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Ponson Brings Questions to Twins' Camp

Sidney Ponson entered Minnesota Twins spring training camp Monday as one of the biggest issues facing the team this season.

The story printed in the Pioneer Press, written by Jason Williams, that this would be a make or break season for Ponson. Williams called the season the “Last stop between a Fresh Start and the End.� Ponson acknowledged the desperate situation that he was in with the Twins in the report by Williams.

"It's make or break for my career this year," the oft-troubled pitcher said soon after reporting to spring training with his new team Sunday morning. "If I mess up, I don't think I'm going to get any more chances."

The Williams story went on to report about the chronology of how Ponson arrived with the Twins and the circumstances of his digressions over the past few years.

Three weeks after being released from jail, Ponson was arrested for drunken driving in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. That reportedly angered the Baltimore Orioles organization, which had signed him to a three-year, $22.5 million contract before the 2004 season. Ponson was arrested on a drunken-driving charge again in August 2005, leading the Orioles to release him and terminate his contract.

While I feel that there are many issues with reporting on spring training when the team hasn’t even fully reported to camp yet, I feel that the biggest issue facing Williams is that he needs to make an interesting story about Ponson from spring training that was different from the story that ran soon after Ponson signed with the Twins in the off-season.

A similar type of story detailing Ponson and his potential impact on the Twins was written by Star Tribune writer La Velle E. Neal III. This story ran very similarly to the Williams story. Both stories reported how Ponson had recommitted himself to off-season training and his history with the law and being overweight. However, the Neal story had a very different lead and it made a rather odd statement about the rest of the story.

Sidney Ponson tried to make a point Sunday: As long as his pitches pack a punch, why should everyone worry about his paunch?

It’s not very often that a story begins with a question and in this case I think it is rather misplaced. I feel like Neal used it as the lead simply for the pun that it makes. I would also say that whenever possible puns and clichés should be left out of reporting and especially sports reporting. Both of these stories used a quote to follow the opening graph of the story. I think that it is interesting to note that the Williams version of the story gets to the point much quicker than the Neal story. The Neal story takes a long time and takes a very confusing route to the meaning of the story. The Williams story is much more upfront with the point and the quote by Ponson is much more relevant in the Williams story. It takes the Neal version of the story six graphs to get to the point of the story.

So Ponson, a former 17-game winner who's made headlines for his weight and run-ins with the law in recent seasons, looms as a potential solution.

Being a sports enthusiast and more importantly a baseball aficionado I find myself pretty well informed about the issue represented in these stories already. I had a lot of prior knowledge regarding Ponson’s history and his troubles with weight and the law. For this reason I felt personally insulted that the Neal story took so long to tell me the real point of his story. I know that Ponson has had issues in the past and I know that the Twins’ pitching rotation lacks depth. I want to know if Ponson is going to work well in this rotation. For this reason I preferred the Williams version. I felt like Williams had a better understanding of the main point that the reader needed to know. I find it important to note how ridiculous it was for the Neal story to begin with a question and a pun in the lead. I found it very hard to read on after that point because the story lost almost all credibility with me.