Turn to page 68, baseball fans. There you are going to find that BASEBALL'S WEEK, an SI feature for nearly 25 years, has taken on a new dimension and a new name. Now called INSIDE PITCH, it has moved beyond what has been its traditional function of keeping readers posted on the weekly progress of the big league pennant races to provide a behind-the-batting-cage look at the game, something closer, more intimate, more knowing.
The idea is to keep hard-core baseball fans supplied with nuggets of information: not just the announcement of a trade, but an analysis of why the trade was made; not merely the stats of a burgeoning star, but an insight into what makes the newcomer so good. In short, INSIDE PITCH will view major league baseball as the fan might see it if he or she were able to travel around to different ball parks each week and hobnob with players, coaches, managers, front-office people and sportswriters.
"I'd like to take our readers to places where they can't go without a press credential," says Staff Writer Herm Weiskopf, longtime proprietor of BASEBALL'S WEEK, who has made the transition to INSIDE PITCH as readily as a switch-hitter moves from one side of the plate to the other. "For example, I've always been intrigued by the personality of a team, how different the various clubs are off the field. The humor in one clubhouse can be repulsive, in another genuinely funny. I want our readers to feel they know the teams, the players, the managers, the front-office people."
Weiskopf visited almost all of the 26 clubs during his tour of the spring training camps and will fly here and there during the season to stay up to date. Last week, for example, he was in Baltimore, Houston and Chicago. He'll also use regular reports from correspondents with the teams to amplify his own knowledge. Weiskopf believes that practically everyone who follows baseball tends to fantasize a little about it, even long after childhood dreams have been packed away. The intense fan can't help imagining what it might be like to play third base or rightfield, to be involved in an argument with an umpire, to manage a club during a pennant race, to run the whole operation from the front office.
Inside pitch is designed to provide the raw material for such rumination: offbeat items and incidents, clubhouse nicknames, current jargon, why things are going right for this team and wrong for that one, which players are well liked and which aren't, jokes, quotes, trends. If a team with an infield that has been working smoothly suddenly has trouble making the double play, Weiskopf expects to be able to tell SI readers, for example, that the shortstop is playing hurt and is having difficulty moving to his right, or perhaps that the brilliant rookie second baseman is finally becoming gun-shy because of all the rolling blocks base-runners have been throwing at him.
In sum, INSIDE PITCH will be a lot more than just names and numbers, and we hope it will be a pitch that will turn into a hit.