The baseball magazines of winter
by Bob Schwartz
Baseball has changed. Baseball never changes.
Baseball media have changed (a lot). Baseball media never change.
Pre-digital, sometime after the New Year, baseball publications began appearing on magazine racks. These review the past season and forecast the season to come.
For baseball fans, this is an oasis in the desert between last fall and next spring. Would your favorite team or players do better or worse? As the saying goes at the end of the long season: there’s always next year. Next year is here.
In these digital times, paper baseball magazines are still here too. Up to a few years ago, even though I was reading them in digital form, I still followed my tradition of buying two or three just to have them around.
The baseball magazines have changed a bit. The combination of fantasy baseball and baseball metrics has these now entitled “fantasy baseball” guides. Even with the addition of vicarious competition and super-sophisticated statistics, they are still what they were: previews and prophecies about things to come.
More than before, the magazines wait to publish as long as possible, since there is much more active and late movement of players from team to team. So a magazine published in January is likely to miss the signing of a significant free agent by another team.
I saw my first baseball magazine of 2020 last week; the rest of them will be on the shelves by mid-February. As Pavlovian as it is, my heart fluttered. On the cover it called itself a fantasy baseball guide, something I don’t participate in, but the deeper meaning resonated.
It is January, followed by February, followed by spring training, followed by the new baseball season.
I may get old, but the baseball magazines of winter never will.