In 2011, I did something I never thought I’d do: I started a blog.
At the time, social media was still a new thing, at least for people like me. My kids introduced me to Facebook and Twitter, and I have to admit it was way more fun than I thought it would be. I had no idea there were so many different outlets available to connect with friends and fans. Once I realized that, I was all-in. Like a prospect getting called up from the minors, I wanted to make an impression. I was going to blog once a week, every week, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Six posts later, I retired.
Blogging, as I soon found out, is tough. It takes time, effort, and commitment. It’s like hitting a baseball: If you don’t devote yourself to your craft, you’re not going to be very good at it.
In retrospect, my blogging intentions were good. My timing wasn’t.
In 2011, my daughter, Madi, was still a high school senior; now she’s married (see above). My wife, Nancy, and I had three grandchildren; now we have 12. A lot has happened over the last seven years. Being a good father and grandfather – or at least trying to be – took precedent.
Over the last year or so, though, the blogging itch returned. Our family has expanded, yet the Murphy household has gotten quieter. As a result, I talk less than I used to, but I still have a lot to say.
That’s a welcome change from my playing days.
Back in the ’80s, I admit, I was kind of a boring interview. I talked a lot without saying much. Part of that was not wanting anything to come out the wrong way. It’s easy for words to be misconstrued, and I didn’t want anything I said to be taken out of context. I had nothing but respect for my teammates and the opposition. Baseball is a difficult game, and the difference between success and failure is slim. You can be a hero one day and a goat the next. Win or lose, I commend anyone who has the courage to step between those lines.
And so, respecting the game and those who played it was always a top priority. So was protecting my privacy. Athletes today, I don’t know how they do it. Their lives are on display 24/7. We all come of age in an era that seems normal, but I don’t know if I could have played in the age of social media. It can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse – Twitter, especially. When used effectively, Twitter is a great tool to connect with people. But it can also be harsh and negative, almost always to an unjustified degree.
That’s why I’ve always gravitated toward long-form pieces. Twitter is like a 100-mile-per-hour fastball. It comes at you fast and furious and there’s often not enough time to react. Blogging is like a slow roller down the third base line. It takes time to develop, there are a lot of moving parts, and you have to wait longer than usual to learn the outcome. But by the end, hopefully you have a more nuanced appreciation for what you just witnessed.
Ultimately, I think I played in an era that suited me. I played in a city, Atlanta, that suited me. I don’t know if I would have thrived if I had to live under a microscope.
These days, though, I’m less guarded. I think that’s the natural path people take. The older I get, the more opinions I have. The more opinions I have, the more I like to talk, whether it’s about baseball or life.
Sometimes I think about where we are and where we’re going, and I worry. Not just as baseball fans – though the game is at a crossroads with pitch clocks and pace of play – but as people. We seem more divided than ever. Every generation probably feels that way at some point, but it really feels that way now.
As a father, you want what’s best for your kids. As a grandfather, you want the same, but it’s different. I became a father at 24. All of my kids are older now than I was then. I’ve been able to watch their journeys with pride and see the wonderful people they’ve become. I’ll be able to watch my grandkids, too, but by the time they’re my age, I’ll be gone. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but that’s just part of the deal.
Time is a weird thing. There’s no clock in baseball, but there are contracts. Some are good, some are bad, and some are about right. But they all last for a finite period of time. They all end. Life is kind of the same way. Whether you’re in the top of the first or the seventh-inning stretch, we’re all playing the same game. I’m excited to watch my grandkids take their first at-bat. But I wonder where they’ll be when they get to the bottom of the ninth.
What type of world are we leaving them? What type of world will they inherit?
Think about how much has changed since 2011. Albert Pujols was still a Cardinal. LeBron James had never won an NBA title. Donald Trump was a reality TV star.
Well, not everything has changed.
In recent years, I’ve come to admire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s reinvented himself in retirement. Every athlete has to do that, at least a little, but Kareem has done so better than most. He used to be known as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer; now he’s known as a writer and activist. I’m not a writer or an activist, but I have opinions. And if voicing those opinions can help people or propel them to think about things in a different way, I want to do that.
You might not always agree with me. In fact, I can guarantee you won’t. But I hope you find value in my words. I hope they bring us closer together. Because in the end, that’s all a blog is: a way to connect with people. This time, I won’t lose sight of that.
Put me in, coach. I’m here. I’m ready. Let’s play some ball!