Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Day in the Life Of...

Hello from Anaheim where I'll be calling this weekend's grudge match between the host Angels and the Mariners for 710 ESPN Seattle, the Mariners' Radio Network, and MLB.COM.   Recently I contributed an article for the Mariners' monthly magazine.  It was about "what I learned writing a Broadway musical".  It was rejected.   Then I wrote this.  Maybe they'll use it.  Even if you're not a baseball fan, hopefully you'll still find it worth quickly scrolling.  (Note:  It's been revised to make more sense to blog readers)


DAY IN THE LIFE OF A MARINERS’ BROADCASTER
Dave Sims, Kevin Cremin, me, Rick Rizzs
As one of the former Mariner announcers helping out this year on 710 ESPN radio I thought I’d share with you what a typical day is like for an M’s play-by-play broadcaster. Or at least for me.

Let’s say it’s a 7:10 game at Safeco Field. Around 3:00 we all arrive – me, Rick Rizzs, TV dudes Dave Sims & Mike Blowers, and our producer-engineer, Kevin Cremin.  Rick and I set up for the day. I spread out a scoresheet, media guides, player profiles for each team, binoculars, pencils, highlighters, stat packets, and an iPad (to see if our radio field reporter, Shannon Drayer has Tweeted about me).

Shannon Drayer
I start jotting down notes on my scoresheet. Ricky already has tons of notes scrawled on his. He probably worked two hours at home on those. At about 3:30 Rick goes down to the clubhouse to interview manager Eric Wedge for the pre-game show. Once out of the booth I copy all of his notes.

Then I trot down to the clubhouse. Here I can engage in meaningful discussions with players as they put on their socks.

When the team heads out onto the field for stretching exercises and batting practice around 4:15 the media meets with the skipper in the dugout. For fifteen minutes we pepper him with questions. Most want to know about injuries, upcoming pitching rotations, strategies, etc. I tend to ask him things like: why were Baroque artists so ornate, florid, and playful?

From there I usually head into the opponents’ clubhouse. Invariably I’ll know a few people on that team – players and coaches I covered at one time. Once we get past their shock that I’m still in the business, we usually have a nice reunion. And I compile more and more little tidbits for the broadcast.

Back out onto the field to just stand around and look important.

When the visiting team takes their batting practice (around 5:15) their manager usually meets with reporters so I stick around for that. You’d be surprised how few American League managers know about the Baroque Period.

A little before 6:00 I sashay up to the press dining room for dinner. Usually I eat with my broadcast crew and we have searing conversations like “which press dining room makes the best soup?” Imagine CHEERS with seven Cliffs.

At 7:00 the broadcast begins and that’s the REAL fun part. I can’t tell you how much I love calling Mariners baseball. Rick and Kevin are such terrific partners, I have the best view in the park, and thanks to Rick’s notes I sound relatively smart. The only thing missing, and it’s a big thing – is Dave Niehaus (who passed away last November). He will forever be THE voice of the Seattle Mariners. I’m just the grateful understudy.

After the game we select our M.V.P.’s for the night. I try to limit my candidates to players who actually got in the game.

And that’s it. I go home and buy things I see on informercials.

Thanks again to the Mariners and you for listening. I’ll be talking to you soon (tonight). I’m already preparing… and by that I mean, Rick is already preparing.

21 comments:

LouOCNY said...

Couple of weeks ago during a Mets TV broadcast (Yankees were rained out :P), they did a running spotlight on how Keith Hernandez keeps his scoresheet. By the time it was done, you could just about do a play by play from the thing - excepting he, like Phil Cuzzi, does not keep a running ball/strike count...

Bob Summers said...

Friday Question:

Ken,

Why did the TV seasons of the 70s and into the 80s used to end in March, and why and when did that change to May? I think I have an answer, but I'd like an insider/expert opinion.

And I love your play-by-play stories. Reminds me of working the high school football circuit back in the day.

Secret Word - oodialot said...

I didn't realize it till I saw the pic today...how tall are you, about five-fourteen? Shannon knows her stuff, too. Do ya ever copy her notes? Got your ball-strike clicker?

Eric Wedge said...

I don't know Ken, I always say: "If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it!"

Lenny "Len" DiCapriolated said...

What is it the Mariners actually do during batting practice?

The Curmudgeon said...

Too bad you didn't make the trip with the Mariners to Chicago. Ozzie Guillen would have had an answer -- you couldn't have run it on the air without serious editing, but he would have had an answer.

iain said...

Are you keeping track of how many times Eric Wedge uses the phrases "grinder/grinding," "it's a process" & "respect &/or play the game the right way?" During his time with the Indians, those were some of the key elements to "The Eric Wedge Drinking Game."*

*Play at your own risk. I'm not responsible for any cases of alcohol poisoning over the course of 162 games

404 said...

You might have posted this before, but is there a link you can put up here so that those of us not in the area can listen to you online?

cjdahl60 said...

404: Here's a link to the live audio stream of 710 ESPN Seattle. Pregame show starts at 6:00pm PDT; game begins at 7:10pm:

http://mynorthwest.com/streams/streampop_espn.php

Sorry if the link is not clickable; I'm not much of an HTML guru. Copying and pasting into your browser will work just as well.

Jim S said...

Ken,

It's a pity that you cover the American League, they're mostly into the impressionists. Terry Collins of the New York Mets, on the other hand, is quite knowledgable about the Baroque period. Living in New York, he actually takes advantage of the museums.

Newman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! said...

You cannot listen to major league games on line w/out paying for it. KIRO is not allowed to stream the Mariners live. Through MLB.com you can subscribe to the radio broadcasts of all teams for $20/year. It's a kick to listen to all the different voices of the game and it's still just 20-dollars cheap.

Michael said...

Jack Buck once said of broadcasting that you have breakfast and BS, go play golf and BS, go to the park and BS, go on the air for a couple of hours and BS, then go to the press club bar after the game, have a couple of drinks, and BS--it's tough, really tough. Well, it's tougher than that, but ....

Willie Whistler said...

The Mets, like the Dodgers, are thoroughly baroque.

chalmers said...

Jack Buck's former partner, Harry Caray, made a similar point about the joys of his lifestyle:

"Booze, broads, and bullshit. If you got all that, what else do you need?"

Galen O Cisco said...

Don't forget, page 102.

l.a.guy said...

"I contributed an article for the Mariners' monthly magazine. It was about "what I learned writing a Broadway musical". It was rejected."

I imagine that conversation went something like... "Yes, I know you're an Emmy winning writer, director, producer and you have made millions off your writing talents, but unfortunately we don't have space to run your article because Tom Wolfe contributed a marvelous essay about the rough and tumble life of a ground crew member that is so brilliant it must be read to be believed. What else you got?"

I think you're best shot for gracing the pages of Mariners' monthly is to submit 50 stories. Surely one of them will live up to their standards. Either that or you need a better agent.

Ms fan since day 1 said...

Ken,

I vaguely remember your voice from back in the day. I really enjoy your work on the radio, and your great blog.

Thanks for all your efforts on the broadcasts!

Anonymous said...

I keep trying to think up a catch phrase for you, how about "Close but no Seagar"

VP81955 said...

Terry Collins of the New York Mets, on the other hand, is quite knowledgable about the Baroque period. Living in New York, he actually takes advantage of the museums.

Road trips to Philadelphia and Washington also help NLers.

Glad to see Dave Sims doing well. I remember when he and Ed Coleman were midday hosts at WFAN, and Dave later did some pre-game work for Phillies telecasts.

Larry Asher said...

Ken,
Thank you for the great work on the air for the Mariners. You're doing a lot to make impotence fun.

Kimberly Maldonado said...

It is true that Mariners baseball is not the same without Dave, but you and "Scooter" have really made the games enjoyable. We would love to hear you on more Mariners broadcasts!