I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity interview CBS’ Senior Baseball Writer Dan Knobler a few days ago, here is Dan and I’s interview:
Q: What made you want to be a Sports Writer?
A: Pretty simple, really. I always liked sports, and always liked writing. As I got older and had a chance to think more about it, I realized that I liked being able to tell the story of what we saw (and often, of what we didn’t see).
Q: Who influenced you the most?
A: I’ll give you two people. One was Montserrat Fontes, my high school journalism teacher. There’s a reason that a bunch of people from my school (University High, in LA) have ended up successful in this business, including Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times and my brother Mike, who worked at various papers before leaving the business to go to law school. Montsy taught us and encouraged us, and it shows. The other was Vern Plagenhoef, who I worked with at Booth Newspapers before he died far too young in 1992. Vern understood baseball and baseball reporting as well as anyone I’ve ever come across. I learned a ton from him, and even 20 years after that terrible night when he died, I still think about him a lot.
Q: Is being a Sports Writer your only job?
A: Yes, this is my full-time job.
Q: What is the coolest part of your job as a National Sports Writer?
A: Because of this job, I’ve had the chance to watch and write about some incredible games and events. We saw quite a few in the last year alone, with Derek Jeter’s 3,000-hit day, with the final day of the regular season and with Game 6 of the World Series. At the end of days like that, it’s easy to remember why we got into this business.
Q: How would one become as popular as you are?
A: I’ll leave it to others to judge my popularity. I will say I’ve been fortunate, but also that I try to remember that I’m writing for the reader, for the fans. As simple as that sounds, it’s easy to forget it sometimes, and to write for others in the business or for those in the baseball industry.
Q: Is there anything you don’t like about your job?
A: It’s like any job. There are always negatives. In this job, it’s the unpredictable and sometimes long hours, and the time away from home. I love going to spring training, and I’d miss it if I wasn’t there, but six straight weeks in hotel rooms is a long time.
Q: Who are your early favorites to make it to the World Series?
A: I’ll start out reminding you that my predictions are terrible. One thing that makes this game great is that we don’t know what’s going to happen, and I’ll freely admit that I don’t know. That said, I’m going to go with the Phillies finally getting back to the World Series, and once again facing the Yankees. I reserve the right to change this prediction several times.
Q: Picks for MVP’s — Cy Young’s and ROTY’s.
A: I’ll go with Miguel Cabrera as AL MVP, Troy Tulowitzki as NL MVP, Verlander repeating as AL Cy Young, Stephen Strasburg as NL Cy Young, Yu Darvish as AL Rookie, and Bryce Harper as NL Rookie.
Q: Do you have a favorite MLB team?
A: I grew up a Dodger fan, but my allegiance there is long gone. Some people in my business can keep rooting for teams, but for most of us, that goes away for a variety of reasons.
Q: Favorite player/players, past and present?
A: I have favorite players to cover (Tony Phillips), and favorite players to watch (Verlander, Halladay, Strasburg, Cabrera, Mike Stanton), but no real favorite player as in a player I’m a fan of.
Q: Best/worst interview you’ve every had?
A: Too many good ones to remember…and bad ones, too. I guess the worst was when Jason Johnson told me, “I feel sorry for your paper.” At that point, I remembered why I basically had stopped talking to him that year. There was also the year that Brian Hunter stopped talking to me two different times (stopped talking to me, then approached me and said he would talk again, then later stopped again).
Q: Thoughts on the Detroit Tigers for 2012?
A: I see the ways it could go wrong, but I like what the Tigers have done. They are the clear favorite in the AL Central (which doesn’t guarantee that they’ll win), and a real contender for the AL crown and the World Series.
Q: Who should be the Tigers 5th starter in your opinion?
A: I have no problem with them leaving it open for a spring competition, and have no problem with them choosing one of the kids for the job. Turner would be the most exciting name, but one of the lefties might be a better bet to start the season.
Q: If you weren’t a Sports Writer, what would you be?
A: My options coming out of college (UCLA) were all sports-related. I had worked at the campus radio station, and also in the sports information office. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be doing one of those. If I wasn’t in sports at all, I’d probably have ended up as a college professor.
Q: Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
A: I hope I’m retired, relaxing and happy, and reading what other people write. Maybe I’ll contribute something once in a while, but I sure hope that I’m not still working full-time in 20 years.
Thanks again Dan for taking the time to answer my questions. Myself, as well as the readers and contributors of the CST, thank you as well.