Why I Stopped Writing for The Hardball Times

I recently penned my last article for The Hardball Times (for now). They cut out the vast majority of the explanation on why I left, and while most readers surmised why, I wanted to include the unedited version of it here.

Thanks for all your support throughout the years. THT is truly an incredible site.

On another, sadder note…

Years ago, when I left the SB Nation network and abandoned my blog – Driveline Mechanics, may it rest in peace – I eventually approached Dave Studeman to see if The Hardball Times needed someone to contribute articles on pitching mechanics and training. Dave responded that he was very interested in having me write, so naturally, I ignored him for months before contributing my first piece in February 2011 – Pitching mechanics, the uncertainty of data, and fear.

While theĀ Open Biomechanics Project sadly never took off, I’m proud to say that field researchers (tentatively including myself in this group) have made enormous strides on quantifying the pitching delivery, have made breakthroughs in how we train pitchers for improved velocity and durability, and most importantly have significantly increased the amount of interest in this field. The past three years have flown by, and I never hate going into work where all I do is train pitchers, do research, and think about pitching in general.

That last bit should probably tell you where this is going: I love writing for THT, and I absolutely love the new format. The long content model is exactly how I envisioned THT at its best and how I remembered it from years past – timeless articles from Josh Kalk, Dave Gassko, Harry Pavlidis, Colin Wyers, Dan Brooks, Dave Studeman, Paul Nyman, Carlos Gomez, and so, so many others. We have such a great dual model in Fangraphs for breaking news / quick analysis pieces and The Hardball Times for slower content with more in-depth analysis of deeper issues – not to mention the great work being done at Baseball Prospectus.

But (and you knew this was coming), my time at THT has come to a close. I have been hired by an MLB team to work in a scouting and player development hybrid role, and while my contract does not expressly forbid contributing to the public domain, I cannot focus 100% of my attention on my work for the team and continue to write on the same topics. There is also a conflict of interest and disclosure issue here, as I consult for the aforementioned team as well as a major NCAA Division-I powerhouse, and it’s not hard to see how my analyses of these players could be compromised.

Without the help and assistance of Dave Studeman, Joe Distelheim, and Brian Cartwright, I probably would not be in the position I am. I interviewed for many MLB jobs – and had more than one offer – and not a single one of the front office members I interviewed with failed to bring up my work on The Hardball Times (while occasionally missing my contributions elsewhere!). It is no stretch to say that THT played a pivotal role in exposing my work, improving my current business (Driveline Baseball), and landing me what I consider the ideal initial role with an MLB team. While I wish I could disclose the team in question, my initial contract forbids it. Perhaps, in time, that will change, but for now, the scouting/player development sphere is seen as a massive arms race, and protecting trade secrets is vitally important.

So, to all of those who allowed me to stand on your shoulders, I cannot thank you enough. And to you, the readers, for constantly linking to my work and leaving me insightful comments and emails. The encouragement I got from my audience played no small part in me slogging away at 3 AM at my desk, churning out articles and doing tons of research.

I’d like to close with a piece of advice I received from a friend (Graham Goldbeck) as he entered the world of baseball – “Never stop asking questions.” This advice has served me extremely well over the years, and is the single most important tenet I adhere to on a daily basis in my work and life. Always strive to improve and always question what you think you know – and especially what you are SURE you know.

  1. Hope this doesn’t mean work on the new book is stopped.

  2. Congratulations and best of luck with the new gig, Kyle. Of course, your THT work will be missed, but this obviously is a fantastic opportunity.

  3. It is not! Been working hard on it, actually.

  4. I figured it wouldn’t be stopped since you’ve been tweeting hard about it. But I needed to address it in particular.

    Phew!

  5. Kyle,
    Congrats on your new job!!!
    It’s been a long time coming and I hope that you are starting a trend for more bio-mechanics/exercise science nerds to break into the MLB ranks.
    I look forward to seeing here you go from here.

    Graeme

  6. What MLB team did you get hired by?

  7. Graeme:

    Thanks! Hope to run into you again soon :)

    Billy:

    As stated in my blog post, I cannot disclose that.

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