Monday, July 7, 2008

12 Reasons Why......Matt Dagostino Is A Name To Remember

Normally, I would not post two interviews in back to back days, I prefer to space them out some. However, I just received this one and honestly, I think its not only interesting but makes a good read whether your an Orange fan, loves baseball or considering a job in sports broadcasting. As you will see, this 12 questions is with a man I personally met, like, and have a great amount of respect for his work as well. Last year, on my birthday, I was fortunate enough to call 3 innings of Intimidators action alongside him and witnessed first hand not only his passion for his job but all the hard work he puts into it. I asked Matt if he would do this knowing this is a busy time of year for him but also knew much like everything he does, he would put his best into it and provide some great responses, which he did. Take heed to my title and remember the name. Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, I present to you Matt Dagostino.

12 Reasons Why......Matt Dagostino Is A Name To Remember

1. For those who may not be familiar with you Matt as I am, give them a little insight into who you are and what you do?

I am a 2005 graduate of Syracuse University and have been a sports broadcaster since graduating. I spent three years doing play-by-play in minor league baseball, first with the Auburn Doubledays (Toronto Blue Jays) of the New York-Penn League, then with the Wilson Tobs (NC) of the Coastal Plain League (college summer league), then with the Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) of the South Atlantic League in 2007. After my year in Kannapolis, I took a job as a host on TBS Hot Corner, a live internet show affiliated with TBS and during the 2007 MLB playoffs. I am currently a freelance broadcaster/production assistant with TBS/TNT.

2. Where did you go to school and how did you get your start in this business?

...always good to read all the questions before you dive into this sort of thing...ha ha.

As I prematurely mentioned above, I graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a major in broadcast journalism and a minor in coaching (yes, that actually is a minor). I grew up in upstate NY and rooted for SU sports teams. When it got time to decide where I wanted to go to school, I always liked playing/watching sports, but thought being a sports broadcaster was a pipe dream that was more a joke than anything else. But, my parents were the ones who convinced me to actually pursue it. Come to find out, SU has one of the top broadcasting programs in the country. Syracuse seemed like a perfect fit...and it was.

I got started in sports broadcasting with the Auburn Doubledays. Auburn is located about a half hour from Syracuse and has always been a "feeder team" for aspiring SU sports broadcasters. They routinely take SU students to be their broadcasters every year. One of my friends held the position the year before me, put in a good word for me, and I got the job in 2005.

3. What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps? Recommend any particular school or courses? Maybe something in an Orange? ha ha

For anyone looking to get into sports broadcasting, I hope you don't like money...

No, seriously...I love talking about sports. I can't imagine myself doing anything else (believe me, I've tried imagining what else I could do to earn a few extra bucks). If you love what you do, keep doing it. The pay in sports broadcasting is lousy in the beginning (I can attest to that) and the hours are ridiculous. But, at the end of the day my job was to show up to a baseball park and talk baseball for three hours a day. Not bad. Now, I get to work for a great company in TBS and get my feet wet with them as I hope to get more involved with them in the near future.

As for a school, I might have a slight bias towards the Orange. I would recommend Syracuse for anyone interested in the broadcast business, either in front of the camera or behind it. If you're interested in sports broadcasting, take the play-by-play elective (taught by SU play-by-play man, Matt Park) and the sports reporting class (taught by ESPN's Dave Ryan, an SU alum).

4. I know first hand you put a lot of prep work into your job so give us a sample of a work day for you for those who have not witnessed some of it first hand?

Yeah, like I said, the hours are ridiculous in minor league baseball. If we were at home, I'd usually stroll into the park between 8 am and 10 am. Usually, if you're the broadcaster, you're also involved in media relations. So, right away, I'd get started on putting together stat packs for the coaching staffs, the media, and the broadcasters. Then, I'd work on game notes for that day's game, which are used by the broadcasters and media and contain more stats and information than one person probably would ever need. After that, take care of any roster updates, make sure any box score corrections from last night are taken care of, etc.

After lunch, I usually took care of any odds and ends, like sales calls (minor league baseball is big on sales, even from broadcasters), any phone calls I had to return/make, and tie up loose ends.

Batting practice would start around 4:00, at which point I'd go down to the field and talk to the guys and watch BP, get lineups and distribute those to the teams and the press box, and then start prepping for the game. My score book is basically a bunch of barely legible numbers that only make sense to me. Without those numbers, though, I'd be lost during the game. Once my book is set to go with lineups, stats, story lines, etc., I'd go down to the clubhouse and do an interview. Then, game time rolls around and I get to do the one thing I love to do: talk baseball. When the post-game show is wrapped up, I print out box scores, deliver them to the clubhouses, write a press release, send it to the media and post it on the Internet. And, finally...I could call it a day. Usually, the day ends around 11 pm or midnight.

Wake up and do it all over again the next day.

When on the road, there wasn't quite as much responsibility, at which point I would gladly get a little more shut-eye in the morning.

5. I saw your online studio work for on the TBS Hot Corner segments last postseason and was wondering, did you enjoy the experience or do you prefer more of a play by play at the stadium?

Both experiences are great. I wouldn't say I like one more than the other, but there are definitely certain aspects that I like more in one job than the other.

Doing play-by-play, you get to interact with the team on a day-to-day basis. You're not exactly a part of the team, but at the same time, you are. I really enjoy getting to know players/coaches on a personal level throughout the season. Also, doing play-by-play gives me a chance to be at the ballpark, smell the fresh-cut grass, get a whiff of a hot dog while I'm working, get to take in the sights and sounds in person.

In the TV studio, I'm not at the game, but I'm a part of a big production. In play-by-play, more times than not, it's just me working on everything. In working with TBS, I was amazed at how many people it takes to run everything smoothly and how hard everyone works to make it look as seamless as possible. Working for TBS Hot Corner, I was able to broaden my horizons. I had a chance to work with and watch big-time broadcasters (TBS's/TNT's Ernie Johnson, namely) as well as interview current and former players (Cal Ripken, John Smoltz, Ron Darling, etc) that you don't get a chance to pick the brains of people of that stature very often.

I'd say the four weeks of MLB playoff work with TBS has probably been the highlight of my career so far, but that doesn't mean I don't miss doing play-by-play.

6. What would be the one job that if you got would make you feel like all that hard work and schooling paid off?

My dream job has always been doing play-by-play for the New York Mets. I follow them religiously, anyways...might as well get paid to do it, right?

7. Is there anyone you met along the way who was great to see in person and maybe even left you in awe either because you looked up to them before or just was that great of a human being? Anyone you would prefer not to ever meet or see again if you have the choice?

Chuck, you trying to get me blacklisted by naming names of people I wouldn't want to talk to? Ha ha. I like my job...I'll stay away from the specifics, but yeah, it's probably fair to say there have been a few people that I didn't mix with well.

However, the much longer list is of people that I have really enjoyed talking to/working with over the past couple years. From a star-struck perspective, I really enjoyed interviewing Darryl Strawberry in 2005. I idolized Strawberry growing up...if you can picture a 6-year old with a huge leg kick in his swing, an exaggerated uppercut swing, wrist bands of assorted colors all the way up both arms, and an entire pack of Big League Chew in his mouth...that was me. But, after seeing him rise to stardom, have his personal problems take him out of baseball, it was good to talk to him on a personal level and know that he has made strides in his life so that he is at peace with his standing in life and in baseball.

Other baseball people that I've had a chance to talk with or work with that I enjoyed: Cal Ripken is a great man, a very calming presence. I had never met Curtis Granderson (Detroit Tigers center fielder) before and knew he was a good player, but after being able to talk to him, he's definitely got a great head on his shoulders and is somebody I now root for. Dennis Holmberg is the manager of the Auburn Doubledays and has been in the Blue Jays organization for 30 years. He is one of the most unique personalities you will ever meet. Chris Jones (former MLB outfielder) and manager of the Kannapolis Intimidators was a pleasure to work for...just a laid-back guy who let you do your job and was very accommodating.

But, most of the people I remember most from my different stops in baseball are the people nobody will ever hear of. The co-workers and interns, the host families, the season ticket holders, the everyday people that make a 100-hour-a-week job fun. Those are the ones I remember the most and there are far too many to name.

8. What sporting event do you plan everything around so you can watch it and where would we be likely to find you if you have the time and circumstances permitted? I joked with Axe about a certain sports bar in Syracuse we love called Tully's Good Times, would we find you there with family and friends or you like him and prefer at home in front of the television?

The one event I'd like to plan everything around is watching the Mets in the World Series, but I don't think that's on the immediate horizon. But, normally, it doesn't take too much for me to get excited about any sporting event.

I saw your interview with Axe and I'm like him...I usually like to watch the game at home. Being a broadcaster, I'm the nerd who likes to listen to the broadcast and pick up on things that they say/do during the game. So, I'm usually at the house or somebodys house watching the game. If I'm really trying to focus on the game, I'd almost prefer to watch it by myself. Don't tell my friends that, though, they may get upset. ha ha.

9. Since your a baseball man, do you play fantasy baseball and if so, who would you pick if you got the top draft pick in your league and why?

People are surprised when I tell them I don't play fantasy baseball. For me, it's just too much to keep up with. I've tried the leagues where you just set the lineup for the entire week and go that way and I just can't do it.

I have taken a liking to something I am in this year....a HR Derby pool. We've each got 7 guys for the whole season. You pick the 7 guys based on last year's HR totals and your team total can't exceed a certain number, which is calculated fairly (don't ask me how). You keep track of HR's each month, at the All-Star break, and the end of the season. I find myself paying more attention to who is hitting HR's and not who's winning games...

But, if I was going to pick a player to start my team with in fantasy baseball, my biased picks would be: David Wright or Jose Reyes - just solid all-around players. You know what you'll get every year from Wright and Reyes has the ability to lead the league in SB, R, and 3B every year and is still getting better. Outside of the Mets, you can't go wrong with A-Rod. Some guys that are starting to look like great all-around guys are Grady Sizemore, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, and the David Wright clone, Evan Longoria.

10. As a fellow Mets fan, what is your view on the current team and are the Mets in general your top sports team in all of sports? If not, who is?

Yikes, don't get me started on the current team. I feel like they handled the Willie Randolph saga pretty badly. I liked Willie. I thought the things people said were his downfalls lately were the same things he was being praised for when the team was winning. But, a lot of fans wanted him out, but the same fans ended up viewing him as a sympathetic figure just because of the way management handled the whole thing.

Aside from that, they haven't really shown they're anything more than a .500 team, have they? They don't have the ability to go out and be in the market for any real big names at the deadline. Jerry Manuel's been a fresh start, but it hasn't translated in the standings. I hope I'm wrong, but we'll see...

Yes, the Mets are the team I root for the most, followed in order by: Syracuse, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Bulls. I don't really follow hockey.

11. Someone reads this and still asks to describe you to them, what is it you would like for them to say about you?

I'm a pretty laid-back, fun-loving guy. My job revolves around talking sports. I take my job very seriously, but realize that I'm in a profession that, in the grand scheme of things, is not as important as saving lives or teaching kids or many other professions.

Other than that, I'm big on family, friends, and fun.

12. Your Free Space: So Matt, do you want to say to end this thing or plug something your doing but just remember, keep them comments clean.

I appreciate talking with you, Chuck. I'll leave with this:

1. Syracuse winters really ARE as miserable as they sound.
2. "go hang a salami I'm a lasagna hog" is the longest known palindrome. Yeah.
3. I will ask for nothing more in the sports world as long as the Mets win a World Series in my lifetime and I'm able to remember it (I was 3 in 1986...that doesn't count).
4. Words that were told to me...anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Thank you so much Matt for great in depth analysis. As a Mets fan and Orange fanatic, how could I argue with most of what he said? I will also come clean with the fact that after my experience with Matt in the booth, I wrote an article about it for a local paper and it was published, which I will try to include the link to that below. If you have the chance to listen to Matt, I promise you he will be worth your time and those of us who are Intimidators fans know we lost a great person last season but know Dan Bumpus, also an Orange grad, is doing a spectacular job as well this season. Further proof that when you want the best in the broadcasting booth, there is only one way to go. Go Orange.

No comments: