FEEDING THE MEDIA BEAST IS A FULL-TIME JOB
My apologies that this blog
is a week late from my normal writing schedule.
You see, we had this game last Sunday that turned into The Event of the
Century. As Dallas Braden kept mowing down Rays’ hitters, it began to dawn on
me that a media tsunami was about to hit shore in Oakland.
Once Cliff Pennington flawlessly
fielded that final Gabe Kapler grounder to crown
Braden’s perfect game, all hell broke loose.
Our stadium operations crew
quickly set up a makeshift media conference room in the Raiders’ locker room–the
best we could do at our antiquated venue–and the media circus was
underway. We brought Dallas, his
grandmother (Peggy Lindsey), manager Bob
Geren and Braden’s
battery mate Landon Powell into the interview room. As is usually the case on these kind of
unexpected news stories, the media corps that was relatively small when the
game started had now swelled to at least twice
its size by the final pitch.
The San Francisco Chronicle had spoiled Scott Ostler’s perfectly fine Mother’s Day with a late-inning call
about a perfect game that was
developing in Oakland. He rushed to the Coliseum, as did Jorge Ortiz when he got a similar call from USA Today. Same for Bay Area
television stations which had not planned to cover our game on-site that
day. As big of a “gamer” as Dallas was on the mound, he almost equaled that effort during the post-game bedlam. In all, he gave me more than two hours of media time after the game
before driving out of the player’s lot and heading back to “The 209″ where all
of his friends were waiting to give him a collective bear hug.
Of course, the story didn’t
end there. The media beast was just
rearing its head. As is normally the
case with national interest, the news cycle can last anywhere from 24 hours to
at least a week. As the primary media liaison
this week, I faced a real balancing act as you want to make sure that Dallas is also enjoying
the afterglow of his remarkable feat.
There’s a fine line on how much you can do without tilting it towards a
media nightmare instead of a celebration.
The requests came in waves,
starting Sunday night–ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, MLB Network, Tom Verducci at Sports
Illustrated, the Letterman Show, CBS Early Morning, National Public Radio
and many others–and I knew time would be precious the following day because Monday
was a travel day to Texas.
the travel day started early as he took his customary drive from his Stockton home to the Oakland Airport. However, before he left his house, he had
already done a sit down interview with ESPN SportsCenter and appeared on Robert
Siegel’s “All Things Considered” program with its five million listeners on NPR. I warned him Sunday night that I was going to
pounce on him as soon as he arrived
at the airport.
He walked through the
private terminal doors at 12:25 p.m., which instantly told me I had 20 minutes
to, (a) hand him and go over a proposed media schedule I had prepared for his
week on the road, (b) give enterprising reporter Vern Glenn of KRON-TV and a KNTV-TV cameraman a joint three-minute
on-camera interview in the lobby, (c) hand Dallas my cell for an eight-minute
“phoner” with MLB Network, (d) then dial up ESPN Radio for another seven-minute
interview with Scott Van Pelt, and (e) shake our
overnight sensation’s hand and direct him through security and on board the
team flight which left at 1 p.m. for Dallas, Texas.
After the team charter
landed and the traveling party arrived at the hotel, my trusty assistant, Mike Selleck (our PR rep on the trip), handed his cell to Mr. 209
for a prearranged live interview back home with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert
on KNBR Radio. Dallas didn’t miss a beat, providing about 15
minutes of highly-entertaining radio to a drive-time audience that’s normally
conditioned to hear nothing but Giants baseball this time of year.
I won’t go on and on about
Dallas’ media week, as so much was documented in the local outlets, but suffice
it to say that there were dozens of email and phone exchanges between myself
and the producers of the Letterman Show–I suggested they soften the A-Rod
reference in No. 10 of the Top 10 list by adding, “Grandma’s Right” to the line
as their original line just said, “Stick It, A-Rod!”
In the case of CBS Early
Morning, one behind-the-scenes tale involved me negotiating back and forth with
the network and also Dallas,
trying to avoid the obscene time for the interview, originally scheduled for
Wednesday. Due to the unexpected
four-hour, extra-inning marathon the A’s played in Tuesday’s series opener in
Texas, Dallas did not get back to the hotel until nearly 1 a.m. CT, where he
met his equally beleaguered grandmother, who had just arrived herself after
being flown in by CBS from Sacramento.
Both were facing the unenviable prospects of getting about four hours
sleep before getting down to the hotel lobby for a 6 a.m. pickup. I felt for them and I also felt for CBS, who
had done so much work on preparing a nice video package, not to mention
spending significant money on travel arrangements. I tried to get CBS to move the interview to
later in the show, bargaining to get them a little more sleep. But CBS was locked in with obligations to dozens
of their affiliates, plus it was too late to move other guests. So here I was, standing outside on our
Berkeley patio at 11 p.m. PDT (2 a.m. EDT)–trying not to disturb my wife and
son–breaking the news to CBS that Dallas and Mrs. Lindsey would not be doing the interview scheduled for
only six hours later! You can imagine
how that news went over. Dallas felt terrible
about it, but understandably his first priorities were his grandmother and then
baseball. Fortunately, we were able to
reschedule the interview for Thursday morning, and it went off well.
Before I close this account
of Dallas’ wild
week, I want to also thank so many other people who were directly or indirectly
impacted by Braden’s gem. In catching
his perfect game, Powell was inundated with media calls–including at least a
half dozen from his home area in the Carolinas–while the golden-throated Ken
Korach did numerous
radio interviews the following days to discuss his classic radio call of the
historic game. Same for Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, who in fact was at the Univision-Telefutura studios
in San Francisco
just this morning to be part of the “Good Morning America” show on the Spanish
network. And the same thanks should be
given to Billy Beane, Geren and his staff, as well as all of Dallas’ teammates who had
to chip in with added media interviews this week.
As for me and my staff, this
is what you live for if you’re in our business.
And just like everyone I have mentioned, I personally felt this was
truly a privilege to be part of. Like
those fans in attendance last Sunday, we experienced history. And to have a front
row seat as part of the Oakland
A’s staff, I feel so blessed. Not only
magnificent performance now entered into baseball’s record books, it is also
indelibly etched in all of our memories for a lifetime.