This past Thursday, I began my summer internship with the Worcester Bravehearts and attended their Opening Night against the Nashua Silver Knights. The team ended up tossing the first no-hitter in team history. Check out my video recap below alongside a transcript:
This past Thursday, May 30th, the Bravehearts opened their season at home. Before the game started, I had the chance to speak with Manager Alex Dion and leadoff Hitter John Thrasher.
Even with several players out of the lineup because their spring seasons are still ongoing, the Bravehearts kicked off their season historically strong, tossing a combined no-hitter against the Nashua Silver Knights. This was the first no-hitter in the team’s 6-year history. Shawn Babineau started off the no-hitter with 6 shutout innings, and he was perfect through 5 innings. The bullpen gave up 2 runs due to walks and errors but without giving up a hit . Worcester got out to an early 5-0 which was more than enough with the pitching staff in a groove.
Keith Foulke, the 2004 World Series-winning Red Sox closer, was the night’s special guest and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. I got the chance to interview Keith on top of the press box after he tossed free t-shirts to fans in the middle of the 2nd inning.
In the bottom of the 2nd after the t-shirt toss, the Bravehearts got on board with a 2-0 lead. A trio of walks loaded the bases, and Jakob Sessa drove in two runs on a double to deep right center.
Though it was a combined no-hitter, Jack Gardner stepped up in this game, both offensively and defensively catching all nine innings of the no hitter. I spoke with Jack after the game.
Gardner contributed to Worcester’s hot start in the third inning with a base hit. Cleanup hitter Paul Coumoulos drove in the runner on third, Tyler Becker, on a groundout to give Worcester the 3-0 lead. Aidan Wilde’s single drove Gardner in to make it 4-0. The fifth run was scored on a sac fly by DH C.J. McKennitt.
After the game, I also caught up with manager Alex Dion and general manager Dave Peterson.
Despite on and off rain all night, it was an exciting Opening Night, and an amazing start to the Bravehearts season.
Today, I had the opportunity to spend a day at Patriots training camp as a member of the press, shadowing Patriots radio play-by-play announcer and Patriots.com Beat Reporter Bob Socci. I first met Bob at the NFL Kickoff event with the Patriots broadcast team, held at Mr. Sid last year. (Note: I will be going back to a similar event on September 6th).
Bob learned about the work I had done as a sports blogger and offered to help me by inviting me to Patriots training Camp with him.
Before Practice Began: “Pre-Game” Videos and Fan Experience
I arrived a little bit early so I could do a live stand-up in front of Gillette Stadium and also conduct some interviews with fans.
First, I interviewed a long-time Pats fan named Jan. She meets a friend at Gillette every year who gives her the insight on the players at Patriots training camp.
After that, I interviewed Arjun, a 6th grader from Philadelphia who likes the Patriots so much that his parents decided to make the trip north this year. He was very excited to see the team live for the first time.
Many young fans like Arjun also had the opportunity to take advantage of Fan Experience activities held around the practice fields. My Dad further explored some of the activities while I was with Bob and the rest of the media.
They had football activities where they tracked your performance and created a Player Profile. Jimmy from the Patriots staff was really nice and created my card with Pat Patriot’s stats.
There were also a number of booths with give-aways for participating in small games like mini-golf skee ball and photo opportunities like the one with my dad.
Becoming Official Pats Media Member for the Day
Bob Socci met me soon after my interviews in front of the stadium. I said goodbye to my dad and Bob took me to go get my press pass.
We walked to the other side of the stadium and went through media security there. After I gave them my name and affiliation, they handed me my press pass.
All media members received a detailed Patriots preseason roster and media guidelines from the media security table to help us learn about who we were covering and what coverage was permitted and when.
On my way to the media tent, Bob explained a few things to me about the training camp roster:
Since there are many players on the roster and the roster is not finalized, there may be pairs of players who share a number
Rookies wear numbers based on when they were drafted during training camp and their camp numbers do not usually correspond with their position. The team’s first draft pick, T Isaiah Wynn wears #50, their second pick, RB Sony Michel wears #51, their third pick, CB Duke Dawson wears #52, and so on. For the regular season they receive new numbers.
During training camp, quarterbacks wear red while the rest of the offense wears white and the defense wears blue. On the roster, offensive players who share a number with defensive players (and vice versa) have (o) for offense or (d) for defense next to their name.
Bob also mentioned that during camp, there would only be a 10-20 minute session for media to take photos and videos, and that no tweeting was allowed during camp for media members. We were allowed to take notes during the no photo/video portions of practice.
Bob told me that after practice the media guidelines would be more flexible. The only major rules were to stay within certain interviewing boundaries and not take any photos or video of players with their families without permission.
Before practice began, Bob introduced me to the vice president of media relations at training camp, Stacey James, as well as fellow media member Jim McBride. I also had time to catch up with ESPN Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss, who I had met earlier in the week at Sports Broadcasting Camp. I also met a friend of Bob’s, Steve Yood, along with his sons Alex and Josh.
Watching Practice from the Media Tent
Practice started about 5 minutes after we arrived at the media tent. During practice, I also met Marc Cappello of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Josh Brogadir of WCVB, and Steve Atkinson of Boston Sports Extra. They were surprised to see someone my age in the media tent. Some of them told me what they did at my age and how they wished they had started earlier.
The Patriots practice began with some warm-ups. The team stretched, jogged a little bit, and threw the ball around. Afterwards they began a walk-through of some plays they would use later in 11 on 11 drills.
Positional drills began after the walk-through portion practice. This was the portion of practice when the media photo and video session took place. Offensive lineman competed 1 on 1 against defensive lineman, wide receivers caught balls from a receiving coach, and quarterbacks stayed together as well to take practice throws. During this time, PK Stephen Gostkowski practiced field goals. Here is some of my video coverage.
After the photo and video session ended, positional drills continued. The QBs began throwing to the receivers directly. Soon after that, they had the Pats secondary go 1 on 1 against receivers catching passes from QBs Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, and Danny Etling. The Pats ran a few more offense vs. defense practice plays before starting the 11 on 11 drills.
The Patriots alternated personnel during the 11 on 11 drills with quarterbacks Brady and Hoyer getting most of the reps at QB . Before practice ended, the Pats held a few more running drills on the hills around the field. Then, for most of the team, practice ended. A few guys, including Danny Etling, put in a little extra work after the full team practice.
Some of my Observations from Day 4 of Patriots Training Camp
Keep an eye out for Phillip Dorsett and Jacob Hollister
I kept a tally of Brady’s ball distribution during a couple of his drills, and his most frequent target during those drills was Dorsett. Dorsett had an especially strong catch on a deep pass from Brady during the offensive walk-through. Hollister had a nice jumping catch in the end zone that Brian Hoyer threw to him during 11 on 11 drills.
Patriots RBs could be a big part of the offense again this season
Brady wasn’t just throwing to receivers and tight ends today. Brady, Hoyer, and Etling all participated in a drill where they threw short passes to RBs including James White and Pats 2018 2nd draft pick from the first round, Sony Michel. Michel caught a short pass at the 30 yard line and took it to the house during 11 on 11 drills.
After practice, I was happy to see Meredith Gorman who I worked with last summer at the Boston Herald. Meredith, now with Patriots.com, conducted a 1 on 1 interview with Michel.
Great to see Julian Edelman back on the field
I enjoyed seeing Tom Brady connecting with WR Julian Edelman for the first time since Super Bowl LI. Even though he is suspended for the first four games, Edelman missed the entire season last year and now he is back and seems ready to play and make more amazing catches like the one that most remember as “the catch” from the Pats 5th Super Bowl win. Edelman looked like his old self out there making some good plays along with Pats newcomer WR Jordan Matthews. Other pass catchers I liked seeing were TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Chris Hogan. Gronk had a catch deep up the seam even though he was tightly covered, which is one reason Pats fans love watching him.
Brian Hoyer had some good end zone connections
I watched all 3 of the Pats quarterbacks perform today but the QB I was most impressed with was Brian Hoyer. Hoyer made successful end zone connections on his first two passes, including a great throw to Jacob Hollister in the corner of the end zone.
Don’t Discount New England secondary
Even though one of last year’s starting CB and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler signed with the Titans in the offseason, I still believe that Pats will have a good secondary. For example, today I saw CB Stephon Gilmore break up several pass plays in 1 on 1 coverage against Julian Edelman, nearly intercepting one pass thrown by Tom Brady. Rookie and Pats 2018 #3 draft pick CB Duke Dawson also came close to picking off Brady while covering Phillip Dorsett.
Trey Flowers was back at practice with bandage on forehead
Flowers returned to practice after leaving yesterday with an ice pack on his head. In other injury news, Jordan Matthews left today’s practice with an unknown injury, and CB Keion Crossen (back) and RB Mike Gillislee (unknown) did not practice. Bob Socci told me that WR Kenny Britt, CB Cyrus Jones, CB Jonathan Jones, and WR Matthew Slater were on the PUP list. However, I did notice Britt participating in warm-ups. According to the official training camp roster, WRs Darren Andrews and Cody Hollister are on the Reserve/NFI list.
After Practice: Media Session and Tour
After practice ended, Bob and I headed to the designated player interview zone. I watched some of the interviews. Bob Socci conducted a stand-up recap with Megan O’Brien as they discussed their own observations from the day. Some of the topics he mentioned in the interview were things we talked about in the media tent together during the practice:
James White, Sony Michel, RB Rex Burkhead, T Trent Brown, DE Derek Rivers, and QB Brian Hoyer were among those interviewed. Although he didn’t stop for interviews, I did see Gronk walk by, as well as a few other players like Phillip Dorsett and Dont’a Hightower. I also saw the McCourty twins with all their family on the field. I think it is really cool that after many years on different teams they will now play on the same team and they seem to be enjoying camp together.
Nobody was interviewed at the podium today like Tom Brady was yesterday. This area is primarily used for interviews with star players like Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
In between and after the media interviews, I met some media members including Levan Reid of WBZ, Joe Gallant of WNRI (a radio station in Providence), and Megan O’Brien of Patriots.com. I also said hello to patriots.com’s Meredith Gorman and the Boston Herald’s Meghan Ottolini.
After the post practice interviews were over, Bob took me inside Gillette Stadium so I could see the media area. He showed me the TV studio where Patriots All Access is aired. The studio was filled with football helmets on the shelves and Patriots logos all around. Bob mentioned he hosts a show with Scott Zolak in the studio next door. We also walked by the game day media workroom, the writing rooms for various newspapers and blogs, and the weekday press conference room which was the biggest room of them all.
In total, I spent about 4 hours with Bob today and feel like I learned so much about covering the Patriots. In addition, I saw so much from the media’s point of view. It was truly incredible and surreal at times.
I’d like to thank Bob Socci and Stacey James for making this experience possible for me. I’d also like to thank all the media members who spent the time to talk to me and give me tips on sports reporting.
On July 10th had the opportunity to co-host a Boston Herald radio show called “The Rundown” with John Sapochetti and Jet Striar. I was invited by the Herald editor-in-chief, Joe Sciacca, who has been so generous to me these last few years, giving me an incredible tour back in 2015 and also inviting me back twice to do mini internships for the last two summers.
I had first met John Sapochetti in 2015 when I did my first mini internship at the Herald. He is one of their most well-known sports talk radio personalities so I was really excited to learn that I would be his guest co-host.
We arrived at the Herald about 45 minutes before the show to discuss the on-air topics we would cover. John greeted us in the Herald lobby and we sat in a break room near the newsroom and the radio studio. I told him about my recent experiences covering the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle and my experience at the Red Sox game I attended the night before. I had taken some notes at the game that I used on the air later on. I also met his intern, Will Finley, who is also a huge Boston sports fan and specializes in sports research. He had an impressive amount of stats that I found inspiring. Shortly before we went on the air, I met John’s co-host, Jet Striar, an NBA guru and also a Boston sports fan.
As I walked into the studio, I also met the show’s producer, Christian Burgoyne. You may hear him make comments in the highlights from the show that I put in this blog post. Moments later we put our headsets on and the show began.
In the first segment, John introduced me to his audience and we talked about some things I noticed at the Red Sox game the night before. After that, I took a quick break while John and Jet hosted a political guest, Luke Vargas. It gave me a breather and a chance to reflect on how I did early on in the show.
When I returned, we talked about the All-Star Final Vote and how David Price has not met the expectations of the Red Sox fan base after receiving a 7 year, $217 million dollar contract. Towards the end of the first hour, we discussed J.D. Martinez. He did not have a lot of suitors and he was underrated during the off-season. I think that made it easier for Boston to sign him and so far the signing looks like the best Sox signing/acquisition since Chris Sale.
Below are some of the highlights from the first hour of the show:
In the second hour, we started with a continuation of our earlier baseball discussions. We talked about what the Red Sox and Yankees might do at the trade deadline and how despite the fact that the Sox may catch a break with their easy schedule ahead, their next big test comes August 2nd against the Yanks. The Yankees could upgrade their roster by then but the same could occur with the rest of the AL’s top teams, making the American League even more of a league of extremes as I mentioned later in the segment.
During our final segment we discussed some trending NBA off-season news like the Marcus Smart to Sacramento rumor. We also talked about LeBron James’ signing with the Lakers, Portland’s need for another guy up front, Carmelo Anthony, and Kawhi Leonard. At the end of the show, John thanked me for being on then I told him it was an honor.
Being on a live sports talk radio show was so surreal, which is why I’m so glad Christian gave me a copy of the whole show to listen to again and create highlights from the unbelievable experience. I was on air for so much of the show that I had to break up the highlights into two 15-minute segments.
Check out the second segment below.
I’d like to thank Joe Sciacca, John Sapochetti, Jet Striar, Christian Burgoyne, and Will Finley for making this experience possible. Stay tuned for a more baseball posts coming soon including Bravehearts-Rox game experience from the press box. For now, I’ll be taking a week off as I have more broadcasting training at Play-By-Play Sports Broadcasting Camp.
Ever since the Futures League added a Worcester team, I have wanted to go see a game. When I learned my next door neighbor for many years, Jake Rosen, was playing for the Brockton Rox against Worcester at Hanover Insurance Park, I made plans to go. Jake was the starting shortstop and batted 9th this past Thursday, July 19th.
I got in touch with Jake a few days before the game, and he told me that I could interview him if I got there about an hour before the start of the game. We walked to the Holy Cross football field away from the pre-game music.
Check out the full interview below:
After the interview we watched Jake warm-up we had great seats right next to his team’s dugout.
Before the game started, my dad bought me some chicken tenders with fries which was delicious. On our way back to our seats, we stopped at the Bravehearts press box. We knocked on the door, and announcers J.R. Suyemoto and Donny Porcaro invited us in and gave us a place to sit after I handed them my business card. The game was broadcast live on Facebook as it always is and saved on the Bravehearts Facebook page.
The game was starting soon, and we were getting settled in the press box. Paul Lambert shared the line-up cards with us so we could follow along.
In the meantime, Jake and the rest of the team were just about ready for the game.
Rox LF Charlie Maxwell led off the game with a single, but the Rox lineup was relatively quiet in the first few innings. The Bravehearts were also kind of quiet at the plate in the first couple innings, but C Brett Coffel hit a big double in the 2nd inning, and the Bravehearts had 1st and 2nd in the 1st inning despite failing to score a run. Worcester didn’t really get going until the 3rd inning. Their leadoff hitter, 2B Mariano Ricciardi, walked to begin the inning, and DH Chris Rinaldi drove him in with an RBI double. 3B Dustin Harris drove Rinaldi in with a long single, and after Mack Cheli, their star hitter, singled, SS Eddie Haus hit another single to load the bases. Coffel struck out, but Kirk Sidwell drove in a third run with his single and the bases remained loaded. However, Joseph Pesce grounded it to the pitcher, who threw it to the catcher (Jack Kelly) to start a 1-2-3 double play and prevent the Bravehearts from scoring more runs.
Brendan Connelly, a Brockton Rox reporter from WATD (a South Shore radio station), walked in and sat next tome in the press box. He told us that he also works at the Boston Herald as a high school sports reporter. I told him about my Herald radio experience and how I am going to help cover my high school’s sports teams this year.
He helped us by giving us insight on some of the best Rox players and the team overall. Brendan also told us that the Futures League was a Summer League that featured elite college baseball players, and that some of the league’s top players get drafted into the MLB. It would be really cool if Jake was drafted by an MLB team and I really enjoyed watching him from the press box.
The Bravehearts made it 4-0 in the 5th inning, when Brett Coffel singled for his 2nd hit of the day and Joseph Pesce knocked Coffel in with a single of his own. They scored a 5th run on a Mack Cheli sac fly with men on 1st and 3rd. Eddie Haus tried to get another rally going when he hit an infield single on the next at bat, but the Rox ended the inning before the Bravehearts could get another man on base. The Rox scored their first run in the 7th after Jack Kelly tripled and scored on a sac fly.
But after a crazy 3-run 7th, a home run by Joseph Pesce in the 8th, and a dominant performance throughout the game by the pitching staff (including 7 strong innings thrown by starter Joseph Mancini), the Bravehearts won, 9-1.
Even though the Rox lost 9-1, seeing my neighbor Jake Rosen hit and play in such a big stadium was incredible, especially from the press box. Jake hit a hard grounder up the middle in his second plate appearance but was robbed of a single on a close play. Although this was not a great night at the plate for Jake, his defense was strong throughout the game. Late in the game when I went back to my seats on the first base line, I saw Jake prevent an infield single by a speedy Braveheart:
Being focused on one player, I learned of another golden baseball player tradition, never step on foul line when walking on or off the field.
I noticed Jake avoiding the line every time he walked on and off the field. I asked him after the game if he did it on purpose and he said, “Of course, rule of baseball…”
I did a little digging on this superstition and found this story from MLB Pitcher Mel Stottlemyre who last stepped on a foul line in 1987. Here’s what happened per The Baseball Almanac:
“The first batter I faced was Ted Uhlaender, and he hit a line drive off my left shin. It went for a hit. Carew, Oliva and Killebrew followed with extra-base hits. The fifth man hit a single and scored and I was charged with five runs. I haven’t stepped on a foul line since.”
I really enjoyed my first Futures League game and I owe special thanks to Jake Rosen, J.R. Suyemoto, Donny Porcaro, Brendan Connelly, and Paul Lambert, all who made the experience that much better.
I definitely plan on going again because the Bravehearts do a great job at making the game fun even between innings like letting kids run on the field and pie eating contests. My younger brother Ryan who is a gamer, loved the video game music after each play.