You may not believe this but from within the class of sportswriters, these days it’s almost as precarious as hosting a beauty pageant without being sued for sexual harassment. Well, almost.
Nearly all of us in this business take our craft as sportswriters seriously and hopefully it shows in what we produce for our readers. My editors at Elite Sports NY remind me every day about the importance of dotting every I and crossing every T., and they don’t hesitate to kick back a story when there is no credible sourcing attached to the subject matter.
And for that, they are worth all the gold at Fort Knox, if there is indeed any gold there.
Sportswriters and I mean real sportswriters are a dying breed in America today. Newspapers are falling by the wayside every day as fans continue to flock to the internet to receive their daily baseball fix. Competition there is severe and baseball-themed websites easily (without counting) are tenfold what newspapers used to be. The problem, of course, is quantity does not necessarily equal quality.
It was less complex when a small bevy of sportswriters covered the New York Mets and New York Yankees back in the day. And for some, a name like Jimmy Cannon will have no meaning. But when time allows, take a peek at his obituary as it appeared in the New York Times to judge the influence of what one writer can have.
The same for Dick Young, who plied his craft over 45 years at the New York Daily News. Young, especially, was noted as being a notorious “homer” for the New York Yankees. He reported on the “news” as fed to him and very seldom ventured into the realm of analyzing anything he was given.
That’s all changed now, and if you don’t have an “angle,” you don’t have a story your editors will want to publish. Which is, in turn, all very fine as long as the angle doesn’t go to the extreme to manufacture a story as we saw this week when an employee for ESPN went off the deep end during an interview with MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred.
Make no mistake though, the stuff over fluff we see today is far better than the reporting of yesteryear. Fans of baseball can go to any number of websites to find what is happening but at the same time, they usually see it takes a bit more energy to locate a story that adequately explains why it is happening if they don’t know themselves.
Which happens to raise another relevant point. Many baseball fans do know the reasons behind a move their team is making, or at least they have a pretty good idea.
Please, this is not a complaint. Instead, it’s a challenge that is welcomed. Along the way, there are bound to be hits and misses. And generally, I equate myself to the closer for the Yankees or Mets who blows a save in the bottom of the ninth inning causing his team to lose a hard-fought game.
Dust off, and come back the next day, mindful though of what happened yesterday and determined not to make the same mistake(s) again. But at the same time, don’t be merely a robot reporting the news. We’ve had enough of that.
Precarious? Yes. But exciting and challenging, even more.