A Day in the Life
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
For a while now, I’ve been meaning to do a blog entry that chronicles the average day in the life of a baseball beat reporter.
But today is far from average. It’s a day-night doubleheader. And what better time to chronicle a “day in the life” than a day in which the beat actually takes an entire day and night? I can’t think of any.
Here, then, is today’s rundown. I think you’ll find that, in some respects, baseball writing ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. And in other respects, it is every bit as fun as you suspect. The reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle.
1:29 a.m.: My final game story is filed. That’s a wrap, folks. For a few hours, at least. In the morning, we’ll have a roster move to follow up on and pregame notes due before the 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch, less than 12 hours from now.
There will be no blog tomorrow. I hope you understand.
Until next time, goodnight, everybody. And goodnight, John Popper, wherever you are.
1:03 a.m.: Whewell e-mails an Internet link that proves he was correct: Bacon comes from the back or sides of the pig, while ham comes from the upper part of the pig’s leg.
1:02 a.m.: Team photog Dan Mendlik sends over some nice photos from the postgame celebration.
1:01 a.m.: Tribe PR man extraordinaire Jeff Sibel points out that the Tribe and Tigers, with a 1:04 p.m. first pitch, were the first teams in MLB in action on Saturday and, with a 12:15 a.m. final run, were the last teams to finish.
12:54 a.m.: Back in the press box. Time to write the full gamer and wrap this baby up.
12:46 a.m.: Kearns (aka “TGHBTEEITHOM”) emerges from the trainer’s room. There are maybe five reporters left at this point. He says it feels good to get the win. We all feverishly write this down as if he’s revealing nuclear codes.
12:35 a.m.: Carlos Santana delivers this money quote: “This is the baseball. Today, two game wins. So things are very happy.”
12:28 a.m.: Clubhouse opens, and we once again file into Manny’s office. After his summary of the game, he says the Indians will, of course, have to make a roster move to get Jeanmar Gomez up here tomorrow. Initially, somebody was going to be pulled from the bullpen. But given the circumstances this evening, it will probably be a position player now. Acta and his staff were going to huddle up to talk about it before leaving here tonight, so we’ll have an announcement in the morning.
12:15 a.m.: Kearns, to be known from this point on as The Greatest Human Being To Ever Exist In The History of Mankind, hits a single to left. Kelly has trouble coming up with it. Nix scores. Indians win. Now excuse me, I’ve got a gamer to write.
12:12 a.m.: Santana draws a walk. Kearns comes up. Can you feel it?
12:10 a.m.: Jayson Nix bloops a single to center with two outs. Faint, potentially false, hope arises in Progressive Field.
12:04 a.m.: Worth strikes out. We’re headed to the bottom of the 11th, with Robbie Weinhardt coming out to pitch. He has a 6.23 ERA, and we’re all hoping he lives up to it.
12 a.m.: The clock just struck midnight, with a loud bell sound ringing out at Progressive Field. And Alex Avila just grounded into a double play.
11:55 p.m.: Nevermind. The Indians went down in order. Gimenez popped out. To the 11th, we go.
11:51 p.m.: Joe Smith and Raffy Perez team up for the second time today to hold the Tigers scoreless in the top of the 10th. Ryan Perry coming on for the Tigers. Crowe, Marte and Gimenez due up. Calling it right here: Gimenez’s first hit of 2010 is a three-run bomb to Eagle Ave. He is then hoisted into the arms of his teammates and carried over to Moriarty’s on East 6th, where he sips on fine wine and is fed grapes by buxom vixens.
11:47 p.m.: This is one of those situations where there are so few people in the stands that you can hear everything everybody yells. And it is in these situations that any theories on the evolution of mankind and the expansion of intellectual thought are disproven, with authority.
11:37 p.m.: Santana draws a leadoff walk, but Kearns grounds into a 6-4-3. LaPorta grounds out to short (excellent play by Worth). Extras it is.
11:32: Phil Coke is on the mound for the Tigers in the ninth, hoping to avoid taking the loss for the second time today. If it happens, I’d love to read his “Day in the Life” blog.
11:26 p.m.: The Tigers strand the go-ahead run at third. Absolutely, positively no way this game doesn’t go to extras. Somebody hand me a Schlitz.
11:18 p.m.: We are back underway. There are rougly 30 people in the stands, and Chris Perez is on the hill. A one-hour, 53-minute delay. Rhythm n’ Rhyme has left the building.
11:16 p.m.: I have to admit, I’m getting tired. I’ve had one cup of coffee my entire life. I was in Paris on the Champs-Elysses. I thought I was ordering hot cocoa. Don’t drink much pop, either. I don’t think there’s caffeine in the 97 cups of ice water I’ve had tonight. Right now, I’m living off mystery meat and pizza.
11:04 p.m.: Two days in the life?
10:59 p.m.: We have an announcement: Tonight’s game will resume at 11:20.
10:51 p.m.: Wow. They are definitely playing Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around.” Somebody up there likes me. And Popper.
10:47 p.m.: Now how about playing some John Popper tunes?
10:44 p.m.: Spoke too soon about the “rain mix.” “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” just came on. But it’s The Boss, so that is totally tolerable.
10:40 p.m.: Say what you will about H.L. Mencken, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Helen Thomas… but they never covered a rain delay. This is where the hardcore journalists reside.
10:32 p.m.: Former MLB.com intern Andrew Gribble astutely points out that the hijacked David Huff Twitter account has to be related to the pilfered Grady Sizemore pictures. Some diabolical being is out there on the Internet, tarnishing the images of the Tribe’s talent. Ozzie Guillen is an early suspect.
10:30 p.m.: This blog entry is starting to feel a lot less “epic” and a lot more “tragic.” Tell the world my story.
10:16 p.m.: Another heavy batch of rain is pounding us right now. My producer at MLB.com informs me that weather.com shows a window coming… at 11 p.m. It’s days like this that leave you questioning every major and minor life decision you made that led you to this point.
10:07 p.m.: Correction: Quintuple. My mistake.
10:02 p.m.: Back when this little diary endeavor began — what feels like at least a day and a half ago — Tribe vice president of PR Bob DiBiasio suggested I keep a count of my caloric intake over the course of the doubleheader. I don’t have an exact calorie count, but, after that pizza announcement, we have to be in the quadruple digits. It’s just a question of how deep.
9:55 p.m.: That rumbling you just heard off in the distance was not more thunder. It was the sound of 30-some media members rushing into the press dining room after an announcement that pizza is available.
The cleaning crew wet the tiled floors right before the announcement, just to add a little life-threatening drama to the mix.
9:48 p.m.: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Progressive Field sound crew for not digging out the token “rain mix” that every team in baseball has for such situations. No “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” No “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.” No “Here Comes the Rain Again.” Your restraint is appreciated. We are all aware it’s raining. There’s no need to communicate this information through the magic of song.
9:32 p.m.: Someone on Twitter asked what reporters do during rain delays. The answer, of course, is penance.
9:30 p.m.: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine wrote that while covering a rain-delayed Phillies doubleheader in 1776.
9:25 p.m.: Yep, it was close, all right. The rain has arrived, the tarp’s coming out and we’re entering delay mode. Beautiful.
9:24 p.m.: It’s 1-1 through eight innings. I have only a short shell of a game story to work with, because who knows how this one turns out? Still not raining, but it appears to be close.
9:17 p.m.: Press box windows frantically shut. Here comes the rain. Lightning streaks the sky.
9:12 p.m.: Kate the Great informs me she does not wish to be associated with David’s Bridal. Let’s forget that ever happened.
9:09 p.m.: Still 1-1 in the eighth. I would do unholy things to ensure this game ends within the next hour.
8:44 p.m.: Ketchup, loaded with performance-enhancing lycopene, wins the Hot Dog Derby. And as Leslie points out, the crowd is louder than it’s been all night. Mustard, a clean competitor and true role model to young condiments, gets the shaft.
8:38 p.m.: A Twitterer informs me that a couple just got engaged in the left-field bleachers. A few years back, there was a couple that got engaged in right field, shortly after the bride-to-be caught a Ben Broussard home run. Haven’t checked eBay, but I’m pretty sure the ring was worth more than the Broussard home run ball.
8:36 p.m.: Midway through the 5th, and it sounds like rain is coming. Just what you want to hear during a day-nighter.
8:22 p.m.: Carlos Santana takes Porcello deep to dead center. That’s why they call him “The Supernatural.” Or at least, I do.
8:15 p.m.: Andy Marte is having the day of his life, defensively.
8:08 p.m.: As the Indians go down quietly against Porcello in the third (save for Chris Gimenez’s shattered bat nailing catcher Gerald Laird in the head), I’m reading over MLB.com intern John Barone’s content from Game 1. Barone’s filling in for Tigers scribe Jason Beck this weekend and doing a fantastic job. Alas, it’s not always this easy. I once had an intern do a game story that heavily referenced Greek mythology. That one required some editing.
7:52 p.m.: We’re two innings in, and I’ve already screwed up my scorecard. For reasons unknown even to me, I do this in pen and never learn my lesson.
7:48 p.m.: I don’t think Rosey will mind me telling you that his son, Nathan, goes to bed every night listening to a recording of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Cleveland show from last November. He’s like the son I never had.
7:45 p.m.: Indians Radio Network pregame host/play-by-play man/engineer extraordinaire e-mails with one word to describe today’s blog: “Epic.” Thanks, Rosey.
Not so epic? The Indians’ showing against Rick Porcello through two innings. Talbot has worked out of some jams, but Tribe is in a 1-0 hole.
7:20 p.m.: Mitch Talbot works out of a bases-loaded jam to end a 15-minute top of the first.
Now, as you no doubt know, it’s Saturday night. And usually on Saturday nights, the inimitable Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer performs his famous “Hawk Call” at a half-inning known only to him and Krepop. The rest of us don’t know when the call is coming, we just hope it comes in the half inning we drew out of a bag. The “Hawk Call” cannot be suitably explained in writing (you can see it for yourself at the end of the video on this link), but if Hoynsie does it in your inning, you’re the big winner. Alas, Hoynes is off tonight. The Hawk Call is postponed.
7:06 p.m.: Indians iTrac vision coordinator and blog favorite Jason Stein, known here and everywhere as the “Master of Self-Promotion,” arrives in the press box. He’s seated in my old stomping grounds — The Third Row, a truly magical place. A couple years ago, I big-leagued Stein and moved up to the second row. Our friendship has not been the same since. Neither of us is complaining.
7:04 p.m.: Game 2 begins, one minute ahead of schedule. And while it begins, I’m going to get to work on an expense report I’ve been neglecting from the last road trip.
6:59 p.m.: A four-man group named Rhythm n’ Rhyme just delivered the anthem in 1 minute, 19 seconds. Well done, men, well done. “Hopefully you know what that means!” Leslie says excitedly. Yes, we are clearly in line for a one-hour, 19-minute nightcap.
6:55 p.m.: Press dining served the same exact thing for dinner that they served for lunch. Stay hot.
The time between games was successfully killed. Had a half-hour conversation with The News-Herald’s Jim Ingraham about the new Bruce Springsteen DVD, “London Calling: Live in Hyde Park.” We both agreed that while this was far from an ideal setlist, the performance, camera angles and sound quality are all second to none.
Learned from John “Popper” Krepop and AP writer Chuck Murr that the seats in the upper deck at HSBC Arena in Buffalo are the same seats that once sat in the Richfield Coliseum. They have been refurbished. Also, the glass and boards used for the hockey setup at Quicken Loans Arena are from the North Olmsted ice rink. These are worthwhile pieces of information. Thank God for the day-night doubleheader.
Dined with Whewell and deliberated over the differences between ham and pork. He believes they come from different parts of the pig. I’m too lazy to look it up, so we’ll just go with that.
Talked to my fiancée, Kate the Great, who informed me that, contrary to what any advertisement jingle says, you will not love David’s Bridal.
Now it’s time for Game 2. And another take on the National Anthem. Let’s keep it nice and tight.
5:45 p.m.: Just finished the game story and Wood and Huff rewrites. The Huff thing is an all-timer. As a result of this development, had to update the Indians probable pitchers page, which, in case you’ve never noticed, is posted here.
The Jimmy Buffet cover band, performing as part of “Beach Weekend” at the ballpark, has started up again on the Plaza. I’ve heard the same dozen songs three times in the last 24 hours. Good times.
With a little time to kill between games, I’m going to find “some kind of meat” for dinner. Catch back up with you soon.
4:45 p.m.: Back up in the press box after the interviews in the clubhouse. We talked to Carmona, Wood (got him this time), Crowe and Joe Smith. Give Carmona credit for speaking on his own. His English has come a long way in the last four years. But his quotes are still virtually unusable.
On my way out of the clubhouse, I ran into assistant GM Chris Antonetti, who also deflected the Huff tweet conversation.
But suffice to say it’s clear the Indians told Huff he would be making Sunday’s start and told him to keep it under wraps, only to see it tweeted from an account known to belong to him a mere 15 minutes later. The e-mail from Huff’s agent said Huff had told his family the reason why he was scratched from Saturday’s start in Columbus. A family member may have tweeted on Huff’s behalf. Either way, it cost him a start in the bigs and opened the door to Gomez’s debut.
Now, it’s time to flesh out the game story and rewrite the Huff and Wood stories, all with the mentally stimulating sound of leafblowers being used by the Progressive Field cleanup crew and the 90-degree humidity in the press box.
4:13 p.m.: The 10-minute “cooling off” period before the clubhouse opens to reporters last 13 minutes. A horde of reporters (an admittedly small horde for today’s doubleheader) files into Manny Acta’s office. Acta praises Carmona’s pitching and Andy Marte’s defense. He also announces Jeanmar Gomez will be called up to make Sunday’s spot start. When the scrum is over, I hang back to ask Acta about Huff’s impactful tweet. Acta clearly is not a fan of this particular topic of conversation and chooses only to say that Huff could use more development time in Triple-A.
3:59 p.m.: Perez closed the door in the ninth. The Indians won, 4-3. The best part? No rewrite necessary. Headed to the clubhouse now. Maybe there will be some Playmate coolers in there, with John Popper music blasting on the stereo.
3:46 p.m.: Just filed the first version of my Game 1 game story. These first versions are usually filed in the eighth inning, sans quotes (obviously). A quick and dirty recap. Rewrites are standard practice, particularly when you cover a team with a bad bullpen (not that I’d know anything about that). So we’ll see if Chris Perez lets this one stand in the ninth. After the game, we’ll get quotes in the clubhouse and flesh it out to a full gamer.
3:29 p.m.: Apparently, based on a comment below, I should have been more clear. Obviously, when I said “Playmate party,” I meant a party hosted by Playmate coolers. You think somebody would actually throw a party centered around women with surgically enhanced cleavage? Please.
By the way, Trevor Crowe just singled to score the go-ahead run. We might avoid extras, after all.
3:21 p.m.: The Indians tied it up in the bottom of the sixth on a Verlander wild pitch, and my computer was either so excited about this or so overloaded by the “Day in the Life” blogging that it promptly decided to shut down on its own. Didn’t even have the decency to warn me. When these things happen in the sixth, it’s no big deal. In the ninth? No bueno. But we’re back up and running now, just in time for the bottom of the seventh and the seemingly inevitable extra innings.
2:55 p.m.: Fausto has settled in. And further inquiries have revealed that Playmate parties are not at all what you’re imagining them to be. But they do have snacks, so that’s good.
2:50 p.m.: Watched the Indians load the bases against Verlander, only to see Hafner and LaPorta strike out. During the game, you’re always looking for that moment that will decide things and ultimately carry your game story. That might have been the one. We’ll see.
2:25 p.m.: Getting that e-mail from Jim McDowell reminded me of the time I tried to flag his brother, Jack, down for an autograph outside Cleveland Municipal Stadium in ’91, when I was 10. In the wake of the Cory Snyder trade, I found myself rooting for the White Sox (when you’re a kid, it’s just that easy to be swayed… which is why my 8-year-old nephew was wearing a Miami Heat jersey when I saw him the other day). Therefore, I was also a Black Jack fan.
McDowell did everything in his power to ignore me, until his girlfriend or wife or whoever persuaded him to sign my hat. A few months later, some bully tried to steal that hat from me while I was walking home from St. Robert’s elementary in Euclid. My chubby, 10-year-old self managed to fight him off. From that point on, I never wore it to school again. It hung in my room. Eventually, the ink from the autograph faded away. Kinda like Jack McDowell.
2:15 p.m.: As the Indians pull within 3-2, I bang out a quick story on Huff not making Sunday’s start. I’ll update the story between games of the doubleheader. This Twitter thing immediately jumps into my Top 10 all-time bizarre developments in covering baseball. But that list seems to be updated about once a week this season.
1:50 p.m.: I get an e-mail from David Huff’s agent, Jim McDowell, who informs me his client will not be making tomorrow’s spot start, in the wake of yesterday’s Twitter controversy. McDowell writes:
“If word got out about Huff possibly throwing a spot start on Sunday, it was not David’s doing. He did not post anything on Twitter about any of this, in fact his own account was terminated over a month ago. And if stuff gets out and circulates over the internet or Twitter, or whatever, well, welcome to 2010.
“Dave will be pitching for AAA Columbus tomorrow, apparently because this was such a big deal. He’ll continue to focus on making the necessary improvements and adjustments that will bring him back to the big leagues for what will be a long, successful career.”
Expecting to hear who will be making the spot start when we talk to Acta between games today.
1:32 p.m.: Leslie mentions that she was at a Playmate party at the Ritz last night. I watched Jake Westbrook duel against Max Scherzer. Kinda the same thing.
1:28 p.m.: A visit to press dining confirms they are serving “some kind of meat.” Arguably, not the kind you want to ingest into your body.
Meanwhile, the Indians fall behind, 3-0, in the first.
1:16 p.m.: Whewell e-mails me to point out that John Popper of Blues Traveler was, strangely enough, born in Cleveland. By day’s end, I will know and hear more about John Popper than I ever intended or desired. By the way, it’s still the top of the first and Fausto is walking everybody.
1:02 p.m.: I get an e-mail from my friend Jeff, who would like to declare that John Popper — the Blues Traveler guy — is a jerk. I fix yesterday’s blog entry, for posterity.
1 p.m.: Ordinarly, I sit next to Matt Whewell of the media relations department. But he’s off helping the Tigers TV crew today, which means I won’t get to observe Matt’s elephantish eating habits.
Instead, I’m joined today by Leslie Jo Baumeister, a media relations assistant and devoted reader of CastroTurf whose summation of the offerings in the press dining room is as follows: “Some kind of meat.”
The National Anthem is performed, and the singer appears to be auditioning for American Idol. It’s about a six-minute rendition. Leslie points out her theory that the longer the Anthem, the longer the game. We’re in for a long day.
12:30 p.m.: Spent the last half hour or so banging out today’s notebook for Indians.com and freshening up the Kerry Wood story with quotes (none from Wood, who never showed up in the clubhouse). In the press box, we are given stat packs with the standings, team stats and league stats, as well as a notes package from each club. Nothing all that eye-catching in the notes today (as is usually the case with day games after night games), though of course our new hero Jared Goedert gets some love for hitting his 16th homer for Columbus last night.
Talked with Plain Dealer writer Dennis Manoloff, who waited a little while longer than I did for Wood. D-Man lasted until 11:58 a.m., to no avail. The clubhouse closes an hour before first pitch.
11:45 a.m.: I head up to the press box, on the fourth level of Progressive Field. I see press box attendant John Krepop, who I mistakenly and unforgivably referenced as John Popper in yesterday’s blog entry. We all refer to Krepop as “Popper,” and I was typing so fast yesterday that I mistakenly used the nickname. Krepop/Popper didn’t care. In fact, he seemed to like being associated with the lead singer of Blues Traveler.
11:30 a.m.: The players come off the field from pregame stretch and head into the clubhouse. I walk in with manager Manny Acta, who tries to tell me that this heat and humidity we’re dealing with is nothing compared to Florida and the Dominican. “Global warming, baby,” Acta says.
Now, generally speaking, the open clubhouse portion of the day essentially involves a lot of standing around. The one guy you need to talk to (in this case, Wood) is usually not there. Or he’s playing cards or a video game. Never fails. But I do find Chris Perez, who had not been told Wood is on the DL and therefore didn’t know he’s now the team’s closer. I tell Perez that if he got on Twitter, he’d know this kind of thing. But we both acknowledged that being on Twitter didn’t do David Huff much good yesterday.
I also give clubbie Ramon Diaz his “daily writing tip.” Ramon goes to Columbia and works in the clubhouse during the summer. Great kid. Every day, he asks for a writing tip. Today’s tip? Always double- and triple-check names. But more on that in a bit.
11 a.m.: Get to the park and head straight to the Indians’ clubhouse. Wood is nowhere to be found, but I get updates from Jhonny Peralta (flu) and Shin-Soo Choo (sprained right thumb) on their conditions. Choo took 60 swings in indoor batting practice today, and Peralta is hoping to be in the lineup for the nightcap. I walk with Choo to the dugout, where I find pitching coach Tim Belcher and head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff to get the full story on Wood, whose blister situation appears minor.
10:30 a.m.: John Hiatt's "The Open Road" was the CD of choice for the drive to the ballpark. Hiatt, one of the all-time great American songwriters, was a few blocks away at the House of Blues last night. I was here, listening to a lame Jimmy Buffet cover band play on Gateway Plaza pregame.
10 a.m. ET: Today’s story actually began last night. We were interviewing Jake Westbrook after the win over the Tigers. Jake’s locker is right next to that of Kerry Wood. I happened to notice Wood’s pristine white jersey hanging by his locker. Every other player who suited up for last night’s game of course had their jersey in the wash. But Wood’s was still hanging there, untouched. Clearly, something was up. When I inquired about it with the Indians, I was told that yes, something is up, and check back in the morning.
Checked again in the morning, got the full story on Wood going on the 15-day DL with a blister and Jensen Lewis coming up. Wrote a quick story that I filed to the MLB.com desk in New York, wrote another quick version that I posted here on the blog, then tweeted the information with a link to the blog. Three years ago, posting such information was one, simple step. Now, with the blog and Twitter, it’s three. In another three years, I’m sure it will be six.