Webb’s Words: Here we go

The Big Ten has changed a lot of late, but the quality of people involved has not.

Welcome to 10innings.com

First, thank you for taking the time to be here and take interest in what is being shared. Without the passionate and extremely support fanbases around the Big Ten, none of this would be possible.

That said, I still don’t know how this is possible, how this is even a thing.

I started covering Big Ten baseball in some form in August 2008, blogging on Ohio State with the Buckeye Nine. I was still a student at Ohio State, set to turn 22 the following month, with no idea of what I wanted to do. Unbeknownst to me, what I would end up doing was taking shape, concentrated effort or not.

Ohio State won the Big Ten in 2009, the program’s first conference championship since 2001, and appeared in the Tallahassee Regional. The Buckeyes were no strangers to the NCAA Tournament, being in the field of 64 in 2005 and 2007, after hosting a super regional in 2003, falling to Southwest Missouri State on the doorstep to Omaha. While not Cinderellas, the Buckeyes captured the attention of many in 2009. The year prior, the Buckeyes were barely .500. But this outfit beat #2 Miami in an early March midweek game then no-hit arch-rival Michigan in early May. The largest athletic department in the country had a nationally-ranked baseball team, and I was quite the benefactor in following and covering

Ohio State did not reach appear in the NCAA Tournament again until 2016, but my writing on them, and in turn, the Big Ten, did not stop.

During the 2009 season, I was fortunate to take in the unique closeness of college baseball. I had no formal experience writing, but I really wanted to be a true journalist. To do so, I sought out interviews with players, coaches and other media, tried to report just as much if not more than opine, and all were more than gracious with their time. While baseball is America’s pastime, a sport many cherish and appreciate and millions upon millions head out to take in in-person on the professional level, college baseball is well behind college basketball and football in fandom, popularity, and exposure. As a result, there hasn’t yet been one person to say “no” to a request. There is a true appreciation and sincere gratitude for the efforts any would undertake to tell their story.

That is incredible and this site is my thank you to everyone.

From the day I started writing, I felt I owed it to the audience to give it my best. For the coaches, players, parents of players and fans, for anyone who reads anything my name is attached to, I would be cheating you if I put forth a sub-par effort. While the wins, trophies and NCAA Tournaments may not match, I never thought a coach at Florida or Texas, LSU or North Carolina worked harder than a coach at Indiana or Penn State, Iowa or Northwestern. Why shouldn’t the latter have just as much invested in giving them a voice?

But as I’ve aged, at the beginning of each of the last four seasons, I’ve thought that season would be my last, I cannot keep doing what I do, sacrifice time and money, and continue to put off “real life”.  Yet, each year something spectacular happens, something unforeseen which makes one eagerly anticipate what’s to come next.

Indiana shocks the country, ends the Big Ten’s drought and goes to the 2013 College World Series.

In 2014, the Hoosier are named the Big Ten’s first-ever national seed. The announcement is made the Monday after Indiana wins the Big Ten Tournament in front of 19,965 fans.

The next season, Illinois garners a national seed and brings the first super regional to a Big Ten campus in 12 years. The Illini win 50 games, which included a 27-game winning streak.

And the past season, Ohio State returns to the NCAA Tournament, after winning four games in 30 hours to claim the program’s record-tying ninth Big Ten Tournament title.

Alongside those memorable moments seen at the team level, there’s been the era of Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis, Illinois has produced one of the most dominant pitchers in the country, each of the last two years. Every time I think it’s time to move one, an incredible season unfolds, pulling me back in.

But it’s not just the wins and losses, the high draft picks and championship moments that will not relinquish my attention, it comes back to the people.

I’ve seen and wrote on a lot of Big Ten players. From Willie Argo to Jason Zoeller, there are hundreds upon hundreds. I’ve chatted with nearly 20 conference coaches now, only John Anderson and Dan Hartleb have been going to Big Ten Tournaments as long as I have. While the face change and the names on the lineup card come and go, I cannot express how incredible every single person continues to be, that has not changed from day one. These people deserve for their stories to be told, for their hard work to be exposed, for their success to be shared.

That is why I am here. I’ve been given so much in what just started as a hobby, that I must continue to give back. I want 10 Innings to be the best possible place for one to be able to take in everything I have experienced: continued engagement with people of compassion, integrity and sincerity.

Thank you again for being here as it’s time to embark on a new road, take on a new season. We can only imagine what in store, what stories we’re getting ready to tell.

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