There are a lot of emotions I have right now. For over three years I’ve shared with you my feelings on sports, so there is no reason to hide my feelings from you now.
Especially, on the last blog of The Wayniac Nation.
Well, maybe not the last ever, but we are going on a hiatus for awhile.
This is the real story. This is who I am. This is how I became The Wayniac.
I had been all over the career roller coaster and wound up settling in as a server at a restaurant to pay off some debt. I paid off that debt and in 2012 started traveling all over this country, and even another, deciding on what my next move was.
The money had gotten so good at this restaurant, that I became too comfortable. Getting out of debt became a year. A year became two years. The next thing I knew, I was celebrating my three-year anniversary there.
On January 1, 2014 I signed up for WordPress. By January 11th, 2014 my first blog was written. While I agree whole-heartedly with the message, it makes me cringe to read, clearly showing how much of a newbie I was to this world. Take a look if you’d like.
Having little experience in journalistic endeavors, I gave myself a five-year plan. Kind of like going to college all over again, because that’s honestly what I was doing. It was to learn the idiosyncrasies of blogging and develop myself into a writer that could land a job somewhere doing what I love.
I graduated with an English degree. I went to graduate school for education, specifically on how to teach high school English. People think that it was such an easy transition. The truth is, it wasn’t. I was educated in and later taught literature and creative writing. These two things are the furthest style of writing from journalism you could imagine.
Simply put, I had no idea what I was doing.
That’s what has made it exciting.
That five-year plan took a month for me to get a shot. Sure, it was a fanboy blog at Yanks Go Yard, but I was being read by thousands of people a month. I realized I had to accelerate that learning curve, because I was in the search engine of the Internet now. If I wanted people to take me seriously, my writing had to improve.
Billy and Jason gave me every shot, giving me my own feature, The Bronx is Boiling, every week for almost two years. They also introduced me to what would become one of calling cards when they made me part of their minor league team. Who knew, right?
Honestly, because of them, I have had a lot of opportunity. When I tried for freelance gigs, people would ask me to show them what I’ve done, and at that point what I had done was this blog and Yanks Go Yard. I have told them numerous times how grateful I am.
It kind of took off from there. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m still a guppy in an ocean of whales — I am still a nobody — but if you asked me back in January of 2014 if this is what I thought 2017 would be like, I’d tell you you were nuts.
I still think it’s pretty nuts. But at least I’m a nobody that gets to write.
I’ll never forget Duane and Craig sending me to Cary, N.C. to cover the College Cup and walking into that press box for the first time. I sat right between the soccer guy from the Washington Post and another reporter from ESPN.
This wasn’t the local beat writers of minor league ball. This was real.
People that know me, I mean really know me, know how hard I have fought anxiety. I don’t get anxious, I get crippled. It’s a fight I deal with every interview and every second a piece I write goes on the Internet or is published.
But at the end of the day, it’s like a roller coaster, and adds to the excitement of the ride.
That anxiety is the exact reason I never wanted fame. I couldn’t imagine having to be on TV or the radio, but after a few times doing the latter, it isn’t so bad.
All I wanted was a career that could support my family. And after 38 years on this planet, I narrowed down what I was good at: talking sports and writing. Seriously. That’s all I came up with.
While I am not there yet, the grind will forever continue. And I’m ok with that. I actually like it. The past three-plus years… like I said, it’s unfathomable.
I’ve interviewed Olympians, Hall of Famers, NBA and MLB champions, and All Stars. I’ve interviewed a bevy of baseball’s Top 100 prospects. I was the Rome Braves beat writer for FanRag Sports and had Jon Heyman share my articles regularly with a cool comment often added. And I write for John Sickels at Minor League Ball.
You have no idea how humbling it is to work for a man on top of the game and as well respected as John Sickels is. When I would walk into a clubhouse or press box and people would see my credentials they would immediately say, “Oh, you work for John Sickels! I’ve read his stuff for decades.” It helped me acclimate because people assumed if John let me write for him, I was something special myself.
Man, were they wrong. Secretly, I was shaking in my boots, hoping that I wouldn’t mess up or analyze a prospect wrong.
As the seasons passed, something weird happened. First, they would say the same thing. But then they would add, “Wait — you wrote that piece on Prospect SoAndSo. That was great analysis.” To be perfectly honest, I still don’t know how to respond when people say that. I still feel that I have so much to learn that I still feel no one has ever read the best I have to offer.
But I say thank you, trembling on the inside, hoping I don’t let them down analyzing whichever prospect I’m on hand to see.
I’m not where I need to be, but at the same time, I’m further along my timeline than I expected. I am enjoying the ride. And I’m busier than ever.
Things have changed a lot since that first blog. My girlfriend is my wife. Our expenses have shifted from paying off debt to keeping our little princess happy. And I write for anyone that will let me.
That means sacrifices have to be made. To take The Wayniac Nation to the next level, I need time and money to make this site what it needs to be. Right now, I just don’t have the time to justify the money.
I think back to 2014. I am so in debt to Mary for teaching me how to use social media and in doing so, creating the persona known as The Wayniac. Varrass edited every article I wrote for six months. Just to help. Heim, someone I hadn’t spoken to since I graduated high school, wrote articles with me to help expand my viewership. I am forever grateful to those guys.
After years of asking, I finally got my brother to chip in. All it took was his beloved Cubs making the World Series. And his piece got retweeted by Cubs beat writers, and shared on MLB Blogs and MLB Trade Rumors. Yea, it’s still one of our most viewed pieces.
The Thread. Where would this blog be without them? Nomi the Greek, Kid Robot, Saucy T, The Englishman, Sperry Mason, Jaybird, Nick the Greek, and Mark.9 The Game. They’ve provided endless amounts of pieces for me. Starts and sits, Super Bowl previews, Atlanta homer pieces. And all the discussions we’ve had on that silly text thread that started four years ago and has driven my wife mad ever since. DING. DING. DING DING DING. DING.
JD and Cochran. No matter how little times you contributed, you did. I thank you guys for that as well.
Same goes to Teddy Ballgame. Fantasy superstar.
My Delaware guys chipped in too. Benny gave some fantasy advice. Fee became my DFS guy. Ryan took the world by storm with his Top 10s. Jared, or as you know him SBJ, became a weekly columnist. Never asked for a dime. Just wanted to help the Nation grow. The amount he grew as a writer was one of the coolest things about this blog.
(Edit: I want to give a shoutout to Stephen here as well. Although he didn’t write an article, he always had a humorous comment to add.)
That brings me to Dunton. Dunton has been my wingman since pretty much day one. He’s written more articles than anyone on the site next to me. As much as I love each and everyone of you for helping, no one has done more for Wayniac Nation than Dunton. And nothing was more awesome than when his daughter’s piece on the Green Bay Packers was picked up by Pro Football Rumors.
Lastly, the Wifeyiac. Just typing this gets me a bit emotional. She was my girlfriend when I started this blog. We experienced our lives together. Once a month — if not more — I wanted to quit. She wouldn’t let me. She never lets me. She is my motivation as to why I will continue to grind it out everyday.
2016 was such an odd year for us. We lost our home, two cars died out on us, we each lost a job, but then everything kind of turned this weird corner. We had this amazing daughter, my work became more plentiful and Nikki found her dream job. There was plenty of times I wanted to quit just to get a job that could pay the bills, but we fought through it together, some nights going to bed hungry, other nights not going to bed at all while she rocked our daughter back to bed and I worked on some random job to pay a bill.
And right now, it seems like she pushed us all in the right direction.
She is my ultimate backbone. I have said it 1000 times, so why not one more. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for her pushing me. I certainly wouldn’t be the father I am.
To make it in this industry, you have to grind it out, especially when you are years behind the learning curve as I am. For the past few months, I haven’t written many articles here at The Nation and the viewership has struggled.
I’m sad that the end is near, but it is ok. I have experienced the best three-plus years of my life, and it’s thanks to The Wayniac Nation.
When considering what I had to cut out, it really came down to this. Instead of waking up at the crack of dawn, brain storming ideas and going off on a tangent for the latest Wayniac Nation post, I simply wanted to use that time to eat breakfast with my family.
Yet again, I think it’s the right choice.
Thank you to each and everyone of you who has read even just one piece. Thank you for all the shares on Facebook and Twitter and positive emails and notes you have sent me over the years. Thank you to every person who has paid me to do what I love. I have had more fun being The Wayniac than you could possibly imagine. And I couldn’t have without you.
The site will still be alive, but on the free level. Maybe I’ll chip in a blog here and there, and hopefully in the summer, when things simmer down a bit, I’ll rethink where I am and bring back The Wayniac.
It’s time for me to be Wayne. The Wayniac has done his job better than I could have ever hoped for. He deserves the rest.
I didn’t have to write this farewell. Like I said, I’m still a nobody in this huge world of journalists. The Wayniac Nation could have disappeared and no one really would have noticed.
But I felt I owed it to you guys. To the people who have given me everything and more. To share my story, and let you know that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Unless you’re Tim Tebow. Man, just hang it up already, would ya?