CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Early in my journalism career - about 1989-ish - a colleague of mine told me, "Our job is to p*** people off."
I laughed it off at the time, but I came to understand what he was getting at.
If you're doing your job correctly, somebody is going to be mad.
That is, you can't be friends to everybody all of the time.
Personally, I don't do my job to be anybody's friend.
Which brings me to the West Virginia Sports Writers Association's daunting task of putting together All-State teams.
The association includes about 100 sportswriters in the Mountain State stretched from northeast of the state in Martinsburg, south to Bluefield, west to Huntington and north to Weirton.
The All-State teams go back longer than I've been around and include only print journalists working in our geographically challenged, tiny two-panhandle state.
A panel of writers, representing 10 regions of the state, gather near the conclusion of each athletic season - football, boys and girls basketball and baseball. In recent years we've added volleyball, soccer and softball to our overwhelming list of All-State chores.
These meetings - I'm chairman of the All-State baseball committee - last 6-9 hours during which we hammer out what we believe are the best players in the state in their respective sports.
In sports like baseball, it's more of a challenge because of the specified positions of players. Naturally, if a kid is a team's starting shortstop and best pitcher, he likely is their best player.
If he plays center field, he's likely their best outfielder. If he's the shortstop, he's their best infielder. A pitcher can pile up numbers against ordinary competition, but if he's only a pitcher, he won't win out against the aforementioned SS/P.
We make every attempt for a utility spot to be filled by a player who excels in multiple spots. A pitcher likely will also have to be a good hitter, unless he's an exceptional hurler.
Competition, spot in the batting order, and statistics - we have to use stats as a guide but not the only one - are considered when picking these teams.
Trust me when I say the responsibilities of the state's sportswriters are not taken lightly, even if many folks looking at the completed lists think we draw names from a hat or that we have something to gain by being nice to our area teams' starting shortstop.
Until a coach, athlete or parent gives me $1 million to sugarcoat the truth in print, then I will continue doing what I do.