By Dan Schlossberg
For baseball purists like me, this is usually the happiest time on the baseball calendar.
Baseball magazines, filled with predictions, would proliferate at newsstands and bookstores, while team media guides, bulging with more stats and information than it’s possible to digest, would be there for the taking in big-league press boxes.
Now, thanks to the digital age, both have largely disappeared.
Major League Baseball’s Spring Training Guide and Media Information Guide are now online only, the same fate that has befallen most of the team media guides.
The St. Louis Cardinals, one of the last holdouts, are still planning to issue a print edition but they’re part of a dwindling minority. Even the New York Mets have gone digital.
It’s a disappointing development, since teams could raise extra revenue by selling media guides in team stores. Fans — and especially collectors — would surely scoop them up.
Going digital makes sense, in a way, because anything online can be updated. With so many free agents signing late and so many last-minute transactions marking the last weeks of spring training, digital guides make sense — to some degree.
But there’s no excuse for MLB not publishing printed versions of their Spring Training Guide, with maps and directions to all 30 training sites, or their Media Information Guide, a directory of contacts that includes both email addresses and phone numbers.
As an Old School guy, I like to read and to hold printed things in my hands.
I want box scores over breakfast and can’t find it on the computer or cell phone — not while I’m trying to handle a knife, fork, and coffee cup. That’s why I get mad when my morning newspaper doesn’t show up before 8.
Fortunately, I have a great collection of old media guides as well as such annuals as Street & Smith’s Official Baseball Yearbook, Athlon’s Baseball Preview, The Sporting News Yearbook, Lindy’s Baseball Magazine, and the old Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball, Baseball Illustrated, Sports Quarterly Baseball, and so many more. Even Major League Baseball and USA TODAY Sports Weekly issued one-shot baseball annuals.
Those were the days. Losing them is like losing old friends.
Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has written for all of the baseball annuals. He’s been covering baseball since 1969. E.mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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