3 GREAT STORIES: On Baltimore, baseball, & sci-fi hoops

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Mondawmin Monday (4/27/15, WBFF-TV): There have been numerous stories and reports from Baltimore this week, some instructive and some less so, about the protests and riots surrounding the death of Freddie Gray.

So much of the images and video have arrived as a stream — stations providing non-stop coverage and constant immediacy, which absolutely has its place in situations like this. But this story, from FOX 45 Baltimore’s Kathleen Cairns and Jed Gamber, shows the power of editing and context.

Given time — and a four-block radius — to document Monday’s action, reporter Cairns and photographer Gamber find themselves in the midst of smoking tear gas, a burning car, and numerous protesters and police. They capture it all with a sense of poignancy and objectivity; Gamber shoots and edits some powerful moments, and Cairns shows wise restraint with her script, stepping back and simply connecting the dots of those aforementioned moments.

This is one of the most haunting, powerful stories I have seen this year.

Baltimore Orioles play game in empty stadium (4/28/15, Yahoo! Sports): Among the more surreal moments from the week in Baltimore, the hometown Orioles played the Chicago White Sox in an empty baseball park.

No fans. No noise. Just athletes.

Sometimes photos speak for themselves, and this Yahoo! Sports gallery offers 35 examples of how abnormal the whole thing felt. Much like other galleries, this one is compiled by photographers from major news feeders like Reuters and Getty Images; extra credit goes to Shannon Sutherland and Patrick Smith, who shot several standout photos amidst the bunch.

Ten years to midnight (4/30/15, SB Nation): In a week filled with sobering stories, allow me to end with one that is entirely the opposite.

This is pure silliness … and sublime silliness at that.

Jon Bois of SB Nation conducts a basketball- and video game-related experiment: he uses the game NBA 2K15 to see what would happen if, starting next season, you replaced the usual draft class of college athletes with the biggest, strongest, most perfectly skilled players the game allows (basically, he makes everyone 7’2″, 350 pounds, with the highest ratings available).

Then he simulates season after season the same way:

At the 2015 NBA Draft, the teams of the league will find nothing but superhumans.

In 2016, I will feed them the exact same draft class of unstoppable immortals. And again in 2017, and in 2018, and in 2019, and … for as long as it takes to push every real-world player out of the league for good.

It is a gleeful, giddy experiment conducted by a mad scientist, but it also taps into the fantasies of both NBA fans and video game enthusiasts. Anyone who has played this game undoubtedly has wondered about such a scenario — or, if not, would surely be piqued by Bois’ “What if?” idea. The execution matches the concept, with writing and videos that share a joyous spirit all over.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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