My Phil Dunphy problem

Here’s one of those posts I shouldn’t publish but can’t help myself publishing.

These days, I keep thinking about Phil Dunphy. Phil is the character played by Ty Burrell in the ABC sitcom “Modern Family,” a congenital optimist who combines a clever mind, an inventive spirit, an infallible faith in his sense of humor and a gleeful zest for life. He is not blind to mistakes or trouble, hardly incapable of misgivings or hurt feelings, but every crisis is but a hurdle to be overcome.

He is, I understand, fictional, but he is very real for me. The me I wish I were.

On Wednesday, my wife and I were watching the beginning of the latest episode of “Modern Family” (seen above) when we got to the bit where Clare mildly scolds Phil about not moving an old chair onto the sidewalk for disposal, and my wife remarked to me that if she had said that to me, I probably would have gotten defensive. I said that was probably true. I’m not Phil Dunphy.

Sure enough, that was borne out Friday morning. As I was making toast for the kids, there was a box from Noah’s Bagels on the counter in front of the toaster. We never get bagels from Noah’s – there isn’t one particularly close to us – and in the 7 a.m. fog of my daily business, I had assumed that my wife had bought these for some sort of school event later that day. But when she came into the kitchen, it occurred to me to ask her what was in the box, and she laughed a little and said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “Bagels, for breakfast.”

Believe it or not, I took offense. It wasn’t the most obvious thing in the world to me, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked. And we had a small, silly spat in which I told her I don’t like being laughed at, and she said she wasn’t really laughing at me but at the situation. Which I believed … sort of … eventually.

I get it.  It should have just been a laugh. But I am not Phil Dunphy. And I know why I’m not.

If you looked back at my life to this point, you would see an ongoing series of events where I have lost faith, faith in myself and faith that life will reward me for who I am. For 20 years, from about age 11 to age 31, that mostly centered on dating. And then, almost as if it were on a pendulum, after I got married and my personal and professional existence were both in nearly perfect alignment, my life tilted the other way, and I have spent the past decade-plus in a near constant state of anxiety about my career, in which so many optimistic signs have turned out to be mirages – unlike Phil Dunphy, a successful real-estate broker who is happily married and has raised three children who are crazy wonderful in their own ways.

The latest came when ESPNLosAngeles.com cut me loose at the end of last month. After I wrote my farewell post, a few readers sent some “good riddance” comments my way. That, actually, didn’t bother me. One of them listed four reasons why he had become dissatisfied with Dodger Thoughts; the first three were based upon false information, but the fourth is worth quoting here:

… Jon has no idea how many people would love to be in the position he is in — writing a blog about a hometown iconic sports team and working at Variety as Features Editor. Rather than seeing the glass more than half full he sees it as more than half empty and continues to question himself rather than bathe in the happiness life has presented him.

This is pretty accurate. Distress and I are well-acquainted, though not because I’m not aware of what’s good in my life. I do like what I do, and I do love my family. However, I am the sole wage-earner in a family of five (at least until my youngest enters Kindergarten 18 months from now and my wife potentially resumes her career), working primarily in a dying industry, and with that, as you either know first-hand or can imagine, comes considerable pressure.

I spent most of last year, for example, worried about the fact that despite my day job at Variety, my freelance salary from ESPNLosAngeles, a third chunk of freelance money from writing two episodes of Cartoon Network’s Young Justice and, on top of all that, what you might call a stimulus package from my parents, I barely made ends meet last year. Heading into 2012, I knew that Young Justice would be finished for me and that the financial help would diminish. Dodger Thoughts and Variety weren’t enough. I knew I somehow needed to take my career to another level.

Not only did I fail in that quest, I found out in mid-December that ESPNLosAngeles would evaporate, meaning that my shortfall in 2012 looked overwhelming. And no, after years of living like this, I have basically run out of savings outside of retirement plans and my kids’ college funds. After all these years, after working my way through salary cuts and the recession, I expected finally to be on the upswing, not reeling from yet another financial punch.

For two months – and I’m not saying this is a long time – I have explored solutions, mainly solutions that involve continuing to get paid for what is my passion, while also being open to the possibility of dropping Dodger Thoughts if something more lucrative materialized. For two months I have done this, and I’m not done. But this past weekend, I fell into a deep, dark discouragement in the face of the nearly complete lack of interest shown by the world in being paid to write about the Dodgers or baseball.

It’s true that there are a few small freelance opportunities still extant, and there’s actually one currently viable option for hosting Dodger Thoughts, so I probably shouldn’t be writing about my lack of current marketability at all right now. But though the interest is sincere, I haven’t been led to believe that the money on the table would solve anything for me. So while I might be shooting myself in the foot by waxing anxious about the dearth of options, I sort of can’t help myself.

I’m aware that I’m better off than many. That doesn’t change my observation that things aren’t good enough.

I look around, and see almost all my friends seemingly exactly where they’re supposed to be with their careers. I have a few, my age or only a bit older, who could retire now if they wanted to.

I see the major bloggers I came up with, so to speak, finding their station. Aaron Gleeman is full-time at NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk. Erstwhile Yankees blogger Cliff Corcoran has become a major cog at SI.com. Jay Jaffe, once upon a time the Futility Infielder, is everywhere. Eric Stephen, who didn’t even start blogging until 2009, is covering the Dodgers’ full-time beginning in Spring Training for True Blue L.A.

I’ve written about baseball for SI.com, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN. And now …

No, I haven’t lost sight of the fact that I already have my own full-time job, and a good one for the industry I’m in. But I am unable to look away from the reality of my overall situation, nor the fear that I have spectacularly mismanaged my career.

As I said, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. The arc I’m experiencing right now is disturbingly similar to one from a decade ago. After a few years of writing film and TV scripts on spec, I started to get paid, then got an agent, then became a regular freelancer for the Disney Channel. But I was unable to make the leap to primetime, and then unable to stay consistently employed at the level I was at, and then unable to keep my agent or land a new one. As fast as my screenwriting career seemed to be building, it all dried up.

I was faced at the time with the choice of persevering in the face of rejection or taking a guaranteed salary back in journalism. In a move that I would describe as panic, and without the kid-induced financial pressure I face today, I chose the guaranteed salary, a decision that I have extraordinary regret over.

I’m not sure what I’m facing today even qualifies as a choice, except to the extent that everything is somehow a choice. The marketplace no longer seems to want to pay for Dodger Thoughts, yet I’m truly not sure I can stop, or that even if I could, whether I should. In my view, quitting screenwriting full-time was a mistake. Quitting Dodger Thoughts would seem to be the same mistake. But what if what I do is never meant to be appreciated by more than a small group? How can I look my family in the eye and with the confidence that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing for them?

That’s why I’m not Phil Dunphy. Phil Dunphy operates from a fundamental position of faith and confidence in the goodness of things. The things I’m confident in are not good. I know that bills will pile up, that life will be filled with challenges, that people will die. Those are inevitable. What I don’t know is whether, or how, I’m going to give my family what they need. Based on the trajectory of what has become a massive sample size of my career, I’m not sure exactly why I should have faith.

There’s another TV show that’s been a touchstone for me this week, though it doesn’t officially premiere until March 1. The show is NBC’s Awake, from Lone Star creator Kyle Killen – who can also speak to highs and lows, given that his last show was canceled after two airings – and it tells the story of a man who, following a traumatic event, lives in two parallel universes, unsure what is real and what is a dream. I’ve seen the first three episodes (no one said my day job doesn’t have its perks), and while “Awake” has its flaws, it is in my opinion the best new broadcast network show of the 2012-13 season, and has the dual effect of being something I wish I had created and resonating with how I’m feeling today.

I’m not sure what world I’m supposed to be living in. I’m not sure what’s real. Is it the world where things will be okay if I just keep at it, or the world where believing I’m special will just take me and my family over the waterfall? I know I’m not supposed to know the answer, but I feel I should at least know what to believe. But I don’t.

Phil Dunphy would tell me not to give up. For that matter, I think Ty Burrell, whose career had its own ups and downs and financial uncertainties before Modern Family, would tell me the same thing. But I am not them.

What do I gain from not believing in myself? I gain the possibility of avoiding that waterfall. (Just the possibility, since I feel like not giving up on myself as a screenwriter still helped send me over the edge.) I feel like I’m already halfway down as it is, my family in the barrel with me. The thought of us dropping any further, sinking any lower, pains me in a way I can’t describe.

The alienated Dodger Thoughts commenter I mentioned earlier also made other points, which, as I said, were wrong. Here is one of them:

Jon used this blog to get “love” from his acolytes talking about his anxieties around parenting issues, spouse issues and issues at being a good son. Rather than invest money in psychotherapy or family therapy this site became a place for Jon to get external validation. He then chose who to thank by name.

This is not true. I’m not looking for “love” for this post. I’m not looking for comfort. I’m not even sure I want comfort if it were offered, because of the two realities I’m caught in between, comfort would feed the one that I fear is false.

(To be clear, I’m also not writing this to solicit a Dodger Thoughts relief fund.)

I’m writing it because I’m in pain, and when I’m in pain, I write. And then, if I finish something, I take the calculated risk that by publishing, the satisfaction I feel in having articulated how I feel – and the immature ego-boost I receive from the idea that some people, however few of them, would care – outweighs the humiliation in showing what a mess I am.

There is a part of me, and not even a small part, that believes that all my problems could be solved tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day, and if not the next day, then the next week, or the next month, or if I can hold out long enough, someday. Someday.

It’s the holding out part that confounds me.

And so, while I haven’t forgotten how to laugh, or even how to laugh at myself, when it comes to my self-worth and self-confidence, my sense of humor goes out the window, and I can’t find the Phil Dunphy in me.

  • http://twitter.com/davealden53 David Alden

    Jon, well-written post.  Not that I’m an expert on all mankind, but I suspect that more folks feel like you do than you would imagine.  I know that much of what you say rings true for me also.

    Perhaps some of us, including Phil Dunphy, find a different way to present ourselves to the world, but you probably speakl eloquently for a silent majority.

  • Anonymous

    So my plans for the Dodger Thoughts Telethon should be put on hold? I’ve got Kathy Griffin lined up to host it.

  • Anonymous

    your an incredible talent Jon, I couldn’t even begin to articulate in writing how much your blog (along with the great atmosphere that’s created in your place) means to me now & even more so when I was going thru a terrible time in my life a few years back. In a very subtle but important way, your blog & the toaster helped me snap out of it.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       I’m very glad things are going better, BB.

  • Sam Sokol

    I’m not an expert in mankind or Jon Weismankind, but I think that ego boost comes from more than people simply liking or even “caring about” what you’ve written.  I’ve been in these threads before and, when such posts work I think it’s because people have really been helped in their own lives by what you wrote.  Just as you’ve been helped by Ty Burrell and his work as Phil Dunphy.

    And that’s something.  

  • Anonymous

    I think you might want to re-consider more carefully that alienated person’s post,

    not because that person is correct,

     but because analyzing how you come off to readers that seem to be miffed about how you interact with your community may give you some insight into how to become happier overall.  Maybe more importantly, how to get more personal enjoyment and happiness from the community your blog creates.

    You have to come to terms with and  be willing to accept the fiscal and emotional realities that come with the priorities you choose to go with.  Are your kids going to be better people by growing up around a father who made the money for their college fund but was a stressed out, anxious, angry, and unfulfilled mess in doing so? 

    Or maybe they’d be better people seeing a father that chooses for more personal happiness in his work life at the expense of putting $ in a college fund…who knows?  Maybe you can do both or have it all?  Maybe you know you cannot have it all and there are the roots of your anxiety and your discontent.  Maybe you need to live a little more by the philosophy of cest la vie instead of the constant manufacturing of personal and professional doubt?

    Mentally leave it be once you’ve committed and stop revisiting to fret over the priorities you have set for yourself.  If you are experiencing a lot of inner-turmoil, the priorities you set for yourself were probably riddled with self-deception from your ego.

    I hope something out of this jumbled mess might help you.  If not, sorry to waste the space.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      I do consider the things I can bring to my kids besides money. I do take that into account.  I don’t think I’m a total failure. 

      I think there’s a lot of good advice here, but I do remain confused about some prioritizing that I need to do.

      • Anonymous

        You should be alright, Jon.  You just need more confidence for some reason.  More comfortable in owning the priorities and values you’ve set instead of fretting over them.  More comfortable in your life, as evidenced by your wife, children, professional choices…Be comfortable being you and everything else usually works out…may be some close calls, but they work themselves out if you keep faith instead of second guessing your entire life at every crossroad.

        You’re a good person.

  • Anonymous

    It’s never easy, even when you have so much self-confidence that they call you cocky more often than not.  My only piece of advice is to enjoy the ride… love those that you love and let the chips fall where they may.

    As for a baseball related comment, @Bluebleeder06:disqus in the previous thread: why does a catcher have to block the plate?  If he can make the play without putting himself or an opposing player’s health in jeopardy, isn’t that the more sane approach?  And why is it that the catcher can block the plate (with or without the ball) but no other player can block any other base?  It seems incredibly foolish in a machismo sort of way.

    • Anonymous

      The catcher cannot block the plate without the ball but, in some cases, it may be a close call.

      Other players can also block the plate with the ball, technically speaking – if the third baseman, for instance, has the ball ahead of a sliding runner, he can get between that runner and the bag.

      • Anonymous

        It seems like catchers block the plate without the ball quite a bit.  And the way a third baseman blocks the bag is incredibly different than the way a catcher blocks the plate… or more accurately, the way a runner tries to reach third against a throw is incredibly different than the way a runner tries to reach home against a throw.

        • Anonymous

          Utley is pretty good on blocking second, which he does against stealers that go for hand-first slides.

  • Anonymous

    Off-topic, but I just stumbled upon a photograph of the ballpark at Chuquicamata: http://conocechuquicamata.com/index.php/photos/album/18/photo/44.html. This is true sandlot ball.

    • Anonymous

      How did baseball end up there?  When I find diamonds in out-of-the-way places, such as Jakarta, it usually ends up being the work of oilmen from Houston.

      • Anonymous

        Remember that the Chilean mining companies were once American-owned. Baseball is still present in northern Chile, where there’s a league spread out among the cities of Arica, Iquique, Tocopilla,, Antofagasta, etc.

        • Anonymous

          Ah yes, of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

    You have an amazing talent. You have made my life better, in many ways. And I thank you for that…

  • Anonymous

    Dodger Thoughts is second only to Vin Scully in terms of the level of enhancement it has brought to my enjoyment of the Dodgers and baseball in general. While it may be possible to appreciate baseball in a vacuum, it is exponentially more exquisite when experienced in the company of those equally as invested as you. 

    We’d be left with a serious void should Dodger Thoughts ever cease to exist. I shudder at the thought of Dodger baseball without Vin Scully. I’ve never so much as entertained the idea of life without Dodger Thoughts.

    I guess my takeaway from all this is to appreciate what I have — be it Scully, Dodger Thoughts, Clayton Kershaw, or Matt Kemp — when I have it, for as long as I have it. Not every brilliant light in the night sky has the lasting power of an Orion. Shooting stars and comets abound.

    Here’s to hoping Dodger Thoughts illuminates for years to come.

    • Anonymous

      Jon, this certainly echoes my thoughts on what DT means to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZAO5BS2RGGI7MHWTMVG37UGN64 Champ Kind

    Jon, I don’t say this lightly nor do I mock you, but to quote our former leader of the free world “I feel your pain.” I really do. I think you have aptly captured the self realization that our circumstances, no matter how great they may seem on the outside to others, can be frustrating, undependable, and painful. Our circumstances lack foundation, they lack understanding, they hit us at the wrong times and then when we do succeed we seem to forget what life was like just a few months prior, because our circumstances don’t provide us any perspective.

    So, what to do?

    Maybe, just maybe, the hope is to find a solid foundation that exists beyond our circumstances. Something that doesn’t change with the shifting sands of life. Something that is stable, reliable, capable, encouraging, and worthy when our times are tough. Yet something that is humbling, patient, corrective, instructive and challenging when our world looks bright and we are too proud to recognize that it wasn’t all “us” that made it so. 

    I dare not presume to instruct you on what that foundation is, but hope beyond hope that you find what I have, because it truly is life changing and incredible. I think of Jack Palance’s character in that over the top and sentimental, yet oddly inspiring light-hearted comedy City Slickers, holding up that one finger and offering it to Billy Crystal. 

    One thing Jon, there is one thing, I believe with all my heart I have found it. Here’s to your journey to find that thing as well. Happy trails.

  • Anonymous

    Well. I’m always willing to reconsider if a valid point is made, but unfortunately it is so ingrained in the culture of baseball that I find it hard to believe that the culture it self will ever change. I watch MLB Network & see the analytic side of the game slowly sneak in, so I can’t lose all hope :0)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1172439252 Michael Green

    Jon, I write columns and blogs in addition to being a history professor, and I can’t stop myself from going onto various political forums, and that means I have to put up with criticism that is fair and criticism that is idiotic.  It comes with the territory.  And your thoughts here are well worth sharing and pondering.  I’d like to mention a couple of things.

    One is a great bit of philosophy from Chuck Jones, one of the gods of Looney Tunes.  He said, “Bugs Bunny is who I aspire to be.  Daffy Duck is who I am.”  I think that summarizes your thoughts on Phil Dunphy.

    Another is to consider the sources.  Red Barber, mentor to our hero The Vin, had a great line about this.  He said when somebody said, “I hate your style,” Red thanked him … because it meant that Red HAD a style to be debated, and it explains why he told Vin, who obeyed him, not to listen to other announcers because it would water the wine–the most precious commodity Vin brought into a booth, Red told him, was himself.  That doesn’t mean Vin has never listened to another announcer, but he has consciously tried not to adopt other announcers’ habits, and it seems to have paid off.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Thanks. I like that Bugs/Daffy quote a lot.

  • Anonymous

    Jon, you can write. That said, if you are writing screen plays with the same mindset you are writing Dodger Thoughts, maybe you are not letting enough of your intuition participate in what you write.  Please take a look at http://www.brainstatetech.com and see if you think if it will unlock your creative self.

  • Anonymous

    In a way this fits baseball, baseball is more about gaining and losing belief, whether that be in a player or team. Monetary rewards are deserved but I think Jon would miss writing about the Dodgers even if the audience was no bigger than it was 10 years ago,

    In any case, I’ll be around to see what happens next.

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Man, I can relate to some of this, Jon. And I’m in pretty icky financial shape at the moment (have been since last May when I was laid off from my job of 7 years, with no severance package). As you know, I’ve been fortunate to find both some freelance work and some contract editing work, to scrape by and am lucky to have a g/f who is doing pretty well, at least. And I don’t have any kids — I can’t imagine where I’d be right now if I did. (Although I do share ownership of 4 cats, and they can be kind of costly themselves.)  Anyway, I’ve been trying to think about things I can feel fortunate about (and add to that having a family that could bail me out at least briefly if I really hit bottom), and stay optimistic, believing in myself, etc. But it’s hard, especially when one also gets rejections on writing submissions (my main goal in life) and start doubting whether any of  those dreams will ever be realized. But by surrounding ourselves with people around us who can support, keep the faith as well as (just as important) give us constructive feedback when we need a kick in the butt…  while continuing to work at both our crafts and ourselves, well that’s something.
    And if all else fails, put your faith in athletes and teams that you have no control over and hope they can distract us from our problems by winning a lot. That’s gotta work, right? ;)

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Yeah, we definitely need to keep pumping each other up.

  • Anonymous

    One of the things that baseball teaches us is that it’s a long season and, even if you have a losing streak, that doesn’t mean you’re out of it.  And when that season ends, there’s another ahead for you.

  • Phil Gurnee

    Lot here to digest. When you lay yourself open like this I’d like to say something profound to help but I got nothing but some rambling thoughts,  and after reading what I’d written it be best if I just say good luck with figuring things out.

    • Anonymous

       What he said.

  • Anonymous

    Six months ago next Thursday I almost died in a car accident.  I’m still dealing with the health issues that caused me to crash, plus the PTSD that still pops up sometimes when I’m behind the wheel.  There are days that I feel blessed to be alive, and darned happy that I was able to keep my job and get back to work, but for sure there have been too many other days when I can’t find my Phil either.  I’m a glass half-empty, they’re going to find out I’m a fraud, person as it is.  Now the meds exhaust me, the doctors can’t make up their mind how to treat me, I get anxious about what could happen next, I can’t seem to get back to writing.  There were days when I was hoping the Mayans were right.  I went to see a friend/counselor, and what he said helps sometimes.  Remind yourself that this will pass, he said, give yourself a break for what you’re feeling because it’s normal, and try do the things that make you happy in the meantime. Sometimes, more and more actually, it helps.  One of the things I do to make me happy, by the way, is read Dodger Thoughts.  I should have thanked you before now.

    • Phil Gurnee

       Glad you are still with us, you have always been a favorite.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Phil, you’re always on my “to read” list too.

        • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

          Let me echo Phil’s comment – it is a relief to know you’re still here, even if it’s hard to think of you suffering as you are.  I do hope things get better.

          • Anonymous

            Things are getting better, really, and besides, pitchers and catchers tomorrow :-)

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      Yikes. And Whew. Glad you are still here, that’s really scary. Sounds like you’re doing all the right stuff but it does take a long while to recover (in all the aspects of recovery). Dogspeed!

      • Anonymous

        Same to you my friend, hadn’t heard about your job situation until today.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I was at my office where I have taped to my computer screen an entry you wrote about trying to remember to enjoy the ride rather than get frustrated by it. I would quote it back to you.

    As for comparing yourself and where you are to your peers–we all do it but remember you don’t really know what goes on with them. Maybe they have readers in legions but maybe they have a loveless marriage, or health problems, or a child with developmental issues or have made terrible financial decesions or or or. . . You have a lot in your life to be thankful for. Loving wife, healthy children, caring parents, good friends and a dedicated following.

    As for financial security I think it only happens for very few. I used to worry about whether I would ever make enough. Now I worry about will I continue to make enough. In the future I’m sure I’ll worry about do I have enough to ever stop worring. Some of us are just worriers by nature. It is what drives us. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Embrace it and laugh at it a little.

    One last obvious statement of which you are already aware: you cannot please everyone. There will always be critics, and trolls and people who just don’t like your style or whatever. You cannot control them or let them undermine you. Moreover, for every reader who is critical that you are self indulgent or sappy there are 50-fold who identify with and find insight in these entries.

    You are doing just fine-better than fine. Good father, good husband, good son, good writer and good guy. Give yourself a break.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Thanks.  I want to give myself a break … I just feel sometimes when I do, it kind of backfires on me.

  • http://www.onlytwopeople.com/blog Matt Worland

    I echo the positive sentiments expressed here, but have to confess confusion as to some of the criticism I’ve seen (both quoted here and elsewhere). What is a blog for if not an arena to express opinions and feelings? Is self doubt somehow out of bounds in a blog that quite regularly runs the gamut of topics? And what is the point of complaining about something you are electing to read?

    Keep up the good work Jon, I hope you can either find some stuff to add on to help with the financial security, or find a new direction that does the same thing. Should Dodger Thoughts go I will miss it, but I would rather you be in a situation where you can care for your family. Until then, I will enjoy the journey.

  • Anonymous

    I figure I’ve got you by about 10 years Jon and I will confess to having gone through almost every emotion and feeling you expressed. At times it can get disheartening and at others quite exuberating. What I found unique was that I often thought about characters like Phil Dunphy and wished I could be them.

    However, Phil is a fictional character than can wrap up his complicated problems in 30 minutes. You are a real person and the folks here are glad and better-off for it. And I’d be willing to bet we are not the only ones.

  • Anonymous

    I am like this character in the TV series and my wife is the opposite.  As such, we drive each other up the wall.  I look at the wall and think, not a bad wall.  My wife looks at it and thinks it needs to be painted.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       LOL.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Thanks to everyone for their comments – even if I didn’t reply to you directly, I appreciated every one.

    • Andrew Shimmin

      Fair warning: If you don’t thank me by name, I’m going to take my ball and go home. That’s just how I roll.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    ESPNLA’s new Dodger blog, starring Tony Jackson, is up and running.
    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/dodger-report

    • Anonymous

      I find it funny how if you go to espn las and click on the dodges icon you go to the old dodgerthoughts at espn. It only works if you click on the link

    • Anonymous

       I closed my ESPN account after Dodger Thoughts left it.

  • http://ken.arneson.name/ Ken Arneson

    Tennis analogy: when it doesn’t look like you can win the point right now, just keep the ball in play, and another opportunity will come.

  • Benjamin Pratt

    Jon, you’re in an unfortunate situation, but I think you’re
    taking it too personally…as if different decisions or different skills would
    have you in a different place. We like to think that we are masters of our
    destiny, but in reality, success requires a huge dose of luck. I can’t speak to
    your other endeavors, but regarding Dodgers Thoughts, as the Dodgers go, so do
    you.

    Suppose LA had got past the Phillies in ’09, and returned
    again in ’10 to win it all. Suppose the McCourt’s had kept their marriage and
    bank account solvent. You would have been in the right place at the right time.
    It almost happened, with the jump to the Times and then ESPN. But as your
    status rose, the Dodgers imploded. They’ve been abysmally uninteresting lately
    and the entertainment world knows it. What executive is going to pay good money
    for bad entertainment?

    I’ve been with you since 2003. Although I almost never
    comment, I was at the first DT game (liked seeing the pic again last week), and
    read religiously for years. I’m not here for the comment community, it is irrelevant
    to me. I’m here for your quality writing and insight. However, for a couple years
    now, I’ve only scanned the posts, and rarely read in full. Not because your
    writing has changed. It’s because it’s hard to be intently interested in a team
    with no compass.

    The Dodgers could turn it around at any time. Interest in the
    team, and thus your revenue opportunities would rise accordingly. But that is a
    big if. Remember we are talking about a team that has won the World Series only
    6 times in 125 years. And LA is entertainment rich, which further reduces
    demand for mediocrity.

    Personally, I’m glad my career wagon isn’t hitched to the Dodgers,
    or any entertainment business for that matter. But you are in that world; you
    know the risks and rewards. This isn’t a business that rewards perseverance. It
    rewards success, but success, especially in entertainment, is mostly luck.

    You’ve given so much to this medium. I appreciate it. So do
    thousands of others. Do what is best for you and your family. Many very
    successful people didn’t really get their careers going until experiencing a
    reboot in their 40′s. If you see an opportunity, maybe something completely different
    than what you are expecting or looking for, take it. There is still plenty of
    time to reinvent.

    All the best to you Jon.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GM7W4PGIDSRFYHO5FV2NGPHABI MatthewJ

    Jon, I know where you’re coming from.  My wife just found out today that she would not get the job she had been working toward for the last 12 years. We have no idea what the future holds or how to afford the life we’ve been hoping to have going forward. You’re not alone, which is just about all the comfort I can provide.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Sorry to hear that news.  It is a bitter pill but hopefully something good happens …

  • Cal Redmond

    Just want to say that I appreciate your blog and am sorry you’re going through hard times now.  Keep looking for what do best and enjoy doing … even as you struggle through doing what you have to do to make ends come close to each other.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/I6VPNDSS44KRBC2K4A5XMWANTI David

    “You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat. Losing after great striving is the story of man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thought, and who, if he is a hero, does nothing in life as becoming as leaving it.” – Roger Kahn

  • Anonymous

    Man it is wierd i have a mom just like that. I’m now scared to say the b word

  • Anonymous

    I enjoy the angst—-Wrong phrase: I empathize with the angst expressed in the blog. Journalism in flux is hard to deal with. I hope you can keep your eye on the future prizes and ignore (as difficult as it is) the few critics.

    It is inexplicable how a sports team could generate such passion (or why!). Your ability to express that passion/angst is appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    The Rockies have given Jim Tracy an “indefinite” contract extension. The good people of Colorado will now be hearing rhetorical questions indefinitely.

  • Onlyatriple

    One of many wonderful things about your work is your willingness to open yourself up and allow the world access to your hopes as well as your fears.  Your work (like, Vin Scuily’s as an earlier commenter noted) does not just add to our enjoyment of a game, but also our understanding of a life well led. 

    I know you dismissed this thought in your post, but I for one would certainly pay to read you.  I can’t speak for others, but I value what you write, I value what I learn from you, and it it would make me happy to compensate you for that value.  

  • Skuhl Leader

    jon,
    I dont post here often but i have read your blog for years now. I dont know sometimes , i think i can’t write as well as i talk (not that i can do that well either).
    I shared this post with my wife and she loved it. And she told me why i shared it with here because im more like Phil than anything. I dont know if that a compliment or not. I guess i shared it with her first because you are a great writer and i wanted her to read your post. Second to share with her that sometime although i ten to be positive and happy-go-lucky i do go through moments where i lose confidence and question everything.
    I am graphic designer. I work from an office from 8-5, mon thru fri, and at nights I do freelance work. I attend night art classes twice a week and also started a blog myself just recently with friends (mostly about videogames and comics).  I am 35 now, don’t have kids, nor own a house. So i probably dont share as much with you in the way you live your life, i do have moments when i just….wonder if these things that i am a part of are of any worth. I really dislike my office work, i am ok with the freelance gigs i have and i am optimistic about the art classes. I can’t say that i know if any of these things amount to anything yet or will. The blog is fun. I dont see it as any type of future, it would be nice, but i just know im not a good writer and i went into it just for fun. Anything else would be a bonus.
    About 2 years ago before i got married i made a decision for my life, that my life would be a success not so much by how much i made or what i did for work.  I know people say that if you do something you love for a living it’s not like working. But im starting to think that even if i became a kick ass comic book artist( as i wanted to be when i was a kid), i would still have bills to pay and such. And inevitably i would stress deadlines and it would become work anyways. So i compartmentalized things in my brain. I said to myself work doesn’t make me and i will live my life to be happy for myself and for my friends and family. My life is the time i spend with those people and not the time i spent at the office.
    My mom came to this country years ago and she put me and my sisters through college by herself and I know she hated her work and she stressed the bills too. But somehow it worked out even with her measly pay as a seamstress/housekeeper. Who am i to say i am better than her or if i have it rougher than her? I dont.
    You know i dont know if this post helped you at all.  I guess its a testament to your writing because reading it brought all these thoughts out of me. My wife says im a phil and she is a claire. I think she is kinda right. But to tie it all back to the dodgers, it really doesn’t matter what we think anyways. Scully always says if you wanna make god laugh, tell him your plans.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Thanks – appreciate all these stories you and others have shared, and I’m taking them to heart.

      • Skuhl Leader

        I think what i meant to say is, that even a Phil Dunphy still stresses stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Jon:  Sorry to hear of your troubles. I share the same fears about the future of journalism.
      For what it’s worth, I would be happy to pay to continue to receive Dodger Thoughts, and I suspect many others here would as well. 

  • http://twitter.com/DodgerTony Anthony Forkush

    If all of your DodgerThoughts moments have led you to THIS moment, the most human from you so far, then every word will have been worth it. It is the most significant Jewish expression I have ever read from you. Nothing is more important to me as a fellow Jew than to read such words of struggle. It would be worth nothing if you did not. Congratulations, Jon. You are in a holy place, and DodgerThoughts is blessed today for a new birth, one couched in true faith. The pain is true. It will be rewarded by God. Keep going! 

  • Anonymous

    One of the joys of this blog is the discussions away from
    baseball.  Issues of family, career, financial
    strain, and self worth (those ups and downs that we all go through) are
    universal topics.  I don’t know how many
    other Dodger related blogs do this, but I know Dodger Thoughts does, which is
    why I am drawn to it.

     

    If someone else’s life revolves strictly around baseball,
    congratulations!  My doesn’t!  And like Jon, I support a family of 5 on one
    income, with my stimulus package coming  usually
    from borrowed money.  And yes I also have
    those feelings of frustration, anger, and pending doom, which, of course, causes
    any little problem to become Tom Neidenfuer vs. Jack Clark.  Jon your latest “clash” may have been over
    bagels, ours was over our 10 year olds school project.

     

    In my pulp fiction analysis I believe all these incidents
    are merely “bumps in the road”.  Road to
    what?  Well that is for everyone to determine
    on their own.  My own personal faith says
    it’s a road to something much more beautiful.  And I can take comfort in the fact that my 3
    tax credits (12, 10 and 6) have done more and gone more place than I ever did
    as a child.

     

    BTW what is wrong with wanting accolades, an ego boost,
    looking for comfort?  Where is it written
    that those are things we should avoid?    Writing may be a way to relieve pain, but so
    is reading.  So thanks Jon.  And as one of the “few” who care I
    sincerely hope things get better.

  • Tom Jedrzejewicz

    Jon .. I love the blog, most of the time. I never thought ESPN was a good fit for you, although I completely see how it might be worth a shot. 

    Regarding the money situation, I have two words .. Dave Ramsey. Embracing the man’s philosophy saved my family. 
    –> http://www.daveramsey.com

  • Anonymous

    Phil Dunphy is not a real person, Jon.  You are.  Funny.  I’m a retired guy, an educator with a great deal of success in my career.  I have been a Vice President of a California state university.  I have written a number of laws that regulate education in this state.  I have testified before the U.S. Senate and caused them to change federal laws that regulate education.  I have counseled hundreds if not thousands of college students and changed some of their lives for the better.  But every day, no matter what, I check to see if you have a written a new blog for Dodger Thoughts.  I sometimes wish I could be like you!  Keep it going, my friend.  

  • http://twitter.com/dpwtv David Weiner

    Jon,

    I wish I had the answers. I don’t know what to tell you to make it all better…. but even if you struggle to believe it some times.. you should know this. Most of your readers believe you’ll figure out the best thing for you and your family to not only survive, but thrive as well. You’ll figure it out. Just be you and I’m pretty sure it’ll all come together in the end.

    To all of Jon’s readers, you people are incredibly supportive of an impressive talent and that should be commended.

    Remember…. don’t let Awake be Lone Starred… please watch this show… the fate of television rests on it. I work for a CBS station, so I’m going against everything I normally stand for…

    Go Dodgers

  • Anonymous

    Jon, I’m up to my ears in projects & obligations right now at home, work, church & my hobby/side business, in part because being rear ended 1/1 punted my start to 2012 into February. That said, it happens to me regularly – getting overloaded. 

    I know that when I come to Dodger Thoughts, I will find the links to the latest and know what it is I’m going to read, and whether I might want to read it, before I click. And, what you write yourself, is  worth reading. I know that those words may sound like cold efficiency. But in reality, I feel reading your column here is worth my time so consistently, that I don’t visit more hit & miss places. You’re not just a writer, but an editor as well. I consider the value in that. And, I occasionally am surprised to find here something deep that makes me reflect on myself as a husband, father, man. I dig that, too. Thanks, KC

  • Phil Gurnee

    Rambling thoughts just can’t go away.

    Your post made me sad. If Jon Weisman can’t be happy/satisfied with his lot in life, what hope do the less fortunate have?

    Plus I just found out you are getting old. Do you realize you are now the age I was when I first started reading Dodger Thoughts?  Eight years has passed and while some would look at my life and think nothing has changed they would be very wrong.  Another 10% of my time has slipped away,  I’ve lost one of my best friends, lost a young child who became so dear to me, lost a half dozen pets, watched my family and friends move away one by one. On the plus side, I gained a community of semi – friends who make me laugh just about every day. Not an even trade but it is something and it is because of Jon Weisman I have this community to share my daily thoughts with. And I am just one of many just like me who have Jon Weisman to thank.

    I make jokes about my low expectations, but they are just jokes. I never had professional aspirations, but I sure wanted to make my mark in the world. Still plan to, but in ways none of you would ever suspect. Good chance those aspirations will go with me to the grave, but you never know what the world has planned for you, so the dreams are still attainable in the imagination until the real world closes that grip completely.

    Chin up, slog away, one step at a time, don’t look down. What is that saying , life can’t beat you, you can only beat yourself. 

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       That was some pretty serious perspective in the middle paragraph.

  • Phil Gurnee

     I enjoyed it, good acting, solid script, different enough to be interesting. Looking forward to what they do with the concept.

  • Andrew Shimmin

    It’s difficult for me to imagine what it would be like to be content with myself. There are men I’ve met (though, none I would say that I know) whom I’ve taken to be. Always seems weird. Byron wrote about “a mind at ease with all below,” but he was talking about a woman, and the only real instance of that I think I’ve ever seen was Kimberly Guilfoyle, which calls into question the desirability of it.

  • Anonymous

    David Alden’s right, you are not alone in your thoughts, feelings or situation. I continue to marvel at how different adulthood is for me compared to my father, who worked for The Gas Company for 37 years. Holy Cripes, 37 years! Then I consider my son, two years out of college and essentially jobless like most of his classmates.
    Something I’ve come to understand and accept is the constant change that rules our lives – it means that we must constantly care for our responsibilities while preparing for the next changing tide. After 32 mostly successful years working for printing companies, I launched my own print brokerage in mid 2009. Crazy, huh? And an industry like yours, many people continue to tell me how my it’s dying. Intersting thing though, it’s NOT dying, just evolving; and I’ve learned how to evolve along with it. So after 2-1/2 years of the doubting and questioning and not-sleeping you described in your post, things are beginning to significantly happen.
    Belief, perseverance, stubbornness, and a whole lotta luck have made this happen – I’VE MADE this happen. And so can you.
    I’ve recognized – like you - how much I love what I do. I’d simply forgotten to show others what I feel. A smiling face, a skip in my step, a ‘can do’ attitude and yes…belief, perseverance and stubbornnes have all contributed – they MAKE the luck. As they can with you.
    I look forward to your writing every day - I thoroughly enjoy it – and have wondered what was up these last coupla days; so I’m glad for this post. And happy to share my two cents.
    Your next wave of success is out there Jon, likely where you’d least it. Seek it out, ceaselessly, and make it happen. Stop comparing others to your situation. And recognize Phil Dunphy for what he is – a goofball who’d never have been able to create the successful career or win the hot wife he has on TV.

    Good luck to you, while I eagerly await your next post about my beloved Dodgers and their dastardly owner.

  • Anonymous

    I am the master of perspective, maybe to my detriment

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Two new posts up top. 

  • Anonymous

    Tried to post this up top where it fit but could not reply again. (!)
    And now for this PSA from Financial Planner Bruce. Your own retrement should always be funded before the kids college fund. You cannot borrow your retirement, nor get a scholarship to help pay for it. If you can do both that’s awesome, but you must provide for you and your wife first. End PSA.
    And great comments from all about the human condition. Now I have ‘just dropped in’ playing in my head!

  • Anonymous

    Hang in there, Jon. Can’t recall if I told you this, but after taking a chance on what appeared to be a great new job in 2010, I was laid off as part of a “corporate restructuring” just six months after I arrived. That led to 14 months of unemployment, which fortunately turned around with an even better job in Seattle in January of 2011 (a job that was particualrly impressed with my blog).

    I bring this up because during my time off, I spent a lot of time blogging about the Dodgers and developing an entirely new appreciation for your personal dedication to Dodger Thoughts and the quality and depth of your writing (all of it). You are the anchor of the Dodger blogging community, and if we had a Hall of Fame where we voted in one new member each year, there is no question that you would be the unanimous first seletion.

    While the career part of life sorts itself out, my message to you is to keep the faith – and keep writing. Being a sports fan is about the community: celebrating the highs and supporting each other during the lows. And as you can see from the posts above, this community is rooting for you.

  • Anonymous

    I have to say, reading this meant a lot to me this morning, Jon. For reasons both completely clear and completely unfathomable to me, I’ve been in a stress-n’-anxiety bubble ever since “ascending” to a “higher” position at work.  And more so lately, with kid number two en route, causing barfiness aplenty for my wife and angst aplenty for me. I’ve got loads in common with you, Jon, though there are more than a few who probably suspect I’ve got loads in common with Phil Dunphy. Since the ODT (Original Dodger Thoughts) days, though, you’ve always seemed to be reaching out to us with posts like this one.  And they give me moments of insight and contentedness (in much the same way, oddly enough, that Modern Family often does).  Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jon, as someone who is floating toward the waterfall in a fairly similar boat I loved reading your post. You help me to keep perspective and to remember that none of us make perfect decisions. Mostly we flounder around guessing about what might be best for us and usually we get those guesses wrong. For what it’s worth (which I realize isn’t as much as it used to be in our internet age) you’re a good writer and you help some other poor slobs to get by.  I know it ain’t much.  If I had something more sage to say I’d have a nicer boat.  

  • Channa Coggan

    May I recommend a really good book? Actually three really good books, all by the same author.
    The books are:
    The Garden of Riches – A Practical Guide to Financial Success
    The Garden of Emuna – A Practical Guide to Life
    The Garden of Gratitude

    written by Rabbi Shalom Arush (translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody)

    Each book has been of enormous help to me. Following his advice has led to paying off close to $50,000 in debt, and leading a life of greater joy and confidence.

  • Thomas Beatty

    All I can say is that posts like these are what elevate Dodgerthoughts from sport into art.  I am sorry for the difficult place you find yourself in.  Sadly I think it is not an uncommon one, especially now.  It’s easy to get down on yourself, but as a creative person remember that you have always continued to do good work.  You have never stopped writing.  You could look at your situation from another angle and see it as the triumph of an artistic soul who found a way to create and touch people regardless of what else was necessary in his life.  Also, don’t look at the past.  There’s nothing you can do about it.  It seems trite but is very true.  Regret is so human but also not a good use of thought, feeling or energy.  That you are a good man shows in every post you make on this blog.  We do not live in a particularly intelligent culture sadly, so being intelligent and good does not equal financial creative success.  But you will find a way.  And I hope for all of our sakes you never stop writing.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Jon!  It was somewhat depressing, but very thought provoking which is a sign of great writing.  The number of thoughtful responses that the post has elicited is also an indication of its quality.   Posts like this (and many of the comments they induce) are one of the reasons why I love Dodger Thoughts.  

    I tend to be a positive person (though not nearly as positive as Phil Dunphy), but I certainly have many periods of doubt and disappointment in myself.  I am even one of the lucky people that loves my job.  Though, to be fair, I only love certain portions of it (like fieldwork) and will often put off the parts that I don’t like so much (e.g. writing).  That’s what gets me into trouble and causes some of the frustration that I feel with myself.  I know better, but I keep repeating the same mistakes. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn!

    I’ve been mulling your post over since last night, hoping to think of something profound to say, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to come up with anything.   You’re in a tough business and not being able make a living writing screenplays certainly is not an indication of writing ability or work ethic. It maybe not be due to choices that you’ve made in the past either.

    You should feel proud of the work you’ve done on your blogs and the community that you’ve created (and its offshoots).  When reading your blog, I’ve often been inspired and comforted that other people feel the same way I do.  I’ve also learned a lot; I didn’t know much about sabermetrics when I first started reading your blog (a little over 3 1/2 years ago), but I embraced it fairly quickly since it made a lot of sense to me (due to my knowledge of statistics and baseball). Thanks for starting the blog and keeping it going over the years. 

    Look, you even got me to write!

  • http://twitter.com/tmtrains t m

    I’ve

  • Anonymous

    Making money is easy. Finding and doing worthwhile, satisfying work is very difficult.
    I see no reason why the two goals should coincide. Maybe a lucky few can accomplish both at once. Generally, though, they seem to be mutually exclusive.

    If you need money, invest in real estate:  specifically, income
    property. Grasp the principle of leverage. Read Wm.Nickerson; pay no
    attention whatsoever to anyone else. Acquire long-term streams of small amounts of income. Avoid big scores; accumulate many little ones.

    I’m giving away some good stuff here (to quote Bukowski). You’ll be prospecting in a sea of decay and mismanagement, hence of limitless opportunity (repeating one of Nickerson’s oddly-mixed metaphors).

    Effort and intelligence will be required; the results will not be immediate. But long term, you get to spend all day writing–about anything you please. Or playing golf, sleeping, reading, whatever. Literally:  All Day!

    That ain’t bad. We don’t all get to be Bill James.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Thanks again, y’all. 

  • Anonymous

    Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. I have been reading you for awhile but have never responded. You are a fabulous writer and you are a person of integrity and honesty. And you have great insights in two major fields: media and baseball. Do not give-up. You have a brilliant future which will soon be rewarded. And, when that happens I will be the first to say, told you so.
    Thank you for your love of family and your values. I have enormous respect for your talent and your passion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1075072590 John G. Blanchard

    Well, I sure am glad you made it out for softball.