Day 135 “Wow!”

I am sitting at a TGIF in Erie, Pennsylvania. I  was just at a Planet Fitness where the General Manager, Kayleigh, let me take a shower. She doesn’t know how much that is appreciated!  A lady just walked up to my table and gave me a 20% off coupon, I have to say that I have the best luck!  My friend Hannah constantly says that, “If you are suppose to do or be someone the world will conspire to make it happen.” Yeah Hannah, that isn’t your quote but I attribute it to you.

Wow, wow, wow!  Where did the time go!  I have been working on my grounds crew post for the last three hours and I am not even close to being done with it! There is so much information that I want to convey but doing so, it has been challenging to say the least!  I will not be posting it today. I wonder how some journalists can work on constant deadlines! Since I don’t have anything to post this will be it for the day…  Tomorrow I will be in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have only been to Canada one other time and that was probably 20 years ago.  I was in Detroit and we drove over the bridge to Windsor for about an hour just so we can say we were in a different country.  Back then you didn’t need a passport, this time it is going to be a little different. Since I have been living out of my car and it is packed, I am planning on having to go through it all with the border patrol.  I say all of this because I am worried that I won’t have enough time to finish what I started today…

I want to apologize to Noah and Adam of the Storm Chasers, since I told them I will get the article posted within the last week and that isn’t happening.  I need to head over to the stadium in Erie to watch the Seawolves play Akron, this is minor league AA baseball in the Eastern League. I hope I can get a baseball to add to my collection!

 

Day 134 “What is a Mud Hen?”

klingerI am sitting in the Press Box of the Toledo Mud Hens, thanks Roger! If you are like me when you hear that name, Toledo Mud Hens, you instantly think of the show “MASH”, specifically “Corporal Klinger”.  In the show, Klinger is proud of his family, and of his hometown, which he regularly mentions. In addition, he is an enthusiastic Toledo Mud Hens baseball fan and as his character evolved, he regularly wore a “Mud Hens” cap.

If you are too young to remember the show and have never seen a rerun,  the show was an ensemble piece revolving around key personnel in a United States Army Mobile Surgical Hospital (MASH) based on the Korean War era (1950–1953).  Professional baseball had been played off and on in Toledo since 1883. The Mud Hens era began in 1896 with the “Swamp Angels,” who played in the Interstate League. They played in Bay View Park, which was outside the Toledo city limits. The park was located near marshland inhabited by American Coots, also known as “mud hens.”

“The waterborne American Coot is one good reminder that not everything that floats is a duck. A close look at a coot – a small head, those scrawny legs — reveals a different kind of bird entirely. Their dark bodies and white faces are common sights in nearly any open water across the continent, and they often mix with ducks. But they’re closer relatives of the gangly Sandhill Crane and the nearly invisible rails than of Mallards or teal.” (allaboutbirds.org)

Why do I bring all this up you may be asking yourself?  When I was younger, I would think about minor league baseball and instantly thought about the Mud Hens because of Klinger and “MASH”. Also, I had no idea what a Mud Hen was. I sometimes never question nicknames but I have been a lot lately. Teams that have unique names that I have seen on this trip are:  the Albuquerque Isotopes, Reno Aces, Montgomery Biscuits, Jameston Jammers, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Omaha Storm Chasers, Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Las Vegas 51’s.

I looked up a few of the teams for the reason why they are named what they are. One of the biggest reasons I think that teams are changing names is financial. If a team comes up with a fun and interesting name, the fans are more apt to buy the team merchandise.

Albuquerque Isotopes:  The team’s name recalls the fictional Springfield Isotopes from the long running TV series “The Simpsons”. In the episode “Hungry, Hungry Homer”, which first aired on March 4, 2001, main character Homer attempts to thwart the team’s plan to move to Albuquerque by going on a hunger strike.

Reno Aces:  The team went with the name “Aces” since Reno is known for gambling and the “Aces” are the top cards in a game of poker. There is a baseball connection, also, regarding a baseball’s team top pitcher, who is often referred to as their “Ace”.

Montgomery Biscuits:  The Biscuits’ owners, Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers, selected the team’s nickname from an entry in a “name the team” contest, due in part to the potential marketing and pun possibilities (ex. “Hey, Butter, Butter, Butter” or the team’s souvenir store, the “Biscuit Basket”). During games, biscuits are shot from an air cannon, into the stands.

Jameston Jammers:  Jamestown is located in Chautauqua County, a grape growing region in the state of New York. Fans voted for Jammers over many other nicknames but other teams and their fans didn’t understand what a Jammer was. So, in the off-season before the 2006 season, in an attempt to put an end once and for all to the “what is a Jammer?”, the Jammers changed their logo to a cartoon grape theme.

Fort Wayne TinCaps:  The name TinCaps was chosen following the 2008 season, alluding to John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.  The Tin Cap refers to a fictionalized depiction of John Chapman wearing a cooking pot as a hat in the 1948 Walt Disney movie “Johnny Appleseed”. Although, this depiction has been disputed by historians. Chapman spent his final years in Fort Wayne and is buried in the city.

Omaha Storm Chasers:  Following the 2010 season fans had the opportunity to submit their choice of nicknames, as well as vote on the finalists. A list of 24 fan-submitted names was whittled down to nine finalists through voting on the team’s website, and the new name, “Storm Chasers,” was revealed.

Colorado Springs Sky Sox:  The Sky Sox nickname originated from their affiliation with the White Sox back in the 1950’s and the teams location in the high altitude Rocky Mountains. The Sky Sox are now affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Quad Cities River Bandits:  The team was the Quad City River Bandits from 1992 through the 2003. On October 20, 2003, the team was renamed the Swing of the Quad Cities. The nickname, like the previous one, was the winning entry in another “name the team” contest. However, On December 13, 2007, the team announced it would return to the “Quad Cities River Bandits” after the former name was voted to be re-instated in a contest.

Las Vegas 51’s:  The 51’s take their name from Area 51 which is located near Rachel, Nevada, about eighty miles north of Las Vegas, as the crow flies. The actual route taken by car to get there takes about three hours. The team logo jokingly depicts one of the grey aliens, thought by UFO believers, that supposedly inhabits the Base.

Well, the weekend is over and I am excited to write up my articles on the Clinton LumberKings play by play announcer and the Omaha Storm Chaser grounds crew. In addition, I will be doing an article in the future on the official scorekeepers at baseball games. I met Ron Kleinfelter, one of the official scorekeepers for the Toledo Mud Hens and the Detroit Tigers, who gave me some insight on the subject.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 133 “Outlaw Baseball”

I am sitting at a Café on Halsted in Chicago. I have already attended a Cubs game today and will be attending another one in a couple of hours.  After tonight’s game, I will get a jump start driving over to Toledo.  Parking was $30 down here, I was prepared to pay $20. When I pulled into the lot it said $10 so I thought I got lucky!  Well that was for only for an hour, after I argued with the kid he said “good luck dude, Cubs are playing a doubleheader and Pride Fest is happening, there is no cheap parking”, I paid the $30…

foggyLast night I was down in Joliet attending a Frontier League game.  The Frontier League operates mainly in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either. The league was formed in 1993, and is the oldest currently running independent league.  Teams must recruit and sign their own players, which usually consist of undrafted college players or one-time prospects who have been released by their teams. Frontier League rules limit teams to three “veterans” (those with three or more years of professional experience), two two-year players and seven one-year players (those with at least 150 professional at-bats or 50 innings pitched). The other half of the 24-man roster is confined to rookies. Players cannot be older than 27 as of January 1. Pay in the Frontier League is minimal, as each team has a salary cap of $72,000 and the league minimum is set at $600 per month. Due to the low pay, players typically live with host families.

I was surprised at how well attended the game was. There had to be at least 4000 fans to watch the Joliet Slammers hosting the Gateway Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies dominated the game and won, 8-3, but the fans were into it and the stadium was very nice.  It was a Friday night and they had a great fireworks show afterward.  I have said it in the past, baseball has figured out how to entertain Friday through Sunday. They need to work on filling the seats Monday through Wednesday. Thursday is for beer drinking at most stadiums (Thirsty Thursdays).

Thursday night I was at another independent league, the American Association League.  There are a few of these independent baseball leagues. These professional baseball organizations are located in the U.S. and Canada. They aren’t operated in conjunction with either a MLB or MiLB team. Being independent allows teams to be located close to major-league teams without their consent. They have been around for many years and were once known as “outlaw leagues” due to their position outside the rules of affiliated minor league baseball.

What I like about these leagues is their independence from Major League Baseball. I think most fans of baseball view MLB as the final say on how baseball should be played and how it should be marketed.  So I recommend that you get out and experience some of this baseball “lawlessness”.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 132 “Who reads what I write?”

Some days my blog just explodes and I wonder who is reading what I write?  Is it because I have been on TV, the radio, in the newspaper?  It is hard to figure out sometimes.  I write about baseball things and how excited I get or how I am feeling about life.  Most of the time I don’t think what I am writing is very good (no need to tell me that it is good Mom, Heidi, or anyone else that encourages me on a regular basis, just discussing something here, but I do appreciate the encouragement), I have talked to other writers/journalists/bloggers and they all tell me the same thing.  It is normal to have doubt. I have reread earlier articles that I have written and I know my writing is evolving and I think is getting better.  Beth doesn’t have to spend hours fixing and reorganizing my points or information I am trying to convey, believe me she has been a miracle worker!

The things I have learned...
The things I have learned…

As I have been out on the road, I have devoted 95% of my life to baseball. I go to all the games I say I have. I constantly read baseball information on a daily basis, I check out stadiums, people that work at the stadiums, the fans in the stands, the equipment used by the players, how the grounds crew maintains the field (that post is being worked on, well not really – it’s evolving. I have all my notes, which I have reviewed and I am trying to construct a good story). Continuing – what material they use to make it look nice, how the announcers research and call a game, what the players are doing to prepare, how the print and visual media report the games. I have learned there is tons of politics that affects and touches every aspect of the game. So much goes into all of it. I have learned what a very intricate web ‘baseball’ really is.

Most days I can’t believe that I am out on the road doing what I am doing, but there are days that frustrate me. Days that I become very cynical at what I see.  I try to square it with my brain, but I can’t turn a blind eye to everything. It’s hard to ignore how greed plays a role in the game, who the power brokers are, who has the better marketing machine but the inferior product.  All of this gets to me. I had that experience last night and again today.  Cities that sold their soul for something that was a waste of money. Companies that have better and innovative products but can’t break through because others are too scared of the fall out of losing sponsorship money.  Yeah that is life and eventually I find my acceptance.  Even I worry about what I write. I don’t want to be offensive in case someone with deep pockets wants to sponsor me.  I don’t like living that way but I am cultivating and inquiring everywhere I go!  I have a few stories that I am digging deeper into things I find very interesting.  Some of what I will write will take a little courage, maybe it will come out in a book, who knows!

It occurred to me that today is Friday, everyday feels like a Friday to me so I do get confused.  I have learned that my Friday, Saturday and Sunday posts don’t get read by very many people, so I am going to save a couple of things for Monday and Tuesday that I am excited to write!  Yes the Grounds Crew one and the Play by Announcer one.  I will be at a Chicago Cubs game tomorrow afternoon if anyone is going to be in Chicago, or at that game, let me know!  Have a great weekend to most of you that won’t tune in until Monday morning when you are trying to figure out how you are going to get through another work week!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 131 “Keeping it short!”

Made you look!
Made you look!

I was in Geneva, Illinois yesterday and went to a Kane County Cougars game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.  Since I was close to Milwaukee, I decided to go stay by my brother Chads for the night (also wanted to watch the final game of the College World Series) and then get my haircut in the morning by Roselle (she is so famous that she only goes by her first name).  Roselle came into the salon early to take care of me, very much appreciated. She truly is one of the best stylists in Milwaukee and she is very accommodating to her clients.  She has been cutting my hair for free while I have been on this journey.

After my “Roselle” haircut, I picked up my daughter so we could get breakfast and spend a little time together before I had to get on the road to Gary, Indiana.  I always enjoy my daughter, she has a great sense of humor.  I drove down through Chicago, ran into a ton of traffic but got to the game on time.  It is now after 11 pm and I am trying to get this post out.  I have a couple of great stories I want to write, hopefully I will get one completed tomorrow. I will be in Joliet, Illinois for a game tomorrow night but I want to go to a bat company in Indiana in the morning before I find a Starbucks to write.  That’s it for today!

Day 130 “Let me clarify…”

dadsammeI have been interviewed quite a bit lately, Milwaukee, Austin, and two Omaha stations.  I will admit that I do like the attention. I think that is normal; however, I don’t really like doing the interviews.  I am getting better at talking and being in front of the camera. I still need to control my gesturing but hey, I am not a pro.  Since it is me and people tend to judge their “insides” to everyone else’s “outsides”, I really don’t know how I am coming off to others.  I know that I feel like I am talking quite fast and I am not relaxed, it has gotten better the last few interviews.

Also, am I the only one that thinks they sound funny and that their profile and head is shaped weird?  Seriously, ever time I see myself on TV I think I have a weird looking head, I need a haircut and that my gut seems to be getting bigger. OR, am I just being neurotic.  (I am laughing at myself right now about the odd insecurities I have)

The news tends to focus on one aspect of the story regarding my Dad, the emotional part of it, the part that grabs the viewer. I understand, I try to do that with my headlines everyday so you will click and read my blog post.  I think the part that gets lost in all of this is that it is not just about baseball, I admit I love the game and have enjoyed going to all the games; but more importantly, it is the freedom I feel, how less stressful my life is at the moment, how easy it is to do because I have passion for it.  Some people have said I have inspired them, I get inspired by a lot of my friends when I read their Facebook posts and see the changes that are taking place in their lives, people that have decided to take control and do the things that make them healthier and happier.  They didn’t have to quit their job, live out of their car and get interviewed to do it.

I have a fun story, I understand why the news thinks it is worthwhile to cover it.  I also know that you don’t have to go to the extreme that I have to find peace and contentment. One news outlet touched on an aspect that I love about this whole thing and that is the living on the fringe.  I am living off the grid and doing something out of the society norm.  That is me and always has been me. I love the abnormal. It is being true to my authentic self when I just try and be who I am, instead of trying to fit into what I think society wants. I think more people want to do this and are really testing the boundaries, especially with all the extreme sports and different competitions like Tough Mudder that we have now.

I liked the line Trey Daerr used in the interview I did with WISN, he said, “He has given up everything, so he regrets nothing.”  I like it because it hammer homes to me how short life is. If I don’t start acting on the things I have always wanted to do, it will pass me by.  I am grateful that I have had all this support and attention; but more importantly, that I have been given the opportunity. I don’t know what I will end up doing for a living when this is all over. Should I find a way to continue, that would be great. If it is just for this year, that works, too.  I would love to work in baseball doing something. I enjoy so many aspects of the profession. What makes me laugh is that the only time in my life I really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up was when I was a kid.  I wanted to be a baseball player. Such a silly thing, when you are an adult, to be. Society told me to grow up and believe me, I have tried. I really tried. But I always had this discontentment within me.  My brother Chad brings this up all the time. He reminds me that I have always been a little off in a good way. That I always wanted to build and do my own thing. I think it is human nature to want things and to build a life you want.

Sorry I went on my little rant there. What precipitated all of it was an email I got from someone who saw an interview I did that aired last night in Omaha.  It wasn’t very nice and I was surprised the person took the time to write to me. I wasn’t even upset about it. Even though, what bothered me was he missed the point of why I am doing what I am doing. When I say that I am living a dream that a lot of people would love to do, I mean that figuratively. Some of you might want to travel the world and see the best opera singers in their home countries, etc.

I was going to write about the grounds crew experience I had with the Omaha Storm Chasers, I will get to that hopefully tomorrow.  Another story I have is about the play by play announcer with the Clinton LumberKings.  So many experiences that I have been exposed to, to learn about and see firsthand that the average fan doesn’t. I hope I am able to share enough about them that you find them interesting.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 129 “Storm Chaser!”

Getting Interviewed...
Getting Interviewed…

The grounds crew is setting up the field so the teams can take batting practice. Tarps are being laid on the ground and a big cage is set up around home plate. Protective screens will be set near third, second and first base as well as where the batting practice pitcher will throw. This work is being done by two guys. One looks like he is the Head Groundskeeper and the other is his assistant, or an intern. I am sitting in the stands behind home plate at Alliant Energy/Ashford University Field in Clinton, Iowa.

It is about five hours before game time. The Clinton LumberKings will take on the Quad Cities RiverBandits in a Midwest League Class A game.  I came to Clinton because of a book I am in the middle of reading called “Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere”.  The book is by “Award-winning essayist Lucas Mann” who “delivers a powerful debut in his telling of the story of the 2010 season of the Clinton LumberKings. Along the Mississippi River, in a Depression-era stadium, young prospects from all over the world compete for a chance to move up through the baseball ranks to the major leagues. Their coaches, some of whom have spent nearly half

Martie and Me!
Martie and Me!

a century in the game, watch from the dugout. In the bleachers, local fans call out from the same seats they have occupied year after year.”  I recommend the book to anyone that is associated with baseball, along with those that like to read an off beat perspective about America’s national pastime.

I came early to the stadium since Clinton didn’t have a Starbucks I could hang out at all day.  Currently, I am fighting the gnats that are swarming around me. I want to write about the great time I had at the Omaha Storm Chasers game.  There were so many things that excited me about my visit; but, one of the nicest things was that the President and General Manager Martie Cordaro took a huge interest in my story. He found out I was going to be attending the game from Andy Kendiegh, from one of the local news stations.  Andy needed permission to do the interview on the grounds so he texted Martie.  After the interview, Martie gave me a tour of the stadium. He seemed to know all the fans and kept thanking them for coming out.

Anyone want to play catch?
Anyone want to play catch?

Martie always had time to chat with them for a few minutes, listening to their ideas or stories.  This guy was awesome! I was amazed at his ‘list of responsibilities’ along with personally showing me the facilities. He would have to run off to take care of things, then he would come right back. He introduced me to all the people working in the Press Box, the radio play by play announcers. He explained to me why they built certain things or how things operated.  I wondered why he didn’t grab a intern to show me around, but I wasn’t complaining.

Operating the Scoreboard!
Operating the Scoreboard!

Before I even met Andy or Martie, I got to the game early, purchased a ticket and went in. I was impressed immediately by the ushers and people working the concessions. All were telling me to enjoy the game, etc.  I felt like I was back in Reno! I have been very critical of the “Baseball Entertainment Complex” and how it seems that all they want to do is suck every last dollar out of you with very minimal effort. I have also mentioned how frustrated I have gotten with all the extra activities that go on that distract from the game.  Well, I can tell you that Omaha has found the right balance of all these things. Their stadium is truly a park that caters to the entire family.  The kids can run around and play while the parents enjoy the game.  The Storm Chasers have a basketball court, an area kids can play catch with a regular baseball, a wiffle ball field, a couple of carnival rides and much more. They designed it with the family in mind. There are areas where the parents can go to keep an eye the kids; but, also, have a cold refreshment while watching the game.

Playing basketball at a baseball game!
Playing basketball at a baseball game!

I have my ideas of what I want to see baseball do with some of the historical parks. I haven’t been a big fan of the parks that try and half-heartedly do what Martie and the Storm Chasers have accomplished. Martie admits that some of the ushers and interns turn into babysitters and that you never truly can tell how many people are in the stadium since so many are running around. However, he says the important thing is to know your demographic and be consistent with your strategy.

Whiffle Ball anyone?
Whiffle Ball anyone?

I agree with you, Martie. I also believe with how their stadium is laid out, he can do even more with some of the people that are hard core baseball fanatics. I won’t lecture Martie with those ideas because he is one guy that has won me over to his way of thinking. The great thing is that he wasn’t even trying. He just showed me his facility.  I will talk more about my experience with the Storm Chasers tomorrow. I spent a bulk of my evening with the grounds crew and have gotten the inside scoop on how the field is cared for and what their responsibilities consist of. I can tell you this, if you are ever in the Omaha area get out to a game, hunt down Martie and say hi. Also, thank him for thinking “outside the box”.

I need to finish this post because these gnats are driving me crazy!  Cheyne Reiter, the play by play announcer of the LumberKings, said, “they are pretty bad.” But, he had heard on the news that they are suppose to die off in about a week. Speaking of Cheyne, I am going to profile him in a couple of day since he is the voice of the LumberKings!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 128 “Great Story”

Martie and Me!  This guy knows hospitality!
Martie and Me! This guy knows hospitality!

I have a great story that I will be writing up for tomorrow! I went to an Omaha Storm Chasers game last night and had one of the best experiences that I have had on this trip.  I was interviewed by Andy Kendiegh, who I met at the College World Series. He introduced me to Martie Cordaro the President and General Manager of the Triple A National Champion Storm Chasers. I can’t wait to write the story since this guy defines the word hospitality!

I drove over to Des Moines, Iowa today and went to a Iowa Cubs game. The experience wasn’t even close to what I had last night!  I am still a few days behind in writing stories but I will eventually catch up. I have come out of my writing funk and have been thinking about how I want to write this story up all day!  I am going to drive over to Clinton, Iowa tonight and get a good nights’ rest and then have all day to write.

Please take a look at my two part story I did on the College World Series, it was a great experience.  It was, also, fun to write that up. I find it funny that the stories that I like are not very popular.  The stories that I don’t think aren’t very good have been the most popular.  I will keep knocking them out. If people continue to read them, I will continue to write them even if no one reads them. Thanks for all the support!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 127 “Fish out of Water: Part Two”

omaha statueThis is Part Two of my experience I had at the College World Series. If you didn’t read “Fish out of Water: Part One”, and want to begin at the beginning of this segment, click on the link above.

Andy Kendeigh, Sports Director from KETV in Omaha and formerly of WISN in Milwaukee, was sitting at the table. I was telling him about the story that Trey Daerr did on me that was airing that night.  He told me that FOX 6 Sports Reporter Tim Van Vooren was in town at a baseball tournament his son was playing in. He was going to try and catch up with him if he could. I felt like I was now “in the know” with a few local celebrities. Seriously though, I found all of this exciting. The reporters I have dealt with since this trip started have been wonderful. They may realize that they are local celebrities but almost all have been very respectful and have treated me very well.

What I have realized is they all are under constant pressure and deadlines to get things done.  As I learned out in North Dakota there aren’t many sports jobs but many people competing for position. Therefore, you have to bring your “A” game with you each and every day, or the business will eat you up.  This is called the “churn”, new prospects coming in everyday. Just like in baseball, some can handle the pressure and some can’t.  The guys I have met like Adam and Andy have these great personalities that invite you to feel good about what you are doing. You can count on them to put you in a good light as they are constantly perfecting their craft.

Also, I admire the print media guys that I have met like Chris and Troy. These are the type of guys that have to come up with new and interesting material to build a story that will keep people reading their work.  Since I have been writing every day for the last four months, I can tell you that it is very hard to do day in and day out.  As I sat and “Geeked” the second game, I made sure to look around to see what all the reporters were doing specifically.  Most,  if not all, would make a note on particular plays during the game. Some would comment that “this is a big moment” (when the bases are loaded at any point in a game with no outs, it is safe to say that someone will say that in the press box). But, what blew me away was the research the guys were doing. Lots were on social media following something, others would “rifle” through three or four websites making a quick note.

I overheard some radio guys, doing research for upcoming games, talk about the politics of the game, who was working for whom, who was under contract, etc.  I guess I assumed that it was more glamorous than it actually is. Everyone is under pressure to preform. It truly is a “what have you done for me lately” profession.  I don’t know if I would like that. I was enjoying my time in the Press Box and I have come up with a plethora of stories that I want to cover at some point in this journey. Things that the average fan I think would want to know, things that I want to know.

rain delayThe second game between Ole Miss and Virginia went into a weather delay. I can say that I didn’t mind in the least bit. However, the regular sports reporters were not happy about it. I was getting a chance of a lifetime, and if I had to hang out in the Press Box Lounge rubbing elbows with other reporters, so be it (you like how I said “other” reporters).  Plus, the guys who were calling the game for ESPN were less than ten feet and a wall away from me.  I rode an elevator with ESPN’s Karl Ravech. I wanted to take a picture but thought better of it. I just looked down at my phone again and tried to cover up my Day Pass.  As I was looking out the window and seeing how dark the clouds were, Jessica Mendoza came out of the ESPN room standing next to me, looking out the window and talking on the phone. I quickly snapped a picture of her but I wasn’t going to get a “selfie” with her, I knew better than that.

You learn that there is a lot of politics in sports and you find out quickly who the power brokers are. Like any business it is about making a profit. You knew instantly who was in charge, what you can say and what you can do, intuitively. No one needed to tell me that there was no cheering, but it was nice to be reminded.  After about a two hour delay it was decided to suspend the game until the next day, which turned out to be fortunate for me. I quickly tracked down the woman that gave me the credential and inquired if I could get one for the following day. She was very nice and issued one to me without question. I was so grateful.  I wanted to avoid J.D. since he might say, “Too bad the game got suspended but a day pass is a day pass, and I was only comfortable giving you one day!”

press box rowI showed up three hours before the first game on Sunday. There was maybe one or two people there before me, but I was excited to spend another day in the Press Box. I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity (I had to wait until noon the day before to get the Pass; otherwise, I would have been very early that day, also.)  I sat at the same seat and when the game started, I recognized the radio play-by-play guy who sat two seats away.  I don’t know why he was there, but he was taking notes and the guys next to him were filling him in on different things.  I think he will be calling the championship series for a different network.

The two teams that I wanted to win lost on this day but it was a very exciting time!  I went to both the Press Conferences. I now understand the protocol and hopefully won’t be too nervous the next time I get an opportunity.  My only worry the entire second day was that I was going to be kicked out after the first game since it was just a continuation from the day before, but nobody said anything.  I could go on about any number of things that I learned & experienced. I hope I get to more of this as I travel onward. I think I bring a unique perspective and now that I have one major event under my belt, I know a bunch of stories I will cover the next time!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 126 “Fish out of Water: Part One”

Press Box!
Press Box!

Sitting in the Press Box, hanging out with all the reporters and seeing how everything operates has been very interesting.  I was given a Day Pass for the June 20th games.  I was excited to have it but I was very conscious of the fact that it was only for the one day.  I constantly wanted to cover it up when I was around all the other reporters.  I desired one that had my picture on it and said “Media”.  However, each individual that was issued a credential is given access to any NCAA championship game or related events.  I was able to go onto the field, press conferences, interviews, or any other activity associated with the games played on June 20th.

View from my seat!
View from my seat!

When I went to pick up the credential at the convention center, I was hoping that they still had it for me. I had never gotten one at such a big event. The Snowbird Baseball Classic gave me one at the beginning of the season, as did Southern Miss University, but that was it thus far. I am happy to say that others have now offered.  I was the only one picking up and a young woman asked when I walked in the room if I was the Baseball Buddha. Confirming I was, she handed me the credential. I asked if she followed my blog, she looked confused and pointed to my hat. I laughed at my presumption…

Adam and Anthony
Adam and Anthony

The Press Box is like a huge lounge where there are three rows of very long desks.  Each row has room for 30 to 35 people. Reporters can set up their laptops, plug in and start writing.  Initially, I was extremely aware at how out of place and new I was to this experience.  I didn’t know what the rules were and where I should sit.  I wasn’t assigned a seat since I was a Day Pass holder and had to find an open seat. I was told by J.D. Hamilton, the Assistant Director, I could take one that was at the end of the first row closest to home plate, adding – “There is no cheering in the Press Box.”  I thought it was the best seat but I soon realized that it was not. I could see the entire playing field but didn’t have a view of the entire stadium.  I also realized that there were TV’s above me that guys in the back rows could view and check out replays. I had to push my chair back and bend my head all the way back to view the one closest to me.

Press Box Row!
Press Box Row!

I kept waiting for J.D. to come over to me to say that he made a mistake and that I couldn’t be in here.  I set my computer up plugged everything in and headed for the main entrance of stadium. I had to meet Adam and Anthony from Austin to do a follow-up interview about my journey.  I was looking forward to seeing them both. Their station was the first to do an interview about the Baseball Buddha journey.  I was walking to the elevator keeping my head down and pretending to look at my phone. I was nervous for some reason.  I had that feeling you have as a kid when you did something wrong and your parents were about to find out.  I couldn’t shake it!   Security  checked my credential and let me through. I meet Adam and Anthony in front of the stadium.  Anthony suggested we do the interview down on the field since I was credentialed.

Press Conference!
Press Conference!

We walked up the steps into the stadium. I was carrying a clip board and pen. This was totally for effect, I had no intention of using it when I brought it along. I just wanted to make sure that people understood I was a serious journalist! (Do journalists use pen and paper anymore?)  Adam and Anthony walked past the ushers. I, of course, thought we would be stopped so I pretended to write something on my pad of paper.  We walked down on the field through the dugout. My senses were on HIGH alert. I seriously thought every one knew I didn’t belong there, but wasn’t saying anything.  Anthony set up his camera on the field as Vanderbilt was taking batting practice. Adam was positioning me where he wanted me. By now some people were looking and wondering who I was.  My thought pattern quickly switched to how I could get one of those baseballs Vandy was using, then quickly back to how old I was, then focused on Adam and the questions he was asking me.

On the field between games!
On the field between games!

After the interview was over, Adam and Anthony had to do some other things. I decided to stand on the field and watch batting practice. Of course, admittedly, I was a little bit in awe of everything that was going on.  I was impressed with everything. TD Ameritrade Park is only three years old. What I like most was there wasn’t sponsorship ads everywhere. Yes, TD Ameritrade was prominent on the sign but that was it. This place was about the College World Series and that was it!  (My thoughts on all that will have to be another time.)  After I scribbled a few fake notes on my pad a paper, I walked through the dugout and up the ramp which led to an area where some Vandy players were taking additional batting practice. The room had batting cages, along with the bathroom. The ramp ended on the concourse, an area utilized by all the personnel that work the games, along with the locker rooms and Press Conference area.

I went back up to the Press Box and got ready for the game. I was really excited and I was trying to calm my brain down a little bit.  Since I wanted to blog about the experience I didn’t know what to do when the game started. So, I decided to “Geek the Game” (kept score).  That helps me focus and remember everything. I figured I would onthefield1see what the “real” reporters did once the game started.  One of the things I really liked was the microphones that were down on the field that were piped into the Press Box. You could hear the catcher, batter and the home plate umpire make his calls.  I have to say that a few of the players like to swear a little bit!  My mind started to calm down a little as the game progressed. I interacted with a few of the reporters. I am sure some wondered why I was keeping book since they provide all that information to you at the end of the game.  I noticed that a lot of reporters were looking a lot of stuff up on the internet and discussing different aspects of the game. Most were trying to figure out their spin, what was important and what wasn’t.

Press Box Lounge!
Press Box Lounge!

There is a lounge area behind the rows of seats that have snacks and drinks you can get while the game was going on. I, of course, snacked throughout the game. I tried to be discreet about it; however, I was very hungry since I didn’t eat very much before I got to the game.  About the fifth inning I got a text from a local TV reporter who wanted to interview me. She asked if we could do it between games. I was feeling important since this would be my second interview of the day.  I went to the post game press conference to see what that was like. I felt overwhelmed and wanted to ask a question of the players; but, I was too nervous and I decided not to.  I excused my behavior as first time jitters.  I then met the local reporter and the cameraman. We shot the interview down by the field, which was old hat now and I was confident we could be down there.

I returned to the lounge area after the interview. Dinner was being served and, of course, I ate again.  Adam and Anthony invited me to sit down with them. The group of people they were seated with were sports anchors for different stations around the country. Adam had me tell them my story. Thanks to Adam, again I was feeling like I belonged.

I have a lot more to add regarding the rain delay and the game being suspended for the night, which turned out to be in my favor! Check back tomorrow to finish reading my experience at the College World Series!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!