I admit: I'm not much of a sports fan. I enjoy going to a few Giants games with my wife each season. Recently I tagged along when The San Francisco Chronicle hosted an evening with three of its sports writers.
Susan Slusser is the beat writer for the Oaland A's and also writes about hockey. In 2012 she became the only woman to be elected president of the Baseball Writers Association of America in its 111-year history.
Al Saracevic is the Chronicle's sports editor and he writes a weekly column in the sports section. In the past, he has covered major stories in business such as the dot-com bust of 2000 and the recent financial crisis.
Henry Schulman has covered the San Francisco Giants since 1988. He has seen it all: the "Earthquake World Series" in 1989, the era of Barry Bonds, and the World Series championships of 2010, 2012, and 2014.
The hundred-or-so baseball fans gathered to hear this trio were a wonky bunch. Most of the questions about trades, free agents, and contracts were over my head, but I could feel the energy in the room as the writers geeked out for the crowd.
I also learned some lessons about writing. Saracevic said with pride that the Chronicle does not run formulaic reports such as, "The Giants won in the ___ inning when ___ hit a home run with __ men on base."
Slusser and Schulman recalled with joy interviewing players, teasing out the story behind the game, and writing in real time as the innings go by.
And then there was this: Schulman said the story is written from the bottom up. Intuitively I get that. You write down the thing that amazes you about the event, and then you lead the reader to discover it.
But I wish I'd had time to geek out with Schulman about how he does it.