Some Newspaper Blogs No Longer Utterly Useless

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babytype.jpgThe tabloids in New York are known for three things: Barely concealed bias, inane punny headlines, and top of the line sports coverage. If you're looking for sports info in Gotham, you'll find all you need in The Daily News or The Post. HOWEVA, in the interest of bringing you the very finest in breaking baseball coverage, here at WoW we subscribe to just about every newspaper blog out there. The New York Times runs a joint Mets/Yanks column called "Bats" and despite it's unfortunate name, the coverage is decent, especially since the Times is decidedly not known for its sports coverage.

Well on Monday, Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner made his 2008 AL predictions, and made the mistake of picking the Yankees to miss the playoffs entirely. He has them second in the East, with the Angles securing the Wild Card berth. It didn't take long for some NYT readers to put down their sparkling cider and cry foul. Some excerpts:

So, the Yanks won't even make the playoffs, huh? Maybe *you* should be writing for the Globe, Kepner. If Hughes and Mussina don't start getting guys out, and Pettitte's back aches for a while longer, you just might be right.

You ever notice how rarely you see writers look back at the end of the season to review the accuracy of their pre-season prognostications? Yeah, I think we know why. -- Posted by a.O

I had a great uncle who was an old time New Yorker. Always greeted me with "Have a cigar, boy." He was so old fasioned that he wore spats. His advice that he felt would guide me for the rest of my life was this: "Never bet against the Yankees, boy." -- Posted by JULIAN BARRY

Now I'm not saying there's a connection...but doesn't the New York Times Co. own a part of the Boston Red Sox? Yup, I think so. Interesting...

There hasn't been a Bronx-free playoffs in over a decade, and with Yankee Stadium in its last year and Stienbrenner Jrs in their first, I wouldn't be surprised to see them pull out all the stops come trading deadline this summer. -- Posted by Adam Peck

I wonder what Ken Tremendous has to say about the final year of a stadium's effect on team win shares. Not all of the comments were like this, more than half (a huge percentage for a newspaper blog) were very reasonable, but Kepner felt he had to categorically defend his picks in yesterday's blog. The column comes off as a strange mix of reasoned explanation and "but don't worry I think the Yankees are going to go 162-0 next year."

This scene stands in stark contrast to the one that played out on Geoff Baker's Mariners Blog from The Seattle Times. A couple weeks back after the Angels starting suffering the heavy losses in their rotation, Baker picked the Mariners to win the division. I didn't agree with him at the time, and apparently neither did the vociferous M's fans that got in touch with Baker to let him have it. In his column yesterday, Baker asked aloud, "Just what the hell is up you guys?"

Anyhow, some of you will be pleased with that result. Others, I'm not so sure. I'm now a full 18 months into my stint in Seattle and I'm having a hard time figuring out what drives M's fans. What got me thinking about this was a question from a media colleague last week. "So, what do you think of the fans in Seattle?'' he asked me. "Do they behave like fans in other cities?''

I wanted to tell him yes, but couldn't. That day, I'd already gotten a couple of the usual emails from M's fans chiding me for picking the team to win the division. Haven't stopped hearing about that one. Thing is, I wasn't hearing about it from fans of the A's, Angels or Rangers. I was getting blasted by M's fans. And I'm sorry, that just isn't standard practice in other cities.

Baker goes on to talk about how growing up Montreal, Habs fans were insane, both devotionally and critically, but he couldn't imagine them slamming a local reporter for picking them to win the division.

Even though these two instances fall on opposite ends of the reaction spectrum I think they both point to something positive. Newspapers are finally starting to understand what a blog is supposed to be. It's not having your beat writers pepper me with 20 two-line roster updates every day, and it isn't your columnist telling me about the game and what new records he's listening to. It's a fluid conversation of ideas about baseball between the writer and their readers. Newspapers have the access to make these conversations insightful and meaningful. Maybe once writers begin to make this transformation, they can stop worrying about us bloggers taking their jobs and make the blog part of what they do.

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You mean you guys actually READ these comments?


it isn't your columnist telling me about the game and what new records he's listening to.

Somewhere in Florida, Dave O'Brien is thinking of the appropriate lyrics to quote in response to this.

It's a fluid conversation of ideas about baseball between the writer and their readers.

This column is stupidface.

No, dude. YOU are stupidface, and the Cardinals rotation is terrible.

See how that works, mainstream media?

Hitler thought the Cardinals rotation was terrible, too, CTC. Why do you hate Jews so much?

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