An addendum to Sam Miller’s excellent list of “The 15 Greatest Baseball Names Of No Time” at Baseball Prospectus yesterday.
SamMillerOCR: The “OCR” stands for optical character recognition. Maybe. We don’t know; we didn’t bother asking. We’re not journalists. Unlike Sam Miller.
Sam Miller is a journalist. No single job title can describe what he does. He asks the tough questions when Bill Plunkett needs a day off. He produces slideshows and will probably cast a Hall of Fame vote for Torii Hunter someday. He’s one of the funniest, smartest, and most personable baseball writers going, and for some reason he agreed to answer a bunch of dumb questions we sent him.
Get to know Sam Miller, won’t you?
Productive Outs: How does one get to be a world-famous sports reporter?
Sam Miller: By ignoring all modern statistical analysis and belittling those who disagree with you.
PO: Follow-up question: How did you end up at your job? (ohhhh, burn!)
SM: Dude, I saw that weak shit coming.
PO: But seriously.
SM: But seriously, I started working at the Orange County Register right out of college, in 2002. I was a community reporter, so I wrote about city council meetings and once I literally went and interviewed a woman about her lost cat. I also spent about 12 hours a week coming up with pun headlines for briefs. Then I covered education, and then moved into features, then an editor friend of mine who had moved from features to sports invited me to write about the Angels.
PO: What is your official title?
SM: I’m not sure I have one. We’re all just Not Laid Off Yets or Assistant Not Laid Off Yets.
PO: What do your job duties consist of?
SM: The only one that is rigid is covering a couple games per homestand so the main beat writer, Bill Plunkett, doesn’t die. So that means going to game about four hours before it starts, spending an hour in the clubhouse talking to players, then going to Mike Scioscia’s press availability in the dugout. I turn that into a notes piece and write the game story.
The second closest thing to a job duty is doing occasional slideshows. Our paper likes slideshows. I have to do some slideshows. Slideshows.
The rest of the time, it’s mostly open to what inspires me. I write for our Angels blog. I analyze. Icount every individual fan at a Pirates/Nationals game. I link.I tweet. I just sort of generally keep writing and talking about the Angels in various formats so people will get the impression we are the place to go to find out about the Angels.
PO: How many stories are you responsible for a week?
SM: We’re not measured like that. I’m responsible for a certain number of clicks a month.
PO: What are your deadlines like?
SM: On game nights, our deadline is 10:30. Games start at 7. Games end around 10, and sometimes they end at 10:27. So I normally write the team notes stuff in the hour before the game starts, then I track pitches and watch the game for about six innings, then around the seventh I start trying to figure out what the game is about so I can write the game story in a hurry, either during the ninth or just after the game ends. If the game ends by 10:10 or so, I can usually go down and get the post-game quotes, rush back upstairs and file around 10:29.
Game stories are very quick to write, so it’s not as scary as it seems the first few times you do it. It’s really just about getting a lead.