As I watch the Giants celebrate in Detroit, in my mind it was a disappointing World Series. I have respect for both managers, having covered them and found them to be real pros (covered Bochy’s teams quite a bit more frequently back in my CNN days so I am very happy for him), but I as a baseball fan I wanted more.
One thing that is typical of what I do in my career as a sportscaster, trying to localize national stories, is to do a little simple digging around through all the stuff that is available to all of us. It’s what I believe always made my sports reporting and anchoring more interesting, whether I was in Macon, Georgia or Chattanooga, Tennessee or the Orange County slice of Los Angeles – local hooks really connect you to your audience. They make your viewer say, “yeah, I remember him!” With a little homework, sports journalists who may not be FROM a place can be better connected TO a place, and the public will appreciate it.
Here are examples. During the World Series, I poured over the rosters and their web-sites, using baseball reference.com for good measure. I found links wherever I could. The Giants, for example, had a few somewhat local links here in Oklahoma. Did you know Jouquin Arias was an All-Star for the Triple-A Oklahoma Redhawks in 2008 and a Futures Game Selection in 2006? In parts of four seasons as Rangers farmhand he played both for the OKC Redhawks and OK Redhawks, his best year was in 2008 when he hit .296. He played in 112 regular season games for the world champs, losing his job when the club acquired Marco Scutaro down the stretch.
Oklahoma folks looking to hate on the Giants? Brandon Belt played for the Texas Longhorns and is from Nacogdoches. Although Hunter Pence is a Texan as well, since he is from Arlington and stayed home to play for his hometown UTA Mustangs, it’s hard not to root for him. And tough as nails veteran Aubrey Huff looks like a Sons of Anarchy wingman, so it’s easy to give him a flyer for being from Ft. Worth. Plus he played JUCO ball just across the Oklahoma line at Vernon College.
What did you miss out on with the Tigers locally? 35-year-old right-hander Jouaquin Benoit also could have bought a house in Oklahoma City, pitching for the Redhawks fin the Rangers system, posting a 20-11 mark in parts of five seasons beginning in 2001. A fellow I covered when he was an all-american high school player at La Quinta High School in Westminster, California, Gerald Laird was an all-star for the Redhawks in 2003. I still have his old catcher’s mask from Cypress College where I covered the team and got some coaching lessons for a story I did. Don’t worry, he was done with the mask by the time I got it.
Righty Max Scherzer pitching in the minors in Tucson, but more importantly pitched for Mizzou in college. Did he ever face the Sooners or OSU Cowboys? Austin Jackson is from Denton, Texas, again just across the border. The son of Rod Allen, the former major leaguer who is part of the Detroit radio team, played for OSU. My old buddy Mario Impemba, who I know from the days when we both covered the California Angels, called games for the Tigers team in Tucson back in the day, and is now part of their TV broadcast team. And finally, Tigers Executive Vice President Duane McLean earned his master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
So you see, if I do a little work as a local sports guy, I can localize even the most distant of national stories. I love that part about working in the business.
Weber is a veteran of three decades as a journalist and sportscaster in play-by-play, anchoring and reporting, including time with CNN, Fox Sports Net, and many others. His book The Sports Guy: Scorecard Scribblings From An Ordinary Journalist is available on his web-site at weber-creative.com .