I will be staying in Arizona for the duration of what was supposed to be Spring Training for the minor leaguers. I have volunteered to be one of the people on the skeleton crew to keep the Goodyear complex open for those who want to stay and train in preparation for the season that may or may not lie ahead of us.
I anticipate staying here through at least the first week of April, though I’ll re-evaluate as the situation goes.
Driveline Baseball has an announcement to make and will do so later today, Friday, March 13th. This post will be updated with the link to the announcement when it is made.Announcement can be found here.
We have taken contingency plans to provide service via remote, in-person in Washington, and in-person in Arizona. More information will be distributed over time.
You all know the drill: Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and so forth.
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.
Since I’m stuck in the Cleveland Hopkins airport after missing my flight, I’ve decided to do a short writeup of the tech gear that I’ve found helpful while traveling.
My general rules for tech on the road (and in life, really) are:
Tech must be relatively inexpensive
Must be very useful
Must be portable
With that in mind, let’s start with an item people always want on the road but never pack in their bags: A power strip / extension cord.
Anker PowerPort Strip PD 2 Mini
This thing is great – long cable that rolls up well with a velcro strap and has two power outlets, two USB IQ charging ports, and USB-C with Power Delivery that works with my Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S with no problems. (It won’t charge your laptop though, since it’s too low – check out the battery + AC adapter at the bottom of this post for more information on that.)
I use the Lenovo USB-C adapter for maximum compatibility with my X1 Carbon laptop, but Anker’s hub at under $40 is a great deal as well. I refuse to buy an expansion dongle unless it has the following ports:
Gigabit Ethernet adapter (Wi-Fi becoming less and less reliable in hotels and other places)
USB-C Power Delivery
At least one USB 3.0 port
Travel Router – GL.iNet
A travel router is probably one of the most useful tools for the business traveler, especially when you’re with a team – doubly so if you use a small area network like Driveline Baseball does with its Edgertronic and motion capture setup.
The GL.iNet GL-AR750 at under $50 has two LAN ports (to expand the network) and one WAN port (to connect your source Internet) into, and comes with OpenWRT / LEDE installed plus simple OpenVPN client mode. This means you can set it up as a repeater with instant connection to a VPN server to access your behind-firewall appliances in the office, or to a privacy VPN provider. There’s a configurable switch on the side of the box you can use to set VPN on/off if you like, or other modes. The admin interface gives you full access to OpenWRT’s advanced menus as well if you want to hack it.
Awesome for repeating Internet signals in your room over Ethernet to beat unreliable WAPs installed by the hotel or conference center, with instant-on VPN protection so you don’t have to mess with client-side tunnels.
Travel Monitor: ThinkVision M14
This 14″ monitor at under $250 on Lenovo’s site has been awesome for me, and fits perfectly alongside my X1 Carbon at 1080p resolution. Powered by USB-C with ports on both side and having PD passthrough for your laptop, it simply works – and the picture quality is extremely sharp.
Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W with 60W PD Charger
An external battery is vital when you’re traveling – but most of them don’t deliver PD over USB-C or have enough options at a decent cost. The Anker PowerCore+ 26800 battery (usually around $139) has two USB-A ports and one USB-C hybrid port that does both charging input and output.
The USB-C input can be a bit tricky – don’t try charging your battery with a heavy duty laptop charger that goes over USB-C, as it only takes very specific combinations of voltage/amperage (up to PD60W max usually).
The PowerCore keeps my X1 Carbon refilled on planes, in the field, and at hotels where the outlets might be hard to reach – and when I’m just plain lazy – with plenty of juice in the tank at 26,800 mAh.
This item also includes a 60W PD Charger, which not only charges the battery, but can charge your USB-C PD-enabled laptop – lets you leave the power brick at home.
So, I work for the Cincinnati Reds now. I’m the Director of Pitching Initiatives and the Pitching Coordinator for the Minor Leagues.
In 2012, I quit my lucrative job as a Data Scientist to run Driveline Baseball full-time.
In 2014, I partnered with Mike Rathwell and named him CEO.
I always knew this day was coming; the day where I donned the Major League uniform for a team. I just never thought it would be this early. I thought I’d be well into my 40’s before I’d get a shot like this.
Emily Coolbaugh has been hired as my personal assistant.
What does this mean?
She acts as me in almost all the ways that are important
She helps with task lists, finances, booking schedules, etc.
You will almost certainly interact with her
How will you interact with her?
Unknown numbers will ring through to Emily
Even if you are a known number in my contact list, I may be set to DO NOT DISTURB and you may be redirected to her cell phone
She will handle some scheduling of mine – you may work with her to set a scheduled event
She will handle some emails of mine – you may hear from her via email instead of me
She will handle some contracts of mine – you may get contracts through DocuSign / HelloSign / EverSign from her instead of me
The most important part to note is that if you are speaking to her, Emily is fully empowered to act as me in all the ways she represents herself. She is not a secondary person, you don’t mean less to me if she’s talking to you instead of me, and you will treat her as you would treat me.
If you require her direct contact information, please reach out and you will be put in touch.