Where then is baseball writing headed this year, next year and after that? I used to be pleased after ballgames to talk to, say, pitcher Warren Spahn, as he sat on the bench in his underwear, and ask, "What happened in that six-run fifth inning, Spahnie?" Since Spahn had total recall and was one honest left-hander, the answer was rewarding. I pitied the political writers who never got to ask Eisenhower after a State of the Union speech, "What went wrong in paragraph eight there, Ike?" Or the music critics, who didn't get to interview Bernstein or Von Karajan in underwear or tux, and were left spouting personal opinions to those who cared and those who didn't.
Today's multimillionaire players may be innately as honest as the old-timers, but they have semi-millionaire agents jabbering, "Image, man, image. Watch the image!" That sort of advice does not encourage outpourings of truth. We had an honorable craft and I felt baseball writing was at the very cutting edge of journalism. I'd like to see sportswriters and editors stage a mini-revolution against managed news and, of course, I'm all for greater literacy too. If sportswriters fight for access and sports editors start reading Thomas Hardy, we will be starting back on the right pathway up the hill. *