October 11, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo recently invited media members covering his team to participate in a full practice that he hoped would help them "recognize the rigors of our respective jobs." Twenty-one of them took Izzo up on his offer and went through a film session, two-hour practice, print-versus-television scrimmage, and post-practice interviews with MSU players acting as media. As you'd expect, the whole thing produced plenty of interesting pictures and stories, plus some video:


    My guess is that we'll see lots of teams making similar offers in the future, because it gives the media members something interesting and unique to cover while likely giving the team some less-critical coverage for a while. It'd be endlessly amusing if Ron Gardenhire followed in Izzo's footsteps and put the media members covering the Twins through some drills on the Metrodome turf, if only for the chance to see Patrick Reusse and Sid Hartman turn a double play.
  • Speaking of Hartman, he's still happily drinking and distributing that famous Torii Hunter kool-aid.
  • I don't think I've ever been more confused about something than the fact that someone, somewhere apparently said: "You know, we need a lot more of Joe Buck and his personality." Seriously:
    Could Joe Buck be the next name to enter the late-night world? Fox is considering a weekly, half-hour late-night show hosted by its lead sports personality. The network's entertainment division just quietly completed a pilot for the show in New York. The format currently under consideration would include both interviews and comedy and be set in front of a small studio audience.

    Right, because no one knows late-night comedy like a man who absolutely freaked out when Randy Moss pretended to moon the crowd at Lambeau Field following a touchdown a few years ago. Assume for a moment that someone was able to come up with a list of all the funny, charming, smart, and interesting people who could potentially host a late-night talk show. Now try to imagine how long that list would have to be in order to include Buck's name. Go ahead, I'll wait.

  • David Peterson had an interesting article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this week about the increasingly lengthy commutes that some Minnesotans are taking to work earlier and earlier each morning. Here's the opening to the story:
    Two alarm clocks jolt Dawn Davis out of slumber in the countryside south of Mora at 4:15 a.m. One she winds by hand, just in case an overnight storm snuffs out her power. For an hour, padding about in a fraying robe, sipping coffee from a bucket-sized mug, she forces herself awake. Then, in thick country darkness, she climbs into her miniature red Ford and heads south, racing 70 miles to her job in downtown Minneapolis.

    By the time she returns home in the evening, she has about an hour of leisure before she hits the sack. An hour? "That," winces the 58-year-old, "is what my friends say."

    I've been getting up by 7:00 a.m. every weekday for several years now thanks to my Rotoworld gig, but the idea of essentially wasting multiple hours each day driving to and from work has always seemed insane to me. Of course, that's easy for me to say given that I'm lucky enough to have a "commute" that literally involves waking up, sitting up in bed, and turning on a laptop. When you can be doing your job within 30 seconds of opening your eyes, it makes life a lot easier. I recommend it.

  • I found little room to quibble with their 2005 and 2006 selections, but Esquire's 2007 pick for Sexiest Woman Alive seems like a bit of a stretch. Also, the fact that they've chosen three different women in three years might signal that the whole selection process isn't all that scientific. After all, there have only been three Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title holders in over five years. When I creepily lust over celebrity women by awarding them a non-existent crown without their knowledge, I don't mess around.
  • Larry Dobrow of CBSSports.com managed to sum up many of my feelings about the way baseball is broadcast on television, except with only a fraction of the vitriol.
  • Earlier this week Richard Deitsch of SI.com had an interesting, lengthy article about the New York Islanders offering press credentials to bloggers. There's no doubt that it's a positive development, but it's also worth noting that they were grouped together in an area called the "blog box" that was separate from the mainstream media covering the game. What the Islanders are doing is a step in the right direction, but it's a long way from bloggers simply being treated like any other writer with an audience.

    Most print publications have websites and most of those websites have blogs on them, and bloggers are featured prominently on mainstream, online-only sites like ESPN.com. In other words, the lines are blurring between different forms of media and the labels being applied are increasingly useless. For someone who reads a newspaper over breakfast, Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune is very different than Seth Stohs of Seth Speaks, but they compete for my readership on the same computer screen.

    Yet when it comes to things like credentials, 50,000-reader blogs take a clear backseat to 5,000-reader newspapers. Are all bloggers deserving of access? Of course not, but neither are all print publications. If you print a blog and throw it onto doorsteps each morning, is it more legitimate? Instead of letting bloggers sit at a special table like a novelty, why not evaluate their worthiness for access the same way you do every other writer? When that begins to happen, then you know real progress has been made.

  • Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star is one of my absolute favorite columnists despite the fact that I care little about the Royals, Chiefs, and whichever other teams they have in Kansas City. He's smart and funny, but also able to provide thoughtful, informed analysis while being a compelling story-teller. In other words, he's why Jim Souhan annoys me so much. Amazingly, as great as Posnanski is in newspaper form, he might be even better as a blogger.

    Plus, as someone who recently started up another weight-loss effort following some time off after shedding 90 pounds, I can sympathize.

  • Say what you will about Dick Bremer, but at least he doesn't weep on the air (unless Jason Tyner lays down a really nice bunt, in which case they're tears of joy).
  • When I saw the "James, Taylor get into fight" headline on Access Vikings yesterday afternoon it shocked me that a 59-year-old man who sang "Carolina In My Mind" and "Sweet Baby James" would turn to violence. Sadly, the story wasn't nearly as interesting as it initially appeared, because it merely involved Erasmus James punching teammate Chester Taylor in the eye and Taylor attempting to hit James with a chair.
  • I've written about the newspaper industry countless times in this space, with one of my thoughts being that as the competition for readership grows and the stranglehold print has on people lessens, a shift towards hyper-local coverage will inevitably take place. In other words, as more outlets cover national and international news, and more places provide columnists and opinions, it only makes sense for newspapers to focus on something that they can still have a relative monopoly on.

    Because of that, it comes as little surprise that the Star Tribune has gone through yet another makeover, this time dividing itself into four "zones" that aim to provide specialized coverage to each metro area. I've been saying for a while now that the newspaper business must adapt to the changed environment by becoming more niche-oriented, and that's seemingly what's happening. As editor Nancy Barnes put it: "These are stories you couldn't get anywhere else."

    Like with most niches, the upside is that you gain an audience that is much more hardcore and the downside is that you lose a portion of the audience that isn't interested in in-depth coverage of the subjects that you've now chosen to focus on. For instance, I have absolutely zero interest in reading about what's happening in Burnsville or Anoka or Woodbury. Of course, I also don't subscribe to the print version of the newspaper, so the Star Tribune probably views people like me as lost causes.

    While the decision-makers at the Star Tribune might not admit it, the changes are seemingly aimed at trading quantity for quality. Rather than try to provide large-scale coverage to everyone, they're trying to provide small-scale coverage to a smaller, more devoted audience. That might be the right step to take long term--if there is a right step to take long term--but the danger is that they're gradually losing a portion of the audience that isn't interested in hyper-localized coverage.

    Between the huge increase in syndicated Associated Press articles filling the newspaper's pages these days, the new focus on things that a large percentage of the audience likely doesn't care much about, and the ditching of an ombudsman/reader's representative to scrutinize things internally, the Star Tribune is definitely at a crossroads. I give them credit for doing something to fight off their decline, but my guess it that the changes will lead to a much different result than they're hoping to achieve.

  • With Terry Ryan leaving his post as Twins general manager last month and both Walt Jocketty of the Cardinals and John Schuerholz of the Braves doing the same this month, there's an interesting changing of the guard taking place in major-league front offices right now.
  • For the past few months I've ended Link-O-Rama entries with an "AG.com-approved music video," but it just struck me that I've yet to post anything from my all-time favorite musical artist. So, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Al Green doing a live version of "Take Me To The River" on Soul Train:


    As if Reverend Al not-so-smoothly handing out flowers to women while he's singing isn't enough to make it a great clip, Don Cornelius does an outro at the end that includes the words "you can bet your last money it's all gonna be a stone gas honey" while some sort of Asian subtitles roll underneath.
  • As always in parting, we wish you love, peace, and soul.

  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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