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Spencer Turnbull Changed My Life, And Then He Almost Ended it

As I was driving to interview Spencer Turnbull, I almost died. That’s not really an exaggeration either. I haven’t told this story publicly yet but I was on my way to to Detroit that day in the middle of a torrential downpour. Ninety minute drive, nothing but rain. This was nothing new, I mean I live in Michigan for christ sake, I know how to drive in the rain, but on this day it was a little different. I was about 10 minutes out when I slid over a real wet patch on the Detroit freeway. I was going about 60 in a 55, so I didn’t exactly have a case of the led foot. I slid, and my car spun out. We’re talking two full three hundred and sixty degree turns in the middle of the freeway. As I spun out, only one thing came to my mind. It wasn’t, “O my god,” it wasn’t, “I’m about to get into my first accident and total my car,” it was, “Damn, I’m not going to be able to interview Turnbull today.” You see, it’s all about perspective people. Two cars whizzed by me, somehow missing me before I was able to slam on the breaks just as I spun back around the second time, finally facing the right way. I pulled over for about a minute and just laughed. And when I say laughed, I don’t mean politely chuckled, this wasn’t the kind of awkward titter that you give your uncle after he tells a joke at Thanksgiving. This was a full on guffaw, an uproarious laugh. The events of the previous week had finally sunk in. I wasn’t just existing anymore, I was finally living. 

A week before my near death experience, I awoke at 7:40 on May 19th. Following Spencer Turnbull’s no-no on the West Coast, the last thing I wanted to do was stumble out of bed and go to work on 4.5 hours of sleep. I ever so slowly rolled over and extended my arm out in the darkness, attempting to grab my phone. I always gave myself a few minutes to check the responses to my post game video from the night before. A few minutes until I stepped back into the same world I’d became so accustomed to over the last few years. The same gas station, the same people, the same musky smell of stale cigarettes and coffee. It was all the same, until it wasn’t. 

I couldn’t believe it when I saw Dave Portnoy in my Twitter DMs. To be honest, I thought it was prank, some troll trying to pull a fast one on me. It wasn’t. It was him. The rest of that day was a blur. I remember fragments of it. I remember weeping like a baby on video (if you thought that was bad, you should’ve seen the takes I didn’t use). I remember seeing my mom cry tears of joy for the first time in I don’t know how long. I remember getting messages from people I hadn’t heard from in years, some of whom I’m still getting back to. But there was one moment in which I was absolutely sure my life had changed, one moment I’ll always remember. It was during my first phone conversation with Dave. I was pacing back and forth in a gas station parking lot, politely waving to the regulars walking by who had no idea I was in the midst of a life changing exchange. I told him who I was, where I’d been and what I wanted to do. There was a short pause after my monologue. I’m sure it felt longer than it actually was. Then Dave said it, “We’re definitely going to hire you.” I stopped pacing when I heard that. It was happening. The dream was coming true.    

I’d pretty much convinced myself over the last several years that Barstool was never going to be a reality. I was too sick, too OCD, too depressed, too loud, too messed up to ever be a part of something this cool. But I’ve never stopped grinding. I’ve delivered pizzas, I’ve waited tables, I’ve worked at a gas station. Through it all, I’ve never stopped pumping out content. I bet on myself and won. I dropped out of college with the goal of working for Barstool, and Barstool finally came calling.

All of this caught up to me as I sat in my car on the Detroit freeway. A week earlier, I was a gas station employee. I stood at a register and pressed buttons as people bought their coffee every morning. Ten days later I was working my dream job with Barstool, on my way to interview a Major League pitcher. 

I didn’t really know what to expect from Spencer Turnbull. It’s not every day you get to interview a professional athlete. It’s a strange feeling. I wasn’t scared to do an interview necessarily. I’ve done interviews before, but we’re talking about a guy who has had such a massive impact on my life. If Spencer Turnbull doesn’t throw a no-no, I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I wouldn’t have a job at Barstool. My biggest fear was getting the generic, media trained answers that most athletes give. Don’t get me wrong, that still would’ve been cool, but I definitely wanted more, and more is what he gave me.

Let me just say that Spencer Turnbull is a certified DUDE. Cool, laid back, confident, everything you’d want your top tier starting pitcher to be. You realize quickly how weird it much be to be so in the public eye. Everyone at Nemo’s that day was looking at Spencer Turnbull, and he was being interviewed by…some guy. That actually alleviated my stress. He was the main attraction, and I was more than okay with that.

About two questions in I could tell that this was going to be fun. I loved his honesty. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who keeps his head down. He’s aware of the state of the team, the state of the organization and his own status as a pitcher. As I stated in the interview, it’ll be hard for me to ever be critical of him again, not just because his no-no changed my life, but because he’s genuinely a good dude. He will always hold a special place in my heart. Because of him, I’m finally home.

Thank you mom, thank you dad, thank you Jared, thank you Dave, thank you Barstool. 

Happy to be here. It’s time to hit the ground running, because being hired is cool, but being great is a hell of a lot cooler.