Monday stays busy in the booth
Former Dodger chats about past, current days with the team
Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday fielded questions online Tuesday prior to the game vs. the Brewers. The former Dodgers outfielder and two-time All-Star chatted about his playing days, how he prepares for a game, and how he ended up in the broadcast booth.
Rick Monday: Welcome aboard. Hopefully we can put positive vibes together and start a win streak tonight. Let's get started.
TrueBlue42: Did you prepare yourself for broadcasting before your playing career ended?
Monday: Actually, I started doing some things with KABC TV in LA during the offseason of 1979. In '77 and '78, we were in the World Series and '79 was a terrible year injury wise, so during the offseason I started doing some things at Channel 7. They allowed me a wonderful opportunity to see if it was something I was interested in doing. Following the television crews around to see how they put stories together, meeting people in town. I started doing interviews and editing for about four years during the offseason. That's really how it began and it was something that I really wanted to sink my teeth into and something that really interested me.
dodgerlodger: Hi, Mo! What are your most memorable moments as a player and broadcaster?
Monday: As a player, multiple moments. You think of your first Major League game, which made the circle complete with all the dreams you had as a young kid growing up and the nervousness of it. I think one of the most enjoyable memories that I truly have from a professional standpoint was the moment the Commissioner handed Tommy Lasorda and Peter O'Malley the World Championship trophy in the visiting locker room at Yankee Stadium. That was the pinnacle of dreams as a kid and it came full circle, having lost two World Series and then winning it in New York, and then seeing the trophy handed to the organization. It was something that was shared with everyone and we had a chance to celebrate together and that tied it up very nicely.
REDDOG1: This is Preston Grimm from the Adult Baseball Camp. I saw that you were going to be online today and wanted to stop by and say hello. I read on the Dodgers web site that Steve Yeager was in an accident and had something like 300 stitches. Have you spoken to him and do you know how he is doing? He is always a 'lively' part of the Adult Camps.
Monday: Hi Preston, good to hear from you. We're going to have a great Adult Fantasy Camp in November and it's a complete sellout at Dodgertown. I spoke with Steve Yeager last night and he's gotten the OK to rejoin the San Bernardino ballclub very shortly. His arm is doing much better. He had around 300 stitches to close the injury to his left arm and had some stitches in his ear, too. He's coming along and I can tell he's healing very rapidly because he's starting to get cranky at the inactivity. I can also tell you that he's been overwhelmed at the outpouring of get-well wishes and people asking how he's doing. He said last night that the doctor OK'd him for light catching and I asked what that meant. You can deflect anything thrown in your direction?
Dodger81: What went through your mind when you rescued the American flag?
Monday: What they were attempting to do was wrong. I happened to be the closest person to them. For me, what has really made it enjoyable is the fact that now, 31 years later, it is still a topic of conversation at times when I have met with senators and generals. Last year, as you may know, we went to Walter Reed Medical Center as a group with the Dodgers. The medical staff there said they have had a great number of sports teams and dignitaries that have visited, but Col. John Pittman said that no one had touched the people like the Dodgers last year and that was on the 30th anniversary of the flag. Many of the soldiers we met with were not even born when this took place 30 years ago and yet, they still had comments on it. From a very personal standpoint, it means a great deal because my son-in-law was just deployed two days ago to Iraq on his third deployment. They just arrived in Kuwait two days ago but they're going into Iraq again soon.
roxchick: How has your perception of the media and its role in baseball changed since you became a broadcaster? (P.S. Thanks for giving a little 7-year-old girl an autograph 20 years ago!)
Monday: At least it wasn't 40 years ago! Media has changed the way that it covers, not just baseball, but the world. An example being that I can sit in my hotel room and listen to or watch live, a game that is being played in Boston. Or I can watch pitch by pitch on the computer screen, or listen to a home broadcast in my car from XM Radio. So as far as the print media has changed, it's different from 30 years ago because people who aren't physically at the ballpark can watch or listen from afar. The perspective that the print media takes on the game tonight will be different because the majority of the people already know what has happened in that game when they pick up the paper tomorrow. Many of the stories that you now read are more from a personal-interest standpoint about the players instead of analyzing what took place pitch-by-pitch or play-by-play.
scalino: What is the most challenging thing about being in the booth broadcasting a game?
Monday: I think the most challenging thing is being prepared. I don't think that most people understand the preparation that it takes on a daily basis. You know, players arrive at 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon. I started my morning at 10:30 on the Internet. It's the same team the Dodgers will play tonight, but what can I find out reading the Milwaukee newspaper or other things on the Internet? We're already starting to get ready for this next road trip. I'm teamed up with a guy that's a delight to work with in Charley Steiner. We have a wonderful relationship and trust between us and we understand that the better we are as a team, the better we can let the fans know about the Dodgers, and that's our job. I think it's very important that a former player understand that you have to be a broadcaster. You can't rely on what you did when you played. That's not important. What's important is what's happening tonight. If you can draw on what you learned years ago, that's wonderful, but our job is to broadcast what's happening tonight with the Dodgers.
TrueBlue42: What was the funniest Jay "Moonman" Johnstone prank you can recall?
Monday: There are a lot of funny ones. I think dragging the infield when they put on the maintenance crew get-up. I saw them in the runway of the far end of the Dodgers' third-base dugout and I knew what was happening so I called upstairs to let DiamondVision know. Lasorda had a good sense of humor when we were playing very well. I thought it would just be nice. I know that Jerry Reuss and Jay had been talking about doing this for a long time. So they went out and had Dodger caps on, pulled way down over their eyes. I was waiting to see when Tommy would look up and notice two of his players were part of the grounds crew. They started at third base, got all the way to first base and every step they got closer, you could see the blood level go up in Tommy's face, and I'm not sure it was all Dodger blue. It was a lot of red. They put the screens down and went up the stands near first base so it would be a while before they got back and by then it was time for Jay to pinch-hit and he hit a home run. So of all the pranks, this one had instant gratification for all of us and it happened to crack the people up on top of it.
blurealtor: I enjoyed watching you play with the Dodgers. How long do you think it's going to take our Dodgers to go to the World Series?
Monday: I can tell you that my pocket Dodgers schedule shows that the last regular season game is played at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 30. Then the playoffs start and I full well expect the Dodgers to be in the playoffs. And, if they play up to their capabilities like they're trying to get back to now, there's no reason they should not be in the Fall Classic.
smiley1323: What advice could you give me on becoming a reporter for the Dodgers? I majored in broadcast journalism and I love reporting on baseball, but I finished school four years ago and haven't done any journalism since then?
Monday: There's a wonderful web site that I use on a daily basis for anyone interested in sports journalism and it's newslink.org. You can read papers from all over the world and it gives you a wonderful idea on just exactly the large range of styles that people have in journalism. I don't think there's any better way to understand what you may want to do than to get a very wide sampling of everything you can imagine. I have it bookmarked and I read it this morning.
mlbfriend5: I heard you will be playing the Dodger Golf Tournament. What's your handicap?
Monday: Every club! In fact, we were fortunate that the team I was on last year happened to win the tournament. I do not play as often as I once did and was a seven at one time, but I can't come close to that anymore. And, I stay at a golf resort here in Los Angeles as my home away from home and I still have yet to play this year!
TrueBlue42: What, if any, advice did the great Vin Scully give you?
Monday: One thing: be yourself. I was privileged enough to grow up in Santa Monica, Calif. Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett were friends of mine and friends of my family's years before we had the privilege to meet them. They were in the car with us, they were in our homes broadcasting the games. So my exposure to the Dodgers was through the eyes and the voice and the wonderful mind of Scully and Doggett, and the one thing that Vin said was to be yourself. And, you're setting yourself up for instant failure if you try to be Scully. He is absolutely amazing. And, as nice as people think he is, that does not even scratch the surface of what an incredible human being he is. And he's not just a brilliant broadcaster but he's a brilliant man. Charley made reference to the fact that we have the luxury every night at Dodger Stadium of eating dinner with Scully and Billy DeLury. To listen to the stories, that's a special 45 minutes to an hour. Scully is probably one of the most gracious human beings that I've ever had the privilege to meet.
goorange: When do you think Jonathan Broxton will take over the closer role?
Monday: He's being groomed for it. Takashi Saito has been an absolutely incredible story because a year ago in Spring Training, no one knew if he would make the club. We had Eric Gagne coming off an injury, but when he got injured again, it came down to who you would turn to. Saito was a veteran player in the true sense of the word, coming over from Japan. While he had good numbers, he did not have incredible numbers in Japan, but he has come over and been, not only a breath of fresh air, but he's provided a great deal of leadership for the other pitchers. Broxton gets better every time he comes out because he's not just equipped with a 96-99 mph fastball. He's equipped with a breaking ball, an offspeed pitch and you get a true flavor of how good he is when you begin to listen to players on other teams the day after he pitches. We have a chance to do that every day and Broxton's name is continually brought up by opposing hitters who say they don't have a whole lot of fun at home plate when he's pitching.
TrueBlue42: Do you lend tips to any of the players or constructive advice when you notice a error or mental mistake during the previous game?
Monday: No. Only if the player comes and asks my opinion about something. There's a couple of reasons for that. One, that's not my position. My position is to broadcast the game and we'll talk about it during the broadcast or in the postgame analysis. In the organization right now, the Dodgers have a tremendous depth not just in their players but in their coaches. From time to time, the coaches at the big league level and I will talk about some things, but there are some very, very sharp baseball people that are coaches at the big league level. From time to time, a player may ask me about something and on rare occasions, it'll be something specific, including a few years ago I was asked to look at Shawn Green. He was not getting good jumps on the ball. I said that when the ball crossed home plate, his left foot is still in the air and that helped him. But our coaches on this ballclub are extremely talented.
Jone: Loved the years that you played with the Dodgers. Thanks for helping to provide many years of fun being a Dodgers Fan! Were you fortunate enough to know Gil Hodges?
Monday: Only as an opposing manager when he was with the Washington Senators. It's interesting -- Gil is one of those players that I did not know as a player. But in part of our conversations over dinner and listening to Vinny and Billy DeLury talk about Hodges, I feel as though I knew a little bit about him, not just as a player but as a person. Vinny holds Hodges in such high regard as a person, all the things that he's accomplished, I'm bewildered as to why he has not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
cuervojjg: What has been your most exciting moment in the years you've broadcasted for the Dodgers?
Monday: You know, in the other format that we had, we only worked with one person at any one time. There was a moment, though, that you would get ready and throw it to either Ross Porter or Scully. I remember the first time I was ever in the booth, Scully to my left, this man that's been an icon in baseball and now I'm sitting next to him and I have a segment to do that would run a minute or to and then throw it to him. It was one of those pinch-me moments because it was just kind of an out-of-body experience. My goodness, this is Vin Scully that is next to me. And he has that type of a presence. But from a broadcasting standpoint, me personally, is it throwing it to Vinny each night. When Scully turns it over to us on the simulcast and that comes with a great deal of responsibility. To have Vin introduce you is something else.
TrueBlue42: Do you see any similarities with the current Dodgers team and the '81 club?
Monday: In some respects, yes. We went to Spring Training that year with some veterans and we knew that it was probably one of our last ventures together. There was an influx of some really good young talent. Some were already on the Major League level and some were waiting in the wings for the opportunity. But it was one of our last hurrahs as an overall group. The difference was that we had been together since 1977, but the similarities are that this is not an extremely young club, top to bottom, in 2007. But there are some good young players here and good young players waiting in the wings. I see this season as a dawning of the future because of what is here at the Major league level, the Minor League level and even at the lower Minor League level. Last year was the start and this year can really be the payoff. There are some similarities, but every club has to put it's own footprint in the sand and this club has enough talent to do that in 2007.
Monday: Thank you all for taking part in this chat. We look forward to seeing you all at Dodger Stadium tonight or this homestand.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.