Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Woooo .... I got ruined

Learned a valuable lesson today about complaining to the boss. Found out this afternoon that yesterday, the guys at the radio station had some fun with somebody I said during Sunday's broadcast.

It was a wild, dramatic game. Modesto won 8-7, but not before Lake Elsinore scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, had the tying run at third, and the winning run at first, when the final out was a rocket back to the mound caught by the pitcher. Upon describing this play and the final outcome, I was exhausted and in need of a breath.

Didn't mean to do what I did. Didn't want to do what I did. But in my desire to catch my breath and use that to indicate what type of game it was, I ended up doing a "woooooooooooooo" instead of a quick "whew." My "wooooooooooooo" reminded some of pro wrestler "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. At least, that's what one of my colleague at AM 970 ESPN Radio, thought when he heard it. (I'm withholding certain names, until I get their permission to use them). My colleague replayed the clip about 20 times, or so I'm told. Then my boss, in the final segment of his show, admittedly with no material left, played it again. And again. And again. Plenty more laughs at my expense.

Against my better judgment, I sent a text message from the bus to my boss that said, "talking shit about me again? You're totally and absolutely dead to me." (For the record, we have the type of relationship that we frequently declare we are dead to each other. It's not literal.)

The boss asked if I can come on the radio at 5:20. I figure he wanted a segment on the Nuts and maybe on the A's. I'm wrong. He took a page from the Howard Stern Radio Handbook. That's the page that declares that any hard feelings -- real or imagined, half or fake, or anything in between -- must be discussed live on the radio.

The "woooooooooooo" gets played another 20 times in about five minutes. I have three choices.

1. Hang up.
2. Continue to be pissed off.
3. Play along and laugh at myself.

I chose the third option. I mixed in a few lame attempts to give context to my "wooooo" and justify it. Tried to change the subject. Nothing worked.

In short, I was totally ruined on the radio. For a second straight day. With colleagues like these, who needs friends?

Wasn't feeling too good as I walked back to Modesto's batting cage. They were wrapping things up. One of the players, outfielder Cole Garner, walked up to me and asked, "why is my mom asking if my face is alright?"

The night before, Garner was out on a play at the plate. It looked to me like he was tagged out in the face. That's how I described it. We don't have instant replays in the minors. Cole's mom was listening online. She called him after the game to make sure his face was alright. Cole wasn't too happy. He wasn't too pissed. More like curious and maybe a little annoyed. I explained that's what I saw, it happened fast, and I don't have replays.

So now I'm feeling like a total jackass. Nice way to get ready for the game.

Early in the game, I was awful. I mean it. Awful. I'll admit it. Can't talk. Stumbling over my words. I'm saying ball when it's a strike. I'm saying outside, when it's inside. I'm saying left field when it's right field. I'm just a total mess. At the end of an inning, I take off my headphones, turn off my microphone, and declare, "holy cow, that was horrendous."

In San Jose, the visiting announcer shares a small "booth" with Andre, the scoreboard operator. Andre looks at me and agrees.

"That was really bad," Andre tells me. "You even said the score wrong at the end of the inning. You said San Jose is up 5-2, instead of Modesto."

Great. I realized that I was still rattled from the afternoon. Andre is a former play by play announcer, and he's ready to pump me back up though, just like a coach. "It's alright. Shake it off. It's a long game. We all have bad innings. Settle down. Come back strong this inning."

I stand up and stretch. Shake my head. Try to loosen my shoulders. Drink some water. My first reaction is to curse my colleagues and blame them for "getting in my head." Then I realize how lame that is. I need to be mentally tougher. I need to be a pro. If a player melted down from what a heckler said, or a talk-show host said on the radio, I'd ruin him in print.

(OK, as a beat writer, it's not my job to ruin somebody in print. I might mention some of these details and let the reader draw the conclusion. But I'd rip him over drinks that night at the bar after the game.)

The two-minute inning break ended before I knew it. I started over. It's a grind, but the broadcast gets better. I get back into the flow of the game. My mistakes are minimal, and I'm probably the only one who notices them.. It's still in my head a little. I'm still pissed, but I'm now pissed at myself for getting rattled.

At the top of the eighth inning, I get a hunch. Daniel Carte is going to hit a home run. Not sure where it came from, but I felt it. So I told myself to really focus and be ready for a home run. Sure enough, on the second pitch, Carte goes deep. I nail the call.

"GREAT CALL!" Andre writes to me on a sheet of scratch paper.

A little redemption. A little comeback of my own. And a couple big lessons learned.

Don't bitch to a boss who has an afternoon talk show.

Don't let an embarassing moment get in your head.

1 comment:

g-off said...

I guess the lesson is to never take yourself too seriously!