Overtime: 60 Feet Over the Fence


Jeremy Brown feared failure. He may have feared success even more. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Jimmy Sullivan, Sports Editor

If you’re a baseball fan, you may be familiar with “Moneyball,” the 2003 book and its accompanying 2011 film.

One of the most poignant scenes in each revolves around an out-of-shape minor-league catcher named Jeremy Brown, a once-heralded prospect who only garnered 10 career major-league at-bats. Before that, he was a first-round pick by the A’s in the 2002 draft and one of their coveted prospects. There was only one problem: Brown was deathly afraid of running to second base.

Towards the end of the 2002 season, Brown found himself with the Visalia Oaks of the California League. On the first pitch of an at-bat, Brown smacked a ball to deep center field and, instead of doing what he usually did — pack it in with a single — he decided to go for broke and try for a double, confronting his biggest fear head-on.

Unfortunately, Brown took a header rounding first base and had to retreat to the bag, drawing laughs from both his team and the opponent, the San Jose Giants, in what the movie described as “all of Brown’s nightmares come to life.” But all parties were not laughing at Brown because of his embarrassing stumble around first base. They were reduced to hysterics because Brown hit the ball 60 feet over the fence.

It’s a metaphor. Brown clearly feared failure but, more than anything, he hated the embarrassing sting of running the bases and trying to round first. As soon as he tried to do so in a game, he failed spectacularly, only to discover that he didn’t fail at all, quite the opposite, in fact. Jeremy Brown’s attempt to sprint around the bases — which wasn’t necessary because he’d hit a home run — is symbolic, in many ways, of what we do here at The Fordham Ram.

I’ll speak from personal experience to avoid sweeping generalizations. I applied to join this newspaper as an assistant sports editor in advance of volume 100 because even though I didn’t think I would make it, it would be a good optic to apply and get rejected. I didn’t think I was ready for a position like that. Long story short, I interviewed for the assistant sports editor post and within a week, I received the job. An occasion that should’ve been marked with celebration was instead stained with an underlying dread of “oh my God, what have I done?”

As it turns out, what I did was one of the best decisions of my life.

I — somewhat accidentally — joined a team of people just like me, despite the fact that I’m still finding who I am on a daily basis. I felt an immediate kinship with just about everyone else on staff. Previously, I had thought that the notion of “family” — whether it be in a workplace or a sports team, the area in which I was more familiar — was complete garbage. This paper made me adjust my thinking on that.

This year, I removed the assistant title from my job here. It wasn’t always easy and I often metaphorically grabbed onto whatever I could to hang on. The amount of work and stress that comes with this gig was not something I had anticipated, and the adjustment process was incredibly difficult at times. But, as is often paramount in a difficult situation like this, I had the two best assistants I could have asked for in Dylan Balsamo and Andrew Posadas. My advice to anyone in a newly-found leadership position is to have an Andrew or a Dylan in your life or, even better, directly working with you. If you don’t, then I’m afraid you’re on your own.

Anyway, I’m coming back for volume 102 in the same position I had for volume 101. Andrew will be The Fordham Ram’s new managing editor and he’ll do a terrific job, so long as the copy room is cool with listening to A Tribe Called Quest. Dylan will be coming back as an assistant, and he will be joined by Alex Wolz, who will also do a wonderful job.

While I’m not leaving, several other talented Ram staffers are. We will miss every single one of them, and I’m better for having worked with all of them. I’ll miss having the positive energy of Briana and Lindsay in the print shop every Tuesday and bouncing questions and other issues off Aislinn and Hannah in the copy room. I’ll miss having nothing but great conversations with Erica, Colette, Bo and Julia, all of whom often popped in and out of the print shop for various reasons on a Tuesday night. I’ll also miss being able to bounce random AP style questions off Maggie and get an instant response, though I’m sure she’ll stay all over that stuff even after her time as copy editor is done.

This is not my goodbye, but it is their goodbye. This paper — and our section in the back of it — wouldn’t be the same without them. Even as I stumbled around first base time and time again over the past 44 issues, they consistently helped us hit the ball 60 feet over the fence.

As acclaimed artist Bob Ross once said, “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.” The last two years have been one of the happiest accidents of my life, and it’s my honor to renew my contract for one more.