It’s time for baseball. And today’s #MediaMonday is from Nick Piecoro, who covers the Arizona Diamondbacks for The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. Nick was recently named Arizona Sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association.
Nick, time to share:
I’d like to say I was drawn to journalism because I was a voracious reader and natural storyteller and a staunch First Amendment rights advocate. Truth is, I just really loved baseball, and once I realized I wasn’t going to be good enough to play professionally – a realization I came upon at a very young age – writing about the game seemed like a good fallback. I had a seventh grade teacher who planted the idea in my mind, and ever since then it was the only thing I really wanted to do.
After graduating from Arizona State, I took a job at a small paper in upstate New York called the Post-Star. I was looking at a few papers in small towns, and since Glens Falls, N.Y., was about as different from Arizona as anything, I decided it’d be a fun experience.
I’ve been with The Republic since 2004 and have been covering the Diamondbacks since 2007. I was fortunate to step into the backup role for a couple of seasons prior to that, and when the previous beat writer grew tired of all the travel involved with the job, I wound up taking over as the main guy.
Last year was my 12th season on the beat. Some people hear that and can’t imagine covering a team for so long in a sport that plays that many games every season. But I just really enjoy it. I find the game to be fascinating, both on a daily basis and from a big-picture perspective. Trying to figure out what teams will be good and what prospects will succeed, getting an up-close look at the changes front offices have made over the past decade, learning firsthand from players about the game itself – it’s all still interesting to me.
For a game that starts around 7 p.m., I’ll usually show up at the ballpark around 2 or 2:30 p.m., but before that I’ll usually have already done at least a little bit of work. Perhaps I’ve made a phone call or two to talk to sources in the morning or maybe I’ve written some notes that were left over from the night before that will fit into my notebook that night. But anyway, once I get to the park, the clubhouse opens around 3½ hours before first pitch. That’s when I’ll talk to the players/coaches and the manager and attempt to report my two daily stories that have to be filed (ideally) before the game starts. In a perfect world, I’ll get those stories written and have time to grab dinner all before the game begins. Then I’ll watch the game, paying attention as closely as I can, and head downstairs to the clubhouse for interviews after. I’ll come back up and write my postgame story. On a good day, I’ll be finished by 11 or 11:30 p.m. If the game goes into extra innings, I could be there until well past midnight.
Interviewing The Players
I’ve been fortunate to have covered a lot of really good people during my time on the beat. There are a few who stand out: catcher Miguel Montero was always in a good mood and available to talk, and often brutally honest; pitcher Dan Haren was as bright and thoughtful as any player; and pitchers Max Scherzer and Brandon McCarthy always challenged me to think about the game differently.
Traveling With The Diamondbacks
I’m lucky to be a beat writer in the National League West, a division that probably has the best travel setup of any. It’s hard to beat getting to travel to San Diego, Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco multiple times a year. Those might all rank among my favorite towns, along with New York, Philadelphia and Seattle.
Voting For MVP
It’s an honor, for sure, and something I take very seriously. It can be stressful, however, when a player that you cover is a strong candidate for the award. I’ve been on the receiving end of criticism from fans – and other players, for that matter -- for not giving Diamondbacks players my vote, but I’ve just tried to vote for those whom I thought were most deserving, regardless of their affiliation.
I have a lot of interests – books, television, movies, coffee. But we just had our first child – a baby boy named Frankie – and spending time with him has been special.
You can follow me on Twitter, @nickpiecoro.