Newspapers are dying and professional sports leagues are taking it upon themselves to break news rather than talking to the pesky press. In light of that, what’s to become of Johnny Sportswriter? Why, covering individual athletes! From a recent story in the Wall Street Journal about the Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams:
By all appearances, Deron Williams has enjoyed the trappings of life as an NBA superstar … For most human beings, this would be enough. Not Williams, whose wide-ranging list of accomplishments and assets includes something extraordinary, unique even among pro athletes: He employs his own team of beat writers. Their mission? Spread the gospel of D-Will on his website, DeronWilliams.com.
Seriously: Williams employs his own beat writer to provide daily news updates on his website. Granted, its run by Williams and his agents/managers, so it’s not like this is “news” as we know it, but it is different than, say, an athlete updating social media sites or a publicist offering press releases. These are bylined stories that read like newspaper reports.
We live in a world where the message is being increasingly sculpted, crafted and controlled, even when the news goes out through independent media. In light of that, it’s not necessarily shocking that such a thing is happening, even if it is somewhat depressing. I would not be at all surprised if we see several other athletes following suit soon and, eventually, this becoming the new normal.
Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.
No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.
Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.
Set some time aside to read this today.
This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.
De La Rosa has had elbow issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.
I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.
He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.