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.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.