Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Where Have All the Sports Writers Gone?: The Athletic Sports Journalism Revolution Has Arrived!

Photo Courtesy Of:
TA timn
CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

One of the biggest sports stories of 2017 was not about the many different athletes and teams from all sports who are on and off the field but rather about the writers and reporters whose job it is to cover them and their stories.

2017 was the year that signaled a definitive shift in how sportswriters and reporters would go about doing their jobs and how fans would consume their fair share of sports stories as a result of a significant amount of layoffs at ESPN, FOX Sports and other sports media outlets. The main reasons for these layoffs taking place appears to have been done in an effort to cut costs and salaries at ESPN while at FOX Sports, the head decision makers who were there and in charge at the time appeared to do so in an effort to change the overall look of the website to one that now shows video highlights and promotes the various personalities and shows that can be seen on FOX Sports. As a sports fan myself, I can tell you that I did not like it very much when I saw what the new look of the FOX Sports website now looks like. As a matter of fact, I have not really visited it very much at all since the changes were made.

While all of the writers and reporters have gotten back on their feet and have found a new job since being laid off or eliminated, not all of them have found a new job all at the same place. A vast majority of those writers and reporters though have found a new job at the one place which is relatively new to the online sports journalism landscape. This new media outlet is the the online sports news journalism website called The Athletic. The Athletic is a new paid subscription based sports news website that offers a wide variety of the latest news and coverage across all major professional sports leagues as well as most of the teams in each league in a wide number of cities across the United States and Canada. It was officially launched and created in 2016 in the city of Chicago, Illinois by Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann.

If you are a sports fan like me and have already gotten a subscription to The Athletic then good for you. If you have not done so yet, I highly recommend that you get one as soon as possible. I have had one now myself for a little over a year now and it has been well worth my time and money spent.

Of the numerous professional sports leagues that are covered on The Athletic the one whose stories I follow the most are for Major League Baseball (MLB). While I have not looked at or read too many of the other stories from the other writers on The Athletic's roster who cover some of the other sports besides baseball, I do plan on checking out some of the other writers who cover the other sports and the stories that they have written at some point.

Ken Rosenthal Photo (Top) Courtesy Of:
CC BY-SA 3.0 US License.

Jayson Stark Photo (Bottom) Courtesy Of:
CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Furthermore, two of the writers who were affected in one way or another by the changes at both ESPN and FOX Sports now write stories and cover the sport of Major League Baseball (MLB) for The Athletic. Those two writers are Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark who both joined The Athletic after spending time at both FOX Sports and ESPN respectively.

In Ken Rosenthal's case it should be noted that while he is no longer serving in his role as a writer for FOX Sports, he is still a current member of the weekly MLB On Fox broadcasts on TV as a reporter. It is a different story for Jayson Stark who is no longer an employee at ESPN due to the layoffs. The good news though is that since then Mr. Stark has found a new job at both MLB Network (MLBN) and the Stadium network. Since they both cover the sport of Major League Baseball (MLB) I have read quite a few of the stories that they have written since they started working for The Athletic.

While it was somewhat disappointing to see companies like ESPN and FOX Sports layoff a large number of their writers and or reporters over the course of the last couple of years or so for one reason or another, it is nice to see that a majority of those same writers and or reporters have been able to get back on their feet fairly quickly thanks to the arrival of subscription based websites such as The Athletic.

The model of sports websites like The Athletic also illustrate another valuable lesson in terms of the overall impact that the profession of journalism and great in depth reporting can have on the consumers who choose to read about the latest news and developments. Hopefully that lesson is that the role of a sports writer or reporter can still be one that is very valuable today in an ever changing world in the workforce.

As a fan it is nice to know that there is now a new place where I can go to read some of the most in-depth sports stories from some of the top sportswriters in the country. I have enjoyed the experience so much to this point that I plan on being a loyal reader and subscriber to The Athletic for many years to come. During the year or so in which I have had a subscription, it has certainly been more fun and interesting that when the entire sports journalism landscape went dark for a few months when there was almost nothing to read about at all.

Tim Musick-Copyright 2018
All Rights Reserved. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A House Divided: SoCal Crosstown Rivalry Fandom-Which Side Of The Fence Are You On?

For every sports fan out there one of the most common questions that they have very likely been asked at some point is what team or teams do they like to root for. Finding out the answer to that question is likely more interesting if a particular city, state or country has more than one team that plays in the same league.

For example, in the greater Los Angeles area where my family and I live, both of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels (who play in Anaheim, California), play their games as members of the Major League Baseball (MLB) professional sports league. The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers play in the City of Angels for the National Football League (NFL). Both of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers are yearly participants of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks call the National Hockey League (NHL) their home.

For those sports cities like Los Angeles who have more than one professional sports team in each league, fans will usually have only one team that is their favorite to root for most of the time. Up to this point in my life I don't think I have ever met or come across someone who has said that they root for both teams equally in a particular sport. They will usually have only one team or teams that they root for or are a fan of in a given sport. These various rooting interests for only one team in a particular sport served as the inspiration for this new series of blog posts at Tim's Sports World about crosstown rivalry fandom.

Without further ado I now present the first installment of this brand new series about crosstown rivalry fandom which will focus on the sports teams that play in the Southern California region or area!:

Clayton Kershaw Photo (Top) Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia and Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr
Under CC BY 2.0 License.

Mike Trout Photo (Bottom) Courtesy Of:
 Wikimedia and Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA  Under CC BY-SA 2.0 License.                                                                                                                                 
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (LAD) Vs. Los Angeles Angels (LAA) (MLB)

Both of the Angels and Dodgers baseball teams of Major League Baseball (MLB) have called the Southern California area their home now for the last 50 to 60 years or so.

The Dodgers moved to the Los Angeles area from Brooklyn in New York in 1958 and played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1958 to 1961 before moving in to Dodger Stadium in 1962, while the Angels franchise played their first ever season in team history in 1961 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. After the 1961 season the Angels played their home games at Chavez Ravine (A.K.A. Dodger Stadium) from 1962 to 1965. Since the 1966 season the Angels have called Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, California their home ballpark.

Both teams also play their games in two separate leagues with the Dodgers playing in the National League while the Angels take on competitors from the American League. Even though these two teams have played in separate leagues throughout their history, there are times throughout the season each year when both teams have played each other. When that happens, those series of games are referred to as the "Freeway Series" due to the fact that many of the fans can go to the games by driving on the freeways in the Los Angeles area. As a matter of fact, the one freeway that has access to both cities and stadiums is the 5 Freeway.

When it comes to figuring out the rooting interest of both teams, this is probably the one that is the most easy call for me to make as a fan. Since my family and I have been fans of the Angels for as long as I can remember, it's a no-brainer that they would come out on top in this contest.

There was even a period of time for a few years during which my dislike for the Dodgers was so intense that I would be really mad or upset if they were either beating the Angels in the head-to-head match ups or were having a much better season than the Angels were.

If I remember things correctly, this was also around the same time that Frank McCourt owned the Dodgers which also added to the intensity of my animosity of the Boys in Blue. Now that Frank McCourt no longer owns the team however, my negative views of the Dodgers have changed considerably over the last few years but not enough to the point where I would choose to root for them over the Angels when they play against each other.

Jared Goff Photo (Top) Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia and Jeffrey Beall Under
CC BY 4.0 License.

Philip Rivers Photo (Bottom) Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia and Jeffrey Beall Under
CC BY 4.0 License. 

2. Los Angeles Rams (LAR) Vs. Los Angeles Chargers (LAC) (NFL)

This same city National Football League (NFL) sports rivalry is the newest one to have arrived recently in the Southern California area. For the Rams this is now the second time in their franchise history that they have played a large part of their games in the state of California after a long detour in St. Louis, Missouri while the Chargers are currently playing in only their second season ever in the city of Los Angeles. Before that of course, they spent their previous seasons playing in the city of San Diego, California.

In terms of now having not one, but two football teams in Los Angeles after an absence of over 20 years, I'm still not quite used to knowing that the NFL has now had two teams come back and or move to the area once again and playing here over the last couple of years. As a sports fan when I was growing up, I actually got very used to not having a football team or teams in the city of Los Angeles for quite some time. As a result, I started to like the freedom of being able to choose which football team to root for if I wanted to do so. It was during that time that I became a fan of the Dallas Cowboys for a little while.

As of right now though, I have not really been a fan of any one football team in particular. That being said, if I had to choose which L.A. team football team that I currently prefer over the other, I guess I would have to go with the Rams due to their recent overall success. That endorsement however is not a ringing one when compared to some of the other rivalries that are included in this article.

Kobe Bryant Photo (Top) Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia and Keith Allison from Kinston, USA
Under CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Chris Paul Photo (Bottom) Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia and Verse Photography
Under CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

3. Los Angeles Lakers (LAL) Vs. Los Angeles Clippers (also abbreviated as LAC) (NBA)

The next Southern California crosstown rivalry comes from the third of the four biggest professional sports leagues in North America. That is the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). This is a Southern California sports rivalry that has, for the most part, been very one-sided throughout its overall history.

For the majority of time that this rivalry has been around, it has been dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers. Over the last few years though, the Clippers have done a good job at fielding some very competitive teams while the Lakers were not very competitive. That being said though, the overall dominance of the Lakers as one of the marquee franchises in the NBA cannot be ignored. From watching some of the greatest basketball players that have played for the purple and gold during my lifetime in Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to enjoying the excellent deep playoff runs of the three-peat championship Lakers teams from 2000-2002, there is one clear winner in this rivalry and that is the Lakers!

Now that they have added LeBron James to the fold as a free agent to start the 2018-2019 season, it will be interesting to see if the team can be good enough once again to get back to the playoffs after a drought of a few years and compete for a championship.

Dustin Brown Photo (Below) Courtesy Of:
Wikimedia and JulieAndSteve
Under CC BY 2.0 License.

4. Los Angeles Kings (LAK) Vs. Anaheim Ducks (ANA) (NHL)

The last Southern California crosstown rivalry comes from the sport that I have watched the least of. That is the rivalry between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Even though I don't really watch that many hockey games to begin with, I have watched enough of them to have a favorite team to root for and follow in this rivalry. That team would be the Los Angeles Kings.

Since my dad has been a fan of the team throughout the years, that is one factor which made it easier for me to be a fan of the team as well. Another factor that also influenced me along the way were the few years that they put together a solid stretch of being in the Stanley Cup playoffs from 2009 to 2014. During this time the team would end up winning the Stanley Cup at the end of the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 seasons.

As for the Anaheim Ducks, even though they have also won a Stanley Cup championship in 2007 and did so before the Kings won a pair of their own a few years later, I have never really been a fan of that team at all since the time they were established in 1993 as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. At this point in my life when it comes to the Ducks team and how I view them, I probably feel a stronger connection to the Ducks' teams that were featured in the Disney movie franchise of the 1990's which served as the inspiration for the real team.

Since those teams weren't real ones though, I think I'll just stick with my original team allegiance pick of the Los Angeles Kings. That being said though, since my level of interest in the sport hasn't been at the same level of the other sports such as baseball, if either the Kings or Ducks are in the playoffs in a given year as has been the case previously, it wouldn't bother me too much to root for both of them. If that scenario were to happen in the future however, I would give a slight edge to the Kings.

Closing Thoughts:

As the famous saying at the end of the Looney Tunes cartoon series goes, "That's all folks!" With the exception of the local college teams that are in the area as well as those other teams who play for the Major League Soccer (MLS) professional sports league, I have discussed all the professional sports teams that play their respective games in the Southern California area and my subsequent rooting interests for each of them. The main reason why I chose to not include any of the other college or pro sports teams in the Southern California area such as the UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Galaxy is because I don't follow those sports as closely as I do when compared to the four main sports leagues that I chose to be a part of the discussion.

Now that you guys know where I stand as a fan with regards to those teams, it would be interesting to find out if we're on the same page or if there will have to be some lines drawn in the sand. In any case, feel free to continue rooting for whoever you want and I hope we can still be friends, even if we happen to be on opposite sides of the sports rivalry fence.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2018-All Rights Reserved