No one wants to be a cliche. Allow me to convince you that I’m not.

In sports, and probably other walks of life, many who say they’re walking away to spend more time with family inevitably return, sometimes comically quickly. There’s a large, sweet boy cat in my house named after a quarterback who pulled this move a year ago.

So in announcing that The Baltimore Banner has purchased my newsletter, Maximizing Playoff Odds — and that my mission to write about the players, processes, philosophies or anything else that can help make the Orioles good again will continue here — please take my assurances that this is not one of those situations.

Jon Meoli, Baltimore Orioles Columnist/Analyst
Jon Meoli, Baltimore Orioles columnist/analyst. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

I left full-time coverage of the Orioles at the end of 2021 for a job outside of journalism on the belief I couldn’t be the husband or father I wanted to be when full-time, post-COVID travel resumed. I’m happy to report that not only do I still enjoy my family, but — and this is the important part — they still like me, too. So this isn’t a complete about-face. I’m still expected with a snack and a smile at preschool most afternoons, and this still allows me to accomplish that.

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And yet, a concurrent belief around the time of my career change was that even though my job changed, there was still journalism left to do. Covering a very bad baseball team, which many of the Orioles teams I covered from 2016-2021 counted as, allowed plenty of freedom to tell stories outside the scope of daily big league coverage. I always viewed baseball through a prism of player development and analytics, and the Orioles rebuild gave countless opportunities to pull back the curtain on their initiatives and progress in those spaces.

So, I started a Substack as a platform to tell those stories and more broadly analyze the Orioles in what was a rich year to do both. From the granular details of swing changes that were propelling prospects such as Gunnar Henderson and Joey Ortiz to breakout seasons, to wider organizational trends such as the proliferation of the sweeper slider as a weapon and the lengths coaches go to replicate in-game pitching in batting practice, there were countless stories to tell with potential lasting impact on the organization’s upward trajectory.

Similarly, analysis of some of the more unpleasant aspects of the last year-plus — trading Trey Mancini and Jorge Lopez at the deadline, the Angelos family lawsuit, and the team’s relative lack of offseason spending — was informed by a level of background and understanding of the modern-day Orioles that, hopefully, produced even-handed breakdowns that showed the benefit of the broad organizational knowledge I’d built up.

It’s an honor to be able to share those benefits with the readers of The Baltimore Banner. The Banner’s existence is an incredible gift to this city. I admire its mission and the staff assembled to carry it out, and am thrilled to be included in its efforts to grow its audience and expand its reach across Baltimore.

My gratitude for this opportunity is outweighed, though, by my appreciation for the subscribers who validated my newsletter in the last 15 months. The feeling of overwhelming dread the day that I introduced a paid tier and people actually joined fueled me immeasurably in the last year. I didn’t want to let anyone down, and the work hopefully reflected that. My existing subscribers will hear from me and The Banner soon about transferring over, and that high standard will carry over to this new space.

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The Banner’s daily Orioles coverage is in great hands with Andy Kostka. A few times a week, I’ll have the opportunity to supplement that. And I swear I’m still planning on spending time with my family, too. This isn’t un-retirement. This is an opportunity to do the kind of work I value at an outlet that values it, and I can’t wait to get started.

jon.meoli@thebaltimorebanner.com

Jon Meoli is the Baltimore Banner's Orioles columnist and head women's ice hockey coach at Loyola University Maryland.

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