The Chronicle’s award-winning baseball coverage team is improving its lineup for 2021.
Susan Slusser, who has covered A’s full-time at The Chronicle since 1999, moves across the bay to take over the Giants rhythm from Henry Schulman, who retired this month after more than three decades of chronicles of Orange and Black.
Slusser has been a pioneer in her field: She is the only team team writer to be named California Sportswriter of the Year (2019) and the only woman elected president of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (2012).
Matt Kawahara, who covered As’ last season together with Slusser, takes hold of the rhythm. He is no stranger to the Colosseum. Before covering the 2020 A season that ended in a Game 4 American League Division Series loss to the Astros, Kawahara spent two plus years when the Raiders beat the reporter. A cal-alum, he previously covered baseball for Sacramento Bee, the hometown paper, and wrote about both Bay Area ball clubs.
John Shea, as the Giants’ doubles team last season with Schulman, will continue to provide important coverage for Gabe Kapler’s team as he returns to his role as national baseball writer. Shea, a winner of several industry awards, has been covering Bay Area baseball for 34 years (after covering baseball for many years in San Diego) and will keep her pulse on the sport’s biggest stories and how they affect the Giants and A’s.
In addition to their daily coverage, you’ll find Locks, Kawahara and Shea on The Chronicle’s “Giants Splash” and “A’s Plus” podcasts and newsletters.
What can readers expect from your coverage this season?
Locks: Fresh eyes! After more than two decades on the A’s, I am eager for a new challenge, and I come in without preconceived notions. I want big shoes to fill after Henry Schulman’s award-winning period, but with more than 30 years of baseball coverage to my credit, I want to be sure to break all my contacts and my vast experience to give Chronicle readers the excellent content they are used to. to.
Kawahara: The Chronicle has provided readers with highly respected and professional A’s reporting for years, and my goal is to continue to do so. It will take a variety of forms: daily news, podcasts, weekly newsletters and reader bags will all be part of our coverage. We also write analytical stories and player profiles for depth and context. There is a lot of information available today for baseball fans, and my goal is to give readers a thorough and nuanced understanding of the team as well as reporting news.
Shea: The concert no longer just writes about the game, but analyzes the game. And the grades. And the human drama, which tends to be greater in defeat than victory. Report and break the news and provide hard-hitting news analysis in digital and printed form. Be responsible, creative and fearless and itchy when they are safe while always paying attention to the reader when delivering prose, and if a team complains about the coverage occasionally, do not sweat it, you are doing your job.
What are the biggest story lines you want to look at?
Locks: How exactly do the Giants view this season? Is it a big transition year, with many long-term contributors potentially gone after the season? Is it all about the further development of young players? Or could the Giants make things interesting even in the increasingly difficult NL West after showing improvement through even a shortened 2020 season? They are in a fascinating place and have the resources to make a pressure if they think they have a shot.
Kawahara: First, how will the pandemic affect the 2021 season? Will the teams play 162 games? How will the league handle outbreaks if they happen? When are fans allowed in stadiums? On the pitch, how will A replace the departures out of season? Can the returning team take a new race for a division title over a (supposedly) entire season? Is Matt Chapman coming back healthy? Off the field, after rumly Billy Beane can leave this season (it looks like he will be), and with Bob Melvin’s contract up after 2021, is this the last hurray for the current A’s brain trust?
Shea: Those who have not yet evolved. The beauty of baseball is no two days (or games) are alike. We can plan anything we want, but baseball coverage is about improvising on the spot, just like ball players, and instantly telling the story in real time. The story of the 2021 Giants and A’s has not yet been written, and I’m looking forward to and proud of the opportunity to chronicle the upcoming road to the Giants – A’s World Series. Sorry, sorry for the spoiler alert.
What inspired you to become a baseball writer?
Locks: I always wanted to be a baseball play-by-play announcer, as I did through college, including two World Series, but I also always covered sports for my school papers, and I was lucky enough to get an internship at Sacramento Bee. It made my career path quite clear, along with the fact that women did not play play for play. My idol, Roger Angell, was a great inspiration, and the opportunity to be at the ballpark every day – it can not beat. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
Kawahara: I grew up absorbed in baseball, like many children, and consumed the stories in every possible way: video games, books, movies, the newspaper, the back of cards. Reading Sports Illustrated and authors such as Roger Angell and Gay Talese showed that there are different ways to approach writing about sports, and the stories and the people involved are always changing. I think a lot of humanity is reflected in sports and I like to be on the collection and storytelling side of history.
Shea: Got problems in fifth grade. The sentence was to write a book report. Discovered Arthur Ashe. Changed everything. Learned that it was cool to write sports. Grades ticked off when that was the theme. Played ball like everyone else. Unlike everyone else, I went home, collected statistics from the game, wrote newsletters and drew fictitious baseball cards. Religiously read sports sections, baseball books, could not wait for the next Sports Illustrated. Role models: ball writers in Bay Area newspapers, especially The Chronicle, and Willie Mays.