I’m on a plane from Seattle to Austin, with a large checked bag of luggage containing clothes and my technical work gear I’ll need for the next two months. In Austin, I’ll be giving a guest lecture / discussion at the University of Texas at the McCombs School of Business on Sports Analytics and the history of Driveline Baseball.
From there, I’ll go to Las Vegas for 3 days of rest, relaxation, and introspection. (Plus a lot of mixed game poker, I suspect.)
Last, it’s on to Phoenix from Sin City, where I’ll take up residence with two other Driveline Baseball coaches who are coordinators for MLB teams – the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This will be my first year as the Director of Pitching Initiatives for the Cincinnati Reds, and my first extended period away from Driveline Baseball. It’s a strange feeling. I’ve been doing this full-time for seven years now, with my partner/CEO for five-and-a-half, and I’ve poured a lot of sweat, blood, and tears into this thing. I’m proud of what I’ve started; prouder still of the team I’ve helped to put together that have taken the business to heights I’d never thought possible.
My partner challenges me regularly on the growth of the business, as do the people who work for me. I always wanted it to be a lifestyle business, something I could do instead of write endless lines of code for projects I didn’t care about – tax compliance, for example – but they persuaded me to think bigger. To compete.
And so stepping back from the business that employs over 60 people to pursue a new professional opportunity – though I’ll do both, of course – feels odd. I know that this opportunity with the Cincinnati Reds is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make an impact at the MLB level, to prove something to myself, and to make a difference in a lot of peoples’ lives – the players I work with, the coaches I lead, the employees at Driveline Baseball who can potentially follow my path down the line, and my family back home.
It’s been said by more than one male baseball coach that their wife is the true star of the show, and it’s certainly true in my life as well. A key thing I learned early on while running Driveline Baseball is that you can only pursue new opportunities if your team is willing to absorb the responsibilities you have to give up to go voyaging. Family life is no different. Raising two kids – regardless of how much outside help we have from babysitters and schools – while working a full-time job is one hell of a task; harder still when a partner is gone for extended periods of time. Without her support, it’d be impossible. Without the kids’ support, it’d be unbearable.
It’s interesting, the path ahead. I feel some sort of way about it. I’ve challenged myself at Driveline Baseball, moving into various departments to get a better sense of the organization we’ve built – most recently ending my time in the Sales / Customer Relations department after a few incredibly fun months – but it is definitely time for me to continue to seek new opportunities. Not only for myself, but for the business. I firmly believe we are in a unique period in the professional baseball landscape, one that simply waiting and sitting on will risk serious loss of opportunity. The time is right now to make a change and to take on a new challenge, and the fact that I’m uncomfortable about it on some level means that I know I’ve chosen correctly.
There is no growth in comfort.
Regardless, I remain full of conviction that the path ahead of me is one worth traversing and one that I will excel on. Something that’s always held true in my life is my ability to outwork most others, to endure suffering longer than most, to get better when the times get tougher – it is what I believe truly defines me as a person. Not my intelligence, nor vision, nor any other positive trait someone would assign to me – it is the ability to simply doggedly put in the hours and keep my head down.
So it’s time to do it again; same as it always was.
This is no time for caution. It is a time for action. For decision.