Rankin: Baseball season brings changes to sports section

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The Seattle Mariners open the 2014 campaign a week from Monday against the Los Angeles Angels even as the euphoria from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory has yet to subside from Northwest sports fans.

Actually, the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks opened the Major League Baseball season with games in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday.

The new major league season brings the hopes — and questions — that surround every one of the 30 teams in the league.

For the Mariners, there are always plenty of questions.

Will Robinson Cano live up to the hype his signing, and bat, bring to Safeco Field?

Can Hisashi Iwakuma overcome the tendon injury that kept him from throwing this entire spring training, and return to the form that had him contending for the Cy Young last year?

How will the plethora of new faces fit in?

And Felix Hernandez... well, he’s King Felix, so maybe not too many questions there.

It would be true heaven for Northwest sports fans if the Mariners could put together the excitement that came during the 1995 and 2001 season, and complement the euphoria the Seahawks brought to the region last season.

With the new MLB season, the Union-Bulletin is making a change that will be of interest to readers.

Instead of publishing box scores from each of the MLB teams, we’re including only Mariners box scores — along with standings, the previous day’s scores, upcoming schedule and projected pitchers — on a daily basis.

Instead of the box scores, we will now be able to provide game capsules of each game, as well as more news stories.

This change, which has been tossed around before the last several MLB seasons, has been debated on many fronts.

A committee of U-B sports section readers has been meeting to take a look at the U-B sports section — what it’s doing well, what it’s not doing well and what would improve it. This committee includes die-hard baseball fans who joined the debate this year.

One side of the argument says baseball box scores are the essence of a sports page. For many, there’s nothing like holding a good old-fashioned sports page and checking out the previous day’s statistics.

For baseball fanatics, daily stats hold a special place in their hearts. Fantasy baseball leagues have proliferated over the last decade, and daily stats show how their fantasy teams fared and which player moves to make.

However, ask fantasy baseball team owners and they will acknowledge they are online at their favorite website checking the stats of their fantasy team’s players either minutes after games conclude or first thing the next morning.

Because the Union-Bulletin is an afternoon paper during the week, by the time the paper — including the box scores — reaches readers’ doors that day’s games are about ready to begin. Those interested in the box scores have already tracked them down somewhere else.

The U-B stopped publishing complete NBA and NFL boxes two years ago, and now includes boxes from regional teams — the Portland Trail Blazers and Seahawks — following their games. The boxes were replaced with more news stories on those sports.

That change did not result in much comment from U-B readers.

But baseball might be a different case, so I am encouraging readers to let me know what you think of this change.

Comments may be made via email at bretrankin@wwub.com, or call me at 526-8316 and let me know what you think of this change.

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