HARLEM — With about six outs left in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, my cell phone rang in the press box. It was my mother.
Like every other playoff game I covered this season, I was under a tight deadline that night. And with the Yankees on the brink of beating the Phillies the pressure was turned up even more. I knew that there was a good chance I’d be writing about a historic moment, so my first instinct was to ignore the call.
But I couldn’t let myself do it. What if it was something really important? What if she was in trouble? What if it was a matter of life and death? Why else would she be calling me now?
So, I answered.
“Hello,” mom said casually. “I’m watching on TV. Are you busy?”
I share this story because it reminds me that even some of my closest friends and family members may not have the clearest picture of what I do and what that entails. (And for the record, at that particular moment, I was indeed busy.)
So, since this blog has yet to celebrate its one-day anniversary, I figured this would be the perfect time to tackle some frequently asked questions. As new questions come up, whether they’re about work or anything else, feel free to leave them in the comments section so I can answer them.
Eventually, this document will be moved to a separate “FAQ” page that can be easily accessed when needed. Let’s begin:
Q: When did you become a Yankee fan?
A: Well, that would be never. The old saying is true: there’s no cheering in the press box. Because journalists must maintain objectivity in order to fairly and ethically do their jobs, they are prohibited from being fans of the teams they cover. So. I don’t root for the Yankees, or any other baseball team.
I am, however, a huge fan of pitcher’s duels, quick games and Marriott Points*.
Q: But, don’t you work for the Yankees?
A: Nope. I work for the Star-Ledger, a newspaper that independently covers the Yankees.
Q: Do you travel with the team?
A: Yes, I cover every Yankees road game. But I don’t travel with the team on their charter. Instead, I am responsible for my booking all of my accommodations while the newspaper picks up the tab. In the process, I get Marriott points. Lots and lots of Marriott points.
Q: So what do you cover after baseball season?
A: More baseball! The offseason is a time for teams to add new players, whether it be through free agency or via trade. And trying to keep track of all that stuff is often just as demanding as covering the games themselves. But there are slow periods, too, like in January. That’s when a lot of beat writers get to take some time off and finally burn some of those awesome Marriott points.
Q: How many baseball caps do you have in your collection?
A: I have 104. All of them are fitted. All of them are an actual on-the-field design. And most of them made by New Era. I started collecting them in 1996.
Q: Which are your favorites?
A: The first was a blue 70s style Braves cap, with the white front and red lowercase “a.” The oldest looking one is a wool 1911 Philadelphia Athletics cap, reproduced about 10 years ago for an A’s/Giants Bay Bridge series.
But my absolute favorite is a replica 1961 Los Angeles Angels cap, the ones with a halo on top. I remember seeing it on the kid in that movie “The Sandlot” and thinking it was pretty damn cool. So I was stoked years later, when I found one the discount table in an old sporting goods shop in San Francisco store for 10 bucks.
* I’m not quite sure of the reason, but baseball writers love the Marriott rewards program. When I got my first baseball beat (the Baltimore Orioles), I remember asking one of our veteran baseball reporters for his advice. His first question: “Have you signed up for your Marriott points yet?”
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