Finale: Leaving TOTK

Many of you know of my long involvement with TOTK.com Sports. Some of you know that I have indeed left TOTK for bigger, better things. So let’s go “Behind The Typing” [sorry, VH1] and tell the story from the beginning…

I started my five-plus-year sportswriting career in the online sportswriting business with the third issue of SportsBytes, with a column [predictably, if you know me] about fixing baseball. [Looking at it, of the ten things I pushed, only five of them have come true. Meatloaf doesn’t like those odds.]

I got the job on a lark–Gary Gambino and I knew of each other through the Cincinnati Reds’ Usenet group, alt.sports.baseball.cinci-reds. Gary’d been writing for Top Of The Key for about six months when founder Keith Weitz closed up shop. Gary sent me the first or second issue of SB–can’t remember which–and I commented on the bad grammar and spelling contained therein. So started my editorial career.

Over the course of the next year, I became significantly involved with the week-to-week activities of SB. At one point, Gary completely left us, but he did eventually return. My importance to SB can be overstated, but it is fair to say I kept it going in Gary’s absence. Mind you, I was a whipper-snapper–at this time, I was a senior at MSMS and a freshman at UAH–but I dealt with that reasonably well.

In October of 1997, Gary and I had a falling out of sorts. It led to Keith Weitz asking me to restart TOTK. That was fine, I guess. In true IJSM style, I planned for the restart of TOTK to be during finals week of my first semester at UAH. That was a remarkably outstanding lack of foresight on my part, but I still had a 3.5 GPA that semester.

TOTK morphed into the totality of TOTK.com Sports, adding a daily publication in May of 1999 and a variety of other publications over the next few years. At last check, TOTK.com Sports was publishing six offerings in the world of sports of various sports and frequencies. Rather amazing, if you ask me.

2000 saw me travel to Chicago to meet my partner in crime, Ralph Wallace, and my favorite writer, Todd Trubey. [I guess it’s fair to call Todd my favorite writer now that I’m gone, eh?] That was a great trip, and it spurred a lot of the growth you see now at TOTK.com Sports. I returned to Chicago in March of this year, and the base of where TOTK is going to go from here [without me] was laid then.

Even then, I felt the tugging away from TOTK. Why? You see, on June 12, 1997, I had a religious experience many people dream of having: direct contact with the Almighty. [For reference, I’m a United Methodist, so that would be God for me. YMMV.] It was a very brief encounter, one I’ll relay in a different posting on the four-year anniversary of the encounter next week. Suffice it to say that I was then and there called to ministry, and that coming to UAH, studying engineering, being highly involved in UAH’s Student Governemnt Association, working at Teledyne Brown Engineering and being involved with TOTK.com Sports constituted avoidance of the calling I received before I did all of that.

Before I get all weepy about how I’ve wasted the last four years, let’s consider something: the fact that all of this could have been beneficial. I hold that the experiences I’ve chosen to partake of in the last four years are indeed very beneficial. We’ll discuss the academic and work-related stuff at another time, but TOTK.com Sports has indelibly enriched me. I’m reminded of Romans 8:28, that all things do work together for good for those that God has called. What have I learned? Teamwork with those whom you don’t know; the ability to write and proofread quickly; the power of the written word to inspire and denigrate depending on the craft or carelessness of the use. Heck, along the way, I learned a little about how to write and publish online.

So I’ll go on from here. Where? I don’t know. I do know that God does know. Part of me wants to know–the rest of me knows that the choices I make affect the outcome, even if God will keep it in line with what He wants. [An explanation of my odd theory of God existing outside of the four space-time dimensions we know and love is on tap for another day.]

So to my writers and readers from TOTK.com Sports: So long, and thanks for all the fish.