May 6, 2011
I have been told not to post the transcripts of the interviews I had onto my blog, and thus you will not be seeing those on here. I would like to be asked back this season, and this could go a big way to helping me. I likely will not be a media member again until September as school is practically over and does not begin until the end of August or early September. I arrived at PNC Park a little before 2:40 but had to pay for a couple more tickets and was talking to my Season Ticket representative and a security guard and thus at 3:15 was in the press box entrance.
I was the first one to report to the Pirates clubhouse where I checked in and waited. When Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Jen Langosch of MLB.com showed up along with my friend Kristy Robinson (who god bless her picked up a full season credential) we all entered the clubhouse. Manager Clint Hurdle would not have his press conference until 4, and no one was really in the clubhouse as the team actually was taking batting practice. With nothing going on, I decided to set off for the San Francisco Giants clubhouse.
With me went John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus and together we had a conversation off record with Ryan Vogelsong who would be starting the next day's game. It was great speaking with him, and he remembered all of the old Pirates reporters. At that point Freddy Sanchez walked over and said a quick hello to both of us before darting off. John and I were both waiting for Pablo Sandoval to come back for an interview. Sandoval lost a lot of weight and was running and defending better this season and I really wanted to talk to him. Unfortunately, I was playing two clubhouses at once, and it was just about four so I had to jet back to the Pirates clubhouse to speak to Manager Hurdle.
I made it with a couple minutes to spare, and saw Colin speaking with Tim Neverett and Greg Brown was there as well. Root Sports was also well represented as Rob King was there in a red Root Sports shirt. We then were called in to speak with Manager Hurdle. I was the first one in, and thus I received a special hello greeting before taking a seat.
I learned from my mistake from earlier in the month, and I did research and was prepared to talk to Manager Hurdle as I had compiled a set list of questions and talking points just for him, as everything else would be ad-libbed. I also was not shy to ask him a question, and I dove right in asking him the second question. My question was on Giants starter Madison Bumgarner and after I was asked to clarify what I wanted to know from Manager Hurdle, I quickly did and I got a great answer. It led into a question from Colin and a great conversation. Things did get a bit testy as David Todd who replaced Rocco DeMaro on Extra Innings, asked Manager Hurdle about the previous night's bunt play by Pedro Alvarez. Todd seemed to push the boundary and luckily the two were separated by a desk because the tone of voice quickly escalated. Colin and I later talked about it, and it was not pretty. Although it did end after a little back and forth. I have never witnessed anything that seemed that unprofessional in my young career.
Speaking of unprofessional it is time for a little rant. Among the regular media, only Kristy and myself were the only two to dress professionally. Yes, it was hot and with the rain it also became humid, however wearing jeans, shorts or slacks is just unacceptable. I am aware that some of the regulars have been at this for a while, but you are doing a job. This is not Spring Training in Bradenton, Florida. This is doing a job for your newspaper, website, etc.. so act like it. Sorry, I had to get that off of my chest. For what it's worth, I took a while to change because I wanted to pick an unbiased color. I wanted to wear an orange shirt, but the Giants were in town so I didn't.
I then went back into the Pirates clubhouse and didn't see much, so I went back to the Giants clubhouse to take a gander at what the World Champs were doing. John had his interview with Sandoval and it ended up that we were pretty much going to ask the same types of things. Freddy Sanchez kept popping in and out. At this point outdoor BP was cancelled because of the rain and tarp that was on the field.
I then took a look in Brian Wilson's direction. He was with Tim Lincecum and they along with another Giant were playing some kind of card game or dice game. From the outset it looked boring, but Wilson looked content and not bored, so I guess something about it was fun.
I was looking to interview a player and nothing was going as planned, and my back which was killing the night before was coming back. I eventually settled on Cody Ross, and I approached him. I waited my turn, but apparently the guy before me got him angry and he swore and I decided that it wasn't a good idea. I then just stood an observed a boring clubhouse. Nothing good was happening.
Then my favorite part of the night came. A Giants TV guy came in and was making small talk with the rest of the media. I overheard him say that he had his World Series ring with him and that it was heavy. He then held it up, and I decided to give myself a thrill. I asked him if I could try it on, and I put it on and it was such a great feeling. I can only imagine how the Giants felt. After a very short while, I gave the ring back, said it was awesome and thanked him.
I then saw that some of the Giants were going out to throw and with nothing going on in the Giants clubhouse, I was waiting for Manager Bruce Bochy to have his pre-game conference and thus I gave John my number and went out to watch Jonathan Sanchez throw in the bullpen and watch Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo throw.
It was such a surreal moment living my dream and also living every fan's dream of being on the field this close to the players, and then I saw John in the dugout I headed over to get ready for the Manager Bochy presser.
Manager Bochy's pre-game was much more different than Hurdle. The questions were a little broader and more creative and Manager Bochy just kept pausing in the middle of his answers. He was never short of a story and even told us reporters calmly that the team has not gotten off to the start that he had hoped. I asked Manager Bochy about his thoughts on James McDonald the Pirates starter and Manager Bochy seemed oblivious to McDonald's early season struggles, as he replied as if McDonald was an ace and was on the top of his game. He also complimented the Pirates. If only his team listened to him, as they looked uninspired in a loss.
Manager Bochy came off as knowledgable and believable and he was also watching his pitchers throw, so he was making small talk with us as well, using the opportunity to tell more stories. All in all, Bochy stayed for a good while.
As I said before, McDonald pitched with a purpose for the first time all season. It was a great effort and his start had a great beginning, middle and end although the walk total was a bit high. Joel Hanrahan recorded his first home save of the season, and the bullpen pitched well. After the game, new Pirate Xavier Paul was spotted in the clubhouse and all signs pointed to John Bowker getting released. This was confirmed the next day, when Manager Hurdle said that Bowker was third everywhere on the depth chart that he could play.
I attended Manager Hurdle's post-game presser in his office, which still was neat but had a few more books and behind him a couple of the season's promotions. I am guessing that they are for his children.
After the presser was over, I was the only one left in the room. I quickly asked him one question about the defensive play Pedro Alvarez made that night, going into foul territory and into the first couple rows of seats and over the big Root Sports hurdle to make a circus catch. After his response, I thanked him and left. This made me the first to enter before the game, and the last to leave after the game.
I then went into the clubhouse with the rest of the media and we all talked to McDonald, Chris Snyder who had a key RBI and Bowker. Then I waited for my ride as others filed their stories. I studied for an exam I had the next day. It wasn't until after midnight that I left.
Overall, it was a great time and it is a shame that I cannot do this until September but I learned so much, and I thank everybody that was involved in allowing me to come down to do this not once but twice.
Zac Weiss is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.