martes, 10 de septiembre de 2013

Second Wild Card Triggering Enthusiasm in MLB

Enjoying The Wild Card Races

The creation of a second wild card and a "playoff" game between the two wild cards in each league did not seem to be fair for some people. In fact, last year, the Atlanta Braves lost that game against the Cardinals, who were more than five games under.

However, fair or not, this new system is allowing teams like the Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles or New York Yankees to have a shot to be in the playoffs. 

If this system did not exist, these teams would not have a real chance to be close to the playoffs. The Royals, for example, are only four games behind the second wild card spot.

The New York Yankees, who seemed to have no chance before A-Rod's comeback, are only three games behind that second wild card place now.

The Oakland A's and the Texas Rangers are in a closed race for the American League west. Whoever loses that races will most likely have to play that "playoff" game. That's the other benefit of the rule. Teams value the pennant race more. If you're second in your division, your season can be done after a bad game.

The same is happening in the National League Central Division. The St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates are in a very interesting fight for the first place.

Whoever wins that will avoid playing that live-or-die game. With this new system, teams care about winning their divisions and that has gotten back some of the emotion to MLB. It might not be fair in some cases, but it is definitively making the regular season more exciting.

The Pirates, who clinched their first winning season since 1992, have a legitimate chance to be in the playoffs this year. 

martes, 23 de abril de 2013

My Website: practical and functional

A newspaper website design needs to be simple and concise, easy to navigate in and easy to find the stories you are looking for. I don't think people like websites with thousands of ads poping out of everywhere. Those are a distraction. If you're looking for news, that's what you should get all around the website.

If I had to design a newspaper website I would use a practical feature. Like in some of the best newspaper websites, the main page will show all the sections of the newspaper and its most important news of the moment.

However, I would like to have videos that go with all the news stories in every section.
I know it is not an easy task, and that video is not practical for some people that like to skim through the articles, but I believe it is a feature that could grow progessively. Doing that would allow people that don't like to read a lot, to be informed just by watching a video. For those who enjoy reading or skimming through the story, there would be an article there for them.

Besides, I would like to offer the public some hours during the week in which our section editors are available for videocalls to answer some of their questions and debate about different topics of interest.
It is important to give people the chance to interact and give their opinions about the news they are reading and about what's around them.

viernes, 1 de marzo de 2013

First Round of the WBC Opens up Tonight

The World Baseball Classic starts tonight in Asia, when pools A and B, located in Fukuoka, Japan and Taichung, Chinese Taipei, play their first games.
Australia and Chinese Taipei will inaugurate the World Baseball Classic 2013, when they open up the pool B tonight at 11:30pm (ET). Korea and Netherlands will play on Saturday at 6:30 am (ET).

Later, at 5 am (ET), Japan and surprising Brazil will open up the pool A. On Saturday, Cuba will debut playing Brazil at 10:30pm (ET). China will play their first game against Japan on Sunday, at 5 am (ET).

Winners of these two pools will meet in Japan for the second round of the tournament. The two winners of this side of the bracket will come to the United States for the semifinals, which will take place at the AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.

martes, 26 de febrero de 2013

The World Baseball Classic, Missing Superstars

Ichiro Suzuki, hero of the 2006 final, will not represent his country in this edition of the World Baseball Classic.
After four long years, it’s here again. The World Baseball Classic is back, bringing baseball community together to enjoy some of the best players in the world representing their native lands.
“Some of the best players”, I just said. Sad, but true. Unlike any sport world cup, countries will not be represented by all their best players in the WBC 2013.

Ichiro is not part on the Japanese roster for the WBC 2013

Can you imagine a soccer world cup in which Messi doesn’t play for Argentina, Ronaldo for Portugal or Donovan for the USA?
Paul Gasol or Lebron James not representing their countries in a basketball world cup? Unacceptable.
It happened in 2006 and 2009 and it’s happening again. Some of the stars of countries like Dominican Republic, Japan, Venezuela or the United States, will not be part of the event.
The reasons for these absences remain the same. There is not a perfect date to place the event.
The way professional baseball calendar is scheduled doesn’t allow much options to set the tournament some time other than March, before the MLB season  begins.
Interrupting the MLB season for two or three weeks in July or playing it right after the World Series don’t seem to be a practicable option.
Teams and players fearing for possible injuries, teams denying permission to their players or just lack of interest are the excuses that mess up the event.

2012 season sensation, Mike Trout, will not participate in the WBC 2013

Jayson Stark’s article “Busting the WBC injury myth”, on, exposes how these excuses have no fundaments. In fact, injuries diminished in years in which the WBC took place.
A tournament of this importance should not be facing these problems.
Major League Baseball is the principle responsible of them.
MLB is in charge of the organization of the tournament and it should put pressure on the teams to let the players play.
If all the best players of your country are not representing you, what’s the purpose of the tournament?
Fans wait for four years to watch the best of the best with the name of their countries in their chests.
Is it worth it to keep supporting the event?
I believe it will be an attractive tournament, but it definitively could be much better.
Hopefully, in 2017 we can focus on the game and we don’t have to talk about these issues anymore.

miércoles, 20 de febrero de 2013

My Long Journey

"What are you doing in Ottawa? I mean, how did you get here?" Ever since I got to this small town in Kansas I've had to answer to this question. It is a long story. Finally, today I can give you, my friends, a more ellaborated response.

Ever since I was a little kid I have dreamed about playing professional baseball. When I was around 16 years old, I sprained my ankle on a play at home plate and it took me away from the game for some months. I did my rehab and everything I was supposed to do, but it never was the same. However, I kept playing the game I love.

Baseball players in Latinamerica sign with professional teams when they are 16 or 17. I don't blame me not signing with a professional team on my injury. I wasn't going to be able to do it anyway, because I wasn't prepared by that time.

I graduated from high school in July, 2008, when I was 16. I continued playing baseball after I came back from my injury, but now with the notion that I had only a couple more years. Back home, we don't play for our high schools, but with teams. You can keep playing after you graduate.

Going into my last year in the league I always played in, one option came up. One of my father's coworkers' dad worked for a company that helped prospects to find opportunities to get sport scholarships here in the United States.

 I was already accepted at the UCV (Universidad Central de Venezuela), Venezuelan's best university, but I wasn't going to be able to keep playing baseball there. Again, back home everything is different. College sports and scholarships are nothing like what you have here in the US.

I have never had problems to keep good grades at school while I had to go to practices and baseball games, so I thought this could be a good opportunity for me.

Me and my family set up a meeting with this person. He tried to explain us the process to get a scholarship and come to the United States. Then, he asked us if we were interested. We had a couple more meetings with him. Once we said yes, we had another meeting with his bosses, who gave us different options of contracts we could sign with them.

What this company does is to put you in contact with different universities which are looking for someone similar to your player profil. They make a video of you playing and send your information to several universities to see which of them would like to know more about you.

Another important topic is the language. In order to attend to college classes in the US you have to get a certain score in a test named TOEFL, which stands for Test Of English as a Foreign Language. The score you need varies depending on the university.

 I was studying English before all this started and then I began to go to classes which focused more on preparing for this specific test.  Besides the TOEFL, I was also going to take the SAT.

I took the TOEFL in May of 2010 and the SAT in June of that same year. During the process of preparation for the test, some universities to contacted me through the company that was helping us.
Universities from Georgia, State of New York, North and South Dakota and Kansas were some of the options I remember right now. However, they needed to know my TOEFL Score.

My original plan was to come to the United States in August of 2010. It didn't work as planned, mainly because of a mistake we made. I took the Paper-based version of the test, instead of the Internet-based.
The results lasted more than what we expected to get to my home and once we finally had them, we weren's sure if my score was bad or good. I had a 560 on the test.

I called and the operator told me that I had a 56, which wasn't good at all. In order to attend to classes in the US, universities ask for at least a 75 to 80 on the test.

Since the test was really hard, I wasn't that surprised. However, I was pissed because it costs money to take it and it would mean I would have to spend another year to be ready to come.

My SAT score was pretty good, but it didn't work for me to come to the US. The universities cared more about the Toefl score.

We met with the person that was helping us and we decided that I needed to take the test again, so I bought my spot to take the test again couple months after. This time I was going to take the Internet-based one.

One afternoon, checking the differences between the two versions of the test, I realized the mistake we had made. Do you remember I had a 560 on the paper-based test? Well, that, converted into the internet-based scale, meant that I had an 83, not a 56 like I was told.

I called the person that was helping us and explained him the situation. He was surprised because he didn't think about that when he saw the score card we received. This meant that I could have been in the US by August. It was too late now. I emailed all the universities that were interested, but only a few answered back. One of them, Ottawa University.

Former Ottawa University Baseball Coach Joe Reed was always in touch with me. He had had Gustavo Sanchez, from Venezuela, playing for him for two years and he liked the way Gustavo worked. There was a Junior College in New York State that offered me a full ride, but they didn't offer what I wanted to study. Coach Reed's offer was the best offer overall. When I answer the question what brought me to Ottawa I always say "baseball", but I should really say, "my major". If that school in New York had offered a communications major, I would not even had to think about it. That was going to be my place. However, here I am.

The first step was accomplished, but there was still a long way to go. I needed OU to send me an I-20, which is a document in which the university gives all the information about them and the scholarship they were giving me, to get a student visa.

Sounds as the "easy" part of the process, but it is actually pretty scary. The American embassy can reject your petition for a lot of different things. Being young and from a Latinamerican country is not a good reference for them. However, with the document the university sends you, it makes everything a lot easier.

You probably haven't been in an American embassy before. A lot of security and guards everywhere. Big line. I spent my entire morning going through all the process, until I got to the counter to talk to one of the employees there. Beforehand, they ask you to bring some documents with you. Once you are there, the officer asks you some questions.

Right before me in line, there was an aged lady. Well, guess what? She got rejected. I wasn't that nervous by that point, but when I saw that, everything started to move around on my inside. They were pretty basic questions, but I know the officer noticed I was nervous. However, I made it. The officer approved my visa and I was ready to come here.

All the paper work was done. Another hard part was coming up. Preparing everything to come, letting everyone know, getting mentally ready to live the experience of living away from home. It wasn't easy to say by to my family. There's a mix of feelings going on. Sadness for leaving them, excitement for the experience.

Finally, the day of my flight arrived. After 9/11 happened, all the controls in airports around the world increased, specially in flights to the United States. I have travelled by plane a lot of times, even by myself, when I was a child, so that is not really a big deal for me. However, this one was a little complicated for me.

Around four hours of flight and I arrived to Atlanta's airport. There, I had to wait in another line, for foreign passengers, in order to get in. When I got to the counter, the official asked me for one of my documents. I only had a copy of it, because I had to use the original for some paperwork with the government back home. The officer was reluctant, as I tried to explain him the situation. He put my papers on a folder and they took me to a little room.

There, I has to sit down and wait. The officers working there didn't seem to be in a rush, joking around and doing whatever but working on the case that was right in front of me. I tried to contact my parents, Mr. Mordy, my international advisor here in OU and my coach. None of them could help me anyway.

The main problem was that I had a connection flight to Kansas City in an hour.  The time went by fast and I was already accepting the idea that I was going to miss my next flight. Finally, an officer grabbed my folder and started to work on it. He called me up to the counter and I explained him what happened. He asked me to sit down again. After around ten minutes, he finally told me that I could go ahead. I will always remember when he said "..and tell Chavez (our president) that that is an American government document, that they can't take it. You need it".

I had to rush and go grab my luggage and go through another control. I was sweating, as I had my baseball bag, another big bag and my school bag, besides my folder with the documents. I left my luggage with the airport workers and went though all the scanning process. Then, I took the subway to the terminal I needed to go.

As soon as the doors opened at the terminal I had to go I started to run up the stairs and then until I got to the gate. They were boarding already, so I just kept going. Five minutes later, I was finally seating down on the plane, waiting for departure. Around two hours to KC and then around 45 minutes in car to get to Ottawa.

Once I was here, my coach gave me a tour around campus and took me to students affairs, where they took a picture of me and gave me my Braves Card. Then, I took a shower and went to bed. I got here on a Wednesday. The next day I signed my letter of intent and then everything started.

Today, I'm glad I took the decision of taking this chance. I'm enjoying my life as a student-athlete in Ottawa University. We're not a Div. I school or anything like that, but it was definitively worth it to come here and live the experience.


miércoles, 13 de febrero de 2013

Online Writing Techniques. National Story

University of Kentucky loses freshman Noel for the rest of the season

The Kentucky Wildcats lost 69-52 to the No. 7 Florida Gators on Tuesday night.  Nevertheless, that wasn't their biggest loss of the night. 
Kentucky fans, as well as college basketball fans in general are sorrowing over fresman sensation Nerlens Noel's knee injury. The university officials informed that Noel would miss the rest of this season because he suffered a torn ACL.  
This story was covered by all the important news agencies, but for this analysis we are going to use only two articles; one published by The Chicago Tribune and another one by The Washington Post.


Both websites give their users the opportunity to post a comment about the news story. The Washington Post does not ask you for any identification. On the other hand, The Chicago Tribune only allows you to comment using your facebook username. 


Both websites provide key facts at the beginning of the articles. Type of injury, consequences of it, estimated date the surgery would take place, time of recovery and where the information comes from are part of the first paragraphs of both publications. 
On the other hand, neither of the websites layered the articles. If a reader is only looking for a little detail, it might be difficult to find it right away. 

Style and Lenght

Both publications are pretty straightforward. The Washington Post, however, includes a lot more information, including coach John Calipari's opinion about the situation and a long analysis of how the Wildcats could react after the injury of their superstar. I think it could be helpful to the reader to add more subheadings or to shorten up the information and/or transform it into two different articles. 
Both sites offer links to access other stories that could be interesting to the users.

Visual Appeal

The two articles are complemented by powerful pictures of the athlete at the moment of the injury. The Washington Post allows you to see this picture, or other two pictures they put by this one, on a fullscreen mode. The Chicago Tribune doesn't. Neither of them used video 


This injured happened only a couple nights ago. However, there have been some updates that have been made by the newspapers. At the moment of the injury, nobody knew how serious it was and how long he was going to be out. As the information came out, it was included in the reports. Within the next weeks, when Noel's surgery takes place, the newspapers will have to update their stories again, including how the surgery went and a more specific recovery plan. 

miércoles, 6 de febrero de 2013

Citizen Journalism

Media Shifts Its Manners

The dynamic of our media suffers for the continued changes that are made all the time. Any time consumers and journalists are getting used to one way of communication, some new platform, device or application comes out and revolutionizes the way we interact with the information. 

Citizen Journalism Reaches Out

The way people do journalism has changed as well. It is possible to say that journalism has become a more democratic field, in which the old rigid structures of the traditional mass media have been broken and people are participating much more than they used to. People are communicating, criticizing and being protagonists of what goes on around them.

Traditional mass media has shifted their conduct towards the information out there and the public that is receiving or providing it. “Standard” people are demanding their space and it is definitively worth it to rely on them to supply everyone more pieces of information.
Today, what people express on social media can be as important as what journalists are saying in their public space.

It is impossible for journalists to be everywhere all the time and get all the details needed to tell the audience exactly what is going on. Nowadays, a large percentage of the population owns a smartphone, a videocamera or any similar device that can help them deliver information about any specific incident rapidly and efficiently. So, why do not use it for our benefit?  

Change in Culture

To be a journalist in our generation it is necessary to be multidisciplinary and learn how to use the tools available for us, such as social media, to enhance our reports. Finally, it is crucial to create a culture in which public spaces like this are used properly, so everyone can benefit from this type of interaction.