Hi Oakland A’s fans! Yeah, I’m thinking I’m going to use Oakland every single time I refer to this team simply because it likely has an expiration date that’s coming sooner rather than later. That being said, today marks Athletics Nation’s 20th year in existence. Yep, November 6, 2003, was the day that I started a little TypePad site called Athletics Nation: Baseball Country. I signed up because it was a free trial and blogspot was an immediate cost. You could tell that I had no idea what was in store for myself moving forward.
I wrote. A lot. I worked hard to make connections within the Athletics media and front office. I built a thriving community relatively quickly because, who would’ve guessed it, Oakland A’s fans were starving for a place to call their own. It was basically the Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come” moment—in cyberspace format. I interviewed Michael Lewis around that time as well, after doing a ton of work to get a hold of the “Moneyball” author. It was an incredible experience and, thanks to Michael Lewis’ kindness, the site saw a huge spike in traffic. Interviews with Billy Beane would come that would change sports media in many ways because Beane smartly realized he could talk directly to his most hardcore fans without the filter of the traditional, “objective” media.
Eventually I began recruiting baseball bloggers from other sites on Blogspot and TypePad and all other sites to form a group. The belief was that eventually the sites would be able to possibly make some money together. Plus the technology that AN had access to was far superior to any of the other offerings out there. Many of you know what happened next. SB Nation formed and eventually Vox Media was built from the massively trafficked sports sites. This is the most simplified version of basically a decade-long process. As you know by reading AN, Nico took over for me as the main writer and recruited more people from the FanPosts (then called Diaries) so I could focus on the business aspect of the company. I can’t believe AN is still here, two decades later. It’s still standing in spite of what is happening with that horrible little owner. Things change sometimes. And sometimes not for the better.
I no longer work for Vox and haven’t for quite some time (though I do write regularly for All About the Jersey about the New Jersey Devils). In fact, I’ve written comic books and I’m advising another company right now that is doing a lot of what I envisioned for SB Nation in sports, but in the video game industry. But I will always love AN, even if I won’t always love the Athletics when they leave Oakland and move to Las Vegas based on one small man’s greed. AN has changed, evolved, and become different than it ever was, but you always love your baby. And heck, Nico’s jokes are still here.
But I want to really thank Michael Lewis for taking the time to do this interview. He just released a book called “Going Infinite” about FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and it’s absolutely stellar. He has been on the road promoting the book for like 35 days straight and he granted me this interview on basically his first day home. Also, strangely enough, on the day that Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted. My initial plan was to head up to his home in Northern California but I wound up having knee surgery and my doctor wasn’t crazy about me flying just yet so we wound up doing a Google Meet. The interview is wide-ranging but largely focuses on “Moneyball.” It’s different from my classic AN interviews in that there is no transcription coming—just good, old-fashioned video.
With that, I bid you a fond farewell until the next big AN milestone. Or maybe a milestone with a franchise relocating or something. Please enjoy the interview. It was a ton of fun and one last huge thank you to Michael Lewis. Buy his books. You won’t regret it.