Zingers In Da Clubhouse

2014-07-26 20.45.56

On Saturday, Rockies Zingers reached a little milestone. We received a one person, one game media credential with the Colorado Rockies. I won’t say it was a herculean effort equivalent to Andy Dufresne’s pursuit of a library but nonetheless, multiple emails were involved.

In some aspects, it was a little ironic on how times had changed. As a eighth grader, I ran a little non-profit cable TV show in Chicago called “Talk Baseball” for a few episodes. Besides interviewing Jack Perconte about his baseball training camp, I had the youthful naivety to call up the White Sox and see if I can get an interview with somebody, anybody. Shocked as I was (particularly as a Cubs fan since the Rockies didn’t exist then), the White Sox were extremely courteous. Within a few weeks I had an interview with then General Manager Larry Himes, complete with tickets for my family for the game and an hour of one-on-one time. Very nice guy and I hope I meet up with him again some day.

With the Rockies, it wasn’t nearly that easy nor the turnaround that quick. At this point, there is only one Rockies blog who gets media credentials, our friends over at Purple Row and it took them _years_. The Rockies, admittedly, are not used to working with blogs. Even Dick Monfort himself had expressed some distrust of social media in his recent breakfast with Christine Voss. On a personal note, I am keenly aware that there are other blogs who have been around much longer than Rockies Zingers. Whether it’s our affiliation with ESPN that broke the ice or not, I am unclear, since I am quite certain it had to do with my nonpersuasive stuttering. That being said, as part of working better with the Rockies blogs, they are actively interested in our Rockies Bloggers Panels and do get copies of the recordings. So hopefully there will be more bloggers to come.

It is, in some aspects, understandable to see where they are coming from. Blogs spring up out of nowhere and get whack-a-moled with apathy back into oblivion. Even ones affiliated with ESPN bleat out in less than a blaze of glory. Then there’s also a pretty fundamental question of “What is a blog?” After emailing the void from March on through June, about a month ago, I had lunch with two members of their public relations department. They specifically said they want to do better at working with the Rockies blogs. They’d asked, among other things, what I would personally do with credentials if I had them. Unlike, say, a newspaper, who provides game recaps and news tidbits, blogs tend more towards self-directed analysis and opinion. So I said, “Um, everyone does such a good job covering the game, to be honest, I’d be more likely to write about ‘What is it like to have credentials?’ I’d write about what the clubhouse experience is like, what does the postgame conference room really look like, and all that jazz.”

So, this is what you’ll be getting.

First, some direction… in that, I really didn’t have much. I knew where to get the credentials and at what time “the clubhouse would be open” and “find the elevator to the clubhouse and pressbox” and that was about it. I asked my good friend Christina Kahrl for advice on what to expect and received a lot of direction, though the instructions that stuck out in my mind were “Wear a collared shirt, if you see any candy, don’t eat it, and follow what Thomas Harding” does. I’d emailed and tweeted with Harding a few times, but hadn’t met him face-to-face, so I sent him an email letting him know I’d be around and might be shadowing him… and he was quite gracious about it. I also knew Nick Groke from the Denver Post would be there and knew Zach Marburger was coming later so I had a few people I knew who I could ask for help. And (as a jab at Zach) he told me that all they do in the press box is eat popcorn and talk baseball. So, I tried to mind my p’s and q’s while flying solo. After all, I wasn’t sure if someone had ever gotten kicked out of a press box before, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to write about that.

Knowing that the time I had to be there was about 45 minutes after the Rockies Bloggers Panel started, I sadly had to leave the discussion early. After picking up the Rockies Zingers credentials from Will Call (and I suspect, accidentally leaving one of my two-of-a-kind Rockies Zingers ballpoint pens, leaving me completely penless), I slung the media badge around my neck and walked around a third of Coors Field to the gate where media were allowed to enter. An usher checked my backpack and said “Yep, a lot of media types have their laptop” then very kindly gave me directions to the aforementioned elevator.

A word here. Except for one instance about seven years ago which merited a comment card and a very thoughtful response from the Rockies, the ushers are extremely friendly. I leaned on them heavily as I made my sojourn to the press box to drop off my stuff. Guided to the press box supervisor, he assigned me a seat in the second row, third from the right. As I walked over, every spot was marked with the names of organizations. My first impression (besides it being immaculately clean) was that I can finally avoid my “keep devices charged” problem. There are power outlets on top of the desk for every two spots. Also, there was a Wi-Fi password that worked much much _much_ better than my 4G tablet. I was in social media heaven.

After lingering to the point I wondered if I was going to be late for something since the room was suspiciously empty (besides the supervisor) so I straightened my collared shirt and took the elevator down to the clubhouse.

Here’s a rough layout of the underground area… or maybe it’s just how I felt.

nethack_094

Imagine I’m the orange ( on the right coming down the elevator. Through the hallway is another hallway, represented by the ‘ in the room, though, as I said, it’s actually a hallway. That unexplored corridor in the lower room had a “No Media” arrow pointing that way. Fair ’nuff.  I took the upper corridor (or in real life, I turned right). Ignore the big blank empty room and just picture the hallway on the bottom section. The room where I would be if I played Nethack, represented by the @, would be the clubhouse. Imagine the blue ) are LaTroy Hawkins and Tyler Matzek. Following so far? I’m surprised because you weren’t supposed to, partially because I’m not sure how kosher it is to give the actual layout of the bowels of Coors Field.

So, there I am in the clubhouse which is decidedly purple. I may have once been blond (before I shaved my head), but I knew enough to be pretty certain I probably shouldn’t take pictures. You get this kind of odd feeling as you see people who walk past you that you recognize, but you’re not quite sure where from, until you realize it’s because you’ve seen them on TV, followed by the feeling that it’s much harder to identify some people without seeing their uniform numbers. Sure, everyone has names above their lockers but if they aren’t sitting in their chair when I happen to be looking at them, they might as well be patrons of my local coffee shop. I had an early triple take as Nolan Arenado walked right past me, followed by a bearded “Is that really Vinny Castilla?” person, then saw a guy sitting in a Tulowitzki chair, but he didn’t look like Tulowitzki and the name above the locker said “Taz” who I admittedly, didn’t know at the time. As I type this, I realize he is Troy’s son, but the dude sitting in the chair was a good bit older than 2 years old.

For some reason I expected a lot of media people in the clubhouse. Um, at first glance, all I saw not in uniform (unless the collared shirt counts) was me. Awkward.

Then getting past the starstuckness, I turned my head a little and saw one of the Rockies public relations guys I had met at breakfast. He greeted me and said “Go do what you gotta do.” and I said thanks, still not being quite sure what I was going to do beyond a vague “This is what it’s like.” kinda blog post. I figured I had to talk to a player just to, you know, break the ice. I wanted to look around and see what I could see. And, um, it’s probably a refreshingly bad way to do something. Refreshing because I had no expectations and could go with the flow. Bad because I could sink.

So, I looked around a little bit. There’s this pillar in the middle of the clubhouse with a ton of big screen TVs all around it. Then I realized the irony of watching TV while surrounded by people who are generally on TV. Adorning that pillar were multiple laptops and that’s as close as I dared to look at the screens. I didn’t see any obvious candy but I did see a refrigerator for sodas. Some kind of music with a beat was playing but I didn’t identify the artist, but to me, it was significant that it wasn’t channeling Sammy Sosa by blaring loudly.

And that was basically dipping my toe in the waters. I walked back out of the clubhouse to get my bearings and see what else was around. There was a pretty intricate whiteboard with practice schedules and some inspirational messages on it as well as times for Worship (I’m assuming a higher power than the Rockies Win-Loss record). I saw a video room which had tons of flatscreen TVs set up like NORAD (or my brother’s home office) and ominously, no one in there. It was ominous for the fact that I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be looking in there or not. There’s a coaches locker room with the door partially closed. Right about then, Eric Young stepped out. I took a second (and a gulp) as I said something to the effect of “Hope your son is doing better. Many people were concerned for him.” He said with a smile something to the effect of “Yes he is, now he just wants to play more.” then darted off.

Having broken the ice locking my tongue, I ventured back into the clubhouse and decided I had to, at least, try talking to a player. I mean, I can’t spend the entire four hours before the game gawking in a hallway (and since the hallway tended to be pretty busy, I wasn’t sure if my pirouetting skills were up to task). So, I decided to be “smart”. Smart, as in, I went up to LaTroy Hawkins who, by many accounts, is a nice guy and, as a veteran, would probably humor my ineptitude politely. I said who I was (I think) and that I was a fan of his back from his Chicago Cubs days and mentioned I just got back from Chicago for my high school graduation. I guess he knew the Chicago area but since my school was a smaller school, he wasn’t familiar with it. He graduated from high school in 1991 and I graduated in 1994 which led to an odd feeling about how he’s considered extremely old solely because he’s a ballplayer at age 41 and I at 38, um, felt that was wrong.

Yep, I wasn’t a reporter, I was a chit-chatter. I’d like to think the technical term was “building rapport” but at least I didn’t do anything that would get the public relations guy to yank me out. And now a note about that. People say the Rockies don’t like criticism. Who really does? Well, I’d been in Coors Field for about 40 minutes and the clubhouse for about 20 minutes and never got the impression I was being hovered over, controlled, critiqued or anything of the sort. I literally was left to my own devices though since I wasn’t trying to record anything, it’s not like I was losing battery power. On the other hand, having no direction, I also had little clue about clubhouse or interviewing etiquette.

I thanked LaTroy for his time and took a few steps to talk to Tyler Matzek since walking to the extreme other side of the clubhouse without a specific plan seemed, ya know, hard… and I had hopes Tyler had at least overheard me a little bit so he’d get the idea I was a little new at this interviewing players thing.

And yeah, I made some etiquette faux pas. Tyler was texting on his cellphone, which I probably shouldn’t have interrupted. Also, I somehow forgot he was the starting pitcher for that day and probably shouldn’t have interrupted. Nonetheless, he’s another extremely nice guy. I let him know I’d written an article about how he’s getting a good reputation with the ushers for all the autographs he signed and he smiled and stressed the importance of giving back to the fans. There, I just used an angle. I never felt rushed, but I did talk with him briefly about the transition to the majors where he said the game’s basically the same. I asked him if he was familiar with some of the people who are high on him like Tyler Maun and he said he tries not to read too much of the chatter online. All the time, he was real polite. I guess other people might’ve been upset with getting their pregame ritual disrupted but he gave me no indication.

I thanked him for his time and wandered back out to the hallway to look at the whiteboards a bit more and for another mental gasp of air. I had started to get an odd feeling that I _should_ be talking to every single gosh ga darn player even if I had no idea what I wanted to talk to them about. I wanted to make up an excuse to talk to keep the ride going, as if I hadn’t already made two semi-excuses to talk to Hawkins and Matzek. And then I saw myself, in my mind, hovering near the locker of someone, anyone “famous” and waiting till they return. I visualized ambush interviewing players with inane questions about how much they knew about sabermetrics. And then I saw myself in a bit of a third person perspective, visibly avoiding players that I thought should be traded, seeing players get frustrated as I dismissively boiled down what they had spent a life of early Sunday mornings and late Thursday nights practicing into a single statistic that said “not good enough”. Then I didn’t like what I saw and snapped back into reality and stepped out of the clubhouse. So I did, and looked at the whiteboard for a few minutes, then wandered back down the hallway. I happened to pass by Walt Weiss‘s office with the door just ajar enough to see him munching on a sandwich (and snapping me a look). Yep, baseball players are still people. Numbers can be used to evaluate and assess a person’s skills, and sometimes coldly. In truth, stats are a fun little mental game that allows for what-ifs and what-nots… but this isn’t something you breach in a clubhouse right before a game unless you are the type of guy to try to break someone down… and I just ain’t that. Sure, I could talk to players about stats, but it’d be best if I do so, that I have a plan first.

So, my plan reverted to my original intention… writing about what it was like to have access. And I was satiated.

I sauntered back into the clubhouse. Since there was only two entrances, but I was supposedly near the main one, I wasn’t sure where some of the media people came from but about four or five were suddenly there. One of them was Thomas Harding, whom I immediately went over to and introduced myself. I chatted with him a bit and told him “If I get in your way, feel free to shoo me off.” He said he’d be back in a little bit and within a minute of him leaving, Nick Groke appeared (I’m not sure from where), shortly after. So I said hi and he asked me if I’d seen Harding. I told him he’d be right back and thus, felt useful. Groke was looking for Arenado to discuss the previous day’s benching. Useful again, I said I had seen Arenado earlier but it had been about half an hour ago. I let Groke know that I’d also be hovering around him a bit so, again, dismiss me if I get in the way and he was a good sport. I turned around to look at the TV pillar again and caught a minute of the game and, like magicians, Groke disappeared and Harding reappeared. Dutifully informing Harding that Groke was looking for him (gosh, this is starting to read like a play-by-play), Harding went out the smaller clubhouse exit (which merely led to the aforementioned whiteboard hallway) and sure enough, Groke was taking a picture of the lineup to post to Twitter, which is a little ironic because I had thought those Twitter pics came from a lineup posted from inside the dugout. We chatted about Wilin Rosario playing first base (perhaps to show off his trade value (and me realizing it would be awkward if Rosario showed up about then, which he didn’t)) and how this lineup didn’t have Carlos Gonzalez in it anymore… with my mental note that I should’ve probably noticed where the lineup was posted and noticed the change with all my whiteboard communing.

We went back into the clubhouse and Arenado was at his locker. Groke and Harding walked up to him and politely, asked him if he had some time to talk, and then questioned him about his reactions to the benching. I hovered in the background as he talked. A few times, I saw Arenado staring blatantly at my chest. Oh yeah, my credentials, dangling around my neck! Oops, they were flipped over, showing a bunch of legalese. I somewhat undeftly lifted my tablet and mimicked taking notes as I flipped it over before realizing it might’ve looked weird that I wasn’t taking notes in the first place. Meanwhile, Groke and Harding were speed writing. I knew enough about shorthand to know it wasn’t shorthand, but it was barely legible to me. After the interview, which Groke recorded, I got the distinct impression (perhaps from the chest stare), that Arenado thought I might ask a question. Alas, I just stayed back and watched the two masters at work. My impression was Arenado was very mature and owned up to the mistake when he could’ve blown it off. Then, Arenado took what felt like a minute to personally apologize to Groke and Harding. Apparently they both tried to find him after the game yesterday and they couldn’t find him. That little tidbit made an impression on me.

Again, to make sure I wasn’t stopping Harding and Groke from working, I started to talk with some of the other media people. We were well into a discussion about Nike shoes (since I, at one point, worked for Nike) when I realized I lost track of where Harding and Groke went. That disappearing act again. Knowing that Weiss was supposed to be doing a dugout interview about an hour after the clubhouse opened, and having enough vague sense of time to comprehend that might be where they both were at, I then realized I had no idea where the dugout was…

Nope. No sign. No stream of players heading one direction or another. But there was another usher. After recording my badge number, I went down the steps, then up the runway into the dugout.

I’d been on the field before for Rockies games, particularly during Fireworks games but I’ll admit to never having a tour of Coors Field. Again, a little of the starstruck mystique kicked in. Thankfully, Harding and Groke were there so I had a bit of an anchor this time. Still, new to this whole media etiquette thing, I was a bit perplexed. I mean, just because I had credentials and some usher took my number, I couldn’t quite grasp the feeling that I was actually allowed in here. I also wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing here besides “waiting for Weiss”. Some players were on the field doing fielding drills, which Groke noted, they almost never do but might be making an exception today with Rosario at first base. Not quite clear on whether I was allowed to take pictures of the drills, I took a photo of the scoreboard from behind the dugout railing strategically making sure I didn’t take a picture of a player with “Without the explicit consent of Major League Baseball” echoing in my mind.

2014-07-26 15.11.25

And then, we waited. Weiss is scheduled to be there at a certain time but apparently, quite often, runs about fifteen minutes late. Harding spent some time talking with Brett Anderson from afar then closed in for, judging by body language, a specific interview about some topic. I got the feeling that this, whatever it was, would be a bit too blatant for me to shadow so I stayed back. The Rockies players moved on to some yoga and some skip-hop drills. I distinctly recall a few short sprints but nothing that went more than 60 feet. More members of the media started gathering in the dugout. Root Sports with Marc Stout, Ryan Spilborghs and Jenny Cavnar were there and just, like us, kind of waiting. Michael Cuddyer spent some time chatting about his shoulder and discussing range-of-motion drills when he stepped around a camera tripod. Of course, that prompted a zing from me about how dodging tripods could be a good workout, but it was funnier in my mind than in my execution. I started to get more comfortable. I realized that since Nick Groke was actually sitting on the dugout bench that perhaps, I could too. I talked with him a bit about developing a rapport and relationships with players. When Harding leaned on the railing, I stood up on the proverbial first step of the dugout, draped my arms on it, and we chatted about the Rockies. He was concerned with how poorly Rex Brothers had pitched this year and I mentioned an older article I had written about Brothers performance on zero days rest. He thinks the Rockies resemble the Texas Rangers and I thought it’d be an interesting analysis to run. You know, it comes across in his Tweets and in his writing, but he is a smart, experienced guy with a keen sense of humor. He’s also extremely nice and I mentally thanked Christina for the suggestion to follow him. He didn’t mind me tagging along or any of my inane questions nor was there any kind of vibe that because I was a blogger, somehow I was a lesser. Settling there, on the railing, I started to feel more like I “belonged” here, even if I wasn’t quite sure what all that meant.

Weiss showed up. Stout held the microphone while people from Root Sports as well as Groke and Harding asked him questions. Weiss looked my way, and then at my chest, and I was again befuddled. Credentials were flipped the right way. Then the light bulb went off “He’s wondering if I’m going to ask a question!” Of course, it was faster for me to type this now than it was for me to realize that at the time. The ten seconds of silence was enough to stop the interview (since I guess I was the only media person there watching who hadn’t said anything). No fault to him, but I’ll know better for next time.

Dugout session over, Groke, Harding and I went up to the press box. They both had two stories a piece to work on and me, not being in the breaking news business, realized I had nothing to do for the two hours left until game time besides pay the parking lot and hopefully find either Zach or my iPad which I had left to record the earlier bloggers panel. I was also getting a little hungry. It turns out that attached to the press box is a little cafeteria. Soda, popcorn, snacks(Goldfish and potato chips) and ice cream(where’s that?) was free but if I wanted the buffet, it costs money. Nope, not credit cards or debit cards, but money. So, with a few excuses to head out of the press box in a quest to get money and avoid parking fines, I took the elevator to the concourse.

It’s kind of an eerie feeling walking around the concourse without, you know, other people walking around. I kept expecting someone to stop me and say “What’re you doing here?” but I don’t think I even garnered a chest stare. I went to gate D which opens up at 21st and Blake and saw a line of people waiting to get into the stadium. Stop at the ATM to get some money then went to the reentry gate. Extended my hand for a stamp but apparently, (media) membership has its advantages. A quick stroll to El Charrito’s to pay for parking and check for my iPad (not there), I headed back, then back up to get some grub. Along the way, I randomly ran into Paul Parker who I’ve talked with at the second Rockies Bloggers Panel as well as the July Rocky Mountain SABR luncheon. He’s also the Rockies team historian and archivist so all the brilliant displays of artifacts and jerseys are thanks to him. He’s the first person who suggested I take the stairs to get between levels, showing me yet another area of Coors Field I wasn’t sure I was allowed in. He’d also created flyers for the Rocky Mountain SABR banquet on November 15th and was working to get the word out. Paul also was the first one to tell me about the misspelled Tulowitzki jerseys. He showed me a shortcut through the maze of staircases and back to the press box before merrily heading back out.

So there, I had a “scoop”, I think, but I didn’t know if it was newsworthy or would be all that proper to point out in a tweet when I’m still trying to establish some credibility with the Rockies public relations people. I mean, is it kosher to diss an organization during the first game they credential you? Knowing that I wasn’t in the “breaking news” game, I chuckled at the missing “T” then sat down to eat instead.

Twas a yummy buffet with vegetarian options available as well. The cafeteria area is kind of like what you would see in any office building’s break room with four person tables lined up throughout it. I sat down at one of the tables and watched people stream in and out. There were perhaps 15 or so people in the cafeteria at its peak but, besides the Root Sports personalities, I didn’t really recognize anyone. That was actually a little surprising to me since I figured the Root Sports people would have their own suite or room somewhere separated from “the rest of the media” to do a Root Sports pregame lunch. It turns out that between the pregame and postgame show, most of the Root Sports people like Cavnar and Spilborghs are in the press box.

Zach showed up and promptly returned my tablet so we settled in and talked about the panel and baseball in general until the game started. It was also about that time that the missing “T” from Tulowitzki generated some buzz. Out of curiosity’s sake, I saw the story already made ESPN and people in the press box knew about it. So, I guess the news still got out though I had no proof it was delayed because of my chuckling. But there’s some merit to enjoying something funny without typing up a story about it as both Groke and Harding (and others) had to do. Eventually, one of the public relations guys picked up a mic and discussed the rationale behind the Rockies releasing the errant t-shirts as well as the exchange plus a free ticket policy.

2014-07-26 17.08.57

Nice view. And yes, even in the press box, people stand for the national anthem.

Apparently, though, there are things that I do that they don’t. One of those things is clapping when the Rockies make a nice play. I won’t say I had anyone outright tell me “No, don’t do that”, but it’s funny how sound travels in that room. You know the entire stadium is clapping and it’s an open front window so you can definitely hear it.. but it sounds muted compared to the sound of your own clapping echoing off the insides of that room. I realized this after my first clap but it still took me about four claps to at least tone it down.

Another thing that took a bit getting used to was the various public announcements that would come through the press box. They announce the weather, the attendance, why someone is removed from a game (i.e. Stubbs rolled his ankle after his home run) and other details. The hard part is there’s not really a podium or a focal point of the press box so it can be a bit difficult to determine who is speaking and where they are speaking from.

Around the fourth inning or so, Harding wound down from his writing and tweeting a little and called me over. I’d just posted Eric Garcia McKinley’s “What To Read” piece and tongue in cheek gleefuly started instructing me on the finer points of “In Game Reading!” with an exclamation point. Then, more earnestly, he said he likes the blogs and thinks they are an important voice because they/we have time to invest hours researching areas that can be difficult for a beat writer to do. On the flipside, he stressed the importance of having an editorial process (which he has) and thinks (though not necessarily in reference to the What To Read) that the blogs in general need to be stronger in that. As an example, the two pieces he wrote before the game were discussed back and forth between him and his editor until they were ready for the fourth inning. That’s how “in-game reading” works… it’s not ready to be read until it’s gone through the process. I can say, as the editor of Rockies Zingers, that I consider myself untrained, especially when I compare the feedback I give our writers to the interaction that happens with ESPN’s editors when I write pieces for them. All in all, though, he thinks it is important for the beat writers and the blogs to cooperate, just as the blogs try to cooperate with each other by sharing links and participating in the Bloggers Panels. There’s enough room for all our voices.

The press box is a real nice place to watch a game. First, you’re surrounded by baseball-savvy individuals and the in-game music that most of the stadium is subjected to doesn’t interfere with having a conversation. Second, can’t beat the free soda. Seriously, free soda is a luxury at a Rockies game where usually I go through about $15 dollars in nonalcoholic drinks a game. That being said, I’m not sure why so much free ice cream is available. I just can’t picture someone sucking on a popsicle in the press box but someone must because there’s at least 100 in the ice box.

2014-07-26 20.45.56

With the game over, the press box cleared out to head back to the clubhouse and to catch Weiss’s post-game interview. The clubhouse atmosphere had changed. First, the way the players responded to questions seemed more polished, somehow… I’d hate to say they were Crash Davis inspired cliches because there weren’t too many in what I heard from Matzek and Arenado. Perhaps it was just because it was postgame commentary so, unlike pregame commentary which would have to stop when the game started, it seemed players who wanted to talk had plenty of time to do so. Meanwhile, other players were quickly dressing and departing. A bit less starstuck at this point, I noticed that some of the players look like average guys who are in good shape but weren’t so otherworldly that they’d draw a second glance at Water World. Then, someone would walk by with Popeye forearms.

The Rockies public relations guy showed up and said Tulowitzki was in Philadelphia to see the same doctor who had done his groin surgery. It was interesting to see Groke and Harding both ask for clarification to make sure the story they wrote portrayed it as something routine instead of implying that the injury was more serious than thought solely because he was visiting the same doctor. I took note about how those comments made their ways into Harding and Groke’s stories later on. I also chatted with him about my experiences so far. I had open access and was not guided in the slightest… and a few clapping sessions aside, didn’t make a complete fool of myself. Meanwhile, he seemed open to having credentials extended to Rockies Zingers again. Mission accomplished.

We then went into the postgame conference room. For some reason I pictured a long table, kind of what you’d see in a press conference. Instead it was a small concrete room divided by a purple rope. On the other side of the rope was a stool surrounded by spotlights and a side door for separate entrance. In some way, it seemed like the kind of thing one might do for the President of the United States. In another way, it seemed over-the-top. I asked if that was the norm in other stadiums and surely enough, it wasn’t. Weiss came in (on time) sat in the stool, and started answering questions. This time, when he looked at me, I actually had a plan. I turned my head away, indicating I had no questions. The session ended there.

We all headed back up to the press box. The other reporters had stories to write. I had to collect my stuff. Part of the life of not being “on the beat” but a part of the beat. Thanks again to Nick Groke, Thomas Harding and Zach Marburger for guiding me through this.

There are definitely areas to improve upon for next time, but I have a better idea of what to expect. This was an important first step for us to get an idea of “What it’s like to have credentials?” However, there’s also the need to continue building rapport… with other members of the media but also with the Rockies players and the organization as a whole. They have a nice group of people there… with players and a manager who will talk… or, if I’m not talking, at least acknowledge relative newbies like myself while treating the professionals with respect. And for all the horror stories of late about the Rockies culture and how they hate criticism, I never got the feeling I was being assimilated or conditioned or coached to do certain things beyond basic etiquette. Meanwhile, as abysmal as this season has been, we do have a pretty thriving community of fans and bloggers here with some good insights that the Rockies can use. Some are quite positive, some are quite negative, but even the most serious detractors have some ideas at least worth considering. Hopefully, as the relationship between the Rockies organization and “everyone else” develops, it’ll make more collaborations possible. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy passing that first milestone and look forward to the next step.

About Richard Bergstrom

Originally from Chicago and after an extensive tour of most of the western United States, this is my second stint in Denver. I've lived here since 2004 and go to quite a few Rockies games, especially Rockies fireworks games! When I'm not writing about baseball, I enjoy karaoke downtown, a bit of poker and a bit too much of my iPad.
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