The Associated Press is shortening up game stories

14 Comments

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.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

Getty Images
5 Comments

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.