Saturday, August 12, 2006

Josh Lewin Interview

This week I interviewed Texas Rangers broadcaster Josh Lewin. The results of the interview are below.

1. What do the Rangers need to do to win the division?

Josh said that the number one thing they need to do is stay healthy. Whoever is healthiest and pitching the best in the last two weeks of the season will probably win the division. That’s when all of the AL West teams will be playing each other, so if a team can go 10-4 in the last two weeks, they’ll probably win the division.

2. How did the move from the Tigers to Rangers broadcast booth come about?

After the 2001 season, the Rangers were looking for a new direction. Josh said that he was contacted by the Rangers and asked what his contract situation was with the Tigers. He was a free agent so he went to Arlington to check it out. He loved what he heard from the team and thought the area would be a good place to raise a family. He flew back to Detroit to talk to his family. His wife is from Houston and liked the idea of moving back, so they did.

3. What was your favorite team growing up and why?

Josh said that he grew up back East and was an Orioles fan. He was also a Cubs fan during his college years because he was in Chicago. The Tigers were also in the mix because his dad had a job in Detroit. Those were his three favorites growing up. Interestingly, Josh’s first major league job was broadcasting for the Orioles, his second was for the Cubs, and his third was for the Tigers, so he ended up working for all three of his favorite teams. He said that the Rangers are his favorite team now.

4. What are the three biggest differences between broadcasting for the Tigers vs. Rangers?

The Rangers have more of a family feel and he feels more a part of what’s going on. He also mentioned that he was lucky to leave Detroit right before their 119 loss season. The heat in Texas was another difference that Josh mentioned.

5. Did you play baseball growing up? If so, for how long and at what position?

Josh was a middle infielder and played second base and shortstop. He said that he wasn’t very good and he realized pretty quickly that he wouldn’t be a player. The highlight of his playing was when he made the All-Star team at 11 and tripled in the All-Star game.

6. How did you prepare yourself to be a broadcaster? What education did you have?

Josh’s college degree is in journalism. He did that instead of broadcasting because he figured if he can express himself on paper, he can do it when talking. He said that it taught him how to organize his thoughts. Another key was doing broadcasting for minor league baseball because he learned his way around the clubhouse and learned the politics of baseball. He said the best thing is to just get out there and broadcast for some baseball team somewhere.

7. Can you please describe the differences between broadcasting baseball, hockey and football?

Baseball is all about the story you can tell. There’s very little action. Football is very regimented. You describe the down and distance and the play and then let the color analyst talk for a while. Hockey is very fast. You have to be able to recognize the players and describe the action quickly.

8. What are the three most fun things about your job?

- The travel is great even though it can be a grind.
- The people you meet and not just the famous ones. He said you meet a lot of really nice people, like Brian Shouse and John Wasdin.
- Having a free pass to watch ballgames.

9. What are the three toughest things about your job?

- The travel – you miss your family and also get sick a lot from traveling on airplanes.
- Staying fresh and upbeat for 162 games, even during 12-2 games.
- Not getting to be there for what your kids do, like missing his 8-year-old’s birthday parties. He said he thought he had only been to two so far.

10. What is the most fun season you’ve announced and why?

Josh said that so far, his first year of announcing AAA ball full-time in Rochester, NY is his favorite. He was only 21 and was the number 1 guy for the first time. The team was in first place wire to wire. There were lots of future Yankees on the team, like Bernie Williams.

11. What is the most fun game you’ve announced and why?

Josh mentioned a few games:
- The David Dellucci game-winning hit in 2004.
- Cal Ripken’s last game.
- The game where Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record.
- Barry Bonds’ 70th home run.
- Barry Bonds’ 714th home run.

12. What is the best play you’ve announced and why?

Josh said it might be Gary Matthews Jr’s catch earlier this year, even though the audio on the Fox broadcast was messed up so no one heard his call.

13. How did you end up being the radio broadcaster for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings at age 16?

Josh said that the team had a GM who was like Bill Veeck. He knew Josh had been hanging around the team and hired him to do one inning of every home game. It started as a PR move but grew into a serious job. He started doing the middle three innings of home games, then the middle three innings of all games, and then became the main broadcaster.

14. Who have been the funnest players to interview and why?

Josh said that Cal Ripken was very interesting to interview. He was always thoughtful and Josh usually learned something from him.

15. What is a typical day like in your job?

- Does a lot of research either in the hotel or his home office.
- Spends some quality time with his family.
- Works out.
- Thinks about the stories of the game.
- Gets to the ballpark between 3:30-4 and talks to the players to get information.
- Broadcasts the game from 7 until 10 or 10:30.
- Gets back home or to the hotel at around 11:30.
- Watches highlights.
- Gets to bed about 1am.

16. What recommendations do you have for someone trying to get into sports broadcasting and journalism?

Josh said that the main thing is to work at it. He said that he practiced in front of his TV with the sound turned down a lot growing up and that practice is the most important thing.

I would like to thank Josh for doing this interview. It was really nice of him to take time from his day during the Rangers’ last road trip to talk to me.

Come back next week for an article and short interview with Tulsa Drillers closer Jim Miller, which has been delayed a few times.


Danh Hoang said...

Just show the show plugged on TV! Way to go!!!

David said...

What a great interview!! That was real nice of Josh and you had a lot of great questions. I wish I could've seen you on tv. I hope it's taped. See you soon.

Ken Pittman said...

Wow. You always write great blogs - but this is one of your best ever. Absolutely awesome interview. And great to hear about you being on the other side of an interview - unfortunately I don't get many Rangers games where I live and didn't get to see it - but I'm sure you did awesome because you always impress so many people and your knowledge and thoughts are great.


Grant Schiller said...

Hi Ken - Thanks for leaving these comments. How many Rangers games do you get?


Ken Pittman said...

I get to see the ones that come on ESPN and thats about it - maybe 5 games a year. That is one of the reasons the Newberg Report and your blog are such a great thing for me. They keep me up to date on all things going on with the Rangers.