Thursday, September 13, 2007

Your Hometown Nine

Another comment from Svrulga's chat yesterday came back to me when I checked out today's paper. When asked what he thought about the level of coverage the Post gives to the Nats, Barry wrote that it was generally more than most for game stories. But, he added, "In general, I'd say other cities have more of a columnist presence at games. Boz comes as often as he can, and he loves being there. But we really don't have a second columnist voice on baseball, which many other cities do."

So coincidentally, we open up today's paper and are blessed with another Tom Boswell baseball column on, yep, you guessed it, the Anaheim Angels. Now, it's an interesting article. It is, as his always are, written well. And it's an interesting story. I'm glad it's there. But where the hell is the columnist who covers, even occasionally, the Nationals? We don't, as Barry suggests, need a second columnist. We need a first.

The Post stupidly has their best baseball columnist writing football every week, so the guy probably hasn't had time to follow baseball. And, yes, it's a losing season in a crappy ballpark, blah blah blah. But, again, here's the list of columns. The Nats have been virtually untouched by him or any other Post columnist since July.

I don't have a problem with the Post trying to be a national paper, covering interesting out-of-town stories. It makes it a better paper, with coverage you can't get in the Podunk Courier-Dispatch. But I do have a problem when they ignore a major sports team in their own town because they're off covering those out-of-town teams.

One more note before I get off my soapbox... I didn't do a close reading of the Boswell column, but it doesn't seem like a column in a traditional sense. There doesn't seem to be any true opinion. Or if there is, it's mild stuff, 'analysis' of the type that renders it more of a feature than a column. If that's the case, why isn't that something their national baseball writer, Dave Sheinin, do, if the Post's editors really deem that a story worth printing? Conversely, if the "local" baseball columnist is going to do features on out-of-town teams, why can't the National Guy do a feature on the local nine?

The reporting and writing on the team is excellent. And the strawman argument about how they cover Teh Blowrioles1!1!! is stupid. When (note the past tense) they covered the Orioles this season, it was never at the exclusion of what they did with the Nats. But in terms of opinion and column writing? Yeah, they basically suck.

It's enough to drive a man to Loverro. And nobody wants that!


  • The Post spends far too much time worrying about serving the needs of people outside the DC area which is to their detriment. They covet The New York Times reputation as THE national newspaper. So the Sports pages are a reflection of that misguided priority. I remember the days of The Washington Star which was truly a local newspaper. Once football season starts it's all Redskins all the time. Every day this week the front page of the Sports section has Redskins articles in the lead. George Solomon, Post Sports Editor, is far too much a Skins fan to be objective in how the Sports section is put together. Boz along with Dave Sheinen do a great job covering MLB but not having a columnist cover the Nats more frequently does an injustice to Post Sports readers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2007 11:59 AM  

  • Boz has been sparse with the opinion pieces because he doesn't want to draw attention to the crappy season that is going on. Anything positive (Good drafts, Manny Acta, Dmitri Young, rotation surprises) he's probably already written about and will again at years end. There's really been no new overarching positive thing to write about in the meantime.

    By Blogger Harper, at 9/13/2007 1:02 PM  

  • YOU want Boz to write about the Nats MORE?

    That's like the old vaudeville joke (that Woody Allen popularized):

    Two old ladies sit in a restaurant.

    One says: "This food is horrible!"

    The other responds: "Yes, and the portions are so small!"

    Perhpas Barry is foreshadowing what his role may be in upcoming years?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2007 2:02 PM  

  • Well, I'd rather have the Nationals be ignored by the local media than continually blasted. Every sports article I read by Matt Swenson (Swengali) about a local team just bashes them. He had a great Nats bash a few weeks ago, and most recently predicted a 6-7 win season for the Redskins, but even made them sound worse than that.

    For a local reporter, I sure hate having that guy cover local teams.

    By Blogger Natsfan74, at 9/13/2007 2:02 PM  

  • Who needs the Post when we have so many talented bloggers covering the team. I get more Nats news from than any Post issue.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2007 2:11 PM  

  • Amen to your post. I have even made that comment to Boswell on his chats... not that he answers it. The paper should have a columnist devoted to the National, or at least to baseball. The paper of record doesn't even have that. Svrluga does triple time with the gamers, the notebook and the blog, but it would be nice to have a second voice.

    Worse yet, Boswell doesn't even seem to express "opinions" any more, just cheer leader oberservations.

    By Anonymous Sec 515, at 9/13/2007 2:13 PM  

  • The Post's sports section has been adrift for some time. Columnists who don't write columns. Beat writers who take mulit-week breaks from their beats. It seems like a District Court where all of the judges have taken Eritus status and no one's left to do the work.

    The Post needs a Sports Editor, and fast.

    By Blogger davesablast, at 9/13/2007 3:12 PM  

  • George Solomon retired, Emilio Garcia-Ruiz (I think I have that right) is the current editor.

    I want more provincialism in sports coverage too.

    By Blogger WFY, at 9/13/2007 3:50 PM  

  • Well, Boswell did mention the Nationals in his column about the Angels. He called them "the lowly Nationals." The Nats may well be lowly compared to the Angels, but for some reason no other team mentioned in the column - including the slumping Orioles, who have a worse record than the Nationals - merited the designation "lowly". Personally, I'd prefer Boz not express opinions in his columns if this is the kind of opinion he's going to express.

    As for coverage of those slumping Orioles in the Post, I'm one who has led the charge on that in Svrluga's blog. But as I've pointed out there many times, it's not the fact that the Post chooses to cover the Orioles that's the problem, it's that the Orioles coverage detracts from the level of Nationals coverage they offer. And as you point out, the current Post coverage of the Nationals (the home team) as well as baseball in general is inadequate. Therefore, wasting any of that already inadequate coverage on the Orioles just compounds the problem. Let the Baltimore Sun cover the Orioles until the Post is ready to step up and cover the local nine and the sport in general as would be expected from a paper that purports to hold itself in the highest national esteem. Until then, the Orioles coverage just unmasks the Post Sports page for the poseur that it is.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 9/13/2007 9:36 PM  

  • I think you're misunderstanding me.

    Covering the Orioles is fine.

    Covering national stories is fine.

    The amount of reporting and coverage of the Nats IS fine.

    They just don't have enough of a columnist presence on the team.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/13/2007 9:42 PM  

  • No, I think I understand you and agree with you. They don't have enough of a columnist presence on the Nationals because the one less-than-fulltime baseball columnist they do have spends much of his columnizing on the Orioles. If that Orioles columnizing was transferred to Nats columnizing instead, it would be a step in the right direction. Alternatively, they could leave Boswell to do what he does now and hire someone else to columnize on the Nats. But as it is now, the columns Boswell devotes to the Orioles (and the top of page one play they usually get) just serve to amplify the inadequacies of the paper's coverage of the home team, which I believe you would agree with me should be full-time Nats beat writer (just the facts, ma'am) plus full-time Nats opinion writer (analysis and slant on the facts). Right?

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 9/13/2007 10:36 PM  

  • I guess it's the use of your word 'coverage' that I'm hanging up on. To me that implies that the gamers/notebooks, the straight reporting they do, aren't fine and that they're doing less than they could bc of the Orioles. I'd disagree completely with that.

    My complaint rests solely with the opinion/column side. (I'd also say they've dropped the ball a bit on business issues, but that applies to all sports, not just the Nats.)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/13/2007 10:40 PM  

  • When I say coverage, here and on Svrluga's blog, I mean the sum total of every word written in the paper about a team or subject. And while I would agree with you that gamers/notebooks are by and large fine, this is not to say they couldn't be better. There is lack of followup on on-going topics, including the business side of things, which tends to leave readers with a misleading impression on the state of things. Case in point: the saturation coverage of Opening Day food service issues, including articles in Metro, Sports and Style on problems encountered by fans trying to get their hot dog fix at the game. But no followup since to let us know if things have gotten better, worse, or have stayed the same. Lasting impression is the Opening Day status quo, but is that right? I mentioned this lack of followup to Svrluga once in his chat, and he pooh-poohed it, saying in effect that it's not news if you can go to the ballpark and get a hot dog quickly. I would disagree in situations like this where there may or may not be a change to facts covered extensively in prior articles.

    Another case in point: Extensive front page coverage of $400 home plate seats, little or no mention of the large number of more affordable seats available. Boswell has mentioned it on occasion, but it's been in the form of an aside buried in his column, hardly enough to counter the impression made by a front page A1 article.

    And another: Boswell et al love to trump up the parking issues at the new park, but never mention the big role Metro will play next year. Will the Metro system be up to the additional load? Will fans make the paradigm shift from driving to Metro-ing? The Post is not covering this at all, and again Svrluga and Boswell have pooh-poohed it whenever I've mentioned it on their chats.

    In the face of these inadequacies in the totality of the Post's Nationals coverage, it seems to me that their non-AP resources devoted to the Orioles would be better directed toward covering the home team.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 9/13/2007 11:22 PM  

  • what DOES sheinin do anyway? shouldn't nats columns be his responsibility???

    By Blogger Bill, at 9/14/2007 11:32 AM  

  • Boz is a douchebag. He was on XM the other day and spent his whole segment talking about the O-holes. His little video tour of the new Nats Park was focused on being able to look at the "battleship" and the "verdigris dome of the Library of Congress" from the upper deck. How about the views of where the field is going to be? Quit whining about the parking, Boswell. He should really write about something that belongs on a Washington DC SPORTS PAGE. Svrluga does a GREAT job of covering the Nats!!! The Post should do us all a favor and keep Boswell away from the Nats altogether. I get better information from this blog anyway.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/14/2007 12:31 PM  

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