Longtime ESPN baseball reporter Jayson Stark is joining The Athletic as part of the site’s increased focus on the sport. Stark, one of the biggest names in the press box, was cut last year during a round of layoffs in Bristol.
In a note trumpeting the expanded baseball coverage, Ken Rosenthal also announced Emma Span, formerly of Sports Illustrated, as editor.
With regular coverage of 20 out of 30 Major League clubs, The Athletic continues to stretch out its tentacles. Rare is the week that goes by without a major announcement of a new hire or coverage area.
Rosenthal addresses this in his note, writing:
“I won’t make any predictions; if you follow me regularly, you know my regular-season and postseason predictions generally range from awful to brutal. But when I joined The Athletic, I might have finally gotten a forecast right. I wrote that from the beginning of my career, the print outlets I worked for have been underdogs. Then I added, “I don’t suspect The Athletic will be an underdog for long. We are daring to be great, and that is a heck of a place to start.”
I’m not saying our days as an underdog are over; it’s too early to make such a claim, and besides, that’s for others to decide. But what I said about our vision, about daring to be great, I got that part right. We were daring to be great then. We are daring to be great now. And we hope you join us for the ride.”
On paper, it certainly looks as though The Athletic will go toe-to-toe with any outlet when it comes to covering baseball. But if most people never get to see that coverage because it’s behind a paywall, is it a hollow victory?
Better minds than mine can answer that question.