years with this job. It occasionally felt that the travel was incessant. That was the job, and one of the things that made it plausible was that I felt welcome wherever I went.
This said something to me about the people in the baseball community. There were other baseball writers, there were managers, coaches, players, front-office people and media relations staffers who helped me professionally, personally and generally, in an extraordinarily regular way.
I also want to thank the multitude of readers who, over the years, took the time and effort to contact me. Some of you thought I was an idiot. Some of you thought I was terrific. I think the truth was invariably somewhere between those two extremes.
So, to one and all, thank you. The last 16 seasons I made a living, being paid in essence, to watch Major League Baseball. As good as that sounds, the reality of it was even better.