Nowadays, you can just type a few letters in your browser and read from any news source you want; but if you were from Detroit in a certain era, you probably had a "family" newspaper. Maybe it was based on the political slant of the editorial page. Maybe you preferred the look. Maybe you thought the reporting was better. Maybe it was the columnists. Most likely it was some combination of the above. One paper fit just a bit better than the other. That's the one whose angle you wanted to read. That's the one that would arrive on your family's door step. When you read the others, it was like visiting acquaintances you see only a few times a year. Familiar, yet ....
Both sides of my family were Detroit News people. My mom tells me her father worked as a photo engraver for the News, way back in the day. Today, I may as well tell you he made buggy whips. In any case, the News was the paper read in my mom's home when she was growing up. My father's side read the News, too. If I visited my grandfather, there was a News. If I visited my aunt, there was a News. Visited my cousins -- there, again, was the News.
So, in many ways, today's announcement that the News is giving me prime column space on their Tigers' page every other Tuesday feels like I'm going to a familiar place.
First, just to be clear, this isn't just some rags-to-riches story about a blogger going big time. I mean, Bless You Boys is a blog. The Detroit News is big time. But journalism is also the profession I came up through. It's the one I excelled at. I put my time in with the Marquette Mining Journal. I won some awards. I try not to mention them too much, but I know I do come back to them from time to time. You don't get rich in the world of journalism, so the respect of your peers means a lot. Being honored by mine with statewide awards is something that I am proud of. A blog is a different beast from your daily newspaper, but I tried to hold myself to the same standards a newspaper would hold me to.
Yet the Detroit News is taking a risk you don't see every day. Even today the "traditional" media attacks the "new" media. Just this week Peter Gammons, as respected a baseball writer as you'll find, was heard on Boston radio saying bloggers just make stuff up. Contrast that opinion with what the News is doing: believing in a blogger in a tangible way, giving a chance on a big stage. That shows an understanding that thoughtful analysis and evocative writing is not limited to print. It shows a lot of faith in me, too -- that's faith that I take seriously and hope to reward.
By the way, this isn't just about me. You can bet part of the reason this opportunity came about was the robust, successful community here at Bless You Boys. I've thanked you for reading before, but I thank you more than ever now.
I am overjoyed to be joining the News. I've often thought they have the best baseball coverage of the Michigan newspapers. Their reporters are inexhaustible and carry a wealth of knowledge. The chief writers, Tom Gage and Lynn Henning, have both been kind to me in the past.
In my early days of blogging, back on Mack Avenue Tigers, I asked Lynn if he would mind answering a few questions about his job. He cheerfully agreed -- everything Lynn does is cheerful; he truly is a kind man -- and turned about six questions into 2,500 words detailing what he does on the job and some of his most interesting experiences. I accidentally e-mailed him a photo of Donner once, not noticing the wrong Lynn came up first on gmail, to which he responded, "Great looking puppy. Thanks for sending." A proud puppy dad, I always am!
Tom wrote a thoughtful piece on Ernie Harwell when I edited the MSP Detroit Tigers Annual in 2011. I had hoped to find someone that knew Ernie personally to write the story for me, but Tom was the only reporter who responded to my queries. He did a fantastic job, better than I hoped for.
I've also known Tony Paul for several years, as well, and he has always been a wonderful supporter of the blog and my works, giving us ample publicity when no one else would. He has again been key, and I certainly thank him and everyone at the News for what they are doing.
Joining this wonderful team is an honor. It's still a bit surreal. I'm not even sure if it's sunken in. Maybe it won't until I see my face staring back at me. Maybe it won't even then. I write. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about what happens afterward. I'm awed and honored that people want read.
But I've always written better about baseball than anything else -- especially myself. I look forward to getting back into my wheel house on that -- starting now. Don't expect much to change around here. I'll still be writing on Bless You Boys as much as always. We'll still be reading and linking to all the different baseball writers out there. But now I am asking a favor of each of you: Please click over to the News on a regular basis, too. I've always found it well worth my time. I'm happy to be your familiar face over there, but I hope the rest soon feel like family, too, if they don't already.
Thanks to all,