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Toy Department King weighs in

Every Thursday in the Toy Department brings another installment of "From the Editor's Desk," a weekly dispatch from Tim Wheatley. For the record, this feature has been mandated from management and there's not a whole lot we can do about it. We're not even sure what he does. We suspect he has photos of the publisher or something. To ask him questions, register complaints or recommend raises for the Toy Department staff, email him at tim.wheatley@baltsun.com.  

My title is Assistant Managing Editor/Sports. It’s kind of a confusing title, but in essence, I’m king of the Toy Department. My Toy Department colleagues don’t always -- OK, never -- show me that kind of respect, but they have allowed me to have a weekly spot in their space. Even though we have been referred to as the Toy Department, we deal with serious stories every day. Jeff Barker’s exclusive story on Maryland being on the hook for a $1 million payment to offensive coordinator James Franklin is an example of using public records requests. Barker also broke the story that the Feds were investigating Miguel Tejada for perjury. Sports is not all fun and games. Sports is also about money, drugs, sex, lies and videotape (thank you, Bill Belichick). And we report on all aspects of it.

What I’d like to do in this space is answer your questions and tell you how and why we do some things in the sports department and the Toy Department. I want to answer critics and discuss some of the difficult coverage decisions we’ve been forced to make as the economy, technology and changing times have depressed the media business, but not us. I want to engage you in the debate as well.

Please send questions, suggestions, complaints or suggested topics for discussion to tim.wheatley@baltsun.com.  

So what does an Assistant Managing Editor/Sports do? I tell people all the time that I have a great job. I have a TV in my office and it’s on sports channels all day. And they pay me for it. In reality, I manage people and content -- and go to a lot of meetings. I’m responsible for all the Sports content in The Baltimore Sun and on baltimoresun.com. I’m also responsible for managing the sports staff. Take a guess which is the easiest part of my job.

Since I don’t have any questions from you yet, I’ll fill you in on some of the topics that I’ve fielded from readers the past two weeks.

Maryland men vs. Maryland women’s basketball: Several callers complained that the Terps women didn’t get a big enough splash on the sports cover when they won the ACC tournament. They countered that when the men lost a game (to Wake Forest) we made a huge deal out of it. They also noted that our coverage of Maryland men in the NCAA tournament was more than the women. When the Terps women won the ACC tournament we did put it at the top of the page with a large headline. The main photo on the page went with a very good story about Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman, who had stepped in to raise his nephew when his older brother died. I wish I had a do-over on that one. Maryland’s OT win over Duke deserved not only the big headline, but the main photo as well.

I think our NCAA tournament coverage was fair. When the men made the tourney, we ran a photo on the front page of the newspaper. We did the same for the women. Once the tournament started, the men’s coverage was a little more dominant, but not by much. The Maryland women have had a terrific season and our coverage will only increase as they advance farther into the tournament. But we also know that there is more interest in the Maryland men’s basketball team than the women’s. That’s not just my opinion. It’s verified by TV ratings, Web hits and the blogs and comment boards. You may disagree and you may also argue that if we covered women’s sports more, that would drive interest. It’s a debate I’ve had since I entered the business. Feel free to weigh in with your comments.

Favorite call of the week: Are Ralph Friedgen and Brenda Frese related? I saved him from making a bad bet on that one.

TV listings: I get a lot of calls about TV so to save a few phone calls, here are answers to the most asked questions. MLB is the Major League Baseball network. You can only get it if you pay extra on cable or satellite. CSNP is Comcast Sports Network Plus. It’s comes into play when Comcast has two live events on at the same time. CSNP then moves to the C-SPAN. For most viewers that’s Ch. 17.

One final thought on TV: If our listings say the game starts at 7, don’t call me at 6:58 and wonder why the game isn’t on. Just reset your clock and save me the call.

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