Sunday, July 06, 2008

Behind the Scenes

I finally stepped into a land that I had never ventured into during my first "tour of duty" with the Renegades.

The clubhouse.

Before almost every Gades game, Sean Ford records an interview with the team's manager. This year, it is the very likable Joe Alvarez, who is in his first year with the team. So before yesterday's game, I strolled down to the clubhouse with Sean.

Now don't be fooled. Dutchess Stadium isn't like a big league park. It's not uncommon to find the clubhouse in a separate building from the dugout. In this case, the clubhouse is down beyond the right field corner.

That's where Sean and I gathered with Sean McMann of the Poughkeepsie Journal, who writes his own blog, Renegades Rumblings.

As an aside, what is it with all of the Sean's in the media that I know? Ford, McMann, Bowley (Sean Patrick, to be exact), and the one and only Killer Kilkelly.

Let's back up. I arrived for Saturday's 7:05 PM game at Dutchess Stadium around 4:00 PM, and parked without anybody saying a word to me. I also walked into Dutchess Stadium near the clubhouse without incident. Don't get me wrong, it's not that easy. It's just that I have the proper credentials and make sure they're on me at all times.

The Tri-City Valley Cats were taking batting practice as I went up to the booth, where Sean Ford was waiting and playing baseball on his laptop. He and I made small talk and began to go over some news and notes. Then we decided to take the walk out to the clubhouse.

Upon our arrival, Sean (Ford, that is) peered in and heard enough to indicate that the team was having a meeting. So we waited and talked. As players began to file out, we walked in and waited some more.

You wait a lot in the media. You wait for your interview subjects, for the media food, for the starting lineups, for the game to start, and so on.

Honestly, there isn't a lot to tell about the clubhouse. After walking in, the training area (it's not even a trainer's room) is on the left. A quick right takes you into the locker area. There are a few comforts (couches and a big TV), and music is blaring. The players don't have big lockers - they're fairly small but nice, with a stool in front of each one and a small printed, but laminated nameplate. Another right turn took us to the office of Joe Alvarez.

"Office" probably isn't the right word. The Gades' skipper's area has a locker and a small desk, with a small couch and chair. Yet no door.

We waited for a few more minutes for Joe Alvarez to put his uniform on before heading in to talk with him. As we talked, there was some playful abuse for Sean (yes, Ford again) from a few players as they get to know him pretty well.

That's where doing analysis is tough for me. I don't know the players and the little minutiae. I'd like to be better known around the stadium but it's tough when I'm not there for every game.

Sean McMann went first with a few quick questions, then Sean Ford did his thing - about five minutes of simple, yet interesting questions. The reality is that while Sean (Ford, again) isn't a team employee, he still travels with the team and has to dance a fine line. As such, he's not going to necessarily hold the Gades' proverbial feet to the fire. He's done it well enough to be with the team for ten years.

We walked back out to the field and passed the team as they played catch. Sean McMann went back to the press box, while Sean (yes, Ford for the love of Abner Doubleday) and I returned to the booth. Sean loaded the interview into his laptop for playback, and we began the process of looking for the starting lineups, stat pack, and game notes. These items come in due time, and we're able to review them. Rick Kubitschek, the Director of Media Relations, does a great job of assembling some of the best notes around.

Oh how I WISH such luxuries existed in high school football!

Now we waited for one more thing, perhaps the most important thing: food.

Former Yankee Joe Alvarez heads up the culinary delights, and until somebody can prove to me otherwise, he's got the best product in the New York-Penn League. On Saturday, he served us prime rib, French fries (and good ones, no less), and vegetables. Unfortunately, it sometimes shows up about a half hour or less before game time. That's all well and good, but when you need your mouth to speak into a microphone, you have to eat fast - especially when your pregame show (hosted by me, by the way), begins in fifteen minutes.

Now during this pregame time, which was a little tighter than usual, Sean and I had to troubleshoot tehcnical problems with our board-op, because we couldnt' hear the station in our headset. I took on that task.

Normally we even have more time to wait, and we often spend it by leaning on the rail behind the booth and watching the crowd as they wait to come in.

Again, more waiting. Just not on this night.

With the technical stuff resolved, Sean's PC ready for playback and eventually to record highlights, and the proper drinks set up keep us hydrated, I took to the air to open the broadcast at 6:45. We were off and running.

Oh, and Sean didn't have a headphone splitter, so he didn't have audio in his ears all night. I had to give him cues.

From there it went like any other game. Perhaps we'll go behind the scenes again for the broadcast at another time.

Of course when the game was over, and we went off the air, guess what we did?

We waited. For traffic to clam down.

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