The major property holder on the second page of the Star Tribune’s Sunday sports section remains Sid Hartman. Mike Rand takes 20 percent of the space with a Q & A and I’ve been a squatter on the bottom of the print edition for the past couple of years.
It comes with the title “Patrick Plus’’ and is advertised as excerpts from the blog that I write occasionally for startribune.com (such as this one). Actually, there’s a chance that something addressed in an online blog could be the inspiration, but I’ve been writing the copy specifically for that space.
Generally, Kevin Bertels handles the copy flow for the Sunday section, and it has been a tradition for me to contact “K.B.’’ on Friday night with this message:
“You will have the Page 2 doohickey by early Saturday afternoon at the latest. All that I require before starting to hack away is an idea.’’
Of course, what I’ve always said about “early’’ columns – those space-fillers for an early edition when covering a night event -- is that you don’t need an idea for those but merely a thought.
Truth be told, that also can be the case with the Page 2 effort, which I have produced faithfully, come Hades or high water, since it started … ah, I’m not sure when.
Sunday’s Patrick Plus is supposed to fill an exact hole on Page 2, so the main element is 350 words, and it’s accompanied by three brief items.
Three hundred and 50 words are less than half the size of a regular column. It’s also roughly the point that I try to make sure I’ve actually gotten to the topic of a regular column.
Sometimes I fail, but that’s the goal – to give the reader a hint where you’re headed by paragraph nine or 10.
On Friday, I went to the Wolves’ post-practice media availability in search for ammunition to go with a column planned for Saturday: that the NBA is the toughest league in American sports to go from an also-ran to the top five of the conference standings.
Coach Sam Mitchell gave me some time after he finished answering general questions, so that I could run my theory past him. This drifted into Mitchell talking about all the subtle things young players have to learn before they become part of a winning team in the NBA.
I wrote the Saturday column without getting much into the conversation with Mitchell, which meant, presto, there was Sunday’s Patrick Plus.
Since it appeared, I have received a handful of communiques ridiculing Mitchell for simplistic insight in the example provided – namely, Sam talking about the difference between Andrew Wiggins receiving a pass 16 feet from the basket and 26 feet from the basket.
To repeat: It’s a mini-column, 350 words and usually intended to be light-hearted.
I didn’t flesh out the real point Mitchell was making: that the coaches continue to spend time working with Wiggins, despite his narrow frame, to do the hard work needed to get in position to receive a pass at 16 feet, rather than to keep moving out of traffic to make the easy catch at 26 feet.
And the other point would be that when fans and media critics complain about the Wolves “not getting the ball’’ to their best players at crucial moments, we might want to monitor more closely what those lads are doing to make themselves available to receive a pass.
Meantime, Patrick Plus will be located back in Sid’s basement again next Sunday, whether based on a cogent idea or a passing thought.