The Star, you might have noticed, has embarked this week on something the paper has never done before, to the best of my knowledge — run a series of stories on the Web site before running the entire series in print.
The series is called “Becoming George Brett,” and it commemorates the 40th anniversary of Brett’s first game as a Royal.
I like the way The Star has done this, and the stories are terrific. Obviously, The Star is dispensing the series this way to entice people to sign up for digital subscriptions. That’s where the future appears to lie for major metropolitan dailies, and Star editors know that there’s no more enticing product than K.C.’s No. 1 sports figure. (Golfer Tom Watson would be No. 2, of course.)
The series is not an unequivocal home run, however, in my opinion. There are pluses and minuses.
Some of the pluses:
:: The first segment, which ran in print on Monday as well as online, was authored by sports columnist Sam Mellinger, who got a considerable amount of Brett’s time, including a walk with the former star and his dogs. (Along the way, a woman walker recognized Brett and gushed, “Love those Royals. Thank you, George!”)
Mellinger did an excellent job of blending the present with the past — how, when Brett was called up from Omaha, he thought a player with whom he was grilling hamburgers was being called up.
:: Lots of photographs and video pieces, including interviews with Brett, augment the stories.
:: To me, the flip-flopping between print and online is a bit confusing. The series promo box, which runs every day, has said from the outset that the series can be seen on kansascity.com. And yet Monday’s kick-off piece ran in print and online, but the Tuesday through Friday stories apparently are running online only.
:: The stories are not assembled coherently and in order on the Web site. Every entry, whether it’s photos or text, is under the “Becoming George Brett” banner, so you have to poke around to find the main stories. They should be assembled as Part I, Part II, Part III, etc…Surely The Star can fix that by tomorrow. Get on it, you computer nerds!
What with this being The Star’s first big series to be tailored so prominently for the Web, it’s not surprising that a few glitches crept in. Overall, though, it’s a thorough and well-packaged series. The readers should be eating it up.
While we’re talking baseball, here are a couple of other quick observations.
:: Royals’ TV broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre turned a crafty phrase near the end of Sunday’s game against the White Sox, which the Royals won 4-2. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Royals’ reliever Luke Hochevar struck out White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers to end the inning.
As Strike Three was called, Lefebvre said, “He (Hochevar) just carved up Flowers — one petal at a time.”
His poor partner, commentator Rex Hudler, didn’t chuckle or say a word. Heads up, Rex!
:: On their Web site, the Royals are promoting a new wrinkle — GordoNation.
The promo says that Royals All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon is looking for fans to join a new seating section in left field.
The promo sets the hook with a simple challenge: “Do you have what it takes to be a part of GordoNation?”
Of course, I do…Count me in!