During downtimes (usually the offseason but also during global pandemics) I like to pass the time by reaching out to media folks and asking them about themselves. I ask them five questions and sit back and learn.
If you have been around this blog long enough, you know about Paul Flannery. He’s currently a writer for SBNation but is about to go on furlough for 3 months which probably gives him enough time to run the length of the continental United States in a Cannonball Run race without cars (all while writing about it).
Without further adieu, the questions and answers...
1. What have you been up to during the quarantine?
I’ve been splitting my time between trying to educate my 6-year-old son (the curriculum includes studying old baseball cards), writing for a website, trying to be a good husband and doing my best to maintain my mental and physical health. I fail at all these things on a weekly basis, but I get up every morning determined to try again and learn from my mistakes. I also run a lot and read every night before bed.
2. What made you want to be a writer?
I grew up in New Jersey reading the papers from New York, Philly and the Star-Ledger (Dave D’Alessandro was a huge inspiration) and thought sportswriting sounded like fun. The summer before I left home I read, “You Gotta Play Hurt” by Dan Jenkins and never gave anything else any serious consideration. The bottom line is I never wanted to get a real job. It’s been a gift to be able to make a living at this for the last two-plus decades. I know that a lot of people came to know my work through this site, so thank you. It’s appreciated.
3. What is the best thing you’ve ever written? Or what are some projects you are the most proud of?
The most impactful piece I did was about living with depression. It crossed over in a way I didn’t anticipate and at last check has been read by almost a million people. I recently published a piece about an ultrarunner named Avery Collins that took six months to complete and is something of a companion story. The way Avery deals with pain and adversity is inspiring on many levels.
The thing I’m most proud of is I never missed a deadline in 25 years. There was a night in St. Louis when I somehow made an 11:30 deadline for a baseball game between the Phillies and Cardinals that finished at 11:29 and included three lead changes in the final inning and a half while my work-issued laptop kept dying between pitches. No one remembers this stuff, but as one of my old bosses used to say, “The only good story is one that gets in on time.”
4. We may never know how this season would have ended. What is your favorite sports what-if?
I really don’t deal in what ifs because it takes me out of the present moment. But, I will always wonder what would have happened if Kevin Garnett didn’t get traded to the Celtics because I don’t think I would have had a run covering the league if the C’s had stayed mediocre forever. I got a chance to thank Paul Pierce during his last time through Boston when he was with the Clippers because without that team I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become a “national writer.” Never did get that chance with KG.
5. What Celtics related story line should someone write about?
The thing I’m most interested in with the Celtics is how Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum grow together as the faces of the franchise. There will be attempts to split them up, there will be comparisons made and stories about who’s team is it anyway. My own personal belief is that Jaylen has the game and the mindset to be the ideal complement to Tatum on the court, while also becoming the team’s leader off the court. We’ll see. Brown will have to walk a fine line now that Tatum has busted out to star status, but I think Jaylen’s got the goods to deliver on both counts.
Thanks, Paul. Looking forward to reading you again soon.