When the Minnesota Twins return to town next week after a lengthy road trip covering much of August, their first opponents will be the Seattle Mariners. And when the Mariners on Friday begin their road swing that will bring them to Minneapolis, they and the Target Field press box, shown above, will be without a contingent of beat reporters from the Seattle and Tacoma newspapers, according to a blog post from the team's communications staff.
"Because the Seattle Times and the (Tacoma) News Tribune as of now are not planning on sending their beat reporters to cover the team on the road the remainder of the season, the only coverage of Mariners Baseball by the regular reporters will be provided by Greg Johns, the fine beat reporter for Mariners.com," the post said.
Deadspin.com got in touch with the Seattle Times sports editor, who said the paper has "lined up experienced freelancers" for coverage and added that "we will decide each remaining trip this season on the merits."
In that post, Deadspin also weighed the merits of not sending reporters on the road, especially for a last-place team. While a news outlet saves on the very expensive cost of travel (the Mariners also go to Chicago on this road trip), a beat reporter loses out on building relationships and drawing a basis of comparison. And a news outlet's coverage likely suffers and gives avid readers less of a reason to make time for its product. But then again, if a newspaper goes out of business, like one did not too long ago in Seattle, they won't be doing any coverage. Of course, some might also be thankful for the chance to pass up watching two last-place baseball teams.
What do you think? In this age of Twitter and TV and pool quotes and ever-present cellphones, is your choice of team coverage determined by proximity to the team? Or by the power of the observations?
And here the view that the reporters won't have, from a 2010 video on YouTube from a press box walk-through: