By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief
BOSTON – Earlier this week in an item posted in our Digital Sports Desk Sports Biz section, we reported on a trend-setting deal between the Houston Chronicle and La Vida Baseball, a relatively new online venture out of Chicago, brought to you by TeamWorks Media.
The content partnership brought together a very strong local news brand of Houston with an upstart media (and OTT) platform in La Vida Baseball to better serve LatinX consumers, mainly Latino sports and baseball fans residing in the Houston market. The fact the new content is culturally relevant and delivered by highly credible resources familiar to the Houston fans, makes it a simple offering but grand slam home run in the world of sports media in 2019.
For your enjoyment, our While We’re Young (Ideas) tossed a few, simple questions to the two people behind the new content partnership. In the spirit of Dick Young (see below), we’ve brought to you their answers without editorial involvement, so it’s a clear lens in the discussion of where this effort might lead. We hope to do more of this as these deeper dive/weekly notes and quotes columns on Digital Sports Desk.
Q – (To both Jay Sharman, TeamWorks Co-Founder/CEO and Reid Laymance, Sports Editor at the Houston Chronicle) – How did your deal with Houston Chonicle come about? Have you been “pitching” the Chronicle and other prominent media outlets for strategic relationships?
Jay Sharman – “The Houston market is a hotbed of US Latino sports fans, and in particular, baseball fans. There is no better, trusted sports brand in the market than the Houston Chronicle, so it was our top target to start with from a distribution partnership perspective. Our managing editor, Jesus de Ortiz, is a former writer for the Chronicle, so it was a natural starting point to reach out to their editorial team since there was already an inherent mutual respect and trust – a key in any partnership. We are in conversations with many other prominent media outlets, but the Houston Chronicle was target number one.”
Reid Laymance – “One of our former writers, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, reached out to me first. I was familiar with the work he was doing at La Vida. It seemed like a win-win for both of us. We are always looking for more content, either for our printed page or our digital pages. The thing that was unique about La Vida was that it had a specific voice and audience. We strive to be more diverse in our staffs and our coverage but if your staff isn’t expanding and your aren’t making new hires, it can be a challenge. This certainly helps us do that. We don’t really know yet how much content we will use, but it is great to have an option to provide something more unique than wire service copy.”
Q – (To Sharman) – From every aspect, you’ve “aced” baseball with this deal, so are you considering efforts for NFL and NBA?
Sharman – “We do not have plans at the current time to pursue the NFL or the NBA under the La Vida umbrella, but I’ve learned to never say never!”
Q – (To Sharman) – Anything strike you as “under” reported or people like me – missing the key point or business aspect of your venture?
Sharman – “Language. I believe the US marketing and advertising is undereducated on the dynamics of the US Latino. Many still erroneously oversimplify that Latino equals Spanish-speaking. It does not. Two-thirds of US Latino sports fans consume sports media content in English and those numbers go higher the younger the demographic. And somehow, despite one out of five Americans being Latino, the spending power of this passionate group is underestimated in our opinion.”
Q – (To Laymance) – What else is on tap? What other kinds of deals can the newspaper industry cut to expand readership/page viewing to core news sites? New partnerships?
Laymance – “There was a time when most papers didn’t want to have anything but staff copy in their pages, and that was great. It made papers like the Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News great reads. As the industry changes, we have to think differently. When you look around, some of the more successful new sites are more niche-oriented. They have a specific audience and tap into it. Newspapers lost recruiting coverage several years ago to sites like 24/7 and others. We tried a brief partnership with 24/7 but never made it work right. I think you just have to be willing to try. If it works, great. If not, move on.
Q – (To Laymance) – As CineSport went south after its sale, might there be “more/better” video to be integrated into news coverage? Send To? Others? What trends are you following? What’s next?
Laymance – “I still get mixed signals on video. I don’t think people want to watch talking heads. Highlights are great but rights-issues are a factor. When organizations are able to do high-end projects, I think that works best. But, I’m not sure if the video for sake of video is that helpful.”
Q – (To Laymance) – This deal will greatly serve Astros and MLB readers of LatinX culture via the Houston Chronicle, but is there room for and other deals for NBA and NFL? Or is it a void. Traditional and in Spanish language only?
Laymance – “This may be unique to the Astros and MLB because it does fill a void. We have a weekly Spanish-language publication but it isn’t able to cover the Astros like La Vida. I’m not sure what’s out there yet for NFL or NBA but you never know. We may need to figure out coverage of e-sports next.”
Here Now, The Notes: The Boston Red Sox placed left-hander Chris Sale on the 10-day injured list on Saturday with left elbow inflammation. Sale could be finished for the season. … Among the doctors who will examine Sale’s medical tests is noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. … “I don’t know,” Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, said about Sale’s chances of returning to the mound in 2019. “I don’t know one way or the other at this point. The other doctors will look at the information, look at his MRI and then he’ll determine if he wants to go see them or not. The first one will be Dr. Andrews.” … Sale threw 6 2/3 innings and struck out 12 on Tuesday in a win against the Indians in Cleveland. Dombrowski told reporters that Sale reported being stiff in the following days and informed team doctors on Friday. He had medical tests on Saturday that will be evaluated on Monday, Dombrowski said. … The pitcher wasn’t available to speak to the media on Saturday. … “I think he’s upset that he’s going on the injured list, yes,” Dombrowski said. “I can’t tell you anything other than inflammation. I can’t tell you what’s on the MRI.” … Sale was on the injured list twice last season with left shoulder inflammation.
More Notes: PGA Tour pro and current FedExCup Playoffs leader Brooks Koepka on playing the “Majors” so well: “I treat everything the way I treat majors. It’s all focus. I think everybody thinks I’ve got different focus, but I think it’s the other way around. I think guys just psych themselves out. I don’t think it’s me being any more focused. It’s just guys psyching themselves out,” said Koepka before the BMW Championship at Medinah. … ESPN reporting the likely candidate to replace Brett Yormark as CEO of Barclays Center in Brooklyn is former Turner exec David Levy. … If that were so, he’d have turned working with Barkley into working at Barclays. … The Twitter machine account in the name of Barstool sports president Dave Portnoy read: “If you work for @barstoolsports and DM this man I will fire you on the spot,” he wrote in relation to a tweet previously sent by Rafi Letzter, a staff writer at Live Science and a “proud member of Future Union. … From there, it got ugly as the media picked up on the threat and the National Labor Relations Board (N.L.R.B.) caught wind of the situation. Of course, it paved the way for Barstool to get more publicity and labor lawyer, David Rosenfeld, who the Boston Globe called “a self-styled ‘paid troublemaker,’ saw the tweets as good old-fashioned union busting. He went to work.” … The simple solution was for Portnoy to rescind his comments and apologize to his staff and the public, but that’s not what Barstool Sports is all about. More to come on the Barstool revolution after the likes of the Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post have their way with the story … In Philly, right-hander Jake Arrieta will have season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow, The Athletic reported Saturday. … The surgery will happen later this month and the Phillies are hopeful Arrieta will be ready for spring training, per the report. … The 33-year-old was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday. … “I would have liked it to go differently,” Arrieta said earlier this week. “I would have liked to pitch the remainder of the season healthy, but it’s something that I really couldn’t control. … The spur stayed pretty dormant for seven, eight years, and it decided to give me trouble and get to a size now where this is only option to me getting back to the pitcher that I am. And that’s OK. This is what I have to do.” … Rafael Devers was recognized as the Red Sox’ Heart and Hustle Award winner, as announced by the MLB Players Alumni Association…The award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game…One player from each MLB team is chosen based on the passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. … The MLB-wide winner will be announced at the 20th Legends of Youth Dinner in New York on November 7th. … Previous overall winners were David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Boston’s Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014), Anthony Rizzo (2015), Todd Frazier (2016), Brett Gardner (2017) and Boston’s Mookie Betts (2018).
When the Red Sox resume their suspended game against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, August 22, they’ll do so in front of a stadium dotted with kids who will be admitted to the ballpark for free. Children, ages 18 and under, will be a part of a general admission attendance as the Sox and Royals pick-it-up in the Top of the 10th with the score 4-4. … The game might last for hours or minutes? … Other fans besides the kids will pay $5 with proceeds going to the annual Jimmy Fund efforts against cancer. … One other side-note, hot dogs will be $1 and other food items will have prices slashed in half. … Prior to the KC continuation game, the Red Sox face the Philadelphia Phillies for a short 2-game series on August 20-21. After the KC game, the Sox head west for a 10-day road trip with three games at San Diego, a pair at Coors Field in Denver and then a 3-game series at the LA Angels in Anaheim. … Then, the Red Sox will have only four home series remaining in the 2019 regular season.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes. … We welcome feedback and suggestions (psst, they call ’em pitches) for mentions within “While We’re Young Ideas” or Digital Sports Desk. Please follow and encourage (at least) another person or two to plug into (@DigSportsDesk) (@WhileYoungIdeas) and (@terrylyons).
Field Level Media, GraceNote, the Washington Post, Boston Globe and Digital Sports Desk staff reporting contributed to this column.