Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shyster: Hardball

I've started a little writing project. This is the eleventh installment. Here's Part 1Here's Part 2Here's Part 3Here's Part 4Here's Part 5 , Here's Part 6Here's Part 7 , Here's Part 8Here's Part 9, and Here's Part 10.

My most optimistic plan for full-time writing had been to get something working by the fall of 2011. This was based just as much on the scarcity of opportunities -- there aren't a lot of full time baseball writing jobs out there -- as it was on the convenience of life.

Things like my legal career being stabilized enough to where, if I left it for something else, I could go back to it without having burned any bridges. Things like the kids finally being in school all day. Starting a part time writing job with NBC in April 2009 seemed like it would keep things squarely on that track.

In less than four months, however, I goosed it a little.

One night in late July, after a bit of bourbon, I wrote down all of the things I thought were working well with the NBC blog and all of the things I thought could be better. Then I slapped that into an email to multiple NBC people. At the end of it all I quite immodestly suggested that if I was working on the blog full time and wasn't distracted by my legal career, I could do more to make the good things happen.

I didn't hear anything for two days. I assumed during those two days that I had overstepped my bounds and pissed everyone off.  That's OK. Wouldn't have been the first time. Then I got this email from the guy in charge of everything:
To:   Craig Calcaterra
Date:  Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 7:48 PM
Subject: Re: Thoughts on CTB
They forwarded me the note you sent on Sunday.  I really agree with pretty much everything you said. What would it take to get you to do this full time? 
I want you to think about all that and see what it would take to make it work.

I tend not to notice the momentous moments in life as they're happening. I live them and carry on and only a little later do I realize that, hey, something pretty major happened back there. This was not one of those times.  My mind reeled. My heart raced. Adrenalin surged. I knew exactly what I had done. I knew exactly what the response meant. I knew that, at that moment, my life was about to change forever.

Everything I wanted to do at that moment -- respond immediately, scream from the tops of buildings -- crashed into everything I had learned about business and negotiation in the previous 14 years of my professional life. I almost had to handcuff myself to keep from writing back immediately and saying that they had me no matter what, pay me whatever they wanted.  I mean, how long had I been doing this for free? One cent more than whatever would keep me out of poverty was OK, right?

I calmed down.  After an appropriate time I responded and acted like a reasonable person, soberly weighing the risks of leaving my legal career against the rewards of living my dream.  It took a bit of time to get everything hammered out because that's just how that kind of stuff works, but we came to terms.  I worked my last day as a lawyer on November 27, 2009. When I left the building that day I didn't look back. Not even once.

On the morning of November 30 I woke up at 5:30 AM. I drank some coffee. I fed the children breakfast. I took a shower, shaved and got dressed.  I walked to the den and sat down in the same chair I'm sitting in as I type this, and I began to do the same thing I had been doing every morning for nearly three years: I read the baseball headlines. Then I wrote what I thought of them all.

But for the first time, it was my job to do so. For the first time since I was a teenager, I was doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  I was living the life I dreamed about over 20 years before.

And I'm still living it.

Head's up: there's gonna be an epilogue