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Twins Sign Veteran Ortiz

The Minnesota Twins made the biggest roster move of this off-season by finalizing a $3.1 million deal the veteran pitcher Ramon Ortiz on Monday.

The biggest challenge with a story like this is how can you get the reader to continue reading if they aren’t a big sports fan or Twins fan. This article from the Star Tribune, by La Velle E. Neal III, does only what is necessary for the article to get the point across in the lead. It is a very simple and to the point lead. There is very little wasted space or room for excess fluff.

The Twins finalized a one-year deal with righthander Ramon Ortiz worth $3.1 million on Monday.

Neal takes the stance that the lead should be simply as informative as possible and doesn’t need to be full of flowery language in order to get the reader to continue reading. Neal shows that he believes a straight news lead can work in a sports story.

In the article published by the Pioneer Press, written by Gordon Wittenmyer, the lead is much more flowery and fluffy. The reader doesn’t really gain any insight about the purpose of the story until the third paragraph and even then the topic is very convoluted.

On the same day ESPN.com ran a story on its baseball home page making a case for the Twins' Terry Ryan as the best general manager in baseball, Ryan's office announced the completion of the kind of yeah-whatever deal that evokes criticism in other markets.
If it registers a blip at all on the public attention meter.
But the $3.1 million, one-year deal for Ramon Ortiz, a once-bright pitching prospect whose best pitch in recent years has been the gopher ball, represents an impact free-agent signing for the Twins this winter.

This story talks about the success of Terry Ryan, Twins general manager, as written in an ESPN.com article. It also goes on to detail the signing of Ortiz, while still yet discussing the current and future state of the Twins pitching rotation. Wittenmyer’s article is far broader and this scope does not help the article progress to any sort of conclusion because the reader never gets a sense of how the lead is important to the overall story.

As an avid Twins fan, I find an informative lead, like the one used in Neal’s story, quite sufficient to gain my attention and convince me to read more. While I will read the Wittenmyer story I found myself questioning what I actually got out of the story at the end. I felt like the lead in both stories made the story. I felt like Neal’s lead was more forthcoming and his lead was rewarded by my desire to read the rest of the story. Neal’s choice of lead shows that even for a sports story a straight news lead can still be used effectively. By informing me of what happened, who was involved, when it happened, and where it happened I was intrigued enough to read on. That is the most important function of the lead, even in a story that might otherwise appear rather bland, even to an avid baseball fan.