I did it. Last year for the 2010 season I had the opportunity to freelance for Comcast SportsNet (CSN Washington) as a credentialed media (blogger) member in an MLB press box. Not any MLB press box, but the shiny newish one atop Nationals Park covering the team I’d embraced since they arrived in DC. The reality of that mere fantastic accomplishment never really settled in during the season as the terror of wondering what the rules of etiquette are in a major league clubhouse, among ‘veteran’ writers and in press conferences hit next. I was there for Stephen Strasburg’s debut, sneaking around with my camera because I fancied myself a photographer first and a writer second, even though I never set foot in the photo pits all season. I was there for the real Miss Iowa’s first pitch, and that was really awesome!
I would like to thank CSN Washington for taking the chance on me, first and foremost, and making a dream come true! Second, I’d like to thank Mark Zuckerman for graciously showing this rookie the ropes and giving me the daily time table for how things go. I’d also like to express my deepest appreciation to Ben Goessling and Bill Ladson for accepting me and encouraging me to sit front and center in the press box on “beat writer row” with them. Debbi Taylor, MASN’s sideline reporter, gets some giggles and gratuity for giving me tricks for averting my eyes in the clubhouse and showing me what direction to avoid (eg. the showers are over there —-> try not to be facing in that direction and keep a clipboard in your hands that you can look down studiously at if needed). Kristen Hudak was my great female compatriot and confidante. Everyone always made me feel accepted and not like an outsider (even if I felt that way myself), and for that I will always be thankful.
It took me until the end of the season to feel mostly comfortable walking up to a player to ask questions on my own away from the pack. I don’t think I ever opened my mouth in a Riggleman press conference. I felt like an intern without a regular mentor. I went in wanting to change the world and blaze my own trail in how team coverage is provided. Unfortunately, breaking that mold is not as easy as one would think. Traditions are well-steeped. With Zuckerman already providing the daily game coverage, I was never quite sure where I fit in or what I was supposed to write, even though CSN encouraged me to just write like normal. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself and of course, I’m not a journalist with any formal training. So that weird state of straddled identity between fan and credentialed media left my head spinning and writer’s block spending a lot of time under my motionless fingers. That’s on me.
As you all know by now, I’m sure, CSN has hired Zuckerman full time and also bought his Nats Insider blog (congrats to him!). They want to focus all their Nats coverage there, so we have amicably and mutually parted ways for this season. I will likely still be contributing a couple things on CSNWashington this season, but I will not be credentialed like last season and my submissions will be infrequent (probably covering the odd one-off events like Baseball 101, etc.).
So what does all this mean moving forward? Well, beginning tomorrow with NatsFest, I’m going back to the way things were around here — just being some schlub with a website. I’m still a season ticket holder, although I guess I’ll get to a handful less games now than last year. I’ll continue doing photosets of games I attend again and writing up whatever strikes my fancy. I may even go back to doing videos (yay or nay on that one?). Basically, MissChatter is back in her former capacity. I’m no longer part of the media elite ;-)
I’m going to miss the people I saw in the press box the most. I’ll definitely miss bumping into Bob Carpenter and Dave Jageler in the dining area and saying hello. Again, many thanks to everyone for a fantastic whirlwind dream-fulfilling season last year! Also, thanks to the Nats PR people for putting up with me when they probably weren’t sure what to expect. Lastly, thanks to the players who talked to me and answered my sometimes odd and awkwardly phrased questions (namely Drew Storen, John Lannan and Collin Balester). I’m sure I’ve forgotten some people, but know it was not intentional!