But here’s something the blogosphere has yet to unearth.
In July, the Daily News asked Conlin — “a writer who has covered the game both then and now” — to reflect on what he misses and what he is glad has changed.
We bring you his responses, as well as our snarky comments, Fire Joe Morgan-style.
THREE THINGS I MISS
1. Sitting around with the scouts in media lounges around baseball listening to these rococo poets break down games to their most minuscule points, each wrapped in a rich velour of anecdotal remembrance and apocryphal yarns.
I learned a lot from those scouts. They tought me about the evils of “wishful fan numbers”. Oh, and speaking of wrapping oneself in rich velour, I picked up a few fashion tips, too. Did you know that Hawaiian shirts can be worn pretty much year-round?
2. Day baseball and our old 5 a.m. deadlines, which caused the executive decision of the day: Do I dare risk writing after having dinner with Paul Owens? Or do I write now and miss him ripping, “My little [bleep] shortstop?”
Answer: I didn’t dare risk missing dinner.
3. Being able to buy a player a drink or pick up a dinner check at a time when the major league minimum salary and baseball beat man salary were in the same low-rent ballpark. My first full year on the beat, 1966, I was making a little more than the ML minimum of $10,500. I loved big-timing rookies.
I still love big-timing rookies. And I can do it, too. After all, I’m making ballplayer money for two columns a week! And not 1966 ballplayer money, either. The DN “gave me a generous signing bonus, a quarterly performance bonus and matched the lump sum that would have accompanied the buyout package. They also continued the subsidy of my Florida condo that has been paying the taxes and monthly maintenance since 1987. By law, they had to begin paying me my full pension in 2004, so at age 73 I’m making the top salary at the paper plus collecting the biggest monthly pension check ever paid out.”
THREE THINGS I’M GLAD HAVE CHANGED
1. Not having to take part in the group “one quote serves all” interviews that have become the sorry lot of the baseball beat writer.
In fact, I’ve stopped doing any reporting whatsoever!
2. Not having to write my stories and columns on an Olivetti portable with an “i” key that sticks … Then sending the story via a 30-pound fax machine that was called a “Telecopier” at 6 minutes a page. They were fragile and you weren’t supposed to check them with luggage, but everybody did, so they didn’t have to risk a hernia carrying them a half-mile to the gate. It was fun to see them come careening down the baggage-claim carousel chute, hit the railing and fly open in a shower of cheap plastic fittings. After that came the Radio Shack 100s holding one 25-inch story that would be lost forever if you accidentally got unplugged, as there was no memory in the early ones.
Now I write my stories on an Apple MacBook Pro, but the “i” key still sticks. What, they can come up with portable music players that work under water but they can’t invent a barbecue sauce-proof keyboard?
3. Google, instead of having some harassed clerk look up an obscure fact in a library where any clips worth reading had vanished years before. They were the days when the morgue really was …
… was … umm, I’m sorry. My heart stopped for a couple of seconds there. It does that on occassion. Where was I?