Friday, October 31, 2014

Obligation is a Triangle Choke

I have never felt a strong sense of obligation.  When others feel like they have to do things because well, they just have to do them, I often scoff or giggle or chortle, depending on how stuffy my nose is.  I feel badly for people who feel such a strong sense of obligation.  It seems exhausting, if not somewhat noble.  I never felt that way about much of anything.  I’m sure you’re thinking right now “wow, Brad is super cool, he beats his own drum.”  I’m not trying to be cool, that’s just how I am.  Most of the things that I do in life, I do because I like. 

I Googled “obligation” and let the auto-fill do its magic.  When adding “is” an analogy pops up:

“Obligation is to work as freedom is to…?”

This is clearly a high school test question of some sort, as this particular question is asked far too frequently and in this exact format to simply be something that a lot of people are curious about.  The consensus among the many internet users who have way too much free time and devote countless hours to proving their intelligence by helping high school kids cheat was that the answer is “choice.” 

These internet geniuses might be on to something.  Writing about the Twins was starting to feel like work.  I was writing posts instead of doing things I wanted to do.  This would be fine if I had any intention of turning my blog into a job, but that was never my intent.  I have a career.  I like my career.  I chose to write about the Twins because I thought it would be fun.  I like to write.  I like writing about baseball.  The Twins are my favorite baseball team.  It was novel.  It was logical.  It made sense. 

Now, I feel obligated to write about the Twins and I’m not sure why.  No one relies on this blog for news.  Some rely on it for my analysis (thank you!).  Some just find it randomly while searching the internet or visiting Twins Daily or Baseball Reference or whatever.  And yet, within the last year, a strong sense of obligation started to overcome me.

I noticed this for the first time when the Twins signed Ricky Nolasco.  If my memory serves me correctly, he signed late in the day or maybe I just found out late in the day.  I read the news and immediately dropped everything I was doing to analyze the signing.  I spent a good deal of time on the post, I was happy with how it turned out and I felt like I made my points very clearly. 

If this was a movie or a novel, I would have missed my daughter’s birthday or forgotten to pick up my wife at the airport or missed an episode of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, but the reality is that this post didn't take me away from anything of importance.  I just didn't want to write it.  I didn't really care that the Twins signed Nolasco, to be honest.  I wasn't super excited about it and I just didn't want to write about it.  In the end, I did write about it and I’m still not really sure why. 

At some point during this blogging endeavor, I started to feel like I had to write 3-4 posts per week.  I made a spreadsheet with a schedule.  I planned things out in advance (obviously, that’s what a schedule is for).  I thought I needed give my take on every single Twins-related item.  I needed to keep my readers engaged, by goodness!  I was creating a community, a brand, a persona. 

Hey cool, now I had a second job!  I didn't want a second job.  I didn't have time for a second job.  So, I started compensating.  I started shoehorning in ideas that didn't really fit.  I was re-treading old ideas and I even resorted to re-posting something when I didn't have an original idea.  What was the point in that? 

I did this for most of the 2014 season.  It wasn't what I intended.  It wasn't super fun, although I did enjoy certain things that I wrote.  I wasn't sure how to keep up with what I had started, but if there is one thing I have always felt obligated toward, it’s finishing something I start.  Although, in this case, I wasn't sure what finishing and starting really referred to.  What is the end point of a blog if you aren't trying to turn it into a column or a newspaper gig or a book deal or whatever.  

Then, in August, my family and I moved.  We made a fairly snap decision to take advantage of the market and we put our house up for sale.  It sold very quickly and we needed to take care of that business.  I didn't write for six weeks.  I didn't think about writing.  Occasionally an idea would pop into my head, but nothing that made me sit down and write.  I had some time here and there, but I didn't want to write about the Twins.  In fact, I kind of ignored the Twins altogether. 

I intended to get back to blogging when things cooled down.  I did ... for a bit.  Then, I made the decision that I would analyze all 40 players on the Twins’ 40-man roster over the off-season.  "Hey, that's something to write about!"  While writing about Lester Oliveros, I literally sat back in my chair and thought “what on Earth am I doing?”  What can I even say about someone who threw about 10 innings for the Twins last year?

It was all very stale.  The fact is, just like any other writer, I want to write about everything.  I've hesitated to refer to myself as a writer at all.  I don't even like calling myself a “blogger.”  Mostly, I feel this takes away from the real writers and bloggers who work very hard and want to do it for a living.  The fact is, I like to write, so in some strange way, I am a writer.  I have to embrace that.  Some people read for fun, I write for fun.  I need to find a way to keep writing as an enjoyable experience or hobby or distraction. 

I still love the Twins.  Probably too much.  I want to write about the Twins in the future, but maybe not exclusively.  I love the Twins, but I’m not “in love” with the Twins.  I want to see other topics.  It’s not you, it’s me.  We can still be friends, Twins. 

This blog will be changing.  I think it will still be heavily Twins-related, but it’s definitely going to be all Brad-related.  I’m going to write about other topics:  Twins, baseball, hockey, music, golems, wrestling figures, driving, drill bits, pizza, whatever. 

Ah, but who will read it?  I have HEAVILY relied on Baseball Reference and Twins Daily for links.  Really, without those two sites, specifically the very kind leaders and community at TD, I would have almost no readers.  I appreciate those two resources because I have gotten to share my words with far more people than I deserve or have earned.  If I write about something other than the Twins, those sites will not work as resources.  Who will read my nonsense? 

Does it even matter?  I certainly don’t want to alienate anyone who reads this blog regularly.  I often joke that 14 people read my work, but I know it’s more than that.  I appreciate anyone and everyone who has ever read anything I've written.  I hope that I can continue to provide whatever it is you like about this blog, just with some different topics thrown in when needed.  As far as finding new readers, I’m not so sure that matters to me any longer. 

My posts might be more sporadic, they might be more frequent or I might disappear altogether.  But, I will no longer write about the Twins out of obligation because that doesn't really benefit anyone.  The lure that would prove too much was that freedom of choice.  I choose to embrace choice as a writer, blogger, blog-guy or whatever.

As always, I sincerely thank you for reading.   Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. I for one will keep reading! True, I came for your Twins analysis and insight (still need your thoughts on the managerial situation!), but I stayed for your odd sense of humor and excellent photoshopping skills.

    1. Oh, I've got some manager thoughts coming. That's one of those topics that I want to write about. And thank you for the kind words, they are greatly appreciated!

  2. Aw, man, and I was really looking forward to the analysis on A.J. Acter and Logan Darnell! Just kidding.

    I don't blame you, man - I'm sure it's tough to keep your steam going with everything else going on in life. But your writing is appreciated. Your analysis is far more fun to read than that of most other outlets. Hoping it doesn't go away entirely!

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping to keep things going more organically, which should be good for everyone.

  3. Brad - I originally found your blog through TD picking up your "Monday Morning Madness" posts. I enjoyed your humorous writing so much that I bookmarked your site and now check it at least once a week for new posts. I really missed the laughs I get from reading your blog during those weeks that you were too busy to write.

    I fully agree that you shouldn't feel obligated to write. It should be something you do because you enjoy it. I'm sure I'll enjoy anything you write about. Just please don't abandon your creativity which is what makes your writing so great to read.


    1. I greatly appreciate your feedback. The Twins are giving us some real topics, so there will be analysis in the future. Hopefully I can figure out more ways to photoshop birds too.