January 2008

Heeeere’s Trenni…

The Brew (TV) Crew and FSN Wisconsin made an impressive free-agent pick up this off season with the hiring of Trenni Kusnierek.

Trenni is a real pro. She’s experienced and comes to town already possessing great respect from those we cover. Her hiring allows us to properly execute the pre and post game shows. Brewers Live requires a ton of pre-game/during-game preparation so with TK working the dugouts and the stands, Craig Coshun can focus on his anchoring duties with Davey Nelson at the Brewers Live desk in right field. We played a man short last year so Trenni coming on board was welcome news, especially for Craig and me.

We all know Trenni well. She spent the last five years covering the Pirates (and others) at FSN Pittsburgh as an anchor/reporter. Prior to that, she was a reporter/anchor at WDJT-V, Ch. 58 in Milwaukee following a brief stint at WQOW in Eau Claire.  She’s appeared as a reporter for ABC Sports, NFL Network, and Big Ten Network. I like the fact that she’s worked behind the scenes as an associate producer, field producer, and as an assignment editor as well. Only her Milwaukee roots (Marquette University ’99, Muskego H.S. ’95) made it possible for us to get her on our team for 2008.

Trenni instantly makes the rest of us on the crew (especially Rock) feel older, fatter and pastier. Her workouts are legendary so maybe we’ll be healthier talking heads this season. She’s into the music scene and she’ll be a regular contributor on the House of Blogs. Without further adieu…heeeeere’s Trenni!

Kusnierek02copy_1Trenni Kusnierek

First, I’d like to say thanks to Brian for letting me ‘guest blog’ for him.  I love to write and this is a great way to interact with the most rabid of Brewers fans!   I think the most common question I’ve received since my return, is why I chose to come back to Milwaukee.  It was a long process, but in the end, I think the perfect decision.  Long story short, I really wanted to live in a city I love and work with the team I grew up rooting for.  I have an odd love affair with New York City, but something tells me the Brewers aren’t moving there any time soon!  Add in the fact the Brewers are a top notch, young organization with great ownership, and I was sold.  Plus, I loved watching Brewers broadcasts when I was away.  Brian, Bill, Craig, and Davey always seem to be having a blast.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?  There are very few people out there who can say they’re "living the dream", but I think I’m one of them. 

My hope is I can add to an already stellar broadcast team and not get in the way!  I’ve learned my lesson about lights in the stands (2000 season) and think I’ll be able to bring a dynamic to the broadcast that wasn’t possible before.  I’m not sure the average viewer knows how much work goes into preparing for each game, each series.  Between production meetings, manager interviews, player interviews, brainstorming, reading up on our team and the opponent, it’s hard to cover all the bases.  I’m hoping to fill in the blanks and take some of the load off the boys!  My goal is to ask questions and bring insights that the average fan has on their mind.  After all, I’m pretty much the on-camera version of the average fan.  The only difference, I went to school and spent hours in internships learning how to ask the right questions (sometimes) and deciphering what is useful versus useless information!  I’m not big on fluff, but don’t be surprised if you find me interviewing a guy who caught a big home run ball, or finding a way to run the sausage race.  I’ll be the Polish.  It’s a Milwaukee girls dream come true…

I would however, like Brewers nation to know I’m not all brats, beer, and baseball.  I will absolutely take in a game on my off day, but I’m also just as likely to hit up the Milwaukee Art Museum or spend an afternoon drinking coffee and reading the NYT, the New Yorker, or a great book.  (I’m currently finishing up ‘No Country For Old Men’ by Cormac McCarthy and about to start ‘The World’s Religions’ by Houston Smith.)  I’m an avid traveler who loves to visit international destinations.  My wish list currently includes a safari in Africa, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and hiking Machu Piccu in Peru.  Also on my ‘bucket list’ is to make a documentary.  I think one of the great things about journalism is the ability to speak for those who don’t have a voice, and filmmaking seems to be an amazing way to do that.  Last, but certainly not least, I’m a crazy runner!  I’ve completed two marathons and countless other races.  My hope is to qualify for the Boston marathon with a great race this fall.  I’d love any distance racing advice!

Enough about me!  I am really looking forward to talking baseball and any other topic that comes to mind this season.  I think this Brewers squad has a legitimate chance to once again be a contender and I’m honored to be a part of it.  Let’s go Crew!

-Trenni

…And, in keeping with Brian’s music themes, here is one of my favorites:

Feel free to welcome Trenni back to Brew Town by clicking on the "comments" icon below.

Mike Cameron

Very few players in the game can shake up a lineup like the Brewers most recent free agent acquisition, Mike Cameron. He is widely regarded as one of the leagues best centerfielders and best teammates. But, his impeccable reputation took blow last October when he announced, prior to the official release from the commissioner’s office, that he had tested positive for a banned stimulant and had been suspended for 25 games to start the 2008 season.Cameronm08ps005_3

Cameron stands by his statement following the suspension: "After all of the analysis and testing, I can only conclude that a nutritional supplement I was taking was tainted," he said. "Unfortunately, the actual supplement is gone, and therefore cannot be tested. Without the actual supplement in hand, the rules are clear, and I must accept the suspension."

Now, he looks forward to what he calls a "golden opportunity" in Milwaukee. A new centerfielder means the Crew will have a new third baseman (Bill Hall) and a new left fielder (Ryan Braun) to open the season. Doug Melvin believes Cameron’s gold glove is the final piece, with Jason Kendall, JJ Hardy, and Rickie Weeks, that completes the "middle" defense upgrade. The Brewers feel Cameron is worth the wait and worthy of the dramatic shift in roles.

The man from McDonough (Georgia), Mike Cameron, recently sat down for a visit in the House of Blogs

Brian Anderson: Mike…welcome to Milwaukee. Why the Brewers?

Mike Cameron: I looked at all the quality free agents they’ve signed and I just felt Milwaukee was going to be a quality fit for me. Having a chance to experience what it’s like to play here at Miller Park as an opponent, I like where the franchise is going and this is where I wanted to be.

BA: What exactly did you see in the Brewers from the other dugout?

MC: A lot of quality. Quality young players that have already shared some good experiences together and have put some years together as a group. Hopefully, they continue to grow and continue to perform and I can come in and fulfill my role, and we can earn a post-season birth.

BA: How will you handle the suspension?

MC: It’s going to kill me not to be able to play, especially with new teammates, a new city, etc…but, I’ll put myself in the mindset of treating it like an injury. Nobody wants this on their record but it’s done and I have to serve the suspension and deal with it. I’ve worked hard to have good character and good relationships and I’ll continue to do so. I’ll go to Spring Training and play hard and give the guys (players and coaches) an idea of what I can do and what I can’t do. When I signed with to San Diego (2006), I pulled my oblique the last day of spring and missed 18 games. That’s how I’ll treat it. I’ll spend extra time down there working on the extra things to get better, then, during the suspension, practice hard and stay strong so when I return, I can step right in the fire and continue the winning ways that I expect to be happening while I’m gone.

Cameronm08ps0042_1 BA: In defense of the suspension, Ned Yost referenced your character, saying it’s well known that you’re one of the most quality individuals in the game. How exactly does that count in the clubhouse?

MC: I just try to be me. It’s good to have a good reputation because when all else fails, you want people who know you to look at how you are as a person. That’s the way I was raised…to become a man before I become a baseball player. Those are the characteristics that I carry every single day of my life. Being here in Milwaukee, it definitely helps out to have character because it allows the people that you work with to accept you. You don’t want to have any disruptive behavior that destroys something that has already been built strong here. Hopefully, I can come in and shed some light on some of the things I’ve experienced and help them become quality major league baseball players for and extended period of time.

BA: Your signing has created two position changes, outfielder to outfielder, what can Ryan Braun expect in left?

MC: He’s a good athlete and that definitely helps. That being said, there are some nuances that you have to really be aware of in the Major Leagues. Number one, the lights. That will be the biggest adjustment, tracking the ball through the lights. The ball gets on you quicker. The only way to get comfortable is through experience and repetition. It’s more than just taking fly balls from a coach. Batting practice is the best time to get a lot of reps so, in the beginning, he’ll have to work just as hard in BP as the game. Once we get to Spring Training, I’ll be able to take a look at him and figure out how I can help him throughout the course of the season.

BA: Where did you get the nickname "Swiss Army Knife?"

MC: Lou Piniella…when I was with the Mariners. He gave me that name because of my versatility. Defense, offense, speed, power…I feel like I still have all of those tools and that has allowed me to play this long. I don’t focus on ONE quality that can help a team win, I focus on keeping ALL the tools sharp so I can help the team win in all aspects of the game. Speed is a big part of my game and as long as I can run, I should be able to play a long time.

BA: You’re a career .343 hitter at Miller Park and a .300+ hitter in all NL Central ballparks. Is there something more to that than just the numbers?

MC: Miller Park is fair. The ball travels well here, especially when it heats up. I think that is true throughout the Central division. There are a lot of runs scored in this division. Having played in Petco (San Diego), a pitchers park, it definitely hurts your offensive numbers. You try not to let it change your game but mentally, you know it’s going to be tough.

Coming here, I’m going to feel very good coming to this ballpark everyday because you know if you hit one good, especially to right center – my power field – it’s got a chance to go out of the ballpark instead of being an out. Believe me, I’m looking forward to it!

End.

…and in honor of Brewers newest Georgian, here’s a classic from a couple of pioneers. If this doesn’t make you smile, you don’t love music. CLICK

Please feel free to send your thoughts/question by clicking on the "comments" icon below.

Q&A with Brian Anderson

Broadcaster talks blogging, tone of voice and the Brewers
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com 

MILWAUKEE — A little more than a year ago, Brian Anderson was happily working as a host for the Golf Channel and a sideline reporter for the San Antonio Spurs. Now, he’s gearing up for his second season as one of the 30 Major League television play-by-play men.

The 36-year-old joined longtime analyst Bill Schroeder on the Brewers’ broadcast team in January 2007. An eighth-generation Texan born in Austin, Anderson moved his wife, Michele, and daughter, Madeline, from Georgetown, Texas, to Milwaukee, and has been spending the winter acclimating himself to life north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Anderson also has joined the thousands with a page on MLBlogs.com, and in the spirit of the Internet, he exchanged e-mails last week with MLB.com about his return to baseball, what he sees ahead for the Brewers and what’s up with his golf game.

Rattler Spotlight: Brian Anderson

MLB.com: Let’s start by looking back at your first season in the booth. A lot of fans think of 2007 as a big disappointment because the team spent so much time atop the National League Central before falling back in July and August. Others take the glass-half-full approach, and view the season as a big step forward in terms of playing winning baseball and competing for the division entering the final weekend. Where do you stand on that debate?

Brian Anderson: I stand on the "bottom line" side. The 2007 Brewers came up short of their goal to compete for a pennant and a World Series title. When you’re done with all the adjectives, it still boils down to pitching. When Ben Sheets was healthy, Chris Capuano was right and the bullpen was well rested, they were one of the best teams in baseball. When Sheets got hurt, Capuano got in the quicksand and the bullpen got spent, they weren’t.

That being said, what happened in ’07 gives me great optimism for ’08. Brewers baseball is relevant again. This group played entertaining, meaningful, winning baseball until the very end. A great bunch of guys with a ton of talent and a bright future playing in front of large, passionate, energetic fans all season.

MLB.com: You spent all of 2007 Spring Training in Phoenix getting to know the team on the field while also getting to know Bill Schroeder, your new broadcast partner, during MLB.com webcasts. You obviously had broadcast events as part of a team before, including Minor League Baseball games, but how long did it take for you and Bill to hit a stride in the booth? Bill_and_brian_2

BA: Not long. We said we’d give it two weeks and then sit down and talk about how we could serve each other better. Well, we never really had that sit down. I never felt at any point that Rock and I had to grind to mesh in the booth. I trust him. He knew I needed feedback. Whether it was to say "back off" or "bring more" or "great call," Rock was honest and I counted on his opinions. We did a "mock" game back in December and hit it off immediately. We have great chemistry in the booth because I like him and respect him. He has great sense of perspective.

During Spring Training, I noticed how he talked to players about baseball. I could tell he was a great teacher of the game. He’s clear, to the point, and offers a simple, understandable analysis on TV. He’s also really funny. A charismatic, old school ballplayer from Jersey. As I said when I took the job, the analyst is the star. He has to drive the content. Rock is perfect in that role and it’s up to me to give him space to do that. Of course, he needs to be given space for a number of other reasons as well!

MLB.com: Do you think your game-calling style changed from Game No. 1 to, say, Game No. 160?

BA: Sure. Style is tied directly to confidence. In the beginning, everything was new. I wanted to come in understated and was pretty much in survival mode for the first few months. I tried to add layer by layer. There is no doubt there was more volume and energy as the season progressed. I’m constantly thinking of the audience. I worry that I’m talking too much, or not enough, or too loud, too soft, etc. When you’re just starting out, you’re so concerned with finding the parameters you forget to be yourself. Then, you slap yourself and get back to instincts and fundamentals.

I have a mental scale for play calling that I try to stick to. It’s hard to explain, but basically, a great play in a meaningless Spring Training game is a one. A great play in a season changing-type game is a 10. The goal is to match everything in between appropriately. Not just with calling the play but the between pitch conversation as well. Sometimes there is a lot to talk about and sometimes it’s best to stay focused on the field. I’m not a screamer and I try to keep things in perspective. If Prince Fielder hits a third-inning home run on the road in April, that’s no time to get to the end of your voice. If Corey Hart brings a home run back — at home — in the crunch of a pennant race, it is. The call and the conversation has to match the moment. You can’t plan for it. It’s instinct. More experience leads to more confidence and better perspective. Confidence and perspective lead to better instincts.

MLB.com: Do any games stand out for you as favorites from last season?

BA: Ben Sheets’ complete game on Opening Day. August 4 versus the Phillies — Fielder’s go-ahead home run in the eighth and Hart’s game-saving catch in the ninth. August 10 and 11 — comeback wins at Houston.

And, while not a "favorite," you have to put Justin Verlander’s June 12 no-hitter in there as well for its historic value.

MLB.com: In your blog, you had a really interesting — and personal — take on the performance-enhancing drugs issue in the wake of the Mitchell Report. What kind of feedback have you gotten from that post, and how do you see the issue playing out in 2008?

BA: The feedback has been great. My brother has gotten quite a few phone calls and e-mails since that was published. I love the picture. The "deer in headlights" look on his face when they snapped that shot during his first day in the Majors. He’s a great coach and role model now.

So many people were asking me to speak about PEDs. I just felt it was better to give some personal perspective on the subject. I can’t speak with authority on the issue because I don’t have all the facts. But, I can speak with authority on the subject when it involves my own brother. We all need to be careful to not jump to conclusions. I always say, "Water finds its own level." More and more players will have stories to tell and books to sell and in time, we’ll all have a much better understanding of the impact. Baseball is best defined by its eras. I think, as we’re able to better define the "steroid era," the stats will be put in their proper context. Major League Baseball, from the beginning to now, has had plenty of individuals equally adept in promoting and embarrassing the game. It’s the same now as it was in 1900. But, the game rolls on because it’s such a great form of entertainment. I think 2008 will be more successful than 2007.

MLB.com: Which of Brewers general manager Doug Melvin’s moves since the end of the ’07 season stands out to you as having the most impact?

BA: The rebuilding of the bullpen is huge. Doug and his staff did a great job plugging a giant hole from last year. But, I think many aren’t giving Doug enough credit for the moves he did NOT make. So many teams want to pry away the young stars from the Brewers. I’m sure there have been some tempting offers. Doug hasn’t budged. I love that. These young guys have formed quite a brotherhood in the clubhouse. They are so young and so talented and the opportunity to compete for a pennant is right in front of them. Doug and his staff have decided to keep the core together and surround them with complementary pieces. That’s how winning franchises are built. I saw the same thing when I covered the Spurs. Milwaukee deserves to see "their" guys stay in Brewers uniforms and win in Brewers uniforms.

MLB.com: The first question I always get from friends and family around the holidays is, "What do you do in the offseason?" So, what do you do in the offseason?

BA: Well, mostly just re-connecting with the family. I have a second grader, so I spend a lot of time at her activities. I’ve been soaking up the Wisconsin sports scene, too. A Packer game, Marquette University hoops, Badger Hockey, the Bucks. It’s been fun. I’ve also really enjoyed the old theaters and Discovery World Snow_golf_2 downtown.

On the work front, it’s been a busy offseason with appearances for the Brewers. My FSN colleagues and I have been shooting a number of interviews and special features as well (you’ll get a taste during the Winter Warm-Up). I still do a handful of Big 12 basketball games for FSN and I’ve been working on a few video production projects outside sports. Other than that, I’ve developed a special bond with my new best friend — the snowblower.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.