Scott Ostler has been covering the A's beat during the week and a half roadie at Baltimore, Detroit and Boston. The regular writer, Susan Slusser got assigned the Sharks being swept instead, and so I read with dread that the not-so-funny columnist would be covering the first-place A's (can't write that often enough) for the fortnight. For those not so nerdy as to follow bylines, I will let you in on a little secret; his stories have been the best game copy of the year.
Ostler's regular schtick is to compile a list of bullet pointed items on Sunday and make the most obvious puns and asides about them. During the week, he may post a couple of times, adding neither anything insightful or comical. His gags are the sportswriter version of "hey, and what about that airline food?" and about as sleepy.
But check out today's Chronicle which is an eminently readable bit of summary and his third or fourth rock solid piece of reportage in a row. Then today there was this piece, light on the schmaltz and inspired by a small note that he alone made during the Oriole series, where Ostler noted the Bambino's home was being scrapped. Clearly touched by the little detail, he digs deeper and creates a fine feature article.
Ostler is like the mediocre school administrator, who come to find out when the substitute doesn't show, can actually really teach. I know he will go back to his forgettable column as soon as SuSlu returns from her hockey sabbatical, but I must say, that I will look more kindly at his prose, and hold out hope that he looks at it again too, once he's off the beat.