Last week in our new series about the beat writers for the Kansas City Royals, we covered Alec Lewis, Royals beat writer at The Athletic. This week, we’re moving from the new publication to the old: the Royals beat writer at the Kansas City Star. Rustin Dodd, Andy McCullough, Maria Torres, and Bob Dutton have all worked the desk in the past, whose bylines are well-known among Royals fans.
Currently, the position is filled by the talented Lynn Worthy, who is entering his third season with the Royals. You can find his Worthy answers below.
For those who don’t know what a beat writer is, how would you describe it? And what does it mean to you?
Well, this job is very different than that of a sports columnist. My job isn’t to give opinions.
A beat writer must also give readers more than features.
Sure, there’s analysis involved as well as telling some of the personal stories about the people in and around the game and helping create the connection for our readers, but primarily our task is to inform, provide context, and get reaction and insight from those involved.
What’s going on and why? What might affect how games will play out on the field? What changes might not be readily apparent, but are making a difference in the team’s play or an individual’s performance? What factors were weighed by the front office in the roster decisions made? What’s coming on the horizon that readers might not be thinking about, but should be aware of in order to stay informed?
On a daily basis, we’re the conduit to the team and the organization for our readers.
How is it different covering baseball during a pandemic, and how does that affect the final pieces of work, if at all?
While the Royals PR department has done and continues to do a great job of helping reporters get what they need as much as possible, the pandemic does create certain limitations.
Informal conversations between reporters and players that might take place in a clubhouse in a one-on-one setting aren’t necessarily happening. Sometimes those conversations lead to stories.
In the past, as a reporter I might walk to a player’s locker and ask a quick question to add a detail or to confirm something I was uncertain about. Now, we’re all largely talking to the same people at the same times.
Of course, more often now we’re forced to cover games while not in the ballpark. There are aspects of the game you can’t see via television at times, such as where the defense is positioned or where a runner is in relation to when a defender gets to a ball, whether a player was hustling on a particular play.
So there are interactions and details that I’d typically have as a reporter that I can’t necessarily count on, and that does affect what I’m able to convey to readers.
How did you get started in your career as a writer, and how did you get into baseball beat writing?
I first got interested in sports writing back in high school. My first paid assignments were as a freelancer covering high school football in Massachusetts, where I grew up. I interned as a news reporter, worked part-time as a general assignment reporter on weekends and then got hired to work full-time in sports at The Lowell Sun in Massachusetts.
In Lowell, I covered a little bit of everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports. Covering the minors, occasionally filling in for our beat writer in Boston and even covering professional softball were parts of the job.
I covered Double-A baseball as a beat in Binghamton, New York when the New York Mets were building through their farm system. I covered future big leaguers such as Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto among others over my five years there. My time there overlapped with the Royals playing the Mets in the World Series.
During my career, I’ve covered some level of professional baseball in each place I’ve worked prior to coming to Kansas City, including Lowell and Binghamton as well as Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
I initially covered the Chiefs for The Star when I came to Kansas City, but I moved over after my first season on that beat to fill the spot vacated when Maria Torres left for another job.
Yeah, you’ve covered both the Chiefs and the Royals at the Star. How are those beats different, and how are they similar?
There are a lot of small differences, but I’d say the biggest one is that the NFL is a week-to-week schedule. One game per week, and everything for the week revolves around that one game.
MLB is a day-to-day schedule. They play games almost every day. There’s much more travel involved and a lot more roster changes and moving parts on a daily basis. Not to mention a farm system full of players who are also part of the organization.
What is one of your favorite baseball events you’ve covered, and what is one baseball even in recent memory that you wish you covered?
My favorite baseball event at the MLB level would have to be the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland. It’s still probably the biggest baseball event that I’ve covered.
On a different level, I covered a team that won a Double-A championship in Binghamton. Steven Matz took a no-hitter into the seventh or eighth inning in the clinching game. That franchise hadn’t won a championship in 20 years and there were ongoing rumors that the team would relocate and the city might lose full-season baseball. That was a significant event for the players, coaches, staff, employees, fans and the local community.
An event I wish I’d had the chance to cover would be the 2015 World Series because I’d watched so many of those Mets players come up through their farm system. Plus, it would be a funny twist now that I cover the Royals.
Who is your baseball writing idol? Extra points for the answer if it’s someone at Royals Review.
There isn’t really one person I’ve tried to emulate. There are many writers who I’ve read and admired over the years, but I couldn’t single out one. I’d like to think I’ve learned from each writer I’ve read regularly as well as those I’ve worked alongside on a regular basis. I hope that continues.