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June 28, 2009

Prospectus Idol

Round Six - Deadline Week

by Dave Pease

Good day to you-it's a beautiful one here in Southern California-and welcome to another episode of Prospectus Idol. I'm Dave Pease, and I want to thank you for reading.

After giving our contestants a lot of rope last week, the rules were flipped around on them this time around: they had hours, rather than days, to produce this week's entry. This week's format, courtesy of judge and injury guru Will Carroll:

Now that it's just five of you, it's time for Deadline Week. Imagine that you're bleary eyed, just waking up, but that your editor has emailed and said "I need a piece for tomorrow!" (Oh wait, that just happened!) You can't just say no (Believe me, I've tried.) The only thing to do is buckle down and do your best work in the time you have available.

What will you be writing about? Baseball, of course. Specifically, one of the thirteen games on the schedule for Thursday. Feel free to take any angle, but the piece must be strongly connected to the game. (For instance, you can't say "I was watching the Cincy - Toronto game and it made me think of Joe Morgan's play in 1961 ...") The article must be more than 900 words and you have the 'soft cap' of 2000 words at the top end.

I was planning on taking a question from last week's intro article comments, but I actually didn't see one. If you've got a question for the Idol staff, leave it below. If you've got a comment that's really outstanding, we'll take that too.

The ability to work on a tight deadline is one of the most important traits of a successful working writer. Were our contestants able to deal with the compressed timeline of Prospectus Idol: Deadline Week? Let's have a look. Click here to visit the Prospectus Idol page.

Dave Pease is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Dave's other articles. You can contact Dave by clicking here

20 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

strupp

If we vote for everybody this week, can we get all 5 back to do a better topic?

This is/was an extremely dull week, and not because of the writers who (mostly) tried to do their best with the subject(s) at hand. It didn't appear to me that the working on a deadline aspect hindered them, at least not more than the game recap point did.

I enjoy reading recaps when Joe and/or CK do them, because I'll often learn something different, or can appreciate a different POV or opinion or a reaffirmation of a thought or idea I already had about a game/team/player/stadium/etc. Putting the Idolers through a process that is, frankly, done better by the AP game story team doesn't seem fair to them. I just worry that we're about to lose a good writer because of gimmick.

Jun 28, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

It just had to be related to the games played on Thursday. There was NOTHING in the instructions that said it had to be a game story.

Jun 28, 2009 17:27 PM
 
strupp

Fair enough.

The writers differentiated very well, all things considered, even within the actual "game recaps"...

IMHO, I still don't think it made for the best week of writing overall.

Jun 28, 2009 19:39 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Then you'll LOVE next week's ... wait. Not this week, but the NEXT week's theme.

Jun 28, 2009 22:22 PM
 
John Lowe

I hope when we get to down, we don't have a chance to vote on both anymore. I hope we read both, and pick one or the other.

Jun 28, 2009 10:20 AM
rating: 0
 
molnar
(170)

What, is Will or Chris going to come to our house and make us vote for someone? It doesn't matter whether voting for both is an option or not - voting for nobody is the same as voting for both.

Jun 28, 2009 11:08 AM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

I disagree... assume there's a chance more than one author gets hired by BP...either to write regularly or contribute to the annual or something... then voting for both is more important than voting for none since it shows people do like reading that author.

Jun 28, 2009 11:20 AM
rating: -3
 
molnar
(170)

And their decision to do so will be based on my vote, rather than what the contestants have written? Ridiculous.

Jun 28, 2009 18:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Well, yeah, the decision would be based on your vote and others.

Let's say there are two finalists:

Case A: Everyone votes (50% for the first finalist, 30% or the second finalist) but 20% of voters vote for both people. One finalist gets 70% of the vote and the other person gets 50% of the vote. This kind of result would indicate that even the losing finalist was popular.

Case B: 20% of voters vote for no one. One finalist gets 50% of the vote, one finalist gets 30% of the vote and 20$ abstain. The losing finalist would be considered relatively unpopular and might not be offered other work at BP.

So yeah, as paying customers, their decision on what will happen with the non-finalist idols will be based on our vote. If they merely cared about how well something was written, regardless of public appeal, then they wouldn't have used a BP Idol format to begin wtih.

Jun 28, 2009 20:24 PM
rating: -2
 
Tim Kniker

Richard, no Idol hit list?

Jun 30, 2009 09:47 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I've been busy this week visiting my family, particularly my daughter, so entertaining her took priority over the Hit List this week (even if taking her for four potty breaks made Transformers 2 have a very choppy plot).

If I've been online this week, it's usually been in the morning since there was still some work/coding stuff I had to do, but I'll be around more on Wednesday and Thursday.

Today no work and we've got a zoo trip planned! :)

I'll get the Hit List ready in a few.

Jun 30, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 0
 
jtrichey

I haven't read the entries yet, but the topic seems very appropriate. It certainly doesn't have to be a game recap (hope that's not what all of them are). Joe Sheehan's Baseball Today can take something that happened in a game he is watching and go off on an interesting tangent about it. In fact, that's usually what he does. That's what I'm hoping for this week. Well, off to start reading them.

Jun 28, 2009 11:26 AM
rating: 3
 
Evan
(47)

I'm disappointed we saw any game recaps, let alone mostly game recaps.

The result of my voting was the Ken Funck has now moved up my rankings to be tied with Brian Cartwright at the top. Everyone else fell back.

Jun 28, 2009 16:59 PM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

Dave, since you reprinted my "sign 'em up" comment last week, you already know that I enjoy reading the submissions of all five of the remaining contestants. Even though I think this week was not their collective best effort, I'd like to repeat my advice. Sign 'em up!

These guys are good.

But more specifically, what I mean to say is, "Keep stringing these fellas along on this whole "Idol" gig, because I really like this format more than I ever thought I would have. But, please, after the dust settles, get all of them on the BP roster."

No comments for the authors from me this week, except, "Good luck!"

Regards,
BR

Jun 28, 2009 22:21 PM
rating: 1
 
BurrRutledge

We're half way through the competition. And, on the assumption that I'm not going to influence (m)any of this week's votes in the next 20 minutes or so, I offer a few of my own thoughts on the remaining five contestants. This is not a review of this week's articles, just a general look at the players still in the hunt, in alphabetical order, and what I think they'll bring to BP.

Brian Cartwright thinks big, with the analytic skills and baseball mind to match. Though I feel that the nature of weekly deadlines is not playing to his strengths, I also feel his submissions are getting stronger as he adapts to the quick turnaround on the assignments.

Ken Funck owns the "entertainment" and "enjoyment" aspects of the competition. He has the creative writing skills to make a living as a freelancer in a field other than baseball, were he so inclined. I'm happy he's chosen to write about baseball for the time being, and for sharing with us his joy of the game.

Tim Kniker has written polished and professional entries on a consistent basis, with the statistical facilities to bring new insights to the game. Fellow BP readers, dig in and enjoy.

Brian Oakchunas has the "everyday baseball fan" ethos, including an affinity for 'fantasy' storylines. His blog-style writing is comfortable and accessible for most of today's readers.

Matt Swartz showcases strong sabermetric and statistical capabilities. He's got the economics background for front office evaluations, and a phastastic writing voice.

... and...

Jeremy Greenhouse. Who, you ask? He's the finalist who gained entry with an analysis of Derek Holland, but had to withdraw before the competition had even begun. I wish him well and hope he's succeeding with the opportunity that stole him away from our competition!

Jun 30, 2009 19:39 PM
rating: 0
 
bobbygrace

Are you talking about a play Joe Morgan made in high school ball? Or are you talking about the other Joe Morgan?

Jun 29, 2009 07:35 AM
rating: 0
 
ClubberLang

I took it as a dig on Joe Morgan, who tends to "remember" things that he claims involved him that didn't.

Jun 29, 2009 10:11 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The Week 6 BP Idol Hit List!

This week, each finalist felt the pressure of time and deadlines. Is that fair? Nope, but neither is writing professionally where an article posted two minutes too late can be considered too old. Call it the scramble to summarize the scoop. In that angle (and because I have to type this up in 15 minutes before I take my teetering toddler to the zoo), here is the Hit List, Fast Food Style!



#1 Ken Funck - (+ #2<-#3<-#3<-#3<-#3<-#1) - Jack in the Box

Ken's put The Good Face on game recaps, surprising people with new jokes and good writing each week.


#= Matt Swartz - (+ #3<-#2<-#2<-#1<-#2<-#4) - Arby's

Matt's articles are a buffet of tasty ideas, angles, and insight. Like Arby's, there's a lot of variety and consumption of his writing is definitely not the same as other fast food joints.


#3 Tim Kniker (- #1<-#1<-#1<-#2<-#1<-#3) - Wendy's

All around solid, with menu options that appeal to a lot of people... but starting to lose that edge as others have enhanced their menu.


#4 Brian Cartwright (+ #6<-#5<-#4<-#6<-#4<-#5) - Kokoro's

Teriyaki is not for everyone, but Brian's made his wares more appealing to the average fan's taste buds.


#5 Brian Oakchunas (- #5<-#6<-#7<-#7<-#5<-#10) - Quizno's

Lots of fresh meats and veggies in the dish he offers, but sometimes the combinations (or the advertisements) just don't work out. He's been real good and he has his fans, but at this stage of the game, he just hasn't had enough value deals to jump past the competition.

That being said, Brian's really developed a lot in this competition. I started out being unimpressed with his Initial Entry and since then, he's had a lot of great topic ideas. He's also done a good job at writing about them. I think he'd be a great asset for BP, especially if he had a collaborator to assist in the research.

Jun 30, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

The way I see it, I agree Ken Funck should be in the lead. His articles are always the most fun to read (every time as I recall) and he usually brings in some interesting relevant facts in a clear and entertaining way. He has toned down his silliness to just the right level.

Tim Kniker is a strong second. His articles are consistently among the best. He always has something worthwhile to say and he, too, says it in a clearly laid out entertaining way.

Big gap. The rest are so close, I am not at all sure I have them in the right order.

Brian Cartwright's writing has steadily improved and possibly the best stat cruncher of the remaining writers. Even with all his improving, though, Brian C's voice is the blandest of the writers remaining.

Brian Oakchunas is for me easily the most entertaining of the bottom three, but he can be sloppy. Grammatical or factual errors can be fixed, while having a compelling voice is an unteachable talent (I guess). However, he sometimes needs to dig deeper. Some weeks he hits a triple, some weeks just a single.

I just don't share the love Richard has for Matt Swartz. Well, he's a very nice guy who kindly gets involved in these discussions, but I don't see how he compares to Tim or Ken as a BP article writer. One week he did, perhaps, have the overall best article, but otherwise Matt has been consistently in the middle of the pack - or worse. I didn't buy the applicableness of his game theory articles. His writing is clear and he lost that self-aggrandizing tone of his earliest articles, but it still needs some improvement. He needed a little editing this week. I don't happen to resonate with Matt's sense of humor as I do with Ken, Tim, and Brian O's. (even though I missed a note of irony in Tim's current piece). This week Matt had the weakest entry. It wasn't a waste of time, but it was sort of formless and meandered without getting deep enough into anything - just generally forgettable - and had a weak conclusion.

This might be my last review, (hooray! many of you say). I will be on vacation for a few weeks and don't know if or when I'll sneak a look on the internet somewhere.

Jun 30, 2009 14:04 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I know what you mean about vacation.

As an addendum, I have Ken/Matt/Tim in the top group and a gap down to the two Brians. Matt's articles give me some fun angles to think about and he's consistently had a lot of conversation/commentary, rivaling only Tim, in all of his articles.

Jun 30, 2009 23:18 PM
rating: 0
 
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<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Weekend W... (06/28)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Idol: Round... (06/21)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Idol: Round... (07/05)
Next Article >>
The Week in Quotes: Ju... (06/29)

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