SBJ/September 30 - October 6, 2002/Media

Twin Cities papers ride to postseason with MLB team that almost wasn't

Minnesota newspapers were expecting to write a lot about the Twins this year — on the obituary pages. Today, sports departments are rushing to cobble together special sections, assign reporters and cover the team's first playoff appearance since 1991.

At the St. Paul Pioneer Press, expect to see an eight- to 12-page special section this week analyzing the Twins and the seven other playoff teams. Interim sports editor Ron Wade wants to make sure the paper stays level-headed.

"If they're successful in the first round, there are still two more rounds," he said. "We can't go overboard because then we'll have nowhere to go after that."

When the Twins travel to likely first-round foe Oakland, three or four staffers will cover them instead of the usual one. Six will be assigned to home games. Wade expects the news side to contribute heavily if the team wins that series. "That's when the community bandwagon will start, when politicians start making stupid bets," he said.

At the rival Star Tribune in Minneapolis, sports editor Glenn Crevier is working on a 14-page special section for Tuesday. Five reporters and four photographers will fly to Oakland, putting a four-figure bite in Crevier's travel budget.

"It's hard to get cheap [plane] tickets because we didn't know where they were going until late," he said.

Back in January, Ben Taylor, a Star Tribune executive, said the newspaper would lose about $200,000 in newsstand revenue if the Twins were folded before the season. Were the team to reach the World Series, he expects newsstand sales to rise by a few thousand a day.

WRITE STUFF? Hardly anyone thinks of athletes as writers. Fewer still associate ballplayers and football coaches with the magazine Popular Mechanics.

But in its 100 years, Popular Mechanics has published stories from a host of sports figures, compiled along with articles from other famous people in the book "The Best of Popular Mechanics."

The pieces, unfortunately, are not models of ingenuity. In explaining the game, legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne writes, "A good team will not try a forward pass against a strong wind." Baseball manager Lou Piniella dares to opine during an article on swing mechanics, "The home run can win the ballgame for you in one swing of the bat."

The book, available through the magazine's Web site (www.pm.zone.com) and published by Hearst Communications, costs $24.95.

Contact David Sweet at dsweet@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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Baseball, Minnesota Twins

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