Friday, September 09, 2011

Five Things From Covering The Game As Dodgers Media

I am really, really overdue in typing up a final bit of thoughts from my experience in the Dodger Press Booth covering the game as media. Again, it was a wonderful time, and I wish I had gotten this down more quickly after the event so the memories would be fresher. But here's five things that I recalled from that evening:

1. Covering the Dodgers as media is work. SoSG Orel had warned me of this, and I don't know if it's just my own work ethic and drive or the fact that you're surrounded by other hard-working professionals--but covering the game is a lot of hard work. Trying to watch the game, have a conversation on the side with Ken Levine, type up one's thoughts, stuff a Dodger Dog in one's mouth, listen to the PA announcements, and observe one's surroundings--just isn't relaxing. On top of that, there's a bunch of running up and down staircases (a trick Orel told me; I noticed that Ken Gurnick of is pretty spry, possibly because he's hustling flights of stairs rather than queueing for the slow elevators), from the press box to the field to the press box to the clubhouse to the press box again.

The thing I was struck by the most was the fact that the game ended relatively early (2:27), and after the clubhouse post-game interviews, half of the press reporters were back in the press box, in their assigned chairs, furiously typing up their stories. And when they cut the lights in the stadium, and the only thing really well-lit was the press box (still 3/4 occupied), it was clear that this was a job.

2. The Dodgers clubhouse is cramped. I don't know what I expected, what with the Stadium being over 50 years old. But there isn't a lot of room for the players to find a quiet corner and chat, or even stretch out too much. It's tight quarters, both width-wise and length-wise. Frank McCourt refreshed the field level three or four years ago. Someone probably should do the same for the players' clubhouse, and at least get it up to that standard.

I didn't get access to the visitors' clubhouse in St. Louis, so I don't have anything to which I can compare the Dodgers' clubhouse...except the players' locker room in the (recently demolished) Pauley Pavilion, which was even smaller. I remember one of the coaches telling me that the new Pauley was really going to upgrade the players' facilities. And these are for the amateur athletes! Our professionals probably deserve better too.

3. The press box distributes a LOT of papers. I noticed this in St. Louis too, but there is a whole heck of a lot of reading literature distributed pre- and post-game in the box. And it's not just the game stats, either; there's literally pages of factoids with witty headlines about players' recent small-sample-sized performance ("James Loney stroked an RBI double in the third inning yesterday to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Since the run began on August 21, Loney leads the NL with a .516 batting average, 16 hits and a .545 on-base percentage and ranks second behind only Cincinnati's Joey Votto with a .935 slugging percentage.") So now you know where Joe Block gets all of his twitter material.

Even more phenomenal though is the stuff that comes out after the game: a similarly robust set of factoids that is literally hot off the Dodgers' press. Stats and stats and stats, I love it. I soaked it all up. But to be fair, the haste probably leads to some errors here and there, like the phantom ERA transmogrifier:

4. Many of the beat writers are scoring games, the old-fashioned way, by hand. I had GameDay up on my iPhone, the web up on my iPad, and my blogposts-in-progress up on my MacBook Pro. GameDay does a pretty good job at letting one go back and see a play that they might have missed. But Ken Levine, among many others, were using the low-tech score-by-hand method as they watched the game, as if their recollection was going to be more accurate than the official record. Pretty cool. Hand-scoring games is a dying art.

5. I couldn't have done this without the Dodgers' PR Department and all of their great help and support. Thanks to Josh Rawitch, Amy Summers, Adam Chodzko, Joe Jareck, and Jon Chapper, for the opportunity. I hope to get a chance to cover another game at Dodger Stadium again. Even if it is hard work.


Kyle Baker said...

I'm going to make one more run at my question from a ways back during this coverage, and I ask it with seriousness and likely stupidity: Why was Ken Levine there covering the game given that he's moved on from LA?

Steve Sax said...

I don't really know. Levine only covers 40 games for the Mariners and I know he yearns to do play-by-play. I think at the time of that game, it wasn't known that the entire broadcasting team would be back the next year. For all I know, he was interviewing (and hanging out to talk with old friends).

Kyle Baker said...

Ahhhh, got it. Thx, Sax.

Glad to know he still shows up at the real Yard every once in awhile.