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Minor league baseball beat writer

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Brookerton, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Brookerton

    Brookerton Member

    What are some of the pros and cons of being a beat writer for a minor league baseball team?

    Looking for some advice from people that are minor league baseball beat writers now or were in the past.

  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Is there such a thing as a minor league beat writer? I guess in a sense there is, but you probably won't travel to road games. No need for sidebars in a lot of cases.

    Why the interest?
  3. Brookerton

    Brookerton Member

    Wouldn't travel to road games, but when you're covering all of the home games I consider that a beat.
    Never covered a team like that before and I'm trying to figure out if it would be worth pursing.
  4. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    What would the other duties be during the year?

    Minor league baseball is exhausting and kind of odd to cover. It's a sport that's not necessarily about results, but more about player development, so it lends itself to some good feature work. But at the same time, when you're talking 70-plus home games, there's only so much feature stuff you can write. And if you're covering a team in a system bereft of talent, it can be downright awful to watch night in night out.
  5. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    I haven't ever been on the beat per se, but I've been around it enough to have some ideas.

    Among the pros: You've got a chance to build relationships with players and staff in a more intimate environment, which isn't really possible if you were to only cover the home games of an MLB team. Depending on the level - usually from High-A up - you could see some pretty good baseball; not that Low-A and short-season isn't, but I'll never forget watching an Aberdeen game a few years ago and marveling at the starting pitcher's 86-mph fastball (without the electric offspeed stuff). Assuming it's an affiliated team, you ought to have some interaction with the farm director of the big club. It's a different kind of beat, I've always thought, because the end result of the season - while important to some degree - isn't the explicit goal of a farm team. Wins and losses aren't the be all, end all; you're able to focus on development and keep tabs on how players grow (as Cosmo said, and I know that he knows of what he speaks).

    Among the cons: In many places, the local minor-league team may only have one beat writer - you. So there's no external pressure to break news or do anything out of the ordinary, though hopefully that pressure is internal. Minor-league clubs, at least the ones I've dealt, have maybe one PR person who may have other duties besides that; there's no fleet of people like in the big leagues, so you'll have more legwork to do generally. You're working at smaller facilities that may not have space specifically for reporters; that's not the norm, though I know of at least one place out there like that.

    That's off the top of my head, but it's a start...
  6. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I was essentially a minor league beat guy at one point. The first thing you need to do is identify what your readers care about. Most places, people don't really care about wins and losses. But in a few places where it's the only game in town, they do. If it's a place where most of the people in town are fans of the parent club then it is easy, you want to focus on the prospects and where they fit into the organization. If most people are just going because beer and tickets are reasonably cheap it gets harder to find good story ideas.

    When I covered minor league ball it was my first real opportunity to cover a beat, so I used it as a way to work on developing sources, coming up with story ideas, etc.
  7. Trey Beamon

    Trey Beamon Active Member

    That's terrible, Cosmo. I'm quite sick of Daniel Moskos from afar.
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Brookerton, what will you be doing for the rest of the year? Preps or helping out on college coverage? I personally wouldn't go for a job just for a chance to cover a farm team.
  9. Brookerton

    Brookerton Member

  10. If you have aspirations beyond your current gig, you should take a beat, any beat, to show you can do it well.
  11. bp6316

    bp6316 Member

    Minor league baseball can be quite rewarding. It's a great way to start a beat-writing career.

    You'll find tons of opportunities to get great stories. Minor-league teams are so diverse and you have so many guys that have come from incredibly different backgrounds. It really provides you with a chance to give your readers something new most of the team.

    That being said, the hardest part is finding a way to make the grind of all those games important to a modest fan base. You'll find that after about two weeks, you've used every gimick you can come up with and you'll look at the schedule and wonder how in the world you'll ever get through a season. Burnout is highly likely and you'll need a couple weeks off after the season to remember who your friends and family are.

    Go into it with a good plan though. Set yourself up for success with alternative story packages. One of my favorite ways to approach a season was to plan on telling a featurish story every game night and to tell the game story only through alternative methods. We used things like "beyond the box score" where you focus on a couple of key stats in the box and do a cool little breakout about how they impacted the game. We also used things like pitch-by-pitch boxes, where we'd profile one player for that night and keep track of each pitch he faced and what he did with it etc. Have him walk you through them after the game and throw in how it related to the outcome. Generally need to set those up before hand so he pays attention.

    It's not always glorious. It only works out about 50 percent of the time. But in the end, with baseball, you're going to see something different pretty much every night out there. You'll see things you never imagined you'd see in a game and tell people about that night 5-10 years later.

    Most of all, just make sure you enjoy it. Don't think of it as work. You get to watch baseball all the time and tell people what you're seeing. They get to know the players because you're the one letting them into that world. Consider it a gift and it'll make the season seem a lot better than it probably really was.
  12. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    I hooked up with my old high school baseball coach a couple of months ago who was managing a High-A minor league team. He knows I'm a newspaperman but not on the job when we met (my paper wouldn't care about his team). We were hanging in his office and I was asking things like, are any of these guys real prospects, pretty sure to be in the major someday? He said he had two, both Dominicans, but he wasn't sure if they'd make it. (I doubt he would have given the beat guy that info). And I asked if there were any millionaires in there, pointing to the clubhouse. He said no, their highest draft pick was an seventh rounder. I remembered a quote I saw somewhere from a major league owner. He said, "I'm spending millions to fund minor league teams so the two guys who have a chance to make it to the majors have somebody to play catch with." My old coach just nodded. "That's about the way it is," he said.
    As has been said previously, I think you'd tend to run dry before midseason.
    I went to the Web site of the newspaper that covered this team and didn't find much that was very compelling. The writer was a good, I liked his writing and his angles, but it was pretty much game coverage.
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