Let's wrap things up Spadafore style:
News: I'm leaving Newsday for another opportunity. This will be my last post on this blog.
Views: Well, gosh. Maybe we'll make this just a one-item entry.
I gave notice on Wednesday, March 14, and I've spent much of the time since then tying up loose ends and preparing for my new job, baseball columnist for The New York Post. And when I've had a moment here or there to reflect, I've been very excited about the challenge ahead. But also sad about what I'm leaving behind.
You spend 10 years, 10 months and 16 days working for one company, and you develop an affection for the joint and, to be more precise, many of your co-workers. You live through shared events - think of all that has happened in our world since May 7, 2001 - and personal events like the birth of your child, and a change like this take you back to those moments and humbles you.
And when you're finishing up a blog, putting up a "CLOSED" sign on a community that was often dysfunctional and always entertaining, you find yourself feeling like Norm and Cliff, saying goodnight one more time at "Cheers."
Where to begin? By thanking some of the people whom I've had the privilege of calling a teammate at Newsday.
Starting in the alumni area, Jon Heyman pushed for my hiring back in 2001 and then helped tremendously with both advice and information. Steve Ruinsky hired me and couldn't have been more supportive. Bill Eichenberger succeeded Ruinsky and always had my back, even when it meant challenging the people above him. Elaine Sung offered friendship in addition to professional assistance. Sandy Keenan and Otto Strong offered guidance during my early years.
Joe Gergen, Johnette Howard, Steve Jacobson, Wally Matthews, Jason Molinet, Marty Noble, Shaun Powell and Katie Strang all spent time at the ballpark and helped make my job easier. Special shout-out to Kat O'Brien, who covered the Yankees for us from spring training of 2007 until May of 2009. Sorry I told you the Yankees wouldn't sign Mark Teixeira, Kat.
Among those still at Newsday, Mets beat writer David Lennon is great at his job and is an even better co-worker. Jim Baumbach (who succeeded me on the Yankees beat) and Erik Boland (who succeeded Kat O'Brien) both worked their tucheses off, treating the Yankees beat with the seriousness it merits and as a result becoming forces on the beat.
Laura Albanese, Barbara Barker, Neil "Yakosphere" Best, Rod "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Boone, Bog Glauber, Mark "Pitching?" Herrmann, Bob "The Zog" Herzog, Greg Logan, Kimberley A. Martin and Arthur Staple all made my Newsday experience more enjoyable.
Anthony Rieber was great inside the office, during my early years, and then a value-add out in the field when he pulled a Rick Ankiel and switched positions.
Speaking of inside the office, no one's better at what he does than Jeff "King of the Night" Weinberg, who exhibits remarkable grace under pressure no matter how chaotic things become. Copy editors Craig Bustin, Greg Gutes, Henry Hecht (alum), Andy Levenberg, Greg Long, Joe Manniello, Steve Matthews, Ed McNamara and Todd Somers bailed me out countless times from publishing something stupid. Especially Mr. Gutes. Diane Burke helps the trains run on time, figuratively speaking, and Ginny Dunleavy did for a while, too.
Mike Casey (alum), Anthony Castellano, Mark Dwyer, Mark LaMonica and Lizzie Nielsen (alum) - not to mention Jim Baumbach, when he was a young 'un - helped this admitted technophobe manage countless computer/blogging/Internet crises. Most of them involved the person on the other end of the phone saying to me at some point, "Are you sure your computer is on?"
The top two people in the Post's sports department already have asked me, "Hey, who does Newsday's special sections? They're really good." That would be Dave Whitehorn. I'm glad that my last days here have involved me working on one more special section, the 2012 baseball preview, and interacting with Dave.
Norm Cohen, Mike Rose and Hank Winnicki, good people all, are the current sports department heads at Newsday. They've worked hard through changing times.
No work experience is going to be perfect. I made it through three owners at Newsday, and each situation presented its unique challenges. But to me, you learn the most about people during the toughest times. And when a close relative of mine died smack in the middle of last year's Yankees-Tigers Division Series - 22 minutes before the first pitch of Game 3 at Comerica Park - Norm, Mike and Hank rose to the occasion. Do what you have to do, they told me, as I kept disappearing and reappearing throughout those five games over seven days. I will be eternally grateful to them for their humanity during that difficult time. The same goes for Jim Baumbach, Erik Boland, Kimberley A. (do you include the middle initial on second reference?) Martin and Anthony Rieber for mobilizing and supporting me that week.
I recall a dramatic conversation with Hank Winnicki in early 2007 that went something like this:
Hank: "How would you feel about starting a blog?"
Me: "Sure, I'll do that."
We made it almost five years here, and what a fun adventure it was. When I started, blogging was en vogue. Now, well...sure, you can blog, but it's no Twitter.
But I kept blogging - and I will keep blogging at the new place - because I enjoyed not only expounding on different baseball topics, but also interacting with readers who were into it enough to offer feedback and get a conversation going. I received plenty of story ideas just from your questions and comments, and felt compelled to look at issues from new, interesting angles.
Thanks to the long-timers who hung in there until the end, invulnerable to redesigns, technical glitches and pay walls - Dennis, Islander505, JE, Jim, NaOH, Poppy, Richie G., Sandy, Steve from South Amboy, Bob Tufts and Whynot. Thanks especially to NaOH and JE for launching KDBO, which allowed the community to keep going at a time when only Dennis could get his comments through here. How did you do that, Dennis?
The contributions of Baileywalk, Jim Clark, Expatriate Mets Fan, F. Long, Gerry, Granite, I Read I Comment, JoeNunz, James K., Jon E., J-Rock, Nancy, ReelDeal44, and Rich have not been forgotten.
I wish I had some pearl of wisdom or wit to provide a kicker here. Can't think of anything. Just one more dosage of gratitude to everyone mentioned and anyone I forgot. It has been a hell of a ride. Thank you.
--Have a great day.