Monday, August 18, 2008
Our Conversation With Dave Jageler
Since joining Charlie Slowes in The Radio Broadcast Booth for Our Washington Nationals in 2006--Dave Jageler has made a name for himself broadcasting Major League Baseball in The Nation's Capital. Together these two provide some of best Baseball Play-By-Play in the business and without a doubt--provide some of the best fun ever heard in the game. Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler are not only Professional--but down right funny. Sohna and I enjoy listening to them for a majority of the away games on the radio. Whether at home or in the car running errands--we make every effort to listen to these two broadcast a Nats Away Game. The banter, the give and take between them can really be enlightening sometimes. After just three years together--Charlie and Dave can virtually finish off each other's sentences. They are that good.
A Connecticut Native--Dave Jageler arrived in Washington after broadcasting AAA Baseball Games for The Pawtucket PawSox in 2005. But, his experience has not been just baseball. Mr. Jageler has a vast background in many sports--including working in various capacities covering The Boston Celtics, Radio Voice of UNC-Charlotte Basketball, Virginia Tech Basketball Network Host, Charlotte Knights (AAA) Baseball Play-By-Play and and some work doing Play-By-Play for Florida State and Texas Longhorns Football--two of the biggest powers in Collegiate Sports.
This Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications Graduate is married to his wife--Jennifer and they have two children--one son and one daughter--ages 8 and 4.
When Sohna and I visited with Charlie & Dave this past Friday Night at New Nationals Park--we interviewed both of them about their broadcasting careers here in Washington, covering Our Nationals. Today, Dave Jageler gets to bat leadoff. Charlie Slowes to follow in a separate post. As the pre-taped portion of The Pre-Game Show was airing--Dave took some time to speak with us for this post in their broadcast booth in The Shirley Povich Media Center. Notice how during the chat--even Charlie can't stay out of the conversation--adding in comments--funny ones at that. They are quite the pair.
With that--here we go with Our Conversation with Dave Jageler.
How does your day begin here at the park? (SBF)
“For a 7’O Clock Game I am usually here between 2:30PM and 3PM. I go down to the clubhouse, get our lineup. We (Charlie Slowes & Dave) alternate the pre-game interviews. That is always the stressful part of the job. Who are you going to interview, track that person down, set it up and get that done. Then, I will come upstairs, start filling out my scorebook, filling in some stats about the lineup.”
About 4PM, Manny Acta will address the media—three hours before the game. So, I listen in on that. Then, go hang out at the batting cage, watch BP (Batting Practice) for about 30 or 40 minutes—talk to whoever I need to talk to—come up here—finish filling out the scorebook—AND THEN EAT!! And eating is really the most important part of the day. I carve out about 30 minutes. If I don’t get those 30 Minutes to eat, I am not a happy guy (chuckling).”
“So, we get those 30 minutes to eat. In that time, we pre-record a couple of pre-game segments. The starting pitching matchups and feed the pre-game interview back to the station—then one half hour before the game—WE ARE ON!!”
Knowing how well you two get along and how both you and Charlie can many times complete each others sentences—how difficult is it to find something interesting to talk about every single day in a 162 game season? (SBF)
“Tough question to answer. I think the game just kind of takes care of itself. Every game is different. Depending on who the starting pitcher is—we might follow him and see how John Lannan is doing that night, or how Collin Balester is doing, or tonight—how Tim Redding is doing. There is a different storyline in every game. Even if The Nationals are not fighting for a playoff spot—you will find a storyline.”
Then Charlie leans over to break into the conversation saying—“Right about now he usually does his sing-a-long portion of the show.”
Whereupon Dave puts on his headset immediately and starts singing: “I am crazy about The Nationals, I am NUTS ABOUT THE NAAAATS!!! Let’s GO NATS!!!!!” (Dave thrusting his right fist in the air in appreciation of the "Nuts About The Nats" Theme Song played before every home game).
Charlie Slowes busting out laughing along with Engineer Jack Hicks, Sohna and myself.
Deadpan—Dave states: “I’ll take that song over ‘Hail To The Redskins!!’ Any Day!!”
We were just rolling over laughing.
“Nuts About The Nats is the number one fight song in DC!!”
Now we return to the regular portion of this interview.
“You guys travel with the team all the time. How more convenient is that when approaching the players, coaches and manager and getting them to talk—as compared to an out of town reporter? (SBF)
“Like the pre-game interviews we were talking about before. It’s much easier to do an interview in our clubhouse --because you know the guys and they know you. And hopefully, they have developed a level of trust with you. It’s always harder if you go and try to interview a visiting player. They may not know you and it’s easier for them to try to blow you off—or put you off. I think I have developed a good relationship with the players in the locker room. I feel comfortable going up to them and asking them for an interview—or just to talk. There are certain guys you go and talk to about other things than baseball. They are just good people to talk to.”
How tough has it been to broadcast this year when the team struggles? (SBF)
“I actually don’t think it is tough at all. My wife (Jen) puts it in real good perspective. My first year (in Washington, 2006), I was talking about a long flight we had to San Diego or somewhere and she said: ‘you could be on a bus to Ottawa! Right now!’ (All of us busting out laughing) So, I always remember that, if I ever have any complaints—which I don’t—because I could be on a bus to Ottawa. I am in The Major Leagues—doing what I love to do—and just because the team is out of contention—I treat every game as if it is the most important game I am going to broadcast—today’s. That way, I give my best effort and try to provide the best broadcast of the game, that I am doing that day. I am not worried about how many games they have lost, or how many games they have won. Today is the game we are going to talk about.”
Why is it so fun? (SBF)
“Because you really never know what is going to happen? And I get caught up in the emotion of the game. When the ball hits the bat, the crowd comes to its feet and senses the ball that maybe (Ryan) Zimmerman connected to a ball that is going to go out. If you listen closely, you can sense a surge in emotion in my voice in trying to describe what happens. So, I get caught up almost as if I was involved as a player, which obviously I am not saying I am, but it’s just a fun place to be.”
You are a baseball fan—first? (SBF)
“Sure, you have to be. If you are going to watch 162 games over 182 days, or whatever it is—you better like the game. If you don’t like baseball, you should not be here (in the booth).”
When you first were hired by The Nationals to come here, what was that feeling like—knowing you would be broadcasting Major League Baseball? (SBF)
“By myself, I might have done a little dance in the room with no one witnessing it. I worked hard. I went to college for this and dreamed about being an announcer in the professional ranks. I was in the business for nearly 15 years, paying a lot of dues, in different areas. I didn’t come up just through the Minor Leagues—like many announcers do in baseball. But, whether I was doing a talk show, or doing college basketball, or working one job and ‘Moonlighting’ at three other places—I really worked hard to get where I am. So, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment to reach this level—which is something I aspired to for a long, long time.”
If I recall right, you two did not meet each other before you got the job here? (SBF)
“We met each other on the Winter Caravan (2006). It might have been when I also first met you? (SBF—which is true). I did that Winter Caravan with (Brian) Schneider, (Brandon) Watson, Ryan Zimmerman was on that Caravan--and Jose Guillen.”
Charlie steps into the conversation again: “He called me up after he got hired to introduce himself to me over the phone—which is kind of bizarre—would you say? (Looking at The African Queen and I). To some degree. So, he (Dave) got hired and before I had the chance to call him—he got my number from Kevin Ullich and called me. We talked on the phone and I think we met two weeks later.”
Dave: “I knew about him. I knew his name from doing The (Washington) Bullets. When you aspire to get to this level, you know the people who have the jobs. You know the names. It’s much easier to listen to people now with XM Radio. I had never really heard him (Charlie) prior to working with him. But, I certainly knew who he was.”
Did you guys hit it off right away? (The African Queen)
“Yeah, right away!!—I am Nuts About The Nats!!” Charlie (laughing)
Dave: “Yeah, we all are.” (Deadpan)
How is the new ballpark to work—compared to RFK? (The African Queen)
“I think this is a great ballpark. It’s great for The Nationals to call this their home. You know they are going to be here for a very long time. I am very excited that The Nationals have found a new home.”
Except for the very place where you have to work? (SBF)
“We’ve gotten use to it. It’s a hard spot to accurately describe pitches. But, we have gotten use to how the ball carries off the bat. You just wait to see the play unfold—rather than anticipate—because if you try to anticipate what is going to happen—you have just a good a chance of being wrong. It is very hard to judge where the ball is going to go when it is hit.”
Since you have been around the leagues a few times now—you obviously know all the other broadcasters. Do you find them helpful also to you and your work—whether on the road or here at home? (SBF)
“Oh yes. Whenever we play a first day of any series—I always talk to the other teams broadcasters. You can’t always use all the information, but they will tell you what is going on with their team and why a guy is playing over another—who is pitching well—or playing well. That is a very useful resource to be up on the other team, because when you are filling three hours (on the air)—you are not going to talk exclusively about The Nationals—you are going to talk about the other team. So, I always talk to the other broadcasters and I try to offer analysis on our team to the other guys as well.”
Is it odd for you to see someone like Brian Schneider come back here after you have spent so much time with him here? (SBF)
“As you are around the game more—you have friends that you’ve met. There are guys when I was broadcasting games in Pawtucket (for the PawSox) that are now in The Big Leagues. And I always enjoy catching up with them—it’s a lot of fun—kind of a reunion to see. I know a lot of guys in The Mets Clubhouse from different times in my career. So, I enjoy getting to catch up with those guys. It’s not awkward in any way—it’s fun to go see them and, quite honestly, it’s another resource. You can ask them honest questions about why he is not playing against left-handed pitching and he (Schneider) will give you an honest answer. Maybe, you would not go up and ask that same question from the opposing team—if you did not know them.”
When the season is over—what do you do—go home—be with family? (The African Queen)
“When you are on the road for 81 games plus travel days—that’s basically three months of the year that you are away from your family. I try to be a full-time Dad (one son and one daughter). I do all the school bus meets. (You are Mr. Mom? —The African Queen) Yes, I am Mr. Mom. I take the kids off to the bus. I am there when the bus gets home. I do swim lessons, fall little league, soccer practice. I try to cram in everything that I missed in the five months from the time the (baseball) season ends and spring training begins.”
Is that the toughest part of the job—since your kids are so young? (The African Queen)
“Yes, it is hard. My oldest one understands what I do. My youngest, she knows what I do, but she doesn’t understand—‘I will see you in a week.’ I could see you tomorrow or see you in a week—can mean the same thing. So, it hard to say goodbye to them, when you are going away for an extended period.”
Finally—how special is it working here with Charlie?
“We have a really good thing going on here. Working with Charlie, I would like to develop something here that a generation of Nats Fans can associate listening to the radio with us. That is the true testament of an announcer when people associate you with the team that you are with—and that takes time to develop. We have been together a short time, but I think we have developed a tremendous following with the fans. And I think part of the reason we have the popularity is that so many people enjoy the camaraderie, the back and forth we have. (You guys have great chemistry—Sohna). Separately, we are not as strong as one unit.”
With that--Our Conversation With Dave Jageler needed to end. The Boys needed to begin their Game Broadcast for last Friday Nights game against The Colorado Rockies. Our Conversation With Charlie Slowes is next. Then, the "Broadcast Gamer" later on this week. Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler put on quite the show for The African Queen (Agent 99--to Charlie) and I during our special visit with them.