I can't stand writing columns such as the one I hope you are about to read. A former colleague of mine once said no one cares why something does or doesn't happen, only that it did or didn't happen. To explain the reason why is just making excuses.
Well, with all due respect to him, here is my excuse.
From time to time, there seems to be a specific topic that leads the complaints we receive at The Minot Daily News. Right now, it's Major League Baseball box scores - or to be more specific, the lack thereof.
What baffles me the most can be summed up in a call I received late this past week. A caller mentioned someone in the sports department having "something against Major League Baseball" as the reason why all the boxscores weren't being published.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have also noticed that "you have some kind of bias against (insert said organization, school, gender, whatever)" seems to be a common complaint. I don't know what I can possibly say to whoever is thinking this, but you are wrong. Pick the subject, pick the sport, pick the time of year, pick the gender, pick the race, pick the color of the jersey or the school name printed on it and I can tell you that you are completely wrong to think we have a bias against you, your team or your favorite sport.
Back to baseball.
The world of the sports section at the Daily News has steadily changed during the four years I have been sports editor. My department staff is smaller, the newsroom staff is smaller, the section is smaller - all the while we have more varsity sports at our local high schools and universities than at any time in their respective histories. In two years, Minot State University will add two more sports. The Daily News, and especially the sports department, has worked extremely hard at keeping as many of those student-athletes in the paper via games stories, photos, features, and yes, results on the scoreboard page.
That will remain a constant - at least until I leave.
Very seldom do we receive calls to say "cover less local sports." So what suffers when there is less space and less people to track things down? If you are following along, you have already guessed it. National sports coverage, while extremely important to my personal world and the worlds of all three of our sports department writers, is going to be the area that gets cut first.
I will not cut a track meet with 150 local names to fit in a MLB baseball box score. Sorry if that ruffles the MLB folks' feathers, but that is what's going to happen. Don't get too cocky professional basketball, hockey and golf fans - you're in the same boat. The vast majority of people who read The Minot Daily News sports section do it for the local coverage - coverage, I might add, that is unmatched in this state.
Now, does that mean I will deliberately cut MLB just for some sort of twisted pleasure of hearing the complaint calls the next day? No. Again, that is so far from the truth. Baseball is one of my favorite sports, if not my favorite. I wanted to name my first-born son Koufax, for crying out loud.
It pains me to cut anything from the paper. We only have so much room on any given day. But even if we have a full compliment of eight pages, something still is going to be left out. There are literally hundreds of stories from the Associated Press each and every day. I am sure that no matter what we did, we would cut something somebody wanted to read that day.
I feel for the MLB fans of the Daily News world. I really do. But you are going about it all wrong. Instead of calling me, contact the publisher. Explain to him why MLB coverage is so important to our paper. Explain to him why sports is so important to our paper. Convince him that sports deserves more room on a daily basis and needs more people to cover everything that is happening in northwest North Dakota. I am pleading with you to convince him.
You're preaching to the choir when you call me.
(Michael Linnell is the sports editor at The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)