We've done a lot of interviews over the years. Players, front office executives, you name it. They've all been great. Having said that, I don't know if I've ever been more excited than I was for this interview.
Every Rays fan knows Brian Anderson. He spent 12 seasons in the Major Leagues, starting 245 games. Now he's a welcomed addition to the Rays TV booth this season, bringing sharp analysis and humorous color commentary alongside the ever lovable Dewayne Staats. Brian was kind enough to take some time out of his busy travel schedule and answer a few questions for us. Enjoy.
DRaysbay: How do you prepare for each game?
Brian Anderson: Well, I guess the best way to do it is to get a general scouting report on the team. What they like to do. Find out do they run, are they power laden, how deep is their lineup, batting averages, the names you kind of know. I just get a general scouting report on each team -- kind of what you do as a pitcher. When we would sit down and go over the opposing hitters, you get a general scouting report just to familiarize yourself with these guys; and then for me, obviously the game starts and ends with pitching.
I shouldn't say ends, but it at least starts with pitching. I like to go over the starting pitchers. What do they feature? Now they we've gotten into the season, when I do a scouting report, you've got 13 starts worth of statistics, so you can really start to break it down -- hits per innings pitched, are they walking a lot of guys, are they giving up a lot of hits. It's funny how you can look at some basic stats and it can really tell a story. I like to write out the stats, and find out how teams do with the running game. Do they hold runners well? Do they give up a lot of stolen bases? Just different little things that speak out statistical. Some are general statistics, but you can really learn a lot by just simple stats.
After that, I like to look at what pitchers feature -- what they throw. How often do they throw it? You get these charts and printouts of their pitches -- fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, whatever it may be -- and where they throw them in the strike zone. You notice a guy doesn't pitch in a lot, so he stays away. Where is he getting hit? Balls that are elevated, balls that are middle. Does he get hit with his fastball or off speed? Just different things like that so you get a real good idea of what the pitcher has in his arsenal, where he likes to throw it, and where he's getting hurt. Go from there.
They'll email me what the opening of the show is going to be like -- other than that, you kind of read around a little bit. Try to find out different trends with a team that are noteworthy. Go in with that type of a game plan. It's funny, as much work that I do, the game starts and all of the sudden the game takes over. A lot of that info that I have is good for the beginning; it's a nice setup, it's good for the segment we do in the pregame. It's good for the first inning to tip off the fans what to look for during the course of the game.
And once the game starts, the game tells the story. My job is to break that game down and be able to use it as a teaching tool for the fans. To be able to tell people why things happened, not necessarily what just happened.
DRB: Outside of the information that the Rays give you, what other places do you go to for the data you use for your broadcast?
BA: Well, most of the research I do on my own anyway. What they give us is basically a stat sheet where it will have batting averages, etc, etc, etc. And that's good and all. But I like to go to...and it's funny when you guys called me when you did. Todd Kalas gets a lot of good information, and we were chatting on the last road trip about different websites and he mentioned you guys. And I'll flip over to DRaysBay and sometimes the information that you guys have makes my head spin. I'm like, "Okay, wait a minute. I didn't even know that was a stat." It's pretty funny, especially when you get into these new-age type of stats.
I think I'm way more old school in trying to see how a guy's regular numbers can tip you off to certain things. The other is having watched guys. I know what this guy likes to do, what he tries to do. I know what he does well and what he doesn't, so its easier for me to analyze.
I've definitely flipped to your website in the last two weeks, week in a half, than I have ever before. A lot of it I'll get into it, and about halfway through I'm like, "Man, now I'm confused. What happened to the game of baseball?" *laughing* But I know that's the new trend.
We'll have the second part of the interview posted tomorrow. Stay tuned!