Special Thanks to Steve for giving us some of his time.
What is the most interesting team (ex. ’05 Keys, etc.) that you have ever covered?
***I think the most interesting team might have been, not a baseball team, but the Ravens the year they won the Super Bowl. I was working at WBAL at the time and that team was a quote machine waiting to happen. We couldn’t wait to get to the lockerroom to run to one side and get Tony Siragusa, Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis and them move on to Rod Woodson, Jonathon Ogden and Trent Dilfer, not to mention Billick. They were good on the field and in the interviews.
I really enjoyed my two seasons as play-by-play guy for Florida State baseball. I thought the 2005 team, which did not make the World Series and will not be fondly remember by FSU fans, is still a favorite of mine. It was my first year there and those players and coaches were so welcoming to me and made me really feel like another player on the squad. That club had some of the best chemistry and leadership I’ve ever seen, headed by a catcher named Aaron Cheesman, who just briefly played minor league ball.
It is easy for sportswriters to become attached to certain players or stories, and want that player to succeed. For which player did you have the most personal interest in seeing succeed?
***I think I probably have the most personal interest in guys I really got to know well in my time broadcasting Aberdeen games from 2004 through 2006. Nolan Reimold and Brandon Snyder are two I got to know pretty well then and it felt great to be there the day both of them first walked into a Major League clubhouse as an Oriole. I got to see them at the start of their O’s careers and when they reached Baltimore and yes, that is pretty neat.
There are so many guys that really have been helpful to me and very available for interviews in the O’s minors and I hope they all do well. Talking about guys like Zach Britton, Joe Mahoney, LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery, Caleb Joseph, Danny & Paco Figueroa, Matt Hobgood, Brandon Erbe and Billy Rowell. I am sure to be leaving some out. I think any reporter that says you don’t meet nice people along the way and root for them a little is not being totally truthful. It doesn’t mean it should color your reporting, but hey, we are humans after all.
I should also say that Andy Etchebarren, former IronBirds manager, became a real friend. That man knows so much baseball. I couldn’t wait to get to the park and talk with him about baseball, life, or anything else. We had some wonderful conversations and I will never forget working with him. I wish he was still in the O’s organization.
Conversely, how difficult is it to objectively cover players you don’t like?
***I can’t think of almost any I didn’t like save for Albert Belle. He would never talk to me and once pushed me from behind, which I thought was cowardly and I called him on it. An O’s staffer pulled me back to keep me from turning it into a confrontation. Albert and his supporters tried to make that one into a racial thing with me as an on air talk-show host at that time and it got nasty a bit. I tried to be fair to him as a player, but it was not easy.
What was the moment that baseball became more than a hobby and changed into a career decision?
***Probably when I was 15 or 16 and realized that, if I was the last player on the bench on my team then, I was probably never going to play for the Orioles. It was around that point that I decide I wanted a career in broadcasting and/or sportswriting and I’ve been able to work in the business since I graduated from Towson University.
Rumor is that you are sometimes compared to Peter Griffin from the Family Guy. Who originated the comparison? If you are Peter Griffin, then who is Roch Kubatko?
***Dave Johnson, someone I work with on radio, would probably take credit, but I think maybe Dennis Sarfate gets the most “credit.” He did a feature on O’s XTRA one night and had look alikes for some of the O’s reporters. It was all in good fun and I’ve been around enough to know that if the players crack on you that at least means they respect you a little and are comfortable with you. In a way it was an “honor” to be included in that piece.
Dave and Peter Schmuck bring it up the most. Dave, because he is obsessed with that show and Schumcker because, well probably, because if that is your last name you are always looking for someone else to crack on. It’s all in fun and you should never bring this up again. Kidding, I think.
I don’t know who you compare Roch too, but it has to be someone with big arms, small shirts and nice hair. Editors Note- We are going to go ahead and stay with The Family Guy motif. Roch = Quagmire
I am a bit of a foodie as such I always like to ask a food related question. Baltimore cuisine is so much more than crabs. What are some of you favorite dining spots around town?
***You are asking the wrong guy about that. I am much more likely to call out for a pizza then go out to a fine restaurant. Two of the best places I have ever dined at reside in Las Vegas, one of my favorite places. I love the Peppermill and the best burger I have ever eaten was at the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. Doesn’t sound like much but the Kobe beef burger there is spectacular and quite pricey as well. Beyond that, a fine diner, I am not.
Last year, you had a scary moment with your health. How are you doing now? How did that scare affect how you go about your job?
***I did have a small heart attack right before Opening Day last year. I had two stents put in and didn’t miss a single day of the season, save for two or three I took off at the All-Star break, so I was pleased I could keep up the pace. I am doing fine now. It took a while, but I finally lost a few pounds and need to lose more. I was doing great up to the Holidays, which are tough to get through without adding a few pounds for me every year.
As fans may know, I am not comfortable talking about myself and my weight but I am making progress and am very confident I will make more. I am doing really well, nothing to worry about and it continues to amaze me how many people remember and ask me about that and I really appreciate their concerns.
You have been in the business a while now. Things have changed over there years. I am guessing that you didn’t think you would be blogging or even know what a blog was when you started. Where do you see the business of baseball journalism moving in the next 5-10 years?
***Probably in some direction that allows even more interaction with fans than there is now. Twitter and its impact has become big and now it’s who can fire the first tweet. All the rush thought has also shown there are plenty of reporters that in their haste to get the news out, also leave a few facts out. It probably sounds self serving since I work for a website, but the web’s impact is just only going to get bigger. Fans now need their stories instantly and they are going to websites more and more over the traditional newspaper or nightly news.
Pitchers and catchers are reporting soon enough. are you feeling the itch?
***I am feeling the itch somewhat, especially now that FanFest has come and gone. I have been an O’s fan since I was six so I always look forward to April.