Let’s Go Tribe

We moved to Cleveland in the summer of 1997. My family had spent the last 8 years in San Antonio, so my relationship with baseball was almost non-existent. Occasionally I’d catch a Braves game or Cubs game on cable, but for me, the sport of summer (and fall and winter and spring) was basketball. Being born in Chicago, I rooted for the Cubs, but only because they always seemed like a fun team to like. Good, but not too good. Ryne Sandberg. Andre Dawson. On TV more than most teams. Weird TV personalties. And so forth. I had a Cubs hat and I’m pretty sure there’s a picture somewhere of me dressed up as a Cubs player for Halloween when I was 8 or 9. I gave no damns one way or another about a goat, though. I didn’t live or die by their wins and losses. That was reserved for Tennessee football and Spurs basketball.

But then I moved to Cleveland in 1997 and began to understand that while basketball may be more entertaining and football might capture America’s short attention span, baseball is the sport that feeds your soul. I spent the summer not knowing anyone, (badly) shooting baskets in my driveway during the day and watching the Indians from time to time at night. I lived in the same town as a baseball team in the summer and they were on every night! I had never experienced this growing up – a team and a sport that was available to you every day.

Baseball fits life. Every day is the same but slightly different. Some days become magical. Others become regrettable. Every once in a while you get a bunch more good days than bad and all of a sudden it’s October.

I wasn’t a fan of the Cleveland Indians in 1997, but I watched, and then school started, and it became clear I should be watching, so I watched more. I watched a team that I guess wasn’t as good as the team two years prior make it to the World Series. I saw the error and Jose fuckin’ Mesa and Edgar fuckin’ Renteria and the Marlins celebrating.

The following season, my friend Chad demanded that I take some unused Indians tickets and go with him to a seemingly unremarkable game between the Tribe and the Rays. It was May and I wasn’t ready to care about the Indians again yet. It turned into the best baseball game I’ve ever seen live, an entire master class on mid-90’s John Hart-built Cleveland Indians baseball in one spring night that was in turn average, regrettable, and then magical.

I’ve followed the Tribe since that day. High school summers consisted of going to the games or watching the games in one of my friends’ basement. In 2001, my college roommate Thad, a Mariners fan, and I were not on speaking terms for ALDS week, despite my low expectations and his historically good team. The next year the Tribe traded Bartolo Colon for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore, a trade that showed me and Geoff and Chad how much better fantasy sports could and should be. In 2007, I went to the Midges Game and I watched in my apartment in Boston as Kenny Lofton got held at third base at Fenway.

Now it is 2016 and I run a fantasy sports company I founded in large part thanks to that baseball game in 1998 and that trade in 2002. I met the danged Indians GM. I’m still close with my friends who taught me about baseball, Cleveland fandom, and life. There were some average days, a bunch of regrettable days, and even more magical days. All of a sudden it’s October and the Indians are back in the World Series.

to adventures!

2013 was a quiet year here, but not quiet in all places niv. ottoneu continues to slowly grow and my career at vox is starting to blossom.

while 2013 had one decent travel adventure, i was mostly reeling from the 2012 adventure and focused on my work. i did not take nearly enough photos, and is a common refrain here* i did not write nearly enough.

my goal is to change this considerably going forward. writing and photography are both important outlets that have helped me, but i tend to write about a subset of things in my life, the subset that causes me pain and thus i keep private. however! there are many other things to write about, many interesting and wonderful and confusing and difficult and awesome things. so, here is the peptalk reminding me that yes, there is a time for sad writing, but there is also a time to write about all the shit that captures my attention that is not just, you know, heartbreak.

and there is also time for photos. more and more photos. photography always.

back to that travel adventures thing: 2014 already promises to be more adventure-filled. first, i am headed to norway and denmark in the second half of february to see the northern lights and check out this copenhagen situation everyone is going on about. other must-trips in 2014 include a return to roatan, where i have befriended an island drug dealer / cigar bar owner over a shared love of fifa, park city**, and of course las vegas***. goals are to photograph more, to write more, to observe and capture moments more, and to maybe talk to a girl for more than 3 weeks straight****. i guess that isn’t travel-related but my brain went off on a tangent there.

i avoided writing this on january 1 because i don’t want it to be yet another “new year, new start”-type post, but here we are at the end of the year and the need to be introspective and navel-gazing is overwhelming. also, i’m really excited to go to the arctic circle next year.

* – how common? i already complained about it twice in two paragraphs.
** – in the fall, when no one is there
*** – imagine the epic nature of this blog if i had kept track of vegas trips here. woulda harkened back to the old days
**** – non-georgia edition


today i turned thirty-two.

yesterday i was hangover sad and bumming out all day.

today i realized i have great friends and an awesome home and an amazing job and i got good at making steaks.

i should live every day like it is today and less days like they are yesterday.

meaning and happiness

i found this fascinating:

Most importantly from a social perspective, the pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior — being, as mentioned, a “taker” rather than a “giver.” The psychologists give an evolutionary explanation for this: happiness is about drive reduction. If you have a need or a desire — like hunger — you satisfy it, and that makes you happy. People become happy, in other words, when they get what they want. Humans, then, are not the only ones who can feel happy. Animals have needs and drives, too, and when those drives are satisfied, animals also feel happy, the researchers point out.

thanks zach.


i have hackers news open in one tab and google reader in another tab. i have a couple of things i’ve been meaning to read open as well as a twitter client with 5 columns. and of course an IM client.

i’m beginning to wonder if my inability to focus as deeply as i would like to is because i am so used to the intravenous drip of stimulation i get from all these things, all this internet. not simply that they distract me while i am online, but they have muddled my brain and my ability to concentrate and think deeply offline too.

nothing here is new or ground-breaking or really anything more than rote. but i read this and then i read this and i saw all the golden globe tweets and i realized i should be writing more code and having more thoughtful conversations, not caring about breaking news or watching porn.

i went to australia for 2.5 weeks, cut off completely from the IV. do you know what i missed?


that was the lesson of the trip.


things are getting close. the day job project is almost code-complete. the pep-talk about football worked, kind of.

the hardest commit of every day is the first one. once you do that, then you have to fix all the mistakes you made it in, and once you do that, then you are in the groove. just make that first commit.

97 days live (or 23 days into a second product)

my last post was exactly 30 days after ottoneu Fantasy Baseball was launched. it has been 67 days since that post, and in that time I have:

  • launched a second fantasy baseball game, entitled ottoneu Pick Six
  • resolved a number of issues with ottoneu Fantasy Baseball and got the game in a state where it does not need my attention on a day-to-day basis.
  • realized I was going to run out of money
  • secured part-time (3 days a week) employment
  • had all the requisite ups and downs for being a single-person start-up in the valley

there’s almost too much to write about just from those points alone, so for now i’ll focus on the improvements i wanted to make from my last post, and hopefully will get to the rest of the talking points over the course of this week.

first improvement: take a run and shower to start my day. nope. i haven’t even gotten better at focusing on myself before focusing on ottoneu in the morning. still need to fix this.

second improvement: getting out of the apartment. the part-time work is going to be a big factor in improving this. I plan on getting to the office around 9:30am 5 days a week and work from san mateo the rest of the day about 3 days a week. i know the working out of the apartment thing cannot last, so this will be a welcome change.

third improvement: computer-free time before bed. getting better at both coding less immediately before bed and balancing computer time and computer-free time in general. as predicted, once the game started running itself, this became a lot easier to deal with.

i have a massive rant against silicon valley, an outline on Pick Six and how i got it from concept to launch in 2 weeks (and launch to 250+ daily users in 2 weeks), and some background about my new part-time gig all floating around in my head right now, but i think they will have to wait for later this week. for now, its time to add some more features to Pick Six before it gets too late.

thirty days live

thirty days ago on february 14, 2011, ottoneu.fangraphs.com went live. it’s been an up and down thirty days, but overall i would have to say it has been a successful launch. first, some basic stats

  • over 500 paid users
  • 120k pageviews
  • 2 to 3 server meltdowns
  • thousands of completed auctions

i guess the best way to discuss my experience is to go through a typical day as the solo employee at a startup with this much visibility (the fangraphs partnership has resulted in hundreds of thousands of unique impressions on my banner ad). my work day tends to start between 8:30am and 9:30am, whenever i roll out of bed. west coast living! every day, i think “i’ll just check my email real quick and then go get ready” – this never happens. the reality is that i wake up, open up Mail, go through my 3 ottoneu-related email addresses, and respond to every email i have unread. if i don’t have a quick response, i flag the email to get back to in a second pass. then i go ahead and complete my second pass through the emails and see if any of the flagged emails require code changes.

i’ll save the suspense – they often do.

the next thing i know, it’s 11:30am and jen is asking me what my plan is for the day. pre-launch, i didn’t have these emails to go through, so i was able to get up, get to the shared office space i have, and start coding. now that i have semi-urgent tasks, i’m going to need to start waking up at 7am to get to the office by 10:30 i think. anyway, i get through those bugs enhancements and then usually shower before lunch. usually.

the afternoon depends on what the main tasks of the day are. sometimes there are larger enhancements requested or that i have thought of that really deserve my time and attention. emails continue to come in, and sometimes i need to help out a user or three. and sometimes a post i have on fangraphs requires responding to comments, both good and bad.

if i remember, around 6:30 or 7pm, i’ll get dinner. if i’m lucky, someone will want to meet up for a beer or to shoot the shit. or for dinner.

the night ends with, as you might guess, Mail.app. double check twitter and my inbox to make sure nothing is broken and people are generally satisfied. if i’m not coded out from the day, i’ll add a couple more features or tweak something that has been bothering me – after all, i am not only the coder, i use the damn site daily. and finally, i’ll take a break and play some video games or read or whatever.

nothing pushes one to exercise more than this life choice, and the one main improvement i could make in my day would be to not check my email when i roll out of bed, but to go for a run and shower before doing anything else. once the email tap is opened up for the day, it’s really hard for me to shut it off and go do something else.

another good improvement would be to not get into the coding mindset before getting out of the apartment. getting in the zone is, as everyone know, a fickle and important thing that you don’t want to break. getting into the zone in my boxers and a tshirt about 10 minutes after waking up can’t be good for me, and staying in that zone for 3+ hours only leads to me missing two meals and breaking out of the zone when i realize something smells awful and it is me. which is basically what happened to me two days ago.

it’d be good to institute some no-computer time in the evening before bed, but maybe that’s something that can wait until things stabilize a bit, like after the season starts and i get through the inevitable start-of-season bugs.

anyway, it has been a fun thirty days, without a doubt. i have a great set of users who are patient, understanding, and really sharp. i have a pretty good, if perennially smelly boss. and look – i work on something that i both own and love every single day. not a lot of people can say that.