In an act that seems more like tossing chairs off the deck of a sinking Titanic than a sound business strategy, the sad, failing newspaper industry has decided to save some bucks by forcing their employees to take unpaid one week furloughs from their jobs. Baseball beat writers are not safe from these awkward vacations, even as the season is going on, which seems to be more like poor scheduling than cost-saving. The beat isn't disappearing for seven days at a time, though, because other folks have been filling in.
When these newspapermen go on furlough, they are not allowed to work at all. That means no writing, no Tweeting, no liveblogging, no answering emails, and especially no interviewing semi-nude baseball players in the clubhouse. Most of these guys have been keeping up with their teams, either watching on TV or attending games as civilians with the unwashed masses like you or me. Maybe that explains why I saw Dan Shaughnessy sitting four rows behind me at Yankee Stadium last month instead of the swank new press box.
The Gannett Company, one of the huge newspaper syndicates that puts out such quality publications as USA Today, the Oshkosh Northwestern, and the Hattiesburg American, has been taking away our favorite writers for a week at a time. First, we lost Lee Jeans model and Reds beat guy John Fay who issued this following solemn statement:
This is a measure to help the company through hard times. And I'm sure it's a hardship to people with families. But it beats laying people off. Everywhere we go, we hear about more people getting laid off. The beat writer from the San Diego paper, who is sitting right in front of me as I type, loses his job in July.
You're a real company guy, John, but folks getting laid off is just the next step in the natural progression. I hope it's not you. John came back a week later without a flourish and continued his excellent Reds coverage right away. Prodigious beat blogger Peter Abraham was a bit more forthcoming as to how he spent his summer vacation, devoting an entire blogpost to his week off in which I learned that Pete cleaned his condo and attended the same Bruce Springsteen concert as I did. And in fact, he attended the same Bruce Springsteen concert that Kris did last month up in Boston. It's a proven fact, you can't go to a Bruce Springsteen concert without running into Pete.
The latest victim is News Journal scribe and Phillies beat guy Scott Lauber. He's been blogging about the Phils since 2006, a veritable lifetime in the baseballblogosphere. I'd like to say I have no idea how to deal with one entire week away from baseball and this blog community which we have worked so hard to develop, but then I remember I just voluntarily spent nine days vacationing in Spain. So yeah, furloughs are good times to fill up with vino tinto and jamon iberico.