I’ve been in mad scientist mode since before the lockout.
One of the disadvantages in this life is that we only get one shot to see how things will go. Once you’ve shot your shot, it’s observation time.
But what happens if you just hold onto the ball?
Back in September, I went on a quick tour through the system, doing my first live coverage since early-2019, with very little since 2018. With a new system, and my reporter game rusty, I was nervous about what stories I’d come up with.
The very first day back on the job, in the very first interview, I got some amazing details about how the Pirates have been switching to a more individualized approach to development. After talking with more players at different levels, I could confirm this switch.
Having covered the old system closer than anyone else, I was able to dig into this and see the contrast between the old and new development teams. Upon returning from the trip, I started transcribing the interviews and thinking about the article(s) that would come from this story. My thought was that it would be the best story I’ve written.
At some point, I had a thought. Insecurity mixed with that mad scientist brain, and I wondered if one of two things would happen.
Number One: Perhaps this wasn’t really an important story. Otherwise, why wasn’t it covered yet?
Number Two: Perhaps this was an important story. If it was, someone else would eventually get it.
In my history on this site, the window of exclusivity for a story is less than a day. If I report something that no other reporter has even scratched the surface on, every other outlet in town will have a story within a day or two. It’s the advantage I’ve got covering a niche area of this team, while everyone else is spread thin.
It doesn’t really matter if I’m first on a story. What matters is writing the best story I can. I was certain that no one could write the story I could write, because no one has my experience with this farm system.
So, I decided to hold the story.
Hold it until I got the new Pirates Prospects membership software installed.
Hold it until I saw whether someone else would get the story.
I know that without me doing my niche reporting, the stories would eventually come out. There are talented reporters in this town. I just have the advantage of being able to do whatever I want, which means I can focus entirely on the farm system while everyone else eventually gets around to that topic.
But how big is that advantage in 2021? When I started this site, there was barely any coverage of the farm system. Now, there’s much more coverage from more people. There’s still too much for the entire group to cover, which is where Pirates Prospects has always aimed to fill in the gaps of information. Where are those gaps, and how long do they stay open?
Three months later, someone wrote this story. Jason Mackey did a great job, and you should check out his article. There are a lot of potential stories on this topic — more than any three outlets could cover during the MLB lockout — and I can’t wait to publish mine soon. I will note that this isn’t just limited to pitching, but the individual approach extends across the entire system.
I needed to wait on this to answer that question about the advantage this site still has.
This makes me wonder how things might have gone in the alternate reality where I published this news in September. How much more would we know about the system at this point if the reporters in Bradenton last week were working off my story, rather than finding it in their own way?
I guess that’s something we will know going forward.
Be looking for the player development series in the upcoming week. Before that, I’ll have a few columns and looks at the current state of the Pirates rebuild, with the first one coming later today.