When the good folks over at firejoemorgan.com announced that they were hanging it up, I went into a short period of mourning.
For those of you who aren't that familiar with Fire Joe Morgan, it's basically like baseball porn for people like me. Geeky, slightly stat-obsessed, and tired of hearing all the ridiculous, awful retread statements that constantly pour out of the mouths of people like Tim McCarver and, of course, FJM's namesake. Those kind of people.
I resisted writing any sort of obituary for the site up until this point, mostly due to the fact that I had no idea what I could possibly say that A) hasn't been said already, and better, and B) would actually add anything. But you know what? Screw it.
First off, Will Leitch, who himself used to be an outstanding blogger before leaving to work at some sort of real job situation (feh), has a great little exit interview with the FJM team over at Deadspin. Go read it. No, right now. Don't bother finishing this. I'll wait. Okay, done? Good.
Secondly, I just wanted to toss in my own two cents about the site itself. See, I became aware of FJM several years back, shortly after it was founded, to be honest.
FJM was just one of those things, much like the Shins or John Waters movies, that was awesome because it was just a little bit beyond the reach of what everybody else was aware of. Of course, half the internet is composed of stuff like that. Hell, the two great engines that fueled the Internet for years were alt.net discussion groups of nerdy pop culture obsessions and, of course, pornography.
Fire Joe Morgan, for me, was just like going to an anime discussion site. You could read articles on stuff that no one else you knew cared about. You could read conversations between the three other people besides yourself who did care about them. And best of all, there was finally a place that wasn't afraid to just blast away at the sacred cows that no one else would touch. When batting average was used to compare MVP candidates in a national scribe's column, FJM was there. When an ESPN analyst used the word clutch to defend a player's performance despite his 81 OPS+ for the season, FJM was there. And whenever Bill Plaschke said, well, pretty much anything, FJM was right there, fighting for better, more informed baseball journalism for everyone.
But, of course, the good stuff almost always gets discovered eventually. Garden State made the Shins huge. (I say huge in a relative way, of course; they're huge when compared to, say, their former Sub Pop stablemates Fruit Bats.) John Travolta made a big, awful remake of Hairspray, and suddenly you saw pictures of Divine on Entertainment Tonight.
And Fire Joe Morgan? Well, there may not have been a watershed moment for FJM, but every sports fan who's ever visited a message board knows who they are. It doesn't make it any less fun, of course, but there's still enough of the teenage indie rock snob in me to say that the most special days of FJM were still the early ones, when you knew, just knew, that you were the only person in the whole wide world who had any idea this place existed.