Notes on cub reporters and World Series stress texting
So, on the morning after the Cubs' victory, I'm on my way to work, and I call my buddy Joel to kibitz a bit about the game.
Somewhere during the conversation he mentioned the convenience store near his house was overrun with people waiting for a delivery of Daily Heralds and our keepsake World Series edition.
"Hey, take a picture of that!" I yelled.
He was home, but offered to go back.
Got to work, and my sister Marilee texted from Dick's Sporting Goods in Lombard, where she was picking up Cubs gear. Did I want anything? Sure, championship hat, T-shirts. She texted back: "Get a reporter to dicks omg it's overflow parking"
"Hey, take a picture of that!" I texted back, or words to that effect.
It was early, and I figured we could use any type of coverage, particularly to post online.
But, alas, I did not take the time to brief my cub reporters on some of the nuances of photo journalism.
Joel, who is a serious videographer aside from his full-time job, took a beautiful photo of the happy customers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, holding up copies of their Daily Heralds. And staring straight into the camera. Um, did you get any shots that weren't so posed, I asked. Nope. Any chance people are still there, so you could get more of a news photo, I asked, starting to feel like a bit of a jerk. Too late, Joel said.
Marilee tried hard, too. She shot her first photo from her spot in line, and you couldn't really see the size of the crowd. "Get on a ladder so we can see the line!!!" I text-bellowed. She also tried to do a video interview with the clerk, who was summoned all the way from Michigan to help with the hordes of Cubs fans. Alas, her camera was on the wrong setting. Well, did you get his name, a number? I can have a reporter call him back. No such luck. She also videorecorded herself exhorting her fellow shoppers into singing "Go, Cubs, Go," but decided she wanted that published anonymously. Sorry, no anonymous videos, I told her. Plus, you shot it vertically; you're supposed to take video horizontally. OK, I am a jerk.
But you know what, all was not for naught: Joel's photo appears with the column; Marilee had someone hold her place in line and took an overhead photo that appeared with Doug Graham's story on fans seeking Cubs paraphernalia. (He also used Marilee's story about the Dick's clerk.)
I tell you all this not just to poke gentle fun at friends and family, but really to point out how caught up everyone is in Cubs World Series Victory Fever. This was fun, pure and simple. On a day I thought I'd be dragging from so many nights of staying up way past my bedtime, I was pulsating with Cubs adrenaline, as were Joel and Marilee, and, I'll bet, at least half the population of the metropolitan area.
And also to illustrate how tough it is to be good on a huge, huge story -- and to execute well with deadline breathing right down your neck. I can't say enough about the performance of Cubs beat writer Bruce Miles, columnists Burt Constable, Mike Imrem and Barry Rozner and Sports Editor Tom Quinlan and his staff for making it happen. Many of us, when the game was rain delayed and headed to extra innings, were wondering the same thing: How much of this are we gonna get in tomorrow's paper? It was close, but as evidenced by the sellout of 10 times as many extra newsstand copies, people liked our efforts.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the terrific work by our photographers: Brian Hill, Steve Lundy and John Starks -- with Patrick Kunzer serving as our in-house photo editor. I hope you had a chance to read the Oct. 18 story by Starks that takes you behind the scenes of a photographer's life in shooting playoff baseball. Far, far more to it than meets the eye of the lens. And of the dramatic World Series win, he was quick to deflect my praise onto Kunzer, saying Patrick was "THE MAN all night during Game 7. His photo editing was superb. I sent him a lot of pictures and he chose to file/publish the right ones.
"It was a loud, wet, exhausting atmosphere but he kept me on task. His communication with me and the page editors is the reason we have those memorable fronts," Starks said.
There is one other relatively new phenomenon I've noticed in playoff baseball: Stress texting.
I don't know how else to describe it, but at least in looking back at one of several threads going on that Wednesday night -- Joel, Marilee and another buddy, Feez -- exemplified the roller coaster of emotions, and, if I'm completely honest, a not-small sense of fatalism that many of us long-suffering Cubs fans have. "We're hosed," Feez texted when things went south. At various points in the game, we took shots at Javy Baez, Jason Heyward and, especially, Joe Maddon.
But, when disaster turned to victory, all was forgiven, of course. We shared notes on the barrage of fireworks going off here and there. Our general state of disbelief.
But Joel, the longest-suffering and probably most ardent Cubs fan among us, had disappeared from the conversation.
From Feez: "Hey Joel -- you ok?"
"Yes," Joel texted back. "I'm in tears."