As I mentioned in my piece about the event yesterday, we're doing a small series of posts as a way of both promoting the Mariners' Women in Baseball night, and celebrating these women who work in the industry and love this game. First up is an interview with Meg Rowley, whom most of you will recall from her tenure here, which included absurdist gems such as this, this, and this, as well as this other thing and that (and yes, you must click on them all and then revel in Meg's wit and in the joyful realization it is no longer 2015). Meg currently writes for Baseball Prospectus, while also juggling a Real Life job that sometimes takes her to beautiful places in the state, and was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
What first drew you to baseball?
I grew up watching the late 90's/early 2000's Mariners; it was hard to be a young person in Seattle then and not develop a lasting love for the sport. Baseball was an important part of my step-mom's bond with her grandfather, so she would take us to games. They still have a promotional poster of Freddie Garcia hanging in their kitchen pantry, which now that I think about it, is actually pretty weird!
What is your first baseball memory?
The Double in '95. It wasn't just my first really clear baseball memory; it was my first real sports memory. There are other parts of that game that I have absorbed as memory that are probably the result of years of rewatching that ALDS, but The Double I remember for sure. That, and walking up the ramps of the Kingdome to get to our seats in the upper level. I don't actually remember much of watching baseball there, but I remember the walk up those ramps.
When did you begin writing about baseball?
I had a little personal sports blog when I was in grad school just to give myself something to write about that wasn't Hobbes and Foucault, but I really started writing for an audience when I joined the Lookout staff in June of 2015. Later that summer, Rob Neyer brought me on to freelance at Just A Bit Outside (RIP JABO), and that fall I joined the staff at Baseball Prospectus.
What do you enjoy most about baseball writing?
To offer an annoyingly earnest answer? The people I've come to know. Making new friends as an adult is hard; you're not in school, and you don't necessarily want to see your work friends on a Saturday. I started writing about this thing I love and discovered there were all of these wonderful, quirky, smart, kind people who loved it, too, and wouldn't think I was odd for wanting to talk about James Paxton's improved control and velocity for an hour at a time. It has been a small miracle in my life. And also, baseball itself. Baseball is the best.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing about baseball?
During the season, it's finding time to watch baseball, then write about it. During the off-season, it's that there is no baseball to watch, then write about.
What is your favorite piece that you've written?
Serious answer? "Baseball Players Hit Women, Too" on the stakes of the League's implementation of its domestic violence policy. Non-serious answer? It's a tie between a piece on Mike Trout hypotheticals and Adam Lind farting. Yup. Farting. Wrote about that in a place my mom could see.
Where did the idea for the Women in Baseball night come from, and how did the event itself develop?
Jeff Sullivan and Kevin Martinez, the Mariners VP of Marketing, had talked about doing an event like this a few years ago, and Jeff looped me in last fall. From there, we worked with Kevin, and Lookout alum Colin O'Keefe to get the ball rolling. The idea was that teams across MLB, including the Mariners, do Ladies Nights already, but those events tend to be about having fun and are aimed more at attracting fans to the ballpark who might not otherwise buy a ticket. There's certainly a place for those events (there are a lot of ways to be a fan!), but we wanted to do something geared toward female fans who would be interested in hearing from women working in baseball on their perspectives on the game, how they got where they are, and the challenges they've faced as women in the industry, as well as some of the triumphs. I'm really excited by the diversity of role we have represented at the event. Whether you're interested in baseball media, scouting, analytics, or working for a team's information department, there's something for you.
As a writer, there are times I'm a fan of this team and times I'm a more dispassionate observer; I can't do justice to how it felt to walk into Safeco to meet with the team I grew up rooting for to design an event like this and have them be so supportive and excited. We still have a ways to go before I think anyone is satisfied with the state of diversity in baseball front offices and media, but hopefully events like this can inspire some of the folks in the crowd to consider roles they didn't know people like them could have, and inspire other teams to reevaluate how they think about their programming for female fans. And if you'll forgive making an already long answer longer, this line up is so incredible! So while the event is certainly geared toward women, I think the panel has insight and stories that any fan will enjoy hearing. You can get your tickets at mariners.com/women.
If you had unlimited time and resources, what would you write about?
A lot of what interests me the most about baseball is in the smaller moments of the game, though maybe I'm limiting my ambition because I write in the hours away from my full-time job. That said, a lot of the big analytical questions of the game have been answered; the advances in our knowledge are going to come at the edges. So maybe unlimited time and resources in the small spaces would the perfect way to find something new and interesting.
Who is your favorite baseball player, non-Mariners (and non-Seager) division?
That's a hard question! Pass? No? Ok. Hmmmm. In terms of guys I love to watch play, I would say it is a multi-way tie between Buster Posey, Chris Sale, Jose Altuve, Adrian Beltre, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and... maybe weirdly Justin Turner? Oh and Kershaw. Oh oh, and Kluber. And Lindor! And Kenley Jansen. And Giancarlo! We are so lucky to be watching baseball right this minute.
Note: Again, if you haven't already, buy your tickets for the event here.