Bob Schwartz

Tag: publishing

The baseball magazines of winter

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.

Phyllis Tickle: The Godmother of Us All

Phyllis Tickle

Phyllis Tickle died last week at the age of 81. No matter the number, it would always be too low.

Phyllis is the godmother of contemporary religion publishing and those who worked there. She established the Religion section of Publishers Weekly, the bible of the industry. It is possible that no single individual has had a bigger impact on a significant genre of publishing.

She was also a remarkable writer and speaker on matters of religion and spirituality, including her insights into the emerging church for changing times. Among her many books: The Divine Hours, a series of guides to the ancient practice of hourly prayer, and The Shaping of a Life: A Spiritual Landscape, a memoir that is as close as those who didn’t know her will get to the unique and unforgettable person and spirit she was.

Like a brilliant and generous mother, she encouraged and enabled creative editorial talent and writing for decades. If you look at the careers of the good and the great in the field, you will find Phyllis at the nexus. She is found in the acknowledgments of scores of books, like this one picked at random:

“Phyllis Tickle answered countless e-mailed questions, no matter where in the world she was.”

I don’t precisely remember the first time I met Phyllis. She was just always there. I do remember the last time I spoke with her. That voice, the one I can hear clearly right now, that soft and distinctive Tennessee talk, just lifted and lightened you.

“I love you, Schwartz,” she would say. Love you back, Miss P. Miss you too.