Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The waiting is the hardest part

It's two days until the next football game that I'll broadcast and I'm definitely restless. I hate waiting a week for the next game. I know what I did wrong last week. I know how I need to improve my skills. I want to work on it now; not in a few days. I hate waiting for the next game.

What I love most about baseball is also what I hate most. I love that it's daily. I hate that it's daily. Few people understand just how exhausting a season is -- both mentally and physically -- when you play so many games in so few days. But that daily schedule is something I cherish, as a fan and a broadcaster. There's always another day for your team, or for yourself, to gain some redemption, to improve, to re-prove it wasn't a fluke. Yet at the same time, it can be torture on your body, and it wreaks havoc on your social life. Working in baseball, you work every day -- Saturdays, Sundays, holidays -- during the summer months at a time when most people take vacations. The rare days off are usually on Mondays.

When I left college 11 years ago and had my original play-by-play aspirations, I actually felt baseball was my worst sport as an announcer. I thought basketball was my best and football was my second best. But I love baseball most, I understand its history best, and it's just easier for me to talk about it.

When I decided to leave newspapers and try this play by play thing in March, I knew the best path was through minor league baseball. It's not that I necessarily only want to do baseball in my life. Doing football once a week, or basketball 2-4 days a week, seems like a cakewalk compared to seven baseball games a week. But I knew that what I needed most was repetitions. That's the only way to get better. No sport provides repetitions like baseball.

Last week, I was talking to my program director about this topic. He mentioned how there's so many more baseball jobs in the minors than any other sport. The first reason is obvious -- there's so many more minor league baseball teams.

The second reason is less obvious. My theory is that baseball weeds out the weak. A lot of college graduates might think they want to be a baseball broadcaster. But after 100 games, little pay, lack of sleep, constant travel, and the grind of a season, the job can lose its luster. Many don't feel it's worth it, especially after a few years. That's why the lower levels of minor leagues have so much turnover. If you reach the majors, or even Triple-A, you know the drill. You get it. You like it, or you know how to cope with it.

Meanwhile, very few football or basketball announcers (especially college basketball with a season just over 30 games) leave their jobs. Why would you? It's a great gig. The work load isn't that hard. You can still see your family and have a normal life.

I'll broadcast 10 football games over the next 10 weeks. During baseball season, I did approximately 65 games in the same number of weeks. The number of reps is priceless. The progress I made was enormous.

I just hope all those baseball reps help me do football. I remember what I was like after 10 baseball games. I was still very raw, very green, and very much a work-in progress.


Seeking a career in baseball said...

I'm a recent university grad who would love to work in baseball. The problem is I don't know where to begin. I live in Canada and there is much less professional baseball here. I am interested in scorekeeping/ statistics keeping. Advice?

Heather said...

Did Michelle say Hi for me?!!

Aaand have you been getting any traffic from my blogroll on wordpress?