To get multiple voices on to the blog and to better get to know the Natmosphere we will begin a series called Nationals Introspective. Each week we will talk to one Nationals blogger about baseball, the Nationals, and blogging. Next up we have Cathy Taylor from Miss Chatter (Just A Nats Fan).
The Nats Blog: You're clearly one of the Nationals most unique bloggers with your passion for photography, technology, and with your broadcasting experience. Why don't you tell our readers a little bit about all that you do regarding the Nats.
Miss Chatter: Really, I'm just a tech geek at heart! Maybe a little ADHD mixed with enjoying challenging myself just to see if I can accomplish something. I had always enjoyed photography and thought I'd try it on a game one day. And pow! I was in love! I've challenged myself to get as "professional" as possible with my shots and have had some good luck with that. Mostly, I enjoy telling the "story of the game" through photos. Getting into the video aspect was another self-challenge along the lines of, "hey, people are complaining there is no news coverage of the Nats. I wonder if I can shoot and edit video well enough to fill that void without making a complete fool out of myself?" If you watch some of my first videos - oh my goodness! I wouldn't define anything I've done as "broadcasting experience", despite my (extremely unrealistic) dreams of doing something in that arena. I've been fortunate to be invite d on a few radio shows and Washington Post Live on CSN, but they've been guest spots on programs that have a track record of inviting known bloggers on, so I don't think I'm really more special than the next guy in that regard. My skills have been growing along with the Nats tenure in DC and I've expanded my equipment and technology as the years have gone by and I've "graduated" to the next level. I really started out trying to provide fans the information and inside looks they craved. Now that there are more outlets providing that kind of coverage, I'm contemplating ways to refine and define exactly what I do moving forward.
The more polished I try to make my work, the longer it takes to finish. That's a huge downside for something that's really just a hobby on top of a (more than) full time job, running a non-profit, and having two kids!
TNB: Ok, much easier question, how did you become a Nats fan and where were your allegiances before 2005?
MC: Well, I grew up in the Chicago suburbs in a fanatical Cubs household. My childhood saw many visits to Wrigley Field. I even tasted my first beer there. I played softball growing up, so the fundamentals and understanding of the basics were already rooted. I lived in Florida for 10 years, many of which were baseball-less until the Devil Rays arrived, but Tropicana Field was not a great place to take in a game, so baseball fell by the wayside in my life for a while. When the Expos/Nats were coming to DC, my husband actually joined us in a neighborhood season ticket group. I was mildly interested in the beginning and enjoyed going to games at RFK, but hadn't formed any real attachment until the middle of the first season in 2005 when I found out one of the players was my "first friend" when his and my mom were pregnant together and went through the "first child" experiences together after we were born two months apart. His parents were also named my godparents, but we moved when I was 4 and I really didn't know them or have any memories of that early part of my life. So I began paying more attention to games and added watching every game on TV when we didn't have tickets in hopes I would get to see Gary Bennett, who was the backup catcher that year, play. The more I watched, the more I got sucked into the game and the team overall. I began scoring games to help me keep track of possible moves (when he might pinch hit haha!) and started a blog mainly on my efforts to get to meet Bennett without seeming like a creepy stalker. Through the scoring, I began to really get a feel for all the players, their talent levels, strengths and weaknesses, and the strategies of the game (according to Frank Robinson). From that point on, I was hooked as a red-blooded fan of the Nationals.
TNB: During the season you hold a great event for Nats bloggers and fans, Baseball on the Barn, how did you come up with the idea for this and why do you do it?
MC: When we first moved into this house, it had been neglected for quite some time. The entire property was overgrown and wild. We set out to clear it, and after we cleared the bamboos and tall weeds from behind the barn, our neighbors jokingly complained they no longer had a view of anything but the sheer boring white broadside of the "barn". We schemed over breakfast ways to make it more visually interesting for them and somehow jumped to holding "Screen on the Green" type events from the neighborhood. Not every Nats fan in the area had access to MASN on their cable systems the first couple seasons, so I had the brilliant idea of adding group game viewings when the team was on the road to get fans together for beers, bbq and a shared game viewing experience.
TNB: Seriously...why did Dibble block you on Twitter?
MC: Seriously, I wish I knew! It's awkward because I generally get along with everyone and consider myself friends with his broadcast partner, Bob Carpenter. I always try to be conscientious of what I write or say so I don't hurt anyone's feelings and I went through everything I tweeted prior to him blocking me and found nothing that would be offensive. All I can guess is guilt by association with some of the more opinionated fans.
TNB: What do you think about the Nats moves this offseason?
MC: On paper, I think the moves they've made this offseason look fantastic with improvements to the bullpen and starting rotation. More fantastic than I thought last season's off-season moves looked (and we all know how that turned out). I'm afraid to feel too optimistic about the upcoming season, however, due to being crushed the last two years after heading into the season with optimism. I know that sounds pessimistic (unusual for me), but no one can predict injuries or other unexpected events that may adversely affect the team as a whole.
TNB: What would you have changed?
MC: I think 2nd base is still a weak spot. But there are still a few more weeks left….
TNB: What is your favorite all time Nats moment?
MC: All-time is hard to define - there have been some wonderful moments over the years. My favorites have come during massively rain-delayed games that eventually start with so few fans left, you get a seat in the front row. Nats seem to win those more times than not (at least according to my memory). I know most people will cite Ryan Zimmerman's walk-offs as their favorite moments, but for me, I think it was Jordan Zimmermann's MLB pitching debut. It was another rain delayed game, and his win felt like something that reinforced "The Plan" and youth of the future. I'm looking forward to Drew Storen and Strasburg's debuts as well!
Non-game moments - getting a hug from Frank Robinson and my first embarrassingly inept encounter with Manny Acta ("What's your favorite color?") that he clearly remembered me by when we met again!