One day, Beerleaguer will have the power to headhunt writers away from their beat. When that day comes, Scott Lauber of The News-Journal will get a phone call. [Lauber Blog]
Admittedly, blogs like this one receive nourishment from second-hand sources, and that’s especially true during spring training. Aside from a few broadcasts, ST unfolds in relative darkness. It’s the job of luggage-toting pros, like Lauber and others, to report news, adopt issues and foster story lines as the team builds toward their goal.
As a general rule, the writers keep their distance from their subject matter, but on Beerleaguer, scribes like Lauber, Todd Zolecki, Ken Mandel and David Murphy will become prominent characters in the season-long drama. Rarely, as was the case with Sam Carchidi last season, they actually become the story. Radio jock Howard Eskin made news for his closed-door blowup with Charlie Manuel, but Eskin dwells in a more sensationalized medium.
In the meantime, the guys putting in the day-to-day work rarely receive the accolades, even though they are the first to file. It can be thankless task, grinding out copy, on the road, when the game goes to extras and you're up against a deadline. It’s easy to take for granted, especially in the Internet age, when headlines are washed through a million different feeds and appear on Web sites like this one moments after they're posted.
Phillies fans are blessed with a vast pool of writing talent. Even in the three years of maintaining Beerleaguer, our resources have grown leaps and bounds. It's becoming harder and harder to distinguish yourself. So how do you do it? In Lauber’s case, you keep your finger on the pulse and pay attention to forums like this one. You snuff out news and answer the questions fans will be asking the next day. You go off the beaten path and tap scouts from other clubs. Old pros like Jim Salisbury and Paul Hagen do this, too, but Lauber has done a nice job weaving alternative sources into daily reports, most recently, a feature on Pedro Feliz. He's written on prospects like Jason Donald months before they've made headlines. When Ryan Howard prepared for arbitration, he interviewed Tom Gordon, the only Phillie to ever go through the process. These angles do not go unnoticed, and his blog deserves the kind of participation this site receives. Lauber’s baseball acumen also shines. He's put The News-Journal on the map as a trusted source for Phillies news, proving it's not the size that counts.
So today, while we wait for tonight’s game, we give props to Lauber, and by extension, his colleagues on the beat. We spend countless hours disecting spring training performance, as it relates to players, while our unassuming writers are the real stars of spring.