Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Rob Dibble Media Availability

Tonight at 7PM Eastern, newly announced MASN Color Analyst for Our Washington Nationals was available via conference call for the local media. Given the opportunity to call in--I listened and transcribed the entire 16 minutes of the conversation.

Before this Press Conference occurred, Our Washington Nationals released a brief statement by Team President Stan Kasten: "We are thrilled to have a talent like Rob Dibble join our broadcast crew. His enthusiasm and knowledge will quickly make him very popular among Nationals viewers. Rob and I talked today about the three things we know he will be: honest, informative and fun."

MASN spokesperson--Todd Webster--mentioned to the media that Don Sutton was offered an opportunity to return to Atlanta and broadcast for The Braves again and had asked to be let out of his 4 year contract with MASN. Washington then set up a series of criteria given by Mr. Kasten and John Guagliano (Vice President of Marketing and Broadcasting for Washington) in finding Don's replacement--including someone who was committed to the team long term. MASN worked with the team to find the right candidate--all done privately. More than 10 were originally considered. Although complete contract terms were not disclosed, Rob Dibble received a contract for MORE than two years--that's as specific as it got.

With that, here is the complete Media Availability with Rob Dibble tonight via Phone Conference Call. Dibble was in California as this took place:

“First, let me say, thank you to everybody that’s on the conference call. A: what an honor and privilege is it to get an opportunity to work for MASN and work for The Washington Nationals and work with Bob Carpenter and also follow in the footsteps of Don Sutton. Who was not only a Hall of Fame player but I also feel was a Hall of Fame Broadcaster as well and has always been a favorite of mine.”

“It’s just an evolution for me since I retired from the game in 1996. I’ve done play by play on TV and Radio. I’ve done it every year on radio for XM for the Futures Game at The All-Star Game. The last four years I have done year round baseball talk on Sirius/XM with Kevin Kennedy. So getting back into the game as far as closer to the field is definitely something I was very excited and actually very honored that I was considered for the job. It came on quickly. It was a tough decision, but I will be working for Sirius/XM in a smaller capacity than in the past. And my main focus will be The Washington Nationals and MASN.”

Question: One of the great things about your style is that you have been very candid and very passionate about your stances on a number of issues in regard to baseball. Do you feel now being part of a broadcast team is going to take away from that passion or will you be as outspoken as you have always been?

“No, I will always be as outspoken and honest as I have been for the past 12 years. I think that what people may not know about me is that I am not Rob Dibble, the former Nasty Boy player. My Father was a newsman for 50 years, until he passed away 11 years ago. I come from one of the most honest and excellent broadcasters ever in his field. What I bring to the table is a fairness and openness and I will never hold back on a player because my job is to first to The Nationals and MASN but second to The Fans. Players are not paying me. The players are playing baseball and I keep it to that. I will not assassinate their characters. I am not going to be critical of a guy that doesn’t deserve it. I am not going to rip on a guy because he makes $20 Million per year.”

“It was a privilege to be a player and it’s been a privilege to be around MLB as a broadcaster for 12 years. I hope to continue doing this for the next 20, something I don’t take lightly. I try to steer clear of trouble off the field, as far as broadcasting goes. I still believe I am a role model as far as being a citizen of The United States. So, when I am broadcasting, I know there are a lot of kids listening. I know there are a lot of coaches that are listening to any type of tips and coaching things I can bring to the broadcast. And I think that at the end of the day, Bob Carpenter is my partner and I have worked with some great guys in the industry—Brent Musberger in particular—and people like that. The job is first and foremost to do the play-by-play, to make it an enjoyable entertaining happening for the fans. And then I add my element, which is my expertise and my color analyst. So, is there any reason for me not to be critical about the players? Absolutely not. Do I respect the fact that I work for The Nationals and MASN—absolutely.”

Question: Why do you think that you and Bob Carpenter will be a good fit together? And also, you will be the 4th analyst on MASN TV for The Nationals—are you here to stay for a while?

“I have a multi-year deal that I am very happy about and which I am committed to. That was one of the discussions. Remember, for some of the people in the room that forget that four years ago, before I did “The Best Damn Sports Show” job, I interviewed for this position. At the time, it didn’t feel right. I wasn’t married at the time. I was engaged to my lovely wife. And now I am in the position where she actually had to give me the OK to almost go back to being a player. Remember there is a lot of commitment and sacrifice involved. You have to travel with the team. You are basically on the road half of every month for nine months. So, if you don’t have a strong marriage it’s not easy to do this job.”

“To answer the other part, with Bob Carpenter. A: I have always loved Bob Carpenter’s work whether it’s ESPN, or whether it was back with The Cardinals. He’s one of the best in the business. And Don Sutton also comes into the equation because I am following in his footsteps following him. I have always idolized him, not only as a former player and pitcher and Hall of Famer, but as a broadcaster. He has always been honest. He tells it like it is and he is true to the game. My first job one is to Major League Baseball. Nobody is bigger than the game. Nobody should just become the story apart from the game. That is what I am bringing to the game also. I also played the game. I talk about the game. But the game is what the fans are interested in. They are not interested in Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble, per se. But they want us to have as much fun and passion watching, seeing and calling this game as I actually did on the field.”

“Now I can never replace what I did as a player. But as a broadcaster, it is my job to not talk down to you, but watch the game with you. And that’s what most of the fun of my job will be in the future.”

Question: You mention remaining on with Sirius/XM in some capacity. Can you describe what your role there will be? And secondly, since we don’t have a full resume for you, what is the extent of your game calling on television—color commentary and play-by-play?

“I started calling games back in ’97 with ESPN for radio and television. And I agreed way back in the day to a four game per week schedule, which turned into a seven-year career with ESPN. The radio and TV broadcasting led to Baseball Tonight to The Dan Patrick Show, SportCenter, ESPN News—the chats I did for .com—I could go on and on and on. But I don’t want bore you with my broadcasting stuff. I have always been calling games since 1997 whether it was for television or radio, for FOX. In fact, this year I was actually given the opportunity to call a couple of games and one of the games was rained out for Big Fox (Network). And I was allowed to come in and do a couple of Pre-Game Shows. So, I have always been doing a radio show on baseball. I did radio shows on weekends about baseball with Karl Ravech back in my ESPN days. And for the last five years, year-round, I have been managing the afternoon drive show on Sirius/XM,”

“I don’t think it’s as much calling a baseball game as it is being fair to the listeners. I am never going to be a homer. I never liked guys that are homers when I played. If we are not playing well, I am going to tell you why we are not playing well. I am not going to be critical of the team, just to be critical. It’s my job to explain if a guy is inexperience at a position or if a pitcher needs to pitch inside. But I am not going to assassinate his character either. I hated that as a player. Broadcasters should understand they are broadcasting. I was never a perfect player. I am not going to tell people I was a model citizen as a player. But I am also going to lack the etiquette that the game demands. I am not going to be swearing on air. I am not going to be disrespectful just because people think 20 years ago ‘you were this!’ I am not a player anymore. I won’t even try to remember what it was like when I was a player. I know I played. I can look at my statistics, but it’s been a long time since I stepped foot on the field. So, I respect the fact these young men are busting their asses on the field. And after that, I am going to be as honest as I possibly can.”

Question: And your Sirius/XM role going forward?

“Going forward, I will still be doing that five days a week, but it will only be two hours a day from 4PM to 6PM. And that will give me ample time to do pre-game and post-game stuff with MASN. Like I said before, my commitment now is to MASN and The Washington Nationals moving forward in my broadcasting career.”

Question: What impressions do you have about The Nationals at this point? What do you know about them, their roster, their talent, etc?

“I know they won 59 and lost 102. They have a lot of great young players. Ryan Zimmerman was hurt for much of last year. They need to get a little bit stronger as far as starting rotation, bullpen. But they have a lot of great young talent. And they acquired more, when they acquired Willingham and Olsen. I see them as a young Braves type of organization. When you have Stan Kasten who was a part of all those division championships, World Championships with The Braves—building one of the strongest farm systems I have ever played against as a player. And then play against them in The Major Leagues—he knows how to build the nucleus. So, I think I am here to grow with this ball club. I feel they are a handful of players away from a Division Winner. It can happen that quickly. I will give you a for instance. I know The Reds, before I got to The Big Leagues, were finishing second a lot. Then in 1989 with the entire Pete Rose thing, we finished 5th with a lot of injuries. Then we come back and go wire-to-wire and win The World Championship in ’90 and then have a lot more injuries in ’91 and go back to 5th place. Baseball is a game that no matter how great you look on paper, or how bad you look on paper, you can do some amazing things. A lot of it is the character and a lot of it is your belief in faith that you put your uniform on the same way The Phillies do. You put your uniform on the same way The Mets do, or The Braves or The Marlins. And you need to respect that fact and respect yourself. I think this Nationals team is very capable of winning 75 or 80 games—maybe even more. It’s just a question of staying healthy, getting great pitching and defense and going out and earning that right to be called a good team.”

Final Question: I was wondering whether you had any reservations about coming onboard here given the fact that The Nationals were fairly down in the TV Ratings last year. I think they were last in The Majors? That got a lot of attention. I was curious to know about the level of interest in baseball in Washington?

“Well, A—if I didn’t believe in The Nationals and MASN, I wouldn’t be here. And I wouldn’t have committed to a multi-year deal if I wasn’t committed and felt that this team could go straight up. I think that is what excited me about it. They treated me like one of the family already when I talked to the people—including Chris Glass from MASN and also all the people at MASN. They have been amazing to me. That’s the type of atmosphere you need to build a winner. It’s starts not just with the broadcasters and upper management people and The Nationals, but it’s down on the field and I am just calling the games. But, I am going to have as much fun talking about a last place Washington team as a first place Washington team because when I was a player, I didn’t care whether I was in last place or first place, it was a privilege and it was exciting to be in The Major Leagues—that’s our vision. So this is part of my dream to also be a Major League Broadcaster and broadcast Major League games—it’s something I have wanted to do since I retired. It does not matter if it’s The Nationals, the bad ratings—I am looking forward to 2009. I am not looking back to 2008.”

With that final answer--no further questions were asked of Rob Dibble.


Dave said...

A: I don't understand why he always implies he has a list of things to talk about. And then you notice that there's never any B.

I didn't love Sutton, but he was a knowledgeable baseball guy. Maybe Dibble will come across that way too.

I look forward to the day when the Nats are winning and really top-notch people want to come to DC--people you've heard of.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I also look forward to the time when the Nationals will have been here long enough for MASN (or hopefully, MASN's successor) to hire veteran Nats players as color analysts. Maybe some day in the future, we'll see Brad Wilkinson or Livan Hernandez opposite Bob Carpenter...

Anonymous said...

I also look forward to the time when the Nationals will have been here long enough…

Let me help fill in the blank for you Mr. Cunningham………uh a baseball team and not a franchise to laugh at. Please this team and organization does not look like it will make within the next 5 to 10 year range. There will be some city out there that will emerge as a front runner to take over this failing organization. My guess is the Tidewater/VA Beach area even though I have heard people talk about Raleigh, NC. At least keep the team within driving distance. Best of luck for 2009.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, as always, for the full transcript.