Around the Horn with Paul Ghiglieri: 24th Edition
Welcome to the 24th edition of Around the Horn, a recurring op-ed with a satirical slant that riffs on whatever’s recently noteworthy in baseball. Think of it as a stripped-down Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show in a column format with recurring segments about the good, bad, and ugly in the world of America’s pastime. Additionally, as often as possible, we’ll end with an interview as well.
I took a hiatus from this column as the regular season concluded and playoffs began. However, now that the World Series captivates us all, there’s a lot to discuss, and I’ve got a fantastic interview waiting for you at the end of this column with NBC sports analyst Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD), so let’s get right to our first segment:
Our Main Story
Not enough is made about the struggle, skepticism, and staggering amount of sexism women who cover baseball face on a daily basis during a season. It starts with the pervasive need in baseball to simply accept women as equals among fans and demolish stereotypes about what place women and girls have in the game — something the Atlanta Braves did a fantastic job of elevating earlier this year:
The @Braves with an important reminder👇
— Cut4 (@Cut4) June 20, 2019
An ad like this shouldn’t even have to be made. “What are little girls made of?” If you haven’t figured this out by now despite the fact that females make up more than 50% of the population in this country, then perhaps teams should be making ads that explore what you are made of instead.
Here is what “little girls” are made of:
Love this picture. pic.twitter.com/GyZV2lTGug
— Patrick (@TheGreenMagnus) June 18, 2019
Unfortunately, women find themselves dealing with this type of prejudice at various levels of the game, not just as fans or youths who enjoy playing the sport — even women who cover the sport as analysts and sports journalists are routinely defending their work in ways that very few male reporters ever have to.
Shoutout to the texter who wanted to let me know that Ben Zobrist hasn't been with the team for months. How would I ever do my job without men educating me about baseball?
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) July 6, 2019
Sadly, the harassment doesn’t just stop there. Why stop at dismissing a woman’s baseball acumen when you can dismiss her credibility entirely:
"Harmless but dangerous enough to start a problem."
Sounds like my new motto. Thanks for the marketing, Mike! At least you're good at your day job. https://t.co/tiZOTyR8L8
— Deesha (@DeeshaThosar) July 7, 2019
I do appreciate that I spend every damn day at a ballpark, flying around the country specifically to watch, learn, think, and write about baseball but I can still wind up bothered when some dude with a troll account says to me that women lack the capacity to understand baseball.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 7, 2019
First Sunday of every month. https://t.co/ti74AjN9a7
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) August 5, 2019
These women are professionals. Lindsey Adler covers the Yankees for The Athletic. Deesha Thosar is the Mets beat writer for the Daily News. She previously covered the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets for MLB.com. Julie DiCaro is a Peabody-Award Winning journalist. Emily Waldon covers the Detroit Tigers’ minor league system for The Athletic. She shouldn’t have to send out a Tweet like this:
I know I can only speak for myself, but please, please don’t assume we, as women are working in this industry because of how attractive or accessible the players may be.
Maybe, just maybe — we know the game, we love the game and we have a voice that deserves to be in the game.
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) October 10, 2019
And yet, more often than not, women in baseball are constantly having to defend the authenticity of their views and work, all in service of the fragility of man’s ego. This issue may have reached a new low with the Houston Astros taunting debacle during this World Series.
Ridiculous. Lost for words. Women in baseball clubhouses have such a high tolerance for borderline intolerable things. The idea that anyone would make this up…
Also, we define “a difficult time” differently. He gave up a homer. He hadn’t been, you know, beaten up by a spouse. https://t.co/hb0oO7RnZG
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) October 22, 2019
In case you missed it, after clinching the American League pennant, Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman shouted at a group of female reporters, one wearing a purple domestic-violence bracelet, yelling, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna!”
First, what the blue hell does that even mean? Osuna got blasted for a game-tying two-run homer in the ninth to blow a save in that game. Was Taubman even watching the game?
For those unaware, Astros closer Roberto Osuna faced domestic assault charges in 2018 before the Astros acquired him via trade. Osuna served a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. What is most reprehensible about Taubman’s actions is the fact that he fired off these ridiculous comments completely unprompted. The Astros initially declined to comment or make Taubman available for questioning. After refusing to comment and watching the story with an accurate account of the incident get released, the front office released the above statement calling the Sports Illustrated report “misleading” and “irresponsible” and an “attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”
Here’s a live shot of Taubman and the Astros trying to deal with this situation after the ball was dropped:
Since then, the Astros have fired Taubman. An apology was not forthcoming.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was asked whether he had personally reached out to @stephapstein to apologize.
Luhnow said he’s been busy and hasn’t had the time.
Stephanie was sitting in the room.
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) October 24, 2019
Fortunately, the team eventually admitted its wrongdoing and apologized to Stephanie Apstein, the SI reporter who published the story. This entire fiasco stemmed from women in baseball being taunted and the lack of accountability that followed. Is it any wonder then that we get viewpoints like this in the game:
I say this too lol https://t.co/SsEmr76kdn
— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) October 23, 2019
Raquel Ferreira, an executive for one of the most prestigious franchises in baseball, urging women not to seek a job in baseball and Jessica Kleinschmidt, a sports journalist, echoing the same sentiment. As the 2019 season comes to a close and the Astros try to fend off both the Washington Nationals and national criticism, let’s reflect on how much better the game and culture surrounding baseball could be if women were respected and embraced more for their contributions. On that note, I took the time to interview Jessica about this issue and so much more, which you will find at the end of this column.
Out of the Park
A Look Beyond the Boxscores for the Best in Baseball This Week
The regular season is behind us, and the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are competing in the 2019 World Series. This is notable for a few reasons.
The Astros and Nationals will send the greatest combination of starters to the mound in a World Series since the adoption of earned runs as a statistic in 1913 https://t.co/mL3vIenWRe
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 21, 2019
The “greatest combination of starters to the mound in a World Series” sounds hyperbolic. Except, it’s really not. Never before has a World Series featured six different starters with an ERA+ of 130 or better. Essentially, what that means is that Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Zach Greinke, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin were all 30% above league average or better than the average starter during the regular season.
Yes, the Avengers are doing battle this October.
This would seem to be the model that other teams should follow, but is collecting aces like bottle caps really feasible for most franchises? Not remotely. Let’s take a look at how each team assembled their power house rotation.
Houston traded for Justin Verlander during their World Series run in 2017, giving the Detroit Tigers right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron (son of former Gold Glove outfielder Mike Cameron) and catcher Jake Rogers. In 2018, Houston traded right-handers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran, and outfielder Jason Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gerrit Cole. To acquire Zach Greinke this year, Houston traded three of its top prospects to the Arizona Diamondbacks: first baseman Seth Beer, and right-handers J.B. Bukauskas (No. 4) and Corbin Martin (No. 5), in addition to infielder Josh Rojas (No. 22) and cash going to Arizona. None of Houston’s “Big Three” are homegrown. In order to facilitate these trades, a team has to both have the financial flexibility to absorb the contracts of these ace pitchers, as well as a farm system stocked full enough with prospects to acquire them. Very few franchises can claim that distinction.
The Nationals took a slightly different path to assemble their heroes. They signed former Tiger Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal worth $210 million in 2015. This year, Washington signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal worth $140 million including deferred money. Stephen Strasburg is the team’s only homegrown starter among the group. In fact, he’s the only homegrown starter among all six aces.
Now, lots of teams try to assemble super staffs only to watch one or more of their prized acquisitions turn into pumpkins instead. The Nationals and Astros carefully scouted their respective arms and chose wisely.
Unless you can cultivate this level of pitching quality internally, the way the Giants achieved in 2010 with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, crafting a rotation with three aces simply isn’t the norm, nor can it be the model for all other franchises heading into 2020.
Where Baseball Got Caught Looking
Someone asked me this week who I felt was the most disappointing franchise of the 2010s: The New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.
Well, the Dodgers have won 919 games from 2010-2019. It’s hard to call an average of 91+ wins per season with six consecutive NL West titles and two pennants “disappointing.” However, it cannot be denied that the one thing that has eluded LA — a World Series Championship — makes all those wins rather bittersweet. This latest loss to the Nationals in the NLDS had fans resorting to lows I had not believed possible.
Dodgers fans were offering drivers the chance to run over Kershaw’s jersey 😬
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 10, 2019
Clayton Kershaw’s postseason struggles are well-documented, but that doesn’t change the fact he is a Hall of Fame pitcher and arguably one of the best to ever toe the mound. Luckily, Dodger fans have AC Slater available for a pep talk:
— Mario Lopez (@mariolopezviva) October 10, 2019
During that same ten-year span, the Yankees averaged 92 wins per season and three AL East division titles, but they also failed to capture a pennant. In fact, their playoff exit this year marked the first decade without a championship since 1910. That fact alone is astounding when you think that three generations of Yankee fans have probably witnessed and recalled no fewer than five world titles assuming average health. Those fans have now resorted to throwing beer at Astros fans. Luckily, Lance McCullers decided to step in with the save (again).
This Astros fan had beer and popcorn thrown in his face at Yankee Stadium during the ALCS. Lance McCullers found out and is now sending him to the World Series. More than a game. ⚾️💯 pic.twitter.com/rLw6G0uuOK
— Baseball Lifestyle™ (@BsbLifestyle__) October 20, 2019
Mind you, not all fans of the Dodgers and Yankees behave this way. In fact, it’s probably fair to say this disrespectful, disgruntled bunch represents a very small fraction of both franchises.
Nonetheless, the last decade has featured a lot of winning from both clubs, but not a lot of winning that matters most. Fortunately, both teams are still comprised of elite young talent and seemingly bottomless pocketbooks. The Dodgers boast a top-flight farm system to boot. The championship window for both clubs remains wide open for the foreseeable future.
with Jessica Kleinschmidt
As a complement to The Rundown story above, I recently had the privilege of interviewing NBC Sports digital correspondent and MLB analyst Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD).
Me: First of all, thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat with me.
Jessica: Oh, not a problem. I’m totally honored you wanted to talk to me. It means a lot.
Me: Oh, absolutely. I think you are a great follow. I was born and raised in the Bay Area, but I live in Los Angeles now. You are from Reno, right?
Jessica: Yep. I moved — I was — gosh, I was raised there. I wasn’t born there. But I lived there for 20 years of my life. So pretty much, it’s my home town. I have always been intrigued by L.A. I have only been there once. And it was for a quick — I had to host an event at the Playboy Mansion. So I feel like if I never have to go back to L.A., it’s still a damn good story — well, I have been to L.A. once, and I don’t think I ever need to go back. So that’s good.
Me: Well, you have a cocktail story to share there, so…
Jessica: Exactly, yes.
Me: Very nice. I’m going to jump in here. The first question I wanted to ask is what you love most about baseball and what motivated you to pursue sports journalism as a career?
Jessica: Yeah, I guess I don’t know if there’s really one thing that I love about baseball. I think just the overall atmosphere of it. It is a little bit more personal for me. I did grow up playing the game. And my dad coached me. And I don’t know, there’s just a sense that every time I’m at a ballpark, I feel like I’m at home. When I was — I think — I threw my first baseball when I was nine or ten. And I just became addicted. And my dad coached me throughout the years. And then, of course, we went to our first and last MLB game when I was about twelve. And that’s when I fell in love with the A’s.
My dad passed away when I was 19. And it was just cool to remind myself that he went through all the different stages of watching me play, being a coach, being a father. And you could tell it was kind of cool because he was excited to retire and just be a dad. And when it was my turn to play and he wasn’t there, it was nice to see him understanding that these coaches, if they were to bench me, he would be, “Well, you probably deserved it.” He wasn’t like one of those coaches to be, “Well, I’m going to go complain to the coach” because he was once a coach, so he got that.
But it was kind of a full-circle thing because, you know, I went to my first A’s game, and Eric Chavez hit a home run. And it turns out he and I shared a birthday. And then, I just covered my first official MLB game this season. It was the home opener for the A’s. And my boss texted me and said, “You know, your dad would be very proud of you” and just knowing that I have like that support system.
So I don’t know. There are just so many things. But I think the ultimate thing that goes with my love for baseball is family and, of course, my father. But I honestly have always wanted to do this since I was twelve. I love talking. And people figured that out very quickly, and I just feel like, you know, growing up playing the game, obviously, I didn’t play as far as I would have liked. And it has a lot to do with the fact that I was forced to switch sports. And that was back in the day when people thought that softball and baseball were kind of the same sport. And so that was kind of different in those aspects.
But now that I have grown up, I know that women can still play baseball but still not as far. But I still think I have a different view of the game. And I still think that, you know, I can give more to it. But I love how I can do a little bit of everything now. Back in the day, it was just like, oh you are going to be a sideline reporter and that was it. And now that I’m older, I can do more — you know, things are transitioning so well. Women and everybody can do so many different things in sports media. So that’s what I love, trying to be like the Mike Trout, the five-tool player of sports media. And luckily, there’s so many different opportunities given to women now. And so ultimately, I decided when I was twelve that I wanted to do this. And dammit, I did it.
Me: You absolutely did. You have a lot to take pride in. And I think your boss is absolutely right, that your father would be extremely proud.
Jessica: Ah, thanks.
Me: You brought up women and opportunities. There’s a quote that I think of sometimes by Madeleine Albright. She said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
Me: So I’m curious which women have helped you get to where you are as a professional.
Jessica: So it actually didn’t even start until about two years ago. And that was me — my naivety thinking women aren’t going to help me. And when I first started, I wasn’t close to women. Obviously, it’s a male-dominated industry. And I fricking hate that term. But it just is what it is. Women weren’t available to me. It was men who hired me. It was men who were my mentors, which isn’t a bad thing. But when I first started, it was women who were actually harassing me the most. And unfortunately, I kind of, you know, put them all in one group, thinking oh, they are all going to be bad.
But as time went on, I can’t imagine it without it. But lately, you know, over the last few years, Melanie Newman really opened up my eyes to seeing how she is so diverse and she is doing play by play, which is super rare. And you know, I can call her crying and complain to her about anything and she gets it. And she’s just like a life partner too in as far as going through this life beyond sports. And then Emily Van Buskirk has been great; she’s college football. But it’s cool that I’m seeing her kind of being introduced to other sports. Emily Waldon is such a gift from God. She’s been phenomenal through everything and just wonderful- like you want to talk about somebody who universally deserves so much love because she gives so much out there.
But my No. 1 person that I am absolutely obsessed with is Susan Slusser. (A’s beat writer since 1999). You know, she used to scare the shit out of me. And I tell her that — and she knows that. She’s like — a lot of people are kind of leery of her. So to get in her good graces was like such a good bucket list item of mine. And I actually formally introduced myself right when I moved to the Bay Area. And I saw her at Fan Fest. And I introduced myself. And she was like, “Oh, yeah, you do a great job.” And my life felt like it shifted. And now, I can talk to her about anything. And obviously, we’re different in that she’s very much the beat writer. But I’m not really a beat writer. I just kind of do the extra stuff. And I kind of like knowing that she and I won’t cross paths in that way because she knows her lane and I know my lane. But I feel like no matter what the situation, is, I can go to her. And I really do. I love the way that she is so fearless because sometimes I get intimidated to talk to the athletes sometimes. And just watching her in the clubhouse and working is truly an honor. So she’s probably my No. 1.
And there’s so many others too. Like I want to take bits and pieces of the Katie Nolans of the world and Julie DiCaro has been great. And you know, just women like that have really helped me. But like I said, it wasn’t until the last few years where I was more open to them because I didn’t think that they would be open to me. And it’s kind of a beautiful thing that we’re trusting each other in this industry because that wasn’t the case — because it’s a huge competition, unfortunately. But it’s nice to know that, even though they are competitive, they are bringing out the better in me. And they are bettering me as a person. And I can seek them out for advice. And writing letters of recommendation and, you know, stuff like that has been pretty beautiful.
Me: There’s a lot of hard-wired biases in baseball. And you spoke to that a little bit, including a gender bias.
Me: Just in following you, I have seen that you have been subjected to prejudice, to sexism, to trolling while you work. I’m not going to dignify any of the types of prejudice, sexism or trolling that you have experienced by naming those responsible because I don’t think it deserves that. But what I’m more interested in is what you wish more people knew about you when you experience that.
Jessica: I guess — first of all, I don’t give a shit what they think. That’s the first and foremost thing. But if they are curious about me, my thing is that I grew up around the sport. But it’s one of the few sports where women and men don’t play the same sport, as if you are thinking softball and baseball. They are two different sports. Basketball is the same for women and men. Soccer is the same for women and men. And you know, swimming — all these other things, track and field. When it comes to that sport, it’s just — it’s different. And I was told, “No, you are not going to play. You will not make this baseball team.” I wish I was given that chance.
And you know, I struggle so much with thinking like these baseball players are humans because they are and they aren’t, you know. They take like this form of a freak of nature when they go up to the mound or you see Liam Hendriks or Grant Balfour finish a strikeout, and you are like that guy is not human. But, you know, you talk to them and they are humans. It’s something that I’m struggling with. But I just feel like as a woman, I have a certain charisma about myself. And I think it’s kind of cool to see women like myself and Susan roaming the clubhouse and just doing our jobs that way.
And I’m a very curious person too. Like I genuinely love the game of baseball. And I want to learn from the best in the industry. So if I do approach an athlete, I’m genuinely curious because if I hear a story about them or maybe even their wife or their family, I want to know more about that. And the fact that they are willing to open up to me is great. Even Barry Zito today said, you know, believe it or not when — because he wrote that book out recently — and he said, “Believe it or not during some of those postgame conferences — those, you know, press conferences, I wasn’t 100 percent honest.” And knowing that they are opening a little bit to us — holding back, of course, which I totally understand, just — it’s such a privilege. And I have such a great opportunity to be so close to talk to them, you know?
So I think, ultimately, I want them to know I’m just doing my job and I genuinely want to learn so much. The game is constantly changing. You know, from the time I first started watching it and playing it, of course, and seeing how they are dealing with social media and what Rob Manfred is trying to do to the game, like I’m just a very curious person.
And unfortunately, I feel like as a woman, sometimes that comes off as you being stupid because oh, well, she’s a girl, of course, she’s going to ask that question. It’s like, well, I don’t know everything. I genuinely don’t. I know a lot. But I don’t know everything. And you know, I deal with that on dates sometimes. Guys will be like, you know — just recently this guy said — it was a rivalry that I wasn’t aware of — I think it was the Royals and somebody else. And he said, “Well, don’t you know? Like you write for the Giants.” I was like, “First of all, I don’t write for the Giants. I write about the Giants.” And the fact that he was quizzing me when I was asking him a genuine question and he says, “Oh, like shouldn’t you know” — and this guy is a dentist. And I was like, “Well, aren’t you taking classes to finish that? Shouldn’t you know everything?” Like you don’t. It’s just literally because I’m a woman in sports. And that sucks, you know. And especially, because it’s a personal thing. Like I’m trying to date this guy and he’s already pissing me off. So we know how that is going to work out. And he’s actually the same guy — I don’t know if you saw my Twitter he said, “We can go on a date back-to-back days like a double-header,” which is not a double-header.
Me: No, it’s not.
Jessica: Right? So you will not be getting a wedding invite for me and him. That’s for sure. It’s just things like that. And it naturally turns me into a defensive person. And I fricking hate being defensive because I don’t want to look at somebody negatively. But when it’s constantly honed on you, you can’t help but be kind of defensive. And I hate being that person because I’m such a happy, natural person. And I’m optimistic. And I’m skipping. And I’m holding hands and skipping and eating chicken nuggets, and I’m happy with my life. But then, when people come at me that way and they are stereotyping me, it’s going to be worse because oops, I’m going to go ahead and judge you because you are judging me. And so it’s just a really (expletive) up circle in that aspect. And I don’t like feeling that way, but I can’t help but be that way.
So I’m curious. I’m super fun. And I’m very, very talkative. I’m social and very approachable. But I’m also very defensive sometimes. So I’m a little bit all over the place. But I have an amazing heart, too. And I genuinely want to give fun content and unique content out there. But I want them to understand that I’m like trying to do my job and making it fun for you to consume it. And I get it. I have to reach certain goals and certain numbers, but I genuinely care about the people I’m writing about or the audience that I hope is reading my stuff.
Me: Thank you for that. So given what you have been through, what advice would you give women trying to break into sports journalism? If a woman approached you and said, “Hey, how do I — not necessarily how do I get where you are, but more importantly, you know, what advice would you have for me?”
Jessica: So that’s a question I’m asked a lot. And it’s a great question only because my answer is very simple. You have to really want this. And it’s not a high paying job. It’s long hours — news does not sleep. It’s 24/7. You never know what’s going to happen. You work weird hours. And it’s not glamorous — don’t get me wrong. I have done some really dope stuff, like seriously some cool ass shit. But I have to sacrifice a lot. I don’t see my family as much as I would like. I don’t have much of a dating life, but that’s also because men suck, so I don’t really care about that. But like I said, the weird hours… but I also work with some of the most phenomenal people in the world. So I’m lucky in those aspects.
But you really have to have a conversation with yourself. If you are religious, have a conversation with God. I certainly did. And I can’t imagine doing anything else. But you also have to remind yourself this may not be for you, too. I wasn’t paid for the first two or three years when I was doing this, like genuinely paid. And this is — you know, I didn’t start making this a full-time job until honestly maybe two and a half, three years ago. And I have been in the industry for five years. So it’s not an overnight thing.
And you know, you really have to push content out there. You have to be unique, which is super important. And it sounds simple; right? But it’s not. And this industry, you are trying to be the next Katie Nolan. You are trying to be the next — you know, somebody told me that they were trying to the next Jessica Kleinschmidt, which is such an honor. It’s so sweet. But I’m the first Jessica Kleinschmidt. And you can’t be the second because I’m doing a great job being me. Be the first you. And you know, like I said, in an industry where everybody is trying to be the next X, Y, and Z, you are going to stand out if you just work your ass off and be yourself and, you know, be super kind to people and develop relationships because I didn’t go to school for this. I hated school. I was not a great student. And so I just kind of hustled and figured out a way to do it.
I just feel like I cover the game in such a unique way that, if you find somebody who is doing the exact same thing that I do, great. But you won’t. I just feel like I give such a unique perspective and, you know, a different personality to the game where it’s — you can’t duplicate what I do. And you can probably duplicate my work ethic, but you can’t do it in a way that I’m doing it. And that confidence is super important in the industry too. I’m extremely confident, but you know, I make sure that I’m not overdoing it or overcompensating because I’m also very insecure. Like if you see yourself on TV and, you know, the camera as ten pounds, honey, it is humbling. You are like okay, I’m not as sexy as maybe people perceive. But that’s okay. It’s whatever. And so it’s just like some emotions that you go through because if you are not — you know, you are going to cry yourself to sleep sometimes because it’s hard.
The first two months that I started NBC were like the toughest career months of my life. But I figured it out. And now, I love it. And now, I love the hard work. And I love doing all this cool stuff. And I love the
confidence I’m building and all the opportunities I’m given. But in the very beginning, you really have to determine if you want to do it or not because I have had interns say that it was a joke that I suggested starting a blog or pushing out content like well, that’s stupid. And I was like, well, that’s how I started. And if you are not making yourself known, you are not going to get anywhere. And it obviously depends on the type of job. If you want to be behind the scenes and do like production assistants and stuff like that, it’s different. But don’t ask me like my specific stuff and then not want to do the work. And I’m not going to hold your hand through the process. So people made the road less bumpy for me. But Jessica Mendoza wasn’t holding my hand when I applied for NBC Sports. You know, I just did it. Well, I was also recruited but you know what I mean. So it’s just like kind of other stuff like that. But it’s a really tough journey. And you really, really need to make sure that you are ready for it.
Me: I can imagine. You know, ultimately, I can also imagine that it’s somewhat frustrating that the conversation so often focuses on what it’s like to be a woman covering baseball rather than just baseball itself. And so I would like to finish with a couple of questions that are just purely about you and baseball. What is one of the most memorable moments or games that you have been able to cover or write about?
Jessica: Believe it or not, it’s like the perfect time to talk about this. When Mike Yastrzemski got his MLB debut, this was around the time where it was the beginning of the season and the Giants were really bad. And they were in the middle of the Diamondbacks series where Ketel Marte was just hitting the crap out of the ball. And I think he had like ten home runs in a weird span of games. It was just unheard of. And it was a beautiful thing because I’m from Reno where I covered the Reno Aces. And a lot of these guys, I covered through Aces were now with the Diamondbacks. And I had to cover for Alex Pavlovic. I think he had a wedding to go to. And so I woke up like okay, this is going to suck. But then, I looked at my phone. And Yas had gotten promoted after seven years in the minors. So beyond the fact that it’s Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, homeboy was in the minors, the Orioles system, for seven years and then gets bumped up and it’s a beautiful thing. And you want to talk about a good kid. I get it, he’s 29. But you are a rookie, you are going to be a kid to me, which is weird because he’s only like a
few months younger than me. But you know what I mean. It was just like a cool situation and knowing that my mother watched him play — or his grandfather play and stuff like that. He was just a good interview.
And on that same day, Mac Williamson — it was kind of one of those things where he was not figuring it out. But I was always pulling for him. And to hear Bruce Bochy get kind of emotional talking about him was really cool. So this is all happening in one game. And it was just a cool experience. That’s like one of them. But I don’t think anything will ever compare to your first big league game and doing that. Like I did the Bernie Leaned with Coco Crisp, which was pretty cool and stuff like that. But even stuff covering from when I was working for Cut4, I worked from home and just watching stuff happen from home and being able to just write a quick blog on it — that stuff is really cool. But I think the one thing that did stand out specifically today was just Yastrzemski and knowing he’s super successful this season, too. You know, I don’t know if he’s the Max Muncy Farhan Zaidi was praying for, but he’s giving him a run for his money. He’s making Farhan look pretty good. But I think that probably is the one that stood out the most.
Me: It still baffles and boggles the mind how he didn’t make the roster in Baltimore —
Jessica: I know. Like what are you looking for? Like is he not bad enough? I don’t understand.
Me: So you have mentioned Liam Hendriks. But what player has been your favorite to interview and why?
Jessica: Oh, gosh. Liam is obviously very fun. I think the one that stands out the — I mean, this is just particular. Joey Votto is my favorite player. He’s my hero. He’s the guy that I want to be when I grow up just because he’s so smart. He is so — and smart is not even the right word. He is ridiculously intelligent. He is goofy. But when he talks, you just listen, right. So I think he was probably my favorite person to interview because there were so many emotions involved because you are always nervous to meet your hero. And I know you are not supposed to really fangirl or whatever over a player. And I was very professional about it. But we got to talk about his likeness for Barry Bonds. And you know, growing up, I hated Barry Bonds because of steroids. But as time went on and I respected the steroid era, I loved Barry Bonds. And so to hear Joey talk about Barry, another guy that I look up to, it was just really cool. And you know, when you meet your hero and he exceeds your expectations, that was cool — and he gives you a really intelligent, smart interview, but he also gave me some sass, which was great too, which I loved, so that was good. Liam was also really good. Khris Davis has been really fun to interview, only because I can see that he’s opening up to the media a lot more. And that’s been kind of cool to see. And Matt Chapman is always a really fun interview. Brandon Belt’s really, really fun too. But I think the one that I’ll never forget is for sure Joey Votto.
Me: All right. Jessica, I want to thank you so much for your time and your honest answers. And I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to give you a chance to share your voice and your thoughts and your experiences.
Jessica: Yeah, not a problem. I’m not one to hold back. Thanks for having me. And I always have my email available. Girls are always curious about the industry. That’s on my Twitter (@KleinschmidtJD). I’m very open about it. So make sure that people reach out to me if they are ever curious about anything or just need
somebody to vent to, I’m always here.
That’s the ballgame for this week!
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)