Thank you for making the third season of Thunder Thoughts a success. It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years. I remember when I first started this, all I wanted to do was get more hits on this site than Pete Rose did in his career. 845,640 people later, and it’s clear that my prediction skills were off from the start.
In all seriousness, there’s a lot more that goes into making this blog what it is than people realize. The irony of that story on the financial aspect of the game that so many of you read was that I made nothing for writing it. A few tiny sponsorships aside, this blog is a labor of love more than it is a profitable endeavor. The hours are tough, I don’t get to see my friends too much from April to September, and the games almost blend together after a while.
But it’s all worth it.
I’ve been blessed to work with an amazing group of people over the past three years. You hear players saying “what a great group of guys this is” to the point where it’s little more than a cliche at this point, but this year’s group really was a great bunch to be around. This blog is nothing without the players, who were great to deal with as a whole.
The coaching staff was great to talk to, as always…and you can’t help but mention Tony Franklin by name. Before every game, after every game and sometimes inbetween, we’d bother him…errr, ask him questions about his ballclub and often have conversations that strayed far, far away from baseball. You couldn’t ask for a better guy to deal with, and I wish him nothing but the best in the future — whether he comes back next year or finally gets the better opportunity he deserves.
And there’s always a special thank you that needs to be given to the front office. I feel like I’m late if I’m at the ballpark any later than four hours before game time, so suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time at Waterfront Park and the various areas of it this year. A good amount of that time is spent in the front office, and the first person I’ve visited with from the first time I covered this team back in 2004 has been Bill Cook.
Bill does an amazing, amazing job handling the teams media relations duties, and the blog wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as it has been without him. I ask him every day for ideas for stuff to put on the blog, and more often than not, he’d have a great tidbit I could share with everyone.
After I got done talking to Bill, I’d go to Justin Shackil or Jay Burnham, the team’s great radio duo. Two great, helpful guys who are both very good at what they do. It’s been a pleasure working with them this season as well. Inbetween, Will Smith would be walking around and helping take care of all there is to take care of at a minor league ballpark. I got to speak with Will a lot this year, and he’s a great guy as well.
And of course, there’s Eric Lipsman, who’s seen the team grow since its inception in 1994. Eric and I talked baseball quite a bit, all with Chase and Derby within earshot. The more I write about my daily Thunder routine, the more I’ll miss it…and everyone you’ve read about is a big part of that.
That’s the thing with the front office, lots of great people in there who were very supportive of what I did and were always willing to chat for a minute or two to break up the monotony of the day. I’ve always said it feels like one big family in there, it’s always flattering to even feel like a tiny part of it for the five-six months in which they let me in their home.
And I couldn’t do this without the readers. I certainly don’t do this for myself — although I was blessed to get to do many amazing things this season because of my work. The feedback and support that I’ve received from you guys this season has been amazing as always, and I look forward to interacting with you guys during the off-season.
As for the blog itself and my future…well, one at a time. I will have alumni features for you during the off-season, as well as any pertinent news and some early looks at who could be on the 2011 Thunder squad. I’ll also have a “Minor League Memories” series, where some of the biggest stars in the game today talk about their memories of playing minor league baseball.
My future…I am, as of now, a freelance writer. I’ve busted my tail and feel like I deserve an opportunity to be a full-time beat writer of a hockey or baseball team, which is my goal. Anything I can do to work towards that goal will happen, and if that means coming back for a fourth season of Thunder Thoughts, then I’ll be back with a smile on my face.
Regardless of where my future lies, Waterfront Park will always be a special place for me. I came here as a fan with my dad while I was growing up quite a few times, and I bought just about anything and everything I could with the Thunder logo on it. Among those items were media guides, because I wanted to know as much as I could about every player on the team. To have my name in that media guide and to have been able to cover the team that I grew up following…it means more than anyone can realize.
But , in the meantime, if anyone wants to drop my name for any open spots you may know of, I’ve got two words for you…
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com