Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview with Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts


In the interest of bringing our readers new and exclusive content, Blue Jays from Away is very pleased to bring you our third interview, this time with Lansing Lugnuts radio voice Jesse Goldberg-Strassler.  
Jesse Goldberg-Strassler
With the wonders of the internet, we can listen to most of the radio broadcasts of the Jays minor league affiliates for free.  Sometimes, it's too much of a good thing, and we can't listen to everything all at once!  Since the minor league season started on Thursday, I've listened in to some of the Lansing Lugnuts games (particularly because they've got some of the most exciting prospects in the system) and discovered that their talented radio-man, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, gives some great twitter updates while doing a fantastic job broadcasting the Lugnuts.

He graciously accepted my invitation to answer some questions, and without further ado, here's another installment of the BJfA Interviews.

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Blue Jays from Away: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself -- Are you from the Lansing area? 

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler: I was born in Washington, D.C., and I grew up in Greenbelt, Maryland, 15 min. from DC and 30 min. from Baltimore.  

BJfA: Did you play baseball growing up?  

JGS: I played through the end of Little League; I was a pitcher and a second baseman.  

BJfA: What team(s) have you been a fan of?  

JGS: I grew up rooting for Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and the Detroit Tigers.

BJfADid you study Journalism in college? 

JGSI attended Ithaca College in central New York, majoring in Television/Radio and double-minoring in English and Writing.  

BJfA: Did your education prepare you for a career in radio?  

JGS: I specifically enrolled at Ithaca in order to broadcast sports.  It was all extra-curricular time, not through classes:  I broadcasted football, men’s/women’s basketball, women’s hockey, lacrosse, and baseball, and I produced/hosted a weekly sports talk show.

BJfA: What are you career goals in sports journalism?  

JGS: I aim to become a Major League broadcaster in addition to a regular author.  My first book, “The Baseball Thesaurus,” was released by August Publications in December and is available in book form as well as on the Nook and Kindle.  (You can easily find it on Amazon.com here)

BJfA: How do you prepare for your play-by-play duties for each game?  

JGS: I talk with the players, coaches, and opposition’s broadcasters; I search the web for information about the players involved, especially the starting pitchers; I plan out what I’d like to mention on each night’s broadcast, coming up with a trivia question, for instance, and developing a checklist of items I need to promote for the team, like the upcoming schedule and promotions.  I also prepare daily game notes for the media, which allows me the ability to do additional research about the key storylines in the game.

BJfA: What is the biggest challenge in calling a game?  

JGS: I’m learning how best to use my voice to the best of its ability so that it remains strong over the course of the full game.  If we go into extra-innings, I don’t want to feel that my voice is becoming strained.  The other challenge is conducting an entertaining broadcast – balancing the black-and-white play-by-play of the action with interesting anecdotes and vivid descriptions.  The toughest game to call is one on a 100-degree day in mid-summer with one team leading 9-0 in the second inning; the heat saps your energy and the early offense saps any potential drama from the game.

BJfA: What is the most difficult name you've had to say?  

JGS: Jason Leblebijian.  Leb-le-bee-jee-in.  When he joined us in 2012, I found myself with a tangled tongue at least once per game for the first week.  Honorable mention:  Micah Schnurstein.  “A hard smash down to third, backhanded by a diving Schnurstein!”  Trust me, it’s harder than it seems.

BJfA: Who has been your favourite player to pass through the Lugnuts?  

JGS: Jake Marisnick, Superman personified.  Honorable Mention:  Kevin Nolan, a terrific guy and a consistent line drive hitter; and Kevin Pillar, who does everything his team needs and then some.

BJfA: Do you ever feel conflicted about criticizing a poor play on the field?  Can you give an example?  

JGS: Yes, and here’s the conflict:  I can’t lie to my listener and make an excuse for a poor play.  If the third baseman drops an easy pop-up, leading to unearned runs, I can’t sugarcoat that.  On the other hand, these players are all young and growing – it’s akin to criticizing a student for not performing well on an early homework assignment.  The bigger challenges are down the road for the players.  Early mistakes now will hopefully lead to improved play later.

BJfA: Have you been following the big club?  What do you think of the changes they made in the off-season, particularly as it pertains to players that you've seen in the minor league system?   

JGS:  I love that the Blue Jays are going for it.  The most important thing for a fan is to see that a favorite team wants to win the championship.  No one likes rooting for a team that is content with merely being adequate.  A World Series title needs to be the true goal.  Meanwhile, I wish the traded Minor Leaguers all the very best, and I’ll be rooting on Marisnick, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani as they move onward and upward.

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Don't forget to follow Jesse Goldberg-Strassler on Twitter - he tweets the game notes before the games and gives great updates on the Lugnuts throughout the games!  @Jgoldstrass

Blue Jays from Away on Twitter: @Jaysfromaway

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