I just said goodbye to Tracy Ringolsby, one of the true legends of the sportswriting biz and a guy who taught me almost everything I know about covering baseball back when I worked alongside him at the Rocky Mountain News. Tracy is hanging around here in Tucson tonight, then he’ll get on a plane tomorrow and fly back home to Cheyenne, Wyo. No sense sticking around spring training when you don’t have a newspaper to work for. The Rocky Mountain News, Colorado’s oldest newspaper and the place that basically launched my career (I spent five years there), published its final edition on Friday. Being stuck as I have been these past few days in all-Manny-all-the-time mode, it didn’t really hit me until I arrived this morning at the Rockies’ complex and saw Tracy. In a way, and by extension, this was a victory for OUR side, as the lone surviving Denver paper, the Denver Post, is owned by the same Dean Singleton who owns your good ol’ Los Angeles Daily News. But on the other hand, it’s a loss for the industry as a whole, and the inevitable folding of a handful of other newspapers in the coming months/years will be a big blow, as well. Perhaps I’m delusional, but I’m holding out a sliver of hope (the key word being sliver) that our industry will find some way to survive. But the more likely scenario is that a decade from now, newspapers will have gone the way of rotary-dial phones and push-button cash registers. It’s funny, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in journalism school back at the University of Arkansas, listening to tweed-jacket-and-bowtie wearing professors make us wide-eyed pupils feel self-important by talking about our future profession in such romantic terms — the gatekeepers, the watchdogs, the Fourth Estate (never really figured out what that last one meant). Now, sadly, we may become as obsolete as those tweed jackets and bow ties. But I still love it, and I’m going to keep doing it as long as it’s here to be done. … By the way, shed no tears for Tracy. He is a multi-media star in Colorado and already has more than enough work lined up. If you want to shed tears, shed them for future generations, who will be blessed with increasingly superior technology but at the same time will probably never know the pleasure of sitting at the breakfast table or out on the front porch or on the porcelain throne or wherever and holding in their hands a big, bulky, cumbersome piece of newsprint that leaves ink stains all over their fingers and reading all about what happened the day before.