Hard to believe, but the season is halfway over. Seventy games in 74 days. Whew. Time flies when you're talking baseball all night and barely sleeping. Figured the all-star break was time for some deep, philosophical thoughts on how it's going.
The more I think about my feelings, the more I just feel lucky that I landed where I did. For a couple years, I've been trying to get back into broadcasting. But no team anywhere in minor league baseball would give me the time of day. Some of my broadcasting friends went above and beyond the call of duty to hype me up as a possible No.2 announcer at a couple Triple-A jobs two offseasons ago. But for all the No.1 jobs I applied to get, I basically was totally ignored.
When somebody finally did give me a chance, it came in a city just outside the Bay Area, limiting how far I had to move, and allowing me to stay close to my friends and family. It was with a team that happened to hire my cousin (when neither of us knew the other was about to get hired).
The official employer was an all-sports radio station, which allowed me to:
1. continue my journalistic background as the sports director of the morning news.
2. be a fill-in, talk-show host for a couple segments of my co-workers' talk shows regularly, or even the entire show when somebody is sick.
3. cover the NCAA west regional in Sacramento.
4. do live interviews with players, such as Bobby Crosby and Nick Swisher, or just yesterday with A's general manager Billy Beane, that we air later that day or the next day on the radio station.
5. basically yuck it up and have fun on radio.
Most minor league radio announcers -- as in 99 percent -- work exclusively for the team. Not me. Which means, more important than anything else, I don't have to sell advertising. Nothing is more deflating than applying for a job as the play-by-play announcer, and being told that your ability to sell ads means more than you're ability to call a game.
Granted, not every game is on our radio station because we carry the Oakland A's and other pro sports, which get first priority. (All games are live on the internet though.)
But the all-sports station provides a priceless amount of crossover programming opportunities, such as broadcasting live for six hours yesterday from Stockton's ballpark to pump up the California-Carolina League all-star game -- even though we weren't broadcasting the game. Some of the other announcers in the Cal League, who I've quickly come to call good friends, call their games during pledge drives for PBS or on a station that switched to a Spanish format during the season.
I'm lucky at how our product has turned out too. This might sound arrogant, but at least for home games, we have -- by far -- the best overall broadcast team in the Cal League. And it's not even close.
No other team has a daily manager show. Nobody else does a live postgame interview with a player down on the field. Nobody else has a newspaper beat reporter with the talent and knowledge, not to mention the feel for radio, like our Brian VanderBeek of The Modesto Bee. I humbly think Greg Young is the best No.2 in the league, could be a No.1 right now, will be a No.1 next year for sure, and I'd find it hard to believe that anybody else has better on-air chemistry than we do. If nothing else, nobody has as much fun as we do.
Don't worry, I'll stop bragging shortly.
And here's the kicker: not only did I not know any of that coming in, I didn't even make the decision to setup the broadcasting team. Pure luck.
This blog started three months ago with me mostly making fun of myself and my mistakes. Call it all-star break nostalgic thoughts, or the lack of sleep, or an over-indulgent sense of self, but we've been damn good.
Now, just wait until we know what we're actually doing.