A baseball with heart seams

Why I Write

The past couple of days I have watched games from Taiwan, Panama, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and more. Sometimes I watched whole games, other times I caught a few innings or just an at-bat or two. I watched though, and the reason I watched is that I love baseball. It took me a long time to realize that it was baseball I loved and not Major League Baseball, but I’m glad I finally made that leap.

I guess you could consider this post to be a sort of renewed mission statement for this website. Since I launched Words Above Replacement I’ve managed to maintain a pretty solid continuity in terms of what I write about and choose to cover. That’s not changing and I’m not turning my back on affiliated baseball. This site will still have thoughts on Minor League Baseball and MLB from time to time. I’m still a massive Chicago Cubs fan after all. They will remain my number one fandom, it’s not their fault they play in a league that is part of the organization that I believe is actively ruining the game of baseball.

No, that last sentence wasn’t a typo or a mistake. I have always had plenty of issues with MLB and how they choose to operate. Those issues range from the fact that they’ve gone out of their way to ignore the existence of the Negro major leagues to them using blackout restrictions to harm the future of the sport. When they recently announced their intention to eliminate forty-two minor league ballclubs I hit a sort of breaking point. Most likely this was enhanced by the fact that this news came during the offseason when MLB loves to use its various social media arms to push the “We miss baseball” narrative as if their organization provides the only baseball in the world. That narrative combined with Rob Manfred’s plan to gut the heart and soul of rural professional baseball made me finally realize how much I loathe MLB.

To get back to the original point, the renewed mission statement of sorts, there will still be MLB, MiLB and general affiliated coverage on this website. Affiliated ball is still baseball, it’s still the same basics of the game that I love. I just don’t like being super negative all the time and I get more enjoyment out of writing about unaffiliated ball these days. The focus of this site has always somewhat been on unaffiliated ball. We’ve offered the Baseball Streaming Guide, as well as the reporters to follow to better pay attention to the leagues in Australasia, Europe, and North America. As I started research on the reporters to be included in the upcoming Latin America article I realized that warts and all I enjoy every second I spend digging into unaffiliated ball and can no longer say the same about affiliated baseball.

The mission of Words Above Replacement hasn’t really changed. The purpose of this website is still to provide coverage of baseball that mixes sabermetric, history, social awareness, and humanity in one package that best represents how I relate to baseball. For some, that means the site is a no go because they don’t really have any interest in my Socialist views, my allegiance to labor, or share my joy at discovering old players from either affiliated or unaffiliated baseball. I’m sure I’ve lost some readers as I’ve started to write more and more about unaffiliated baseball. The harsh reality is that I don’t care because this website isn’t really for anyone but myself. I’ve never understood the line of thinking that says you need to remove yourself from your writing or that you can’t just write for yourself. Baseball is very personal and writing is very personal, I would hope that everyone who visits this site leaves knowing that they just read something that represents me. I’m not afraid to show the elements that make me love the game and define me as a human being because if I remove those then there’s really no point in me writing anything or you reading what I have to say.

Words Above Replacement may never be bigger than a hundred or so readers. I don’t write for the numbers, I write to express my love, and sometimes frustration, with the game that has been the one constant in my life. I hope that people will continue to read what I have to say about unaffiliated baseball because those leagues have better represented the game I love for some time now. MLB has done everything it can to drive me away from its particular brand of baseball. I’m still present, I’m still watching, and I’m still writing about their brand of baseball. I just choose to write more about unaffiliated baseball and that’s not stopping anytime soon. The renewed mission of this site is to continue to discuss, inform, and analyze the game of baseball. MLB isn’t all there is to baseball and this site aims to keep showing that for a long time to come.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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