The annual Baseball Preview review

March 29, 2016

ESPN the Magazine (Cover price: $5.99)

Maybe it’s an age thing, I found ESPN’s attempt to replicate old English (or whatever the hell they were trying to accomplish), pretty difficult to read. It would have been enough if they had just used it on the cover, but they compound the error (IMO) repeatedly

Once again, ESPN appears to be catering to younger readers, making “youth” the cornerstone of its 2016 baseball preview. Peter Keating draws opening story honors with “Youth: Better, Faster, Younger” (as opposed to what, older youth?) By the way, don’t blame the writers for the headlines; those decisions usually come from an editor.

Tim Keown profiles perennial bad boy Bruce Harper in “#sorrynotsorry,” employing the hashtag in another attempt to connect with the demographic that most frequently engages in social media. Keown was the guest on the ESPN the Magazine podcast, which is a fascinating behind-the-scenes report on what it was like to set up and conduct the interview with Harper.

Another feature with a difficult-to-translate-because-we’re trying-to-be-cool font is Robert Sanchez’s “What Stays in Vegas,” a profile of the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant. This is followed by “Scott Boras Will Save You Now,” by Sam Miller.

Dan Szymborksi offers a look at how good the Mets have it — for now — since their starting rotation are all pitchers who don’t have enough ML service to command the huge contracts they will ultimately demand. Illustrated (Cover price: $5.99)

This one remains more my speed. You can count of function over form, that is, SI doesn’t rely on a lot of bells and whistles (or pretty shiny things). It’s a very clean and classic look which I find comforting again, maybe it’s an age thing).

Chief baseball writer Tom Verducci profiles Cubs’ Cy Young winner Jake Arietta in “The Revenant.” He also gives a long-overdue nod to “Secret Decoder Kings,” aka, first base coaches, showing there’s more to the ob than just standing around and holding stuff for the batters.

Albert Chen contributed this “tribute” piece to Pittsburgh Pirates’ coach Ray Searage in “The Pitching Doctor.”

Stephanie Apstein gave me a new appreciation for the Texas Rangers’ all-star third baseman Beltre in “Adrian’s Wall.”

The “Point After” column carries a piece by film director Richard Linklater, hawking his upcoming project Everybody Wants Some.

Here’s the 2015 preview review, for a comparison.

Roster / Lineups No Yes
Stats Not really Basic, embedded within above
Scouting report Nope; very brief breakdowns as part of a “Power Rankings” piece. Yes
Graphics Several infographics Nothing special, photos mostly
Predictions Yes Yes
Covers Just the one. Several regional editions.

It’s not even a question that SI, as a weekly, can be more “relevant” that the bi-weekly ESPN.
You will always have the situation of an injury, trade, or some other naturally-occurring event that can derail all that wonderful research and analysis. Man plans, God laughs.

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