BSR continues our series of Q&A’s with Baltimore’s sports media this morning. Today we have the pleasure to talk with Matt Vensel who just concluded a three year tenure on Virtual Vensanity with B and now begins a new sports blog on The Baltimore Sun.
First things first, what’s with the flip flops?
My choice in footwear in my blog photo is a popular topic of discussion on the blog, but hey, I’ll take the hits however they come. I’ve been a big support of flip flops since high school, though I’ve traded in my Birkenstocks for slightly more upscale sandals. Fashion sense be damned, I wear flip flops pretty much every day during the summer, so why wouldn’t I rock them in my blog photo, too? At least I’m keeping it real.
We’re a passionate, sometimes crazy bunch of fans here in Baltimore. How do you think our insanity matches up against other fans’?
Baltimore fans are up there with the best of them, and there’s nothing wrong with being a little crazy, as long as fans don’t reach the full-scale insanity we see up in Philadelphia. Those guys are the worst. But I dig the fact that many fans here are intelligent and passionate. It makes my job fun — even when they’re attacking me (and my flip flops).
You caught some flack during the playoffs about being from Pittsburgh, I thought you handled it admirably. Were you surprised to get called out like that?
Without saying too much about the folks who outed me as a Pittsburgher, I can’t say the situation surprised me. I planned on outing myself eventually anyway, so I thank those gentlemen for the inspiration. Most of the feedback from the incident was positive, so I felt good about that. It is troubling, though, that some folks don’t understand the role of the media and that we are not supposed to be fans of the teams we cover. That doesn’t mean there aren’t players on the Ravens that I am fond of, and that I don’t at times pull for them for selfish reasons (like when I picked them to win it all). But needless to say, I can’t and won’t be wearing a Ravens jersey in the M&T Bank Stadium press box.
As a Baltimore blogger, I’m pretty biased. How tough is it to renounce your fanhood?
I don’t see a problem with local bloggers having a bias as long as they can maintain some semblance of objectivity. Everyone has their niche, and ESPN’s Bill Simmons is a great example of someone taking advantage of his fanhood and making it appealing and relatable to a national audience. For me, it was pretty easy renouncing my allegiance to the Steelers because objectivity means paychecks which means I can afford food, beer and hockey equipment. And even if I still rooted for the Steelers, I’m so immersed in everything Ravens at this point, I don’t have the time to pay attention. Now the Penguins? I can’t quit on them. And the Pirates? Well, let’s be honest, no one is a Pirates fan.
You’re a Towson alum, like myself, what are your thoughts on TU’s big expansion?
You’re right, I went to Towson for grad school which explains how I wound up down here in the first place. I covered the football team for The Towerlight in my final year, and as much as I liked Gordy Combs personally, I was pleased to see the time hire Rob Ambrose. Hopefully we’ll see better results in 2011. As for that new shiny new 21st-century baskeball arena, it’s about time. Now all Towson needs is a basketball team.
I love that you integrate hockey in the blog, do you think Baltimore has/will embrace the Caps?
Super provincial Baltimore fans will never get behind a D.C. team, but think a lot of fans, especially twenty-somethings, have gotten behind the Capitals the past couple of years. Having the most exciting hockey player in the world, Alex Ovechkin, just a short drive down I-95 has a lot to do with it. For all of this support to stick, though, the Capitals need to come through in the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup. If not, interest will fade again.
How was it covering the Ravens this season?
It’s a blast and a grind all at the same time, and I wasn’t even around the team on a day-to-day basis like the beat reporters are. Those guys are the ones who deserve a vacation. But for all the long days, it’s worth it, especially with the Ravens doing well. That makes it fun. Now I’m just trying to figure out how to fill the void since the season’s over.
What’s your favorite Peter Schmuck Hawaiian shirt?
To quote a line from Office Space, “I guess I sort of like them all.”
So we can follow you on twitter and Virtual Vensanity [now on The Baltimore Sun], can we plug anything else for you?
Nah, I’m good. Thanks for having me.