Major League Baseball announced earlier today they’ll cease publication of printed versions of the Red and Green books, the venerable media guides for the American and National Leagues that David Pinto calls “staples of baseball researchers before computerized stats came along”. Though MLB promises to make a PDF version available to working media, said pledge is slim consolation to Murray Chass who protests, “I am too devastated and outraged to write anything else at the moment,” before writing quite a bit else on the matter.

Baseball officials would say the books died of atrophy. No one was using them any more. But I used them, often on a daily basis. They sit on a shelf an arm™s length away from my desk. I can get them that quickly when I need information from them.

One explanation given for the elimination of the printed books is the repetition of some of the elements of the books. The previous season™s statistics, for example, are in the average book that is published after the season. Rosters of the 30 teams appear in the spring training media guide.

But once spring training ends and the season starts, the spring training guide is put away, and the Red and Green Books become the references of choice. I don™t blame MLB for abolishing the books. I wish they hadn™t, but if they find that no one uses them, it™s just another unfortunate development of today™s coverage of baseball.

Younger writers, more attuned to the use of the Internet than their older colleagues, may not have a problem with the disappearance of the books. But in past years they didn™t have the Internet as an alternative reference site. They apparently just didn™t feel the need for any information the books provided.

That says more about them than it does about baseball™s decision.