Something Cool That Happened to Me, Plus Midseason Mailbag Questions
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The last time we did a mailbag at the end of November, I wrote about waking up to the completely unexpected and out-of-left-field news that I had been nominated for Oregon Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.
This is going to sound like a lie, but I really didn’t think about it too much after the day the nominations were announced. I had no expectation of actually winning it, and just being included on a list like that with so many people I respect was cool enough.
I’m blown away by this, not just because it’s fun to win stuff but because it’s kind of unprecedented.
If you look at the list of winners by year, not just in Oregon but across all 50 states, you’re not going to see a lot of people with a Substack. In some states in the South that are college football hotbeds (Alabama, Arkansas, etc.), there’s an occasional writer from a 247 or Rivals-type of site with a big presence who wins or is nominated, but that’s about it. It’s almost entirely newspapers and other legacy outlets.
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That’s what makes this so cool for me. Before I started this thing in the summer of 2022, I spent 10 years working for those types of major outlets—USA Today, Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, The Athletic—and it was never on my radar that I could be up for any of these awards, let alone win them. I am a member of the NSMA and have a vote on the award, but you’re not allowed to vote for yourself. So it was other people that decided I should win it.
(I also have to shout out my co-winner, Demi Lawrence of the Portland Business Journal, who I’ve only met a few times but who does great work covering a wide variety of topics in the sports-business world. I love that the person I split it with is also not part of the group that usually dominates this stuff. And, of course, one of my closest friends in the business, Brenna Greene of KOIN, winning in the sportscaster category for Oregon made me very happy. All in all, a terrific result.)
The fact that this is happening now, after I built this thing by myself and started calling all of my own shots in terms of what I write and how I cover this team, is awesome, and I have all of you and the way you’ve responded to this endeavor to thank for that.
I’m bad at celebrating accomplishments and even worse at taking compliments, so it’s weird for me to be be in a press release for something like this and have people react to it, but I’m slowly accepting that it’s a pretty big deal. There’s a convention and banquet in North Carolina at the end of June, and unfortunately I won’t be able to make it because it conflicts with the draft and the start of free agency, and probably some Summer League practices. Maybe one day.
Another thing I’m not good at is self-promotion. I always worry that I’m inundating people with pleas to pay to subscribe to my work, when there are so many other people also asking you to give them money. But this is as good an occasion as any to remind you that my ability to keep this going is entirely dependent on your support. The more of you subscribe, the more I can travel to cover the team and do other things to make the coverage even better. I feel like I’ve done my best to make those of you who have chosen to subscribe feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
2023 was certainly an eventful year with the Blazers, and it was challenging to navigate covering things like the Damian Lillard trade request as responsibly as possible in a media climate that encourages and rewards the opposite. If I hadn’t done a reasonably good job of that, most of you wouldn’t still be here with me, but you are and I thank you for that.
I know it’s been tough to watch this team lately, with all the blowout losses and injuries. But I’ve been trying to keep finding ways to keep it interesting for me and for you. The podcast is coming back from hiatus soon (more on that later this week), and the live chats during road games in the Substack app have been a lot of fun.
On that note, another perk from the beginning for paid subscribers has been the ability to participate in our semi-regular mailbags. Coming up on the halfway point of the regular season, we’re overdue for one of those. And I’m going to put in a caveat this time.
Now, I’d like to do the same thing and open it up for questions on anything except Chauncey Billups’ job status. I've seen the tweets, I’ve seen the Reddit threads, I know how most of you feel about it, and I’ve heard nothing that makes me think that’s a change they’re thinking about making in the immediate future. Like the Lillard stuff last summer, there’s nothing new or productive to say about it right now. So let’s take that topic off the board for now.
Leave your questions below on anything else—Blazers, NBA, other topics, it’s the dog days of the season—in the comments, and if you’re not a paid subscriber yet, hit the links below to get on board.