There is No Cheering in the Press Box
by, 06-03-2013 at 04:25 PM (317 Views)
“There is no cheering in the press box.” Told my dad before I even thought about attending a game in the Target Field press box. I parked in Garage in A which has the skyway attached to Target Field for 16 dollars. Not worth the price because the Macy’s Parking Garage is only 5 dollars and one block from Target Field. When arrived there at 5 o clock, about 2 hours from first pitch, I picked up credentials at Gate 29 from the public relations intern named Lizz. I was instructed to take the elevator to level 2 and enter in the press box. There I met up the Official Scorer of the night’s game and Mr. Baseball of Minnesota, Stew Thornley. If you have a question about scoring, any type of baseball history in the state he is your guy to ask. The man is baseball junkie, much like me and most members of SABR the Society for American Baseball Research.
After getting set up in the third row with my stuff Stew was nice enough to treat me to dinner downstairs. There almost everyone who was working the night’s game was a having a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes. Roast beef, some type of soup and array of brownie and cookie deserts to choose from. It was all top of the line food and made from professional chefs. There with Stew I sat down with Fox Sports North Baseball Analyst and Former Twin and Ron Coomer who was working the night’s pre and post game shows for FSN. At another separate tables were all the nerdy writers who working the game, the white sox announcers Steve Stone and Ken” the hawk” Harrelson, and all the front office employees such as Terry Ryan and Dave St. Peter. Now, If had the guts to stand up for Sabermetrics I would have challenged the Hawk on his new stat TWTW or the The Will to Win. But instead I was an outside observer who simply looked at his fat, gold American League Championship Ring that he won with the Boston Red Sox and Yaz Impossible Dream 1967 Team and kept my mouth shut. After Ron Coomer left our table a sharp dressed suit wearing Lavelle E Neal the Third one of the Star Tribunes Twins Beat Writers and current Vice President of BBWAA, Baseball Writers Associations of America Joined us stew and I at our table. Again, I could have stuck up for Sabermetrics and questions him on why he switched his vote from Mike Trout to Miguel Cabrera for the 2012 American MVP but I opted to ask him how the sports show was going. Lavelle said that Sid Hartmann usually slows down the show which any one has watched one episode could easily conclude. Stew mentioned how Baltimore had appeal a call Trevor Plouffe and Error instead of a hit on Saturday’s Game and that it was currently being reviewed by Joe Torre the Executive Vice President of Major League Baseball. Plouffe is not defensive stud out there at third. Stew’s call as an error was later up held.
Once we finished dinner, we went upstairs to the press box and got ready for the first pitch. Now the basic make up of the press box at Target Field was pretty tame that night. There was no Patrick Ruesse, Jim Souhan, Sid Hartman, Charley Walters, or any other characters of the press box. Monday was big news day for two simple reasons. The first was the Vikings unveiling the plans for the new stadium. The second and more important news was the passing of the same-sex marriage bill in Minnesota.
In the left corner of the press box was the Official scorer and Data Casters of the night’s game. One of the data casters works for MLB Advanced Media which appears on MLB Gameday and the other works for Stats INC which goes to ESPN’s Scorecast. Both are saying pretty much the same thing. Both of these positions are paid but certainly not enough to make a living on, unlike everyone else was in the press box . In the middle of the Press Box was the Public Relations department of the Twins which is lead by the director named Dustin Morse, two employees and Lizz the intern. The rest of people in the press box were all writers from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Mlb.com. Twinsdaily.com and the Associated Press.
I was lucky enough to sit by Gregg Wong a former Twins Beat Writer for the Pioneer Press and now part time official scorer with Stew Thornley. They alternative depending on their schedules and game times. Once the game got underway it was all business. The writers started writing and tweeting on their laptops and the players started playing. One thing to note that I was on the only one to two people with a tablet in the press box, besides FSN host Jaime Hersch. (Side Note, a tablet cannot replace a laptop for word processing. It is better for couch surfing and consuming information but it will not replace the laptop anytime soon) the sightlines from the press box are fantastic they remain slightly off from home plate towards the first base line . While the broadcasts booths of the FSN, Twins Radio, Away TV, Away Radio and Spanish home broadcasts are more center. Seems fair to me.
“In the 1980’ after the typewriter went extinct all the writers had computer that only did word processing. They had looser deadlines and the atmosphere was more relaxed with constant banter between writers.” Said Gregg Wong, “now today every one is a zombie.” It’s a 24 hour news cycle and writers are expected to write sooner and quickly post it to their account. It there was hardly any banter the whole game I was second screening so to say. They only thing close to banter is the small talk next between writers who sat next to each other. The FSN crew sat up next to me in the third row after the first inning and until the 8th inning. Tom Hanneman and Ron Coomer were pretty quiet during the game.
Once the Twins were about to score for the first time, I got excited and clapped my hands together for about 2 seconds. I cheered. Gregg Wong quickly corrected me and said, “There is no cheering in the Press Box, you can’t do that here” I apologized and immediately texted my Dad and told him that I should have listened to him. Ron Coomer started to give Gregg some crap because of my cheering but about another half inning later one his outsider guests started cheering louder and longer than me.
Basically about 90 percent of the time the writers wrote and there are announcements coming from two separate microphones that is also projected to each broadcast booth. One is the official scorer who says what the game time temperature is, how long each pitcher lasted in the outing, wild pitch or passed ball and of course whether a play is ruled a hit or an error. The official scorer basically takes note of everything that happens during the game. It can vary with each Ballpark.
The Twins director of PR sits in the middle away from the official scored and he announces, the official attendance, special plays, like after each stolen base or home run. So if you’re listening to the Twins Game or watching it and they announce that is the 6th stolen base for Aaron Hicks they most likely heard it from the PR announcing and if they announce whether the play was ruled a hit or error that comes from the official scorer. However, when there is a call that is objective such as that error the Twins PR will come over to the official scorer and ask him to look at it again. If he still unsatisfied he can appeal to MLB. It really varies, something that is more suited to ask Stew.
It was an exciting game to be at as Aaron Hicks hit two home runs and robbed one from White Sox Adam Dunn to earn a curtain call from the Twins Fans since Jim Thome in 2010. The game goes by fast up in the press box and I didn’t want to end. When it did most writers and PR employees had submitted something and quickly left their stuff and went downstairs to get some quotes from players and managers. I could have gone down there but I stayed up. Some returned up the press box to write quotes in and go home. The official scorer double checked his work and faxed in his score sheet to the MLB official office. Once that game ended some premium services employees closed the windows of the press box and cleaned up. The broadcasters finished their post game shows and went home, the grounds crew turned off the lights and started watering the dirt with hoses and other prep on the grass. I went home with a smile on my face.