While this week's World Series cover seems a given, because of our press deadlines, the decision to run it wasn't as obvious as it might seem. In fact, if the Sox had wrapped things up in four or five games last Wednesday or Thursday, you would have seen a different cover, and the pair of stars below.
SI staffers were sitting around the office a couple of weeks ago talking about—wait for it—sports, when someone wondered aloud which American sporting event is the most difficult to cover.
The winner—or perhaps, loser—was the Super Bowl, right? Wrong. Piece of cake. That event is scheduled four years ahead, and it's only one game. The Final Four? No problem. That ends on a Monday night, and though SI usually is put to bed on Sunday, at least we know when and where the championship game will be played. No, with unhesitating unanimity the staff picked the World Series hands, or should we say thumbs, down.
For openers, there's very short notice on just where this evolving, ongoing spectacle is going to be played. This uncertainty leads picture researcher Laurel Frankel to book hotel rooms for our photographers—seven worked the Series this year—in early August, and in at least four different cities. One year, in an attack of pre-Series paranoia, Frankel booked rooms in eight cities.
Staff photographer Heinz Kluetmeier, a veteran of 11 World Series, finds shooting the games a real pain. "The problem is, you're locked into one position," he says. At Shea Stadium, for example, 24 photographers from various publications are tightly jammed together in boxes on each side of the field, and they're all using long lenses. This is why the crack of bat against ball is often accompanied by the sound of one long lens cracking against another.
SI's baseball writers have similar difficulties. This year we had three writers and three reporters at the Series, all trying to get interesting interviews. The problem is, everyone covers the Series. As senior editor Steve Wulf says, "You need a little Mark Gastineau in you to get good quotes." Wulf, who has covered three World Series for us, says of preparing for this year, "You would have booked a seat on planes between New York and California, New York and Boston, Houston and California and Houston and Boston." Not to mention hotel rooms, rental cars and appropriate clothing for whichever climates you would be commuting to.
The last two years we've been lucky; St. Louis-Kansas City and Boston-New York are just short flights, and the cities have similar climates. But that doesn't mean it's all peanuts and Cracker Jack. Senior writer Ron Fimrite, who has covered every World Series since 1971, says, "Everything about the World Series—the logistics, the media mobs, the limited access to players, the near impossibility of getting fresh quotes—makes it the ultimate sports journalist's nightmare."