The Associated Press is shortening up game stories

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And that happened.

I read a lot of game stories. Like, a whole lot of them. Maybe a dozen a day sometimes. Reading the game stories and the box scores is most of what goes into HBT’s morning recaps. As such, I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about game stories, both as they currently stand as they historically stood.

As the name suggests, the game story can be the vehicle for good storytelling and excellent writing. The form evolved, however, back when games started at 1pm, lasted two hours max and the writer had several hours before deadline to turn the events of the game into something that, oftentimes, was wonderful and on occasion was even magical. That’s not really the case anymore.

These days games end at 10:30pm or later, newspaper deadlines — which, for some reason, are still a thing — come soon after that. Plus, the apparent obligation newspapers have to get postgame quotes from the players and managers — most of which are pretty banal and unenlightening — means that the game story has become a rushed and rote product in most writers’ hands. Not all of them, of course. There are still several excellent examples of deadline game stories every week, particularly from beat writers with a stature that allows them some latitude in style or who know the team they’re covering intimately. But the day-to-day game stories done by wire service writers and third string people just covering a game by happenstance are often ho-hum affairs.

The Associated Press is trying to change that. Mostly by taking the “story” part out of it:

Starting July 28, we’ll launch a new format that presents the game story in a faster, more accessible and more customizable package. Instead of a traditional 600-word game story, our coverage will feature 300 words about the game and then up to five bullet points that highlight mini storylines, injuries, key plays and what’s coming next for a team.

The change will make stories faster to read, faster to publish and more customizable for newsrooms. Unique content will be more easily highlighted and communicated. Editors can choose to use the 300-word story, or break off the bullet points for websites.

I’m OK with this. It’s a more useful product for the AP, seeing as they are not really likely to go the route of telling colorful game stories that take a bit more time. Better to get to the darn point with some bullet points and a handful of key observations about what determined the game’s outcome. Like we talked about yesterday with columnists, you either need to be fast or you need to be deep, but you can’t be in between. AP gamers have been in between for some time.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.