So in my last post I told all of you about what my internship entails when I'm at the studio. While sending highlights to affiliates and cracking jokes with my main man Tim is certainly a fine way to spend an evening, days when I get to accompany my boss, 710 Mariners reporter Matt Pitman, to Safeco Field are a whole 'nother level of awesome. Wednesday was my first such day, and it was pretty much everything I've ever wanted out of life.
Before the game I followed Matt into the broadcast booth, where I sat with him while he did the pre-game show as I marveled at the view of magnificent Safeco Field. It's a really gorgeous ballpark if you haven't been or seen pictures. I would have taken some of my own, but I was busy "Acting Like I've Been There Before" instead of like a wide-eyed college student completely and totally ecstatic about being let into a big league ballgame for free and getting to walk around everywhere wearing a press pass. After Matt did his thing, I got to meet a few of the Mariners radio announcers, but unfortunately not local legend and Hall-of-Fame inductee Dave Niehaus who has been calling games for the Mariners since the team joined the Major Leagues in 1977. Next time.
After that we headed down to the press box where the rows are lined with journalists, some of whom type up notes on their laptops while a larger proportion check their Facebooks and update their fantasy teams. As for me, I kept score with a little bit of help from Matt who helped me work on my scorecard technique. I think the finished product came out pretty good, especially given my handwriting limitations.
The Mariners' half of my scorecard. Sweendog, ftw!
Former Met Jason Vargas (sent to the Mariners in the ill-fated deal that brought us Sean Green, JJ Putz and Jeremy Reed) pitched competently if not spectacularly and the Mariners staged a dramatic late-inning comeback to beat the Tigers as I ate free hot dogs and watched from directly behind home plate. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. After the game I was sent downstairs to the visitors' clubhouse to "gather sound" for the postgame show from Tigers manager Jim Leyland and starting pitcher (and Pasco, WA native) Jeremy Bonderman. This means that I go up to the aforementioned parties and hold a high-powered recorder up to them as they are interviewed by reporters. Since I am an unpaid intern, I am forbidden from asking any of my own questions. In the wake of Stallingsgate, this is probably in everyone's best interests.
(A moment then, to explain Stallingsgate to those readers who do not work for the sports department of the Daily Tar Heel or the UNC Athletics Office. The most embarrassing moment of my journalism career to date came in the wake of a walk-off grand slam by UNC's Ryan Graepel that gave the Tar Heels a 6-2 victory over High Point. Now it would seem that Graepel's home run would be the big story all of the reporters wanted to talk about in the post-game interview with UNC coach Mike Fox. However one intrepid student journalist (me, in case your reading comprehension skills have failed you) was more curious about a home run hit earlier in the game by Jacob Stallings, the first one he'd hit of the season. Naturally, I came out with one of my usual well thought-out and hard-hitting inquiries, "How 'bout Jacob Stallings first home run?"
While you may not believe me, this seemed like a very good idea at the time. Coach Fox paused for what seemed like forever and answered my question with a question "Yeah…how 'bout that?"
Still blissfully unaware of how badly I was embarrassing myself, I answered Fox's question with another of my own, "Yeah…right!?"
Unimpressed by this bit of first-rate journalism, Fox reiterated his earlier response of "…How 'bout that?"
In listening to the recording after the fact, it is at this moment that I seem to have caught up to everyone else in the room in realizing I was a moron, briefly attempting to salvage the moment by rephrasing my stupid question before ultimately giving in to my own idiocy. On tape you can almost hear the wheels turning in my head: "Yeah, what'd you think of that especially after he…okay sorry, that was a bad question..." To his immense credit, Fox cut me off and sympathetically answered my question anyway, giving me a pretty good quote in the process.
Still, when I arrived for my gig as one of the softball team's Public Address announcers a few days later, the softball Sports Information Director (SID) informed me he'd heard from the baseball SID that I'd had the "question of the year" at the High Point game. As you can imagine, my friends at the sports desk have all done an excellent job of reminding me of this particular post-game interview.)
ANYWAY! Going down to the visitors' clubhouse was extremely cool. Though I was not able to speak to Leyland, I could practically taste his post-game cigarette from how close I was standing. After the interview in the manager's office, I ventured into the Tigers locker room. Although I've always known that, by their very nature, locker rooms are places people go to shower and change, it was still sort of weird to see players talking to reporters while undressing as if this were a totally normal thing to do. I guess when you're a professional baseball player it's just part of the routine. More than anything though, I was just totally blown away by the fact that I was standing 10 feet from Johnny Damon and nobody was acting like I didn't have every right to be there. This experience will be especially surreal if I get to go to the stadium for any of the games against the Yankees and have the opportunity to get up close to all of the players I have grown up detesting from afar (except Mo Rivera. I love that guy).
Despite battling a steady stream of thoughts that amounted to little more than "OHMYGOD,DONTRELLEWILLIS!" I was able to maintain my composure and professionalism. I succeeded in collecting audio from the people I was assigned to get sound from, and part of the stuff I recorded from Jim Leyland was played on the air during the post-game show. It was probably the most thrilling event of my young journalistic career, and I can't wait to go back.
A couple of other quick updates before I hit the hay:
- I learned to cook my first non-processed meal yesterday, ground turkey quesadillas. My housemate Jake taught me how to make them and they actually came out pretty good. That sound you hear is my mother's head exploding.
- While I had made a goal of reading John Steinbeck's East of Eden, I have instead been spending most of my spare time watching the first season of the West Wing. The show has an Entourage-like quality in that it is endlessly entertaining in its sharp dialogue and "cool stuff happening," but never seems to go anywhere because everything always turns out okay in the end. However, I feel like this won't last for long. A show can't employ the bad guys from both Wayne's World and Billy Madison without one of them turning on the President somewhere along the way.
- I have not yet found out the name of the mysterious ice cream scooper around the corner. I attempted to make another trip Thursday, but was shocked to look into the window and see some guy working behind the counter, instead. I did not bother getting ice cream.
- The New York Mets are pretty much the greatest team in the history of baseball, having taken 2 out of 3 games from the defending champion New York Yankees, and winning three straight games against the hated Philadelphia Phillies by a combined score of 16-0. That's 27 innings for the Phillies without a run, if you're scoring at home.
- I ran five miles today. Just thought you guys should know…
I'm really flattered by how many of you have told me you've been reading and all of the nice things you've had to say. Thanks again for all of your support, and please do send any constructive criticism to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for your time.