Covering an increasingly vast news, entertainment, sports landscape
Maybe you noticed. There's a World Series going on.
Well, maybe it's over now. As I write on Wednesday afternoon, the Texas Rangers have a 3-1 advantage over the Arizona Diamondbacks. If they win tonight, the Rangers will secure their first Major League Baseball championship in the franchise's 62-year history. And, you'll find a big story on the cover of the Daily Herald's Sports section and some mention on the front-page. If they don't win, we'll have coverage, but the big story will have to hold until the weekend and a champion is determined between two wild-card opponents.
Sure, the story will have its moment of glory, but within days, outside of Arlington, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona, the shine will have faded to a picture or two of the winner's hometown celebration and local analyses of chances for a Chicago team to get there next year. By this time next month, most Americans other than serious sports fans will have a hard time remembering what teams even played in the series, much less who won or what player was named Most Valuable.
I mention all this after seeing Wednesday's story on the outcome of Game 4 placed at the bottom of the Sports front beneath a story about the Bears' second-round draft pick and a feature on the Batavia High School Bulldogs' linebacker corps. This level of attention seemed eminently sensible to me. We are, after all, in the middle of a struggling home team's NFL season, and the Daily Herald's athletic bread-and-butter is suburban prep sports. Still, I couldn't help thinking about how much "America's favorite pastime" has been crowded out of the limelight over the years.
I strive not to fall into the boring trap of reminiscing about how great things were "in my day," but if Adele could wail mournfully at 25 years old about how different things are than "When We Were Young," hopefully someone like me, at a fairly more advanced age, can be forgiven a moment's indulgence.
Besides, I think there is in the reflection a relevant message for our own time regarding our popular interests.
An immediate assumption when one compares the attention the World Series used to garner - in my central Illinois grade school, it was an occasion, no matter who was playing, to wheel a black-and-white television into the classroom on a par with a shot into outer space by Alan Shepard or John Glenn - is that we just don't care about baseball the way we once did. But that is only partially accurate.
It is more true that we just have so many more great things clamoring for and often winning our attention now. Professional baseball was once hailed as America's favorite pastime largely because there weren't a whole lot of other competing pastimes.
Today, the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field host not only Chicago's hometown Cubs but also the likes of Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen and the Jonas Brothers. On the same nights that, should the Rangers have failed last night to win their title, World Series games could be being played, comedian Nate Bargatze, as just one of many weekend Chicago entertainment options, will be making people laugh at sold-out shows costing hundreds of dollars a ticket. Sports radio stations will, at best, only break away for requisite perfunctory World Series coverage then go on to previewing Sunday's likely unspectacular Bears game. On television, viewers will have literally hundreds of options on dozens of streaming channels and media.
And all of this applies just to entertainment coverage. If we turn to news coverage, the plethora of splintered options easily beggar stereotypes of a singular news media monolith just as surely as the many available entertainment pastimes dispel the notion of a single America's pastime.
So it is that whereas at one time, all of the nation would be hanging on the outcome of every pitch and every game of the true October Classic, newspaper readers, broadcast viewers and social media users will be squeezing the Big Game into place amid a host of additional points of interest.
It's not the same as "in my day," but, like Adele, I keep "holding on /
Just in case it hasn't gone." And it hasn't. There's just so much more now to enjoy and, for a newspaper, to cover.
• Jim Slusher, firstname.lastname@example.org, is managing editor for opinion at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jim.slusher1 and on Twitter at @JimSlusher.