John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


A rare double billing on bylines

There are days on the People’s Wire – that’s The Canadian Press to you – that are really quiet, where we focus on Canadianizing stories from the Associated Press and crafting small, quick stories of our own.

But then there are days like yesterday when we live on the phone, recording conference calls, working from news releases and hunting down stories.

Over the weekend Milos Raonic was named the ATP Tour’s Newcomer of the Year. I put together a story on it and contacted Tennis Canada to ask if they’d have any media availability with the Thornhill, Ont., native.

Raonic wasn’t immediately available, but the PR person assured me he’d have a conference call on yesterday.

Sure enough, when I came in to work my boss Neil Davidson had printed off Tennis Canada’s notice about Raonic’s availability. I hopped on the call, rolling tape for radio stations on our broadcast wire and to refer to for colour on this story.

It took a few drafts, but we got the Raonic story to a good place and it started spreading across the Internet.

It was soon overshadowed though. The American League’s Most Valuable Player was named yesterday afternoon, with starting pitcher Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers – already the AL’s Cy Young winner for the season – getting the nod from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Verlander beat out Boston Red Sox fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto Blue Jays right-fielder Jose Bautista.

Oddly, Bautista decided to hold a news conference from his home in the Dominican Republic.

It was a strange move because, usually, pro athletes quietly nod and say “so-and-so had a great season” when they miss out on major awards. They may be pissed, but they hide that disappointment from the media for fear of looking like a sore loser.

Not Bautista, however.

He angrily made a case for why he or Ellsbury should’ve won the MVP award instead of Verlander. Bautista’s two major points were that Verlander didn’t play every day – an implicit qualification for the award – and that he was passed over for the honour because he played for the Blue Jays, a team far out of playoff contention in the fall.

Again, I had to write a full-length feature story (almost 800 words exactly) in just over an hour’s time.

Cranking out two features in a day would be stressful at the best of times, but I was also writing regular broadcast sports bulletins and doing other stories as well. It was a hectic day on the desk.

Naturally, an all-star player like Bautista complaining about an MVP snub made big waves, with several outlets putting the story online. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan even cited the story in one of his stories.

This morning, on a hunch, I bought the print edition of the Globe and Mail, assuming that my Bautista story would make the Toronto edition.

It didn’t – but my Raonic piece did. Here's a photo of the only story that has ever made it onto my fridge door at home.



My latest byline

A big part of working desk shifts is listening in on conference calls with athletes, coaches and managers.

Today I sat in on a call with Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. The team had set up the call after the Jays signed the club option for infielder Edwin Encarnacion and let relief pitcher Jon Rauch, amongst others, become free agents.

A link to my article is below.

Encarnacion to become utilityman for Jays

TORONTO - Edwin Encarnacion is going to be a jack of all trades for the Toronto Blue Jays next season.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos said Tuesday that the 28-year-old infielder is going to spend more time as a designated hitter and even play some games in the outfield.

"The fact that Edwin can play multiple positions, and now he's going to be playing some left field in winter ball as well, will open up some flexibility," Anthopoulos told a media conference call. "As we sit here today, the role would primarily be DH but we like he can play some first, play some third and we'd like to find out a little bit more about him in left field."

(Read the rest here)