I’m bummed Barry Svrluga is transitioning out of the Post‘s Nationals beat and joining the Redskins team. Not that he doesn’t deserve to cover 16 games a year rather than 162. Last year his reporting was a model for sportswriting in these “more with less” times. He wrote a gamer nearly every day, as well as a notebook and as many blog posts—-AND he did a daily podcast. His coverage of the team was empathetic, even when you sensed his own dark night of the soul in Nationals Journal posts like this one, during the Nats’ dismal start last year, in which he mused “I’m just wondering if I’ll have any readers in, say, mid-August. I have told a few people I consider this an exercise in creative writing, and I have already thought—-somewhat seriously—-of filing an entire game story in verse to see if they’d put it in the paper.”
Things never got to that point. Despite being saddled with a group of players Thomas Boswell aptly described as “a kind of baseball Foreign Legion,” last year’s Nats turned into a team that was a delight to follow, thanks almost as much to Svrluga as to manager Manny Acta. Svrluga lovingly detailed the team’s weirdnesses (remember Jesus Colome‘s “soft tissue infection in the lower right extremity”?) and never went native. Whoever takes over the beat has Ray King—sized shoes to fill.