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Happy 8th Birthday AN and SB Nation!

Kids. They grow up so very fast. You blink your eyes and they're six, seven and even eight years old. It was eight years ago today that AN took its first breath in the form of a small typepad site called Baseball Country: Athletics Nation. My best friend encouraged me to do it thinking that it would be a healthy outlet for my A's obsession which my wife Erika readily agreed with. I think, frankly, they were both tired of hearing me talk their ears off about the green and gold.

This past week, I went to New York to witness the launch of The Verge, a consumer technology site that scratches that gadget-lust geek within me the same way that I'm guessing that AN filled an empty hole for many of you. I know because that's exactly why I started AN. Seriously, if you like reading smartphone reviews or, you know, the history of jetpacks, this will be an addiction for you.

But yeah, the humble roots of SB Nation started that November of 2003. The company also changed its name to Vox Media over the past week simply because it made a lot of sense for us since we were branching out to include other areas to have a name that could more broadly encompass what this organization was born to do. And Vox simply made sense because my goal of starting AN and eventually SB Nation was to give fans and readers a voice. A voice that had been missing from the way media covered sports, and, in particular, my A's. I didn't want conversation about my team to go into hibernation once the team stopped taking the field at the Coliseum. I remained an A's fan who wanted to discuss how the team would, at the time, finally get over the playoff hump and win that elusive World Series. Funny to think back on that now considering that I'd be happy for the team to just reach the postseason again.

So when people try and say things like, "The Oakland A's franchise is just a small market team that is a development site for future New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox," it might be a bit true, but the A's franchise has helped deliver some great contributions to the world. Moneyball, both the book and movie, two of my all-time favorites in their respective media. White shoes. I mean, who doesn't love the look of those incredible white shoes with the clean, crisp white Athletics home unis? Designated hitter and pinch runner, which make baseball much more interesting to me as someone who didn't grow up a hardcore baseball fan. Thanks Charlie Finley. And the A's brought SB Nation, now Vox, into existence. Yeah that small franchise that's bounced around from Philly to Kansas City to Oakland and likely now San Jose, it's done some pretty good things I'd say (for the sake of this article we'll ignore the whole steroid era thing).

You know the best part about all this? It's the everlasting friendships that I've garnered because this site and company were born on this day eight years ago. I met a couple of bloggers in New York before I went to The Verge launch party and I truly do consider these people a part of my family. The party itself involved lots of hugs and drinks and great conversation with people enjoying the excitement of taking this media company to the next level. And at one point I just realized that when I started recruiting several writers to expand beyond just Athletics Nation and officially become SB Nation, I remember thinking that I never wanted to recreate some of the boring, sterile environments that some of the other corporate jobs I'd possessed had. I wanted to create a family, a group that passionately cares for each other and the content we put forth on a daily basis. And I honestly believe that the core value of family is something that still rests deep in the beating heart of Vox each and every day. We give each other shit about our favorite teams but we also have moments when we just put all that aside and still enjoy seeing a family member enjoy a victory. I remember thinking just that when the Yankees won the World Series and I knew it would make my friend and our CEO Jim Bankoff extremely happy. How much things have changed for me. I suppose I've gone soft.

I'm also proud of the fact that if you read Baseball Nation, you'll see that three of the original six people I recruited to join the network are now full-time employees for the company writing under someone who helped inspire my writing Rob Neyer. It's almost surreal to visit it every day.

And I'd be neglectful if I didn't mention the incredible talents of Nico, Christy and the rest of the front page crew here. I have so many people on AN that I truly love. I don't get to see many of you as much as I'd like in person, but I feel like we have a magical relationship because I can go a long, long time without seeing you and then see you and pick up like it hasn't been a day. And despite the fact that I don't comment on AN as much, I read the site each and every day and Nico, Christy and everyone else have done the legacy of this site proud. I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart because one of the toughest things I've ever had to do was walk away from day-to-day duties on AN. I couldn't have handed it to a more talented, more dedicated and more fun crew.

So if you have some time later today (once it hits noon or so), throw one back for AN and celebrate the fact that this site has been around and helping scratch that A's itch for eight years now. I'm hoping that sometime within the next eight years, we'll be able to celebrate an A's World Series championship together. Sound good? Thanks for being a part of this amazing journey and helping to be among the first to build a new media brand that is all about delivering a voice to all of you.