Almost every day I am asked the following questions:
“What is it like to be a sports anchor and a journalist?” Fun but exhausting.
“How did you get into this business?” Long story.
“You always wanted to do that?” That. This and more.
But more and more, individuals who want to enter the world of sports media think that we spend our days cheering for games, chatting champagne with the owners and sending athletes in their chests. Not really.
Take Easter Sunday 2013 for example. Photographer Bill Ellis and I left San Antonio at 10:30 a.m., where the Rangers had just magnified their spring training schedule with a two-game series against the Padres. Our final destination? Houston opened the season between Rangers and Astros on Sunday night.
Here’s a typical “day in the life” that includes everything from stale hot dogs to a drunken Astros fan rushing from our live recording:
07:30: Wake up.
8 in the morning: Head to the hotel lobby on FaceTime with your daughter and wife.
08:15: Exercise in 45 minutes. I always struggle with that extra 10 pounds.
9 am: Breakfast and blogging about activities in Houston.
10:00: Back to the room to pack.
10:30: Go to Houston
13:30: Arrival at Hilton Americas. Start dressing right away with great hair makeup and a TV anchor.
14:45: Leave Maid Park in a few minutes. It’s about 8/10 miles from the hotel, so we’re walking.
3 p.m.: Come to the park, get credentials, go through security and get lost in the bowels of the facility trying to find the Rangers Club house. Talk to the producer at the station about our plan for the evening.
15:30: The Rangers Clubhouse opens. We interview David Murphy, Lance Berkman, Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler. Adrian Beltre and AJ Pierzynski turn us down because of the interview.
16:30: An interview with Ron Washington amid a crowd of reporters in the Rangers excavation. When we’re done with Wash, we start filming videos and collecting interviews with fans for our Opening Day story to air Score on CBS11 later that evening.
17:15: Let’s make our way up to the newsroom to see if there’s a seat to watch the game and space for Bill to set up the equipment to start editing our story. There is no space because they are maximal. Journalists sit in the dining room and at spare tables in the hallway. Bill and I go downstairs to find a place to work.
17:30: Set up shop in the Astros Conference Hall on the completely opposite side of the Park, from the Rangers Clubhouse, about a four-minute walk away. I’m starting to record sound and video to write my story.
18:00: Almost a story about writing. It’s time for a voice sound. There is no ideal soundproof area for recording sound, so we use the background for the Astros conference screen upholstery to mute the sound. The photographer from the Houston station leaves the room in the middle of our tracking session, so I start over. Multiple times. I need three or four attempts to record audio. It’s cold in the press room by now. Bill and I are shaking. There is no cell service in this room. We have to leave the room and walk down the lobby for text messages or phone calls. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi building is working in this room.
18:20: We are both starving. I retreat back to the press room to get something to eat. Bill is hungry, but he wants to edit this story and finish it. He asks me to bring him pretzels.
18:30: Buy a media dinner for $ 10. I broke my jaw trying to cut down on the meat offered. I take about three bites of everything: frozen salads of ice clay, hard meat, and fatty potatoes. I taste popcorn. It’s left. Frozen yogurt is not bad. I’m going to get Bill’s pretzels. Each concession stand is packaged. When I waited my 22 minutes and reached the counter for his pretzels, this stood out to them in particular. I’m trying to text Bill to see if he wants anything else. Does not receive text due to a bad cell signal. I head back to the press box to catch one of the three hot dogs left on the grill. He seems to have sat there for four hours.
19:45: Finally return to our base in the bowels of Minute Maid Park. Bill gets his cold hot dog. I finally get a chance to watch the game on TV in the press room. I don’t actually see a single tower in person. The Astros radio show airs on TV. I use my MLB in the Bat app to listen to Eric Nadel and Matt Hicks. In a hurry to leave my hotel room, I leave my iPad charger in the room. I need to save battery life so I can use my iPad later in the morning so I can’t listen to them all the time.
09:55PM: Top of the 9th inning. We walk to the Rangers bench to prepare for the after-game interviews
10:05: Looks like it will take longer than usual to get into the clubhouse after losing to Rangers 8-2. We enter Washin’s office. Rangers PR man John Blake says TV reporters will ask questions to the print media first, but every media person has plenty of room for Washington. I ask two questions and leave.
10:30: Interview with Matt Harrison, Derek Lowe and AJ Pierzynski. Find 1-on-1 interviews with Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus and David Murphy. Bill points out that he is late and that we need to go to his live recording location.
10:50: Come to the live recording location outside Minute Maid Park. We need to get back the interviews we collected. We work with our “sister station” KTRK of Houston. Their technology is not compatible with ours, so we have to feed our material a second time using our “spare” equipment we brought with us from Dallas. The video quality is not that great.
11:00: Touch your hair and makeup to shoot live. Start collecting your thoughts to determine how I will present my sound and the story we played earlier in the day. A beautiful young lady from Dallas is starting to ask me how to break into the business of sports broadcasting. I talk to her for about 10 minutes. I only spent five solid minutes preparing what to say before I was on television
11:15: On site for our live recording. An over-served fan yells at us, “Come back to Arlington!” His wife dragged him away. Bill is still delivering material for our station. A photographer from KTRK captures my live footage. Behind us is a monster truck circling up and down the street, sitting on its horn. Once I start presenting my post-game interviews, I notice the KTRK photographer shaking his head “no”. I feel a brush of air over my right shoulder. From the corner of my left eye I see Bill rushing towards me. A drunken drunken Astros fan pushes out of the way. Bill says this guy charged us. I turn to see briefly what is going on. I think I stumble upon my introduction.
11:19: Our live recording is over. Bill can’t believe the guy showed up out of nowhere. My heart is still beating because it scared me so much. We tear down the gear and head back to the Hilton.
11:45: Arrival at the hotel. We are starving. Again. There’s a lone Easter cake from the egg-hunting hotel with a few miniature Reese butter candies. I grab six of these and go to the room for my “second dinner”. Later, Bill tells me he ordered room service. He finally arrives at 12:45. $ 42.50 for a chicken sandwich and a carrot cake.
8 in the morning: Go to Dallas and write this post in the car on the way home.
Noon: Get home. My daughter runs away when I try to hug her. I think she forgot about me despite FaceTime.
Although we are not always on the road, we travel quite a bit. In fact, our days are a little firmer when we’re home. Long days with unexpected surprises and a few bursts of speed are the norm. Is this an easy job? Not. Is it fun? No questions. We wouldn’t have her in any other way … except the one without a hug from Jordan.