INTERVIEW: BSR gets to know MASN’s Jen Royle
Baltimore fans welcomed Jen Royle to Charm City a few months ago when she started covering the O’s and Nats on MASN. To help get you acquainted with Jen, we decided to ask her about Baltimore accents, working for the Yankees and her favorite Roch Kubatko attribute.
1) You are from Boston and spent several years in New York. While the Maryland accent is less pronounced, have you grown to appreciate it yet, hun?
I have always appreciated accents… Any accents, all accents.
I have a Boston accent, which is rare and incredibly difficult to mock if you’re not from there, so I appreciate my own more than anything. When I first started working for the Yankees’ network in 2003, my boss told me I had to go through speech class in order to be on-air or Mr. Steinbrenner would pull me off. I was so bummed because I love my accent and I love where I’m from. So in the summer of 2004 I went to a “Speech and Diction” class in my neighborhood (Greenwich Village in NYC) where I had to stand in front of the class and repeat, “I ate a ham sandwich under a tree in the park on Thursday” over and over. It was so embarrassing. The good news is, I didn’t completely lose my accent I just learned how to shut it on and off which is nice. In broadcasting, the first thing they tell you is you can’t have any accent. So, it ended up being helpful.
2) A former Oriole player (who shall not be named) once described Baltimore as a very bad word. And while Baltimore is not New York or even Boston, what are some of the things you have come to appreciate about this place since you have moved?
First of all, I know all about Aubrey Huff.
And let me just say, what I think people don’t know is that I CHOSE Baltimore. I had a couple of other opportunities outside of New York that even my agent suggested would be better for me, but I chose Baltimore because it reminded me so much of Boston and the passion the fans have for their teams. So I appreciated that before I even got here because I knew this was a sports town and the community made it that way.
I also really wanted to pick up a second sport. And career-wise, having only covered baseball, I had to. Luckily for me, the Yankees won the World Series in 2009 and I felt that was the perfect way to close that chapter. So coming to Baltimore was a no-brainer because I knew I was going to cover the Ravens. And let me tell you, I have covered some pretty amazing sports events and interviewed some incredible athletes but being around the Ravens on a daily basis, learning a sport that was completely foreign to me and just the overall experience of being a member of the NFL media has been one of the greatest experiences of my career.
And for that alone, being able to cover the Baltimore Ravens confirms I made the right decision in coming here.
3) What strikes you most about your colleague Roch Kubatko- his witty charm, his amazing hair, or the really cool leather jacket?
Well I haven’t had a chance to see his leather jacket. But if and when I do I will probably rip it off him since I don’t like men who wear leather jackets. I think it’s super cheesy. So since the jacket is out, I’d have to say his physique. I’m pretty sure he takes as much pride in his body as a male speedo model. I’m not sure how he stays so fit because I don’t have that much self-control. I mean, I’m on the smaller side and I workout on a regular basis but I could out-eat any man and I actually take pride in that. It’s actually fairly comical how much food I can consume in one sitting. Roch on the other hand, was snacking on ostrich jerky at the baseball meetings in Orlando two weeks ago while I was eating king size Sugar Daddies and chocolate croissants. Fact.
4) I hate the Yankees. I mean, I really, really, really hate the Yankees (especially Mark Teixiera). I think they are all money grabbing, power hungry, evil people. You covered them while at the YES network, I’m guessing you are going to tell us that some of them are really cool, right?
Yes. I’m sorry to tell you but they are really cool guys. Isn’t it funny how we judge athletes and toss around the word “hate” (a word Donte Stallworth told me I need to remove from my vocabulary) without ever having a single conversation with them or knowing anything about them off the field? I’m guilty of that as well, or at least I used to be.
The Yankees were my first team, I spent seven years with them and I’m proud to have that on my resume. Listen, when you’re with the same guys almost every day there comes a time, and fairly quickly, when they’re not players or numbers to you anymore. They become people. I grew up in Boston and was taught to hate the Yankees! But again, once I started to get to know them as people, saw them at their highs and lows and even watched their children grow up in the locker room, it’s impossible to dislike them as people.
They were always very respectful towards me during my years in New York and some I call friends. Joe Torre still calls me “kiddo” and gives me a hug and a kiss every time he seems me and GM Brian Cashman was a reference for me to get my job in Baltimore. On a much more personal note, my father passed away from cancer in 2006 fairly suddenly and the Yankees got my dad his doctor and got him into Mass General (Hospital) in Boston pretty quickly. When he passed, the largest bouquet of long-stem red roses were from, you guessed it, the Yankees… and there were also flowers from some of the pitchers. A few months before he died, Mariano Rivera asked to meet my dad before he passed so he got my parents field passes to a Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park which would end up being my dad’s last trip to Fenway. Mariano and my dad shared a special moment that day that I know none of us will every forget for so many reasons. I’ll leave it at that.
So yeah, back to your original question, the Yankees are good guys. It’s not their fault the organization throws money at them. Evil would certainly be an unfair word to describe them, that’s for sure.
5) Seriously, the media pace surrounding the Yankees must be crazy. Is it really much slower in Baltimore or is it the same just with less national attention?
Much slower? I’m not sure I can find the right words to properly describe the difference in pace. In fact, I don’t think it would be fair to even compare the two markets.
First of all, in New York we had nine professional teams (Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Knicks, Nets, Mets, Yankees, Giants and Jets) and here we have two. So the media and the coverage in general is probably 20x bigger in New York. For example, after a Yankee game there are at least 30 of us surrounding Derek Jeter, ARod or Sabathia. If it’s Yankees-Red Sox, forget about it. You better stand in front of Jeter’s locker and claim your spot or you will be in the back of the pack trying to read his lips. The baseball teams alone, Yankees and the Mets, require so much attention because there’s always something going on and the fan base is spread from New Jersey to Connecticut.
Also, everything is a big deal in New York. If Bernie Williams, for instance, had ice on his knee after a game, that’s a story. Everything is magnified on so many levels. The expectations are also extremely high, probably higher than any other market along with Boston. I mean, I know the Ravens have high expectations here but with all due respect to the Orioles, after my first two weeks of work the first thing I noticed was there didn’t seem to be a quick solution or a readily available way to fix things. In New York, I suppose there were just more resources because A. the Yankees had the funds and B. they had impressive talent in the farm system. For instance, if the the right fielder got injured, Cashman had somebody waiting in the wings or he just went out and got (traded for or bought) another one… and the best one available at that. So I think, at least with the Orioles, that’s probably the biggest difference here.
6) I thought you said the O’s would have Adam LaRoche by now. The force might not be as strong with you as I had once thought.
Nope. I did not say that. I did, however, report that the Orioles offered him a three-year deal worth $21 million. That’s what my “source” told me and I have no choice but to believe him. I seem to be catching a bit of flack from the fans here though. For some reason when I reported the offer the fans here read it as, “The Orioles offered Adam LaRoche a three-year deal worth $21 million that he is going to happily accept immediately and in turn solve all of the Orioles problems. And if he doesn’t sign with the O’s please blame me. It’s all my fault.”
All I can say to Orioles fans is hang in there and remember… the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were once the laughing stock of baseball. And now Carl Crawford is laughing all the way to the bank in Boston.
And FYI, I love Star Wars.
7) Watching Baltimore and it’s love for the Ravens give you any hope that Camden Yards can be an electric place again for Oriole fans? Care to respond?
Absolutely. But here’s the thing… I’ve spoken to players from the ’02 Angels, ’03 Florida Marlins, ’04 Red Sox and of course the ’09 Yankees, etc. and they all told me the same thing: There are do many things that factor into winning a World Series. There are so many pieces, or as Buck calls them nuggets, that a team possesses during that one special year that can never be duplicated. You either have it or you don’t. It’s talent, its team chemistry, it could be a fluke injury that resulted in a replacement player, it’s that unsung hero, the right veteran leadership, the overachieving rookie, the acquisition at the trade deadline… And the Orioles are headed in the right direction, no doubt. But they have two obstacles in my opinion: The tough AL East and themselves. Can Andy MacPhail put together the right pieces and does the organization have the financial abilities, if necessary, to accommodate some of the exorbitant contracts some free agents are demanding these days?
Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, almost everybody’s favorite – visiting players and fans — and it was a shame to see an uncompetitive team on the field the first half of the ’10 season. But here’s to “Buck Ball in 2011!”
Yes, I’m a Twittering fool and I blog for MASN almost every day. During baseball season, however, most of my blogs are video blogs aka player interviews. Another thing I don’t think a lot of people are aware of is that I was hired by MASN to cover the visiting clubhouse, not the Orioles. So when people yell at me for interviewing Rangers and Blue Jays, that’s actually my job. Roch with the beautiful body and Steve Melewski cover the Orioles (Steve is mostly minor leagues) for MASNsports.com (and both do a tremendous job) and I was hired to give fans here a different perspective from across the diamond. So between the three of us, we have all the bases covered. No pun. Swear.
I’m also the main field reporter on 105.7 The Fan and can be heard at random times giving Ravens and Orioles reports. Currently, I co-host with Ken Weinman on Tuesday and Friday nights (aka “Kennifer”) from 8pm to midnight on 105.7 The Fan and on Friday’s at 3pm I give a weekly Ravens report on The Scott Garceau Show which can also be seen on MASN. I’m with the Ravens during the day so for now, in terms of co-hosting, that’s all I can handle.
And regarding Dunn:
I’ve known Adam for nearly a decade, even before I started covering baseball. So when I came to Baltimore, MASN assigned me the “Adam Dunn Video Blog” for MASNsports.com which was of a one-on-one sit-down with Adam every Wednesday the Nationals were home. Adam refused to talk about baseball so I had to come up with all these silly ideas like movie quotes and karaoke. Oh man, Adam tortured me. But after the All Star break I begged him to let the blog be about baseball and he caved. I’m fairly certain Adam hated me by mid-August and we were equally sick of each other, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be missing our segments by May in Chicago.