Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday Paper

Technically, it would be wrong to call the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex a "two paper" city. Many years ago, Dallas did have two competing dailies while Fort Worth had the Star-Telegram. (I think Cowtown had two papers at one time, too, but it was well before my time.) Eventually, the Dallas Times Herald went away - leaving their damned classified ad jingle that was played over and over in commercials during afternoon UHF fare stuck in the heads of many - and that left the Dallas Morning News as the "one" voice of Big D.

(Crap. I have to type this out now in the hopes that it won't keep replaying itself in my brain: Call the Dallas Times Herald Classifieds at 748-1414! Does anyone else remember 7-digit dialing? I mean, besides residents of Nevada?)

Anyway, we still had/have two local daily papers that were in fierce competition with each other. Kind of. Obviously, the Dallas Morning News focuses its stories to a Dallas County audience, while the Star Telegram (or "Startlegram" to those who tend to zero in on the paper's propensity for shocking headlines) targets Tarrant County folk.

But the Sports sections should transcend that line, right?

I mean, it's not like people in Fort Worth choose to root for Houston teams in the NFL and the NBA because of a hatred for Dallas. So it would stand to reason that Dallas residents would not harbor ill will due to the fact that the local MLB team plays its home games in Tarrant County, right?

Well, perhaps they don't. But coverage of the Texas Rangers absolutely sucks in the Dallas paper, especially when compared to what the Star Telegram is putting in print every day.

The DMN has some great baseball writers, too. Evan Grant is a definite good and Gerry Fraley has The Great Game running through his veins. But coverage of the Arlington Nine is sporadic at best.

And, even though the FW Star lost its best baseball scribe (T.R. Sullivan) recently to the perfumed inner thigh of the Rangers page, their coverage has been as intense as ever, including a daily "quick hit" style Spring Training report.

(The good thing about Sullivan leaving the paper? He gets to write a lot more than he ever did while toiling for the "print media".)

But now it is time for my biggest beef about the baseball columns featured in the above mentioned papers: The stories are damn near mirror images of each other. On the same day, both ran stories about how Hank Blalock feels about being with the team after the failed trade for Josh Beckett. On the same day, both ran profiles of Mark Connor as the new pitching coach. (For the record, though, the Star Telegram seems to get the best quotes - the type that add more to the story.)

Shouldn't two papers mean variety? Except, of course, when it comes to news like Rudy Jaramillo's prostate cancer diagnosis. Repetetiveness like that is understandable. (But the FW Star was the first place I read about Buck Showalter's wife's bout with breast cancer. Where was the DMN on that one? Perhaps they dropped the ball because no writer does a better job at "tug on the heart strings sports stories" than Jim Reeves of the Telegram.)

This kind of anti-Tarrant County coverage will get very interesting when the Dallas Cowboys start playing their games right down the street from the Rangers in 2009. (It is 2009, right?) Will the News continue charging for full access of its online Cowboys coverage?

You bet they will. But you can also bet that the Star Telegram will outdo them... for the modest price of an email address.

Gotta love Fort Worth.