JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Why I stopped covering baseball—a true story

Seven years ago, I was living the dream. My dream.

As a boy, all I had wanted to do with my life was work for Sports Illustrated. And there I was, barely 30-years old and doing exactly that. I was a baseball writer—contributing cover stories, reporting from the infield of Dodger Stadium, traveling from one exciting place to another with the singular task of profiling the game’s elite players. One week it would be J.D. Drew. The next, Gary Sheffield. The next, Mike Sweeney. It was everything I ever wanted.

And yet …

I couldn’t take it. I could. Not. Take. It.

I enjoyed the games and dug the travel and loved the banter with my fellow sports writers. But after roughly five years on the beat, I could not stomach any more cliches and meaningless blather. Literally, I would hear such nonsense coming from players and managers (“Well, you just have to play hard and hope for the best.”) and exit the clubhouse in disgust. I was especially annoyed by many of my peers (mostly those in TV and radio), who fed into the mind numbings by tossing out unambiguously lame questions, then nodding along to the equally lame answers. For most of my colleagues, a love for the sport was enough to keep the car running. Tom Verducci, SI’s unparalleled baseball scribe, lived for the intricacies of the action. So did guys like Ty Kepner, Bob Nightengale, Ken Rosenthal, etc.

But not me.

I love baseball, but my passion is reporting and writing. So I left—never to return to the magazine pages.

I’m only bringing this up, by the way, because I was just watching a bit of Joe Girardi’s post-game press conference on ESPN News, thinking, “Thank goodness I’m not there.”

Thank goodness.