By Mike Couzens
After being irritated into a state of consciousness, I reach out of my bed to quiet my cell phone/alarm clock, rattling annoyingly on the wooden nightstand to my right.
“6:00 already?” I think to myself.
We have a noon game today in Comstock Park, Michigan, the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. I’m up early to make sure I get downstairs in time to grab some continental breakfast, check my email, shower and write up a blog post before the team’s first bus heads to the ballpark at 8:30. I’ll be on the air for the first time that day about three hours from when the bus leaves the hotel.
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I always tell people the toughest part about being on the road for a week is trying to go grocery shopping when you get back. There’s really no way to explain to someone why you’re walking in to Kroger at 2 a.m., unless you’re wearing scrubs and just got off the night shift at the local hospital. Those are the other people who do their grocery shopping in the middle of the night… and me, the baseball broadcaster.
I’ll walk out with some peanut butter, jelly, yogurt and fruit, because those are the things I know I can leave in my refrigerator and cabinets for a week without them going bad. As a matter of fact, as I write this I know a few heads of romaine lettuce are wilting in the lowest shelf of my fridge. Oops, forgot to toss those before I hit the road. Really, though, that is the toughest part. The rest, although some might call it “work,” is a lot of fun.
Those are the things that I think about during my downtime during the day, which there isn’t a ton of once the bus leaves Parkview Field for one of 15 destinations throughout the Midwest League. Each day brings different responsibilities, both the standard items of business and the unexpected. My routine on the road as the broadcasting and media relations manager for the Fort Wayne TinCaps includes daily: writing and distributing the team’s game notes, writing a daily blog post, recording a pregame interview and, perhaps most importantly, broadcasting every game on the radio.
Sometimes there might be a media member who needs to interview a player. Last week a writer from Grantland wanted to interview pitching coach Burt Hooton for a piece he was writing on Tommy Lasorda. This week I had to get Max Fried and Jose Valentin on the phone for the local newspaper’s preview article before the home opener. The players and staff are always willing to do the interviews, it’s just a matter of finding a time that fits for both the interviewer and the interviewee.
You see, baseball is all about routine and schedule. At this time, we hit. At this time, we stretch. At this time, we eat. And you do not mess with the schedule. Thus, I work around the schedule.
For the noon game at West Michigan, I went on the air with my pregame show at 11:40, meaning I had to have my scorebook filled out and my pregame interview taped by about 11:30 so that I could run to the bathroom and get a bottle of water before going on the air. Between 10:30 and 11:30, I went down to the Fort Wayne clubhouse three different times looking for my pregame guest.
First trip: He’s nowhere to be found.
Second trip: Clubhouse Manager A.J. Bridges tells me he’s in the batting cage.
Third trip: Success! Pregame interview taped with ten minutes to spare. Whew.
That’s living on baseball time.
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In Part 2, Mike discusses bus rides, signing baseballs, and what it means to be a radio broadcaster.