First, a few words about The Players’ Tribune: it’s way, way better than anyone figured it’d be when it was first announced.
People figured it may be a Derek Jeter vanity project or that, at best, it’d be something of a vanity press for athletes, allowing them to offer self-serving stuff without the critical intermediaries of the Sporting Press to call them on their bull crap. And, sure, there is always a risk that any given story there could serve that purpose. When David Ortiz goes after the “haters” in the media, sure, you gotta roll your eyes a bit.
But, more often than not, it’s good stuff. Players writing for the Players’ Tribune — to the extent they actually write themselves* — have done a great job of offering unguarded views at the athletes’ life and job. Extended takes about all that stuff the sort of which you’d normally only get snippets of from reported pieces.
*So the athletes don’t write everything themselves? I kinda don’t care. I’m there for the information and insight which is genuine, not the sparkling prose or reportage. I view this as no different than a well-ghost-written athlete autobiography. Tell me the stories and your insights and do it honestly and interestingly and I really don’t care. The fact that they don’t actually write everything themselves doesn’t mean taking credit away from them, it means giving some to the editors and co-writers who do a great job of producing a nice product. I would hope they’d start getting some credit too. I don’t think it’d hurt the brand of the site. People read it for the players’ info and that’s still at the forefront.
The latest great example: Matt Duffy of the Giants talking about his introduction to the Giants as a rookie, his learning his way around the clubhouse and how the Giants’ culture is such that young players are welcomed into the fold and considered to be a key part of the team from the get-go. His anecdotes about facing Bartolo Colon in his debut and his mentorship by Casey McGehee, the man whose job he’d eventually take, are so good and so real and tell us more about these players than most reported stories we read about them do.
I feel like I learned something interesting about Duffy and the Giants here. I’m glad I read it.