Life out of a suitcase: the sports reporter's world
As I write this sentence, I am on my sixth flight in 17 days. I've been from New York to Detroit, Motown to Milwaukee (I drove that leg), Milwaukee to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Los Angeles, L.A. to St. Louis, STL to Milwaukee and now back to Los Angeles via Milwaukee. Next stop: Los Angeles to Philadelphia. I'm not expected back in New York for three more weeks. Unless the Yankees make the World Series.
Working as a reporter for MLB Network obviously requires a lot of travel, but to be completely forthright, I asked for this situation. I could have done more studio work, but I chose the planes, trains and automobiles over the office alternative.
People ask me all the time how I can possibly pack for unknown and seemingly endless trips, if I ever get tired of the "living out of a suitcase" lifestyle, and what it's like to spend my days (and countless nights) taking in America's pastime (do I watch the game in the stands? No.); I can answer all three quite simply -- there are far more misconceptions about this lifestyle than realities. But it's a hell of a good time.
I pack, transport and lug around my 70-pound suitcase all by my lonesome. Yes, there are times when a chivalrous producer, taxi driver or bellman will carry the load. But for the most part I live by the mantra that if I felt it was necessary to bring along 17 pairs of shoes, then they are my responsibility.
Truth be told, I've got long-term packing down to an art. I only travel with exactly what I think I'll need and make adjustments along the way. However, when you're gone from home for five straight weeks, a light carry-on is never an option.
Neither is a set schedule. Most of my trips are decided last-minute and dictated by the boys of summer. The Dodgers do not care that I'm traveling clear across the country on a six-hour red eye for the return of Manny Ramirez. The clubhouse opens three and a half hours before game time whether I'm jet lagged or not.
And contrary to popular belief, my day does not begin with first pitch. No matter the time zone, it begins when my producers arrive at the office. On most days, I have already written a half dozen e-mails and had a conference call before my morning coffee, usually 10-12 hours before game time. In between breakfast and a work out, I spend time prepping for that night's game or feature story.
While the fans head through the gates about a half hour before game time, I'm at the park at least five hours before the start. Before the doors are open to the general public, I spend time talking with managers, players and coaches to gather material for my pre-game responsibilities.
In the age of blogs and Twitter, it is a constant stream of information gathering.
That stream becomes a rushing river once we're in the first inning.
Yes, most of us actually pay attention during the game. I follow MLB Game Cast, listen to the local radio broadcast, and keep score.
However, you would be shocked at the number of computers in the press box that are also updating their Facebook status. It's actually quite comical.
At the end of the day, when the post game interviews are done and my final piece filed for the late night and early morning shows, I can count on a 12-14 hour day. I'm guessing some readers are surprised ...
You may also be shocked to find out that no one does my hair or make up (CLEARLY!) or writes my questions for me.
It is a rare treat when I get to eat a meal that is not served cafeteria-style in a press box.
And post game extracurriculars usually involve some combination of bottled beer, peanuts or popcorn, and a group of sportswriters and TV reporters discussing that evening's outcome and the decisions we all would have made differently.
What does NOT exist -- late-night dinners at expensive steak restaurants or bottle service in the city's hottest club.
Glamorous it is not, people.
The road has its perks; frequent flier miles, hotel points and an unquestionable bond with your colleagues in the same position. And in the world of reporting, there is no substitute for actually being out there, getting the scoop and building sources.
And, you save a lot of money when you're living a life on per diem!
But there are drawbacks no one ever considers.
Maintaining friendships and relationships is extremely difficult. When you work all night long, and are two or three hours behind the ones who matter most, phone calls slip through the cracks. E-mails go unanswered. Goodnight kisses morph into sweet dreams texts.
There is no such thing as meeting your best friend for a glass of wine to talk about the break up with her boyfriend or to celebrate a long overdue promotion.
Countless birthdays, holidays and nuptials are missed, because for some reason the league doesn't take our personal lives into account when scheduling major events!
I feel the worst for my co-workers with kids. Yes, they willingly chose this life and profession, but that doesn't take away the heartache of hearing a mom or dad try to calm a crying child over the phone. Or watching a parent say goodnight in the press box via Skype. The effort is there, but we all know there is no substitute for a bedtime story that ends with your little guy or girl falling asleep on your shoulder.
I am by no means asking for pity, but maybe just a little understanding.
So to answer the most asked question; "Do you ever get tired of living your life out of a suitcase?"
Yes, but thankfully I can sleep on planes.
I remember Trenny as a bartender at Pj Blue Chipper in Howell Ave. We would go there after work(2nd shift). She spanked me one time..... well maybe more than once :)-
Downtowner | Oct. 16, 2009 at 12:28 p.m. (report)
Great look into the life of a reporter. Nice work, Trenni.
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