Monday, June 1, 2015

Sweet Beat Rides Again!

"I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin." - Neo, The Matrix (1999)

Some of Neo's most famous words set the tone for the revival of Sweet Beat for the 2015 season. ("I know kung fu" and "whoa" were close runners-up). This year, we want to make it a place for fans to connect with our city's team, with the West Coast League, and with the rich baseball history of Southeastern Washington. In this space, readers will see feature stories highlighting some of the Sweets players and their travails in the baseball world; stories and highlights from around the West Coast League; postgame reaction from every Sweets game, and, my personal favorite, a look at the assorted eateries across the small (and occasionally large) Pacific Northwest towns and cities that populate the circuit.

In fact, I'll let you mark your calendars with a programming lineup of sorts. It looks like this:

MONDAY - The Lead-Off - Kick-start the week in baseball with a run back through the week that was in the WCL, featuring highlights and audio from coaches and players across the league.

TUESDAY - Sweet Scoop - We manage to get a Sweets player to stand still in front of a camera long enough to have him answer questions.

WEDNESDAY - Taste of the Road - Get a feel for the personality of each city the Sweets travel to, and live vicariously through me as you watch me eat at all sorts of cool places across three states.

THURSDAY - The Chatterbox - The best sound bites from the Sweets (and maybe a few league-wide) rounded up in one place.

FRIDAY - Feature Day - Meet one of the players who went to the 2008 Little League World Series, two California prep stars, the coach of Mariner bane James Shields, and many more of the characters and storylines that call the Walla walla clubhouse home.

SATURDAY - Weekend Scoop - A potpourris of sorts that could produce any kind of content. Could it be a long-form story on a player from the Sweets, or even from another team? Could it be another video feature? Maybe it'll just be a GIF of me doing my John Travolta impression. (Okay, probably not.)

SUNDAY - Baseball in the Valley - Ever heard of Tiny Leonard? How about Tony Gwynn? Ozzie Smith? John Kruk? Kurt Russell? Baseball has a tremendous history in Walla Walla, and we want to cover as much of it as we can in ten weeks. See what the voices of history, both long past and more recent, have to say in this Sunday afternoon feature series.

That's what to look for. The Sweet Beat lineup will get started with The Lead-Off on Monday, June 8 - one week from today. In the meantime, we'll have more daily coverage of the Sweets as opening night looms just four days away.

Now, a little about myself... I'm something of a Johnny-come-lately to baseball, having fallen in love with the atmosphere of the sport when I was 19 and began covering my university's team in Tennessee (East Tennessee State, for the record). Since then, I've committed myself to studying the game's unmatched sporting history and its influence on and reflection of the cultural fabric of America. I've spent the last two years working with the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, getting to work with the likes of Kyle Hendricks, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant, just to name a few, and working with the St. Louis Cardinals' rookie league affiliate for two seasons before that. Baseball, to paraphrase the great Chico Escuela, has been very, very good to me thus far in my young career, giving me the bulk of my opportunities to flex the broadcasting muscles I've been honing since early childhood. I've spent all of two weeks in Walla Walla, but the region has already captured my imagination, and the people have been extraordinary. I look forward to bringing baseball to this community every way I know how!

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