Brett Taylor with his wife, Gretchen, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. ()
Brett Taylor plans to watch Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday at home with his wife and three young children in Columbus, Ohio. He’ll be a “ball of stress,” tweeting to his 60,000 Twitter followers and writing blog posts for his website, Bleacher Nation.
He committed to Bleacher Nation full-time in 2011, leaving his position at Jones Day, where he spent nearly four years as an associate in Columbus. Today, it’s difficult for Taylor to picture himself still working at a large firm, he said in an interview on his 35th birthday, one he hopes will see the Cubs stave off another year of futility, at least for another day.
“God forbid if they lose, and were I still at a law firm, I’d just get to be sad the next day,” said Taylor, a 2007 graduate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. “But now I’m going to have to get over it really quick, because I’ll have to figure out what the heck I’m going to write the next day.”
Cubs fans are perhaps more inclined to forgive his pessimistic tone. Yesteryear’s Lovable Losers are one loss away from going 108 years without a World Series, by far the longest championship drought in American sports. But a win on Tuesday in Cleveland, where Indians fans last saw a World Series in 1948, will force a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night.
If that happens, Taylor plans to drive to Chicago and experience Game 7 in Wrigleyville on Chicago’s North Side. It’ll be the most rewarding day so far in his journey after Big Law.
Born in Ohio, Taylor became a Cubs fan by watching them on national broadcasts by Chicago-based WGN-TV. He went to law school, mostly, as a way to prolong his education and put off answering the big question: What are you going to do with your life?
But he enjoyed law school, and Taylor said he even enjoyed certain aspects of practicing law at Jones Day, although he admitted to not being totally satisfied with his job at the firm. Among the things he did like were the analysis, research and writing involved in large firm litigation.
Taylor applies those same skills to his writing about the Cubs, he said, and developing as a writer at Jones Day is partly what motivated him to step away from a regular paycheck and take a risk on a blog. His wife, Gretchen, had just given birth to the couple’s first child in 2011.
As with other lawyers who transitioned into the baseball blogosphere, Taylor began writing part-time for his website in 2008, taking a young associate’s zeal to his hobby. He posted stories before leaving for work, after he got home and on the weekends.
“When you’re an associate at a large law firm, you are available at all hours,” Taylor said. “That’s not a critique. It’s just the way it is. And so you end up structuring your life around that. And you’re either able to accept that part or not. And if you are, it helps you understand that you’re going to live your life but you have to be responsible at all times.”
Looking back, Taylor said he should have been more nervous about leaving Big Law than he really was. He didn’t foresee some of the challenges, such as the sometimes fraught relationship between traditional media members and bloggers, the day-to-day involvement of running a business and managing a website. He just wanted to write, which he now does a lot. Bleacher Nation requires about eight posts a day, he said.
“I was not terribly nervous, which is strange,” Taylor said. “I did have a pretty good sense by then that I was good enough at what I was doing that I could probably at least make a passable living at it.”
Bleacher Nation, which is unaffiliated with the Cubs or any media company, supports Taylor enough so that he has been able to hire one other full-time writer and two part-time writers. He can’t see himself returning to the practice of law.
“That phase of my life has passed,” Taylor said.
And by Wednesday, he hopes another chapter will come to a close: A century-plus of Cubs futility. All he’ll have to do is figure out what to write.