Nate “The Mate”: Something to Chew on

Have you ever thought about what the last day of your DREAM job feels like?

It’s a depressing, somber thought.

If you think about your profession as a book – the beginning is like the hardest book to read, which for me is pretty much any book. Getting started on a new book is, well, I don’t know because I haven’t read a novel in years. I hate the idea of starting a book.

But sure, you start the book. It’s good, you’re enjoying it. For most folks, you wake up, grab a cup of joe, do the bullshit, stare at a computer screen for hours, and then go home and get ready to do it all again in about 10 hours.

The end is hardly ever a thought. It never ends for some, perhaps the unlucky, perhaps the opposite. But when it ends, and IF one never experienced the joy of reaching the climax, we’re left hanging on a cliff, wondering IF that opportunity will ever present itself again.

Now this is preposterous – I’m not in the business of giving up… But, the past few days has really made me think of what it would feel like for it to be my “last” day of work, or my dream work.

As most of you know, I work in sports. My end goal is to be a lead broadcaster for a major network. Set the bar high? Damn right. I don’t know anyone who likes to sit at a low bar, unless of course, it’s the Lobar in sunny Crested Butte, Colorado.

I digress…

The sports industry is crazy. There is no certainty. Before you spell c-e-r-t, someone has your job.

And my example is a moot point compared to other, more accomplished persons. For instance, I know guys who work on one-year contracts who are very well known in the sports-broadcast world. Guys who have families, house(s), cars, bills, you name it. Just like everyone else. My belongings fit in a car, more specifically a mall car that I won because I was lucky. Yet, the notion of the “end” is a very disturbing thought.

I consider myself extremely lucky to even have a crack in the business. I always tell people who ask the “who, what, why’s” that there really isn’t a magic algorithm other than pure luck to landing a play-by-play job. I say, “you gotta be good,” but really, how does one quantify good? Isn’t it all subjective, er, “just your opinion, man?”

To quote Thomas Jefferson, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

So what made me think of this?

I sit here on December 4, 2015 in Sydney, Australia and I have no idea where I’ll be employed when spring training starts. I have absolutely no idea if I’ll be on a broadcast anywhere. No clue.

Could I be back in Frisco as the #2? Potentially. There’s been some change so nothing is guaranteed, but it’s certainly a possibility. Could I be on the East coast? West coast? Flyover country? Sure, any. Lead broadcaster? I hope.

But there’s also a possibility that I’m left on the street – no team, no broadcast, nada.

The greatest part of my job, in my opinion, is that at the end of the day, I put on the headset and I call a game. I put a lot of work into my preparation. Some might think too much, but I have a system that works, for me… and I try to execute to the fullest of my abilities. I owe it to the fans, the players’ family members, the team and mostly myself. 

I believe I naturally make the game fun, enthusiastic, humorous, informative, and most of all, professional. I believe I’m my harshest critic. I make mistakes, I go back and listen, always trying to learn and improve. Long time sportscaster Skip Erwin always told me that knowledge never fails. So I try my damnedest to bring all the entities of that knowledge into a show that happens to have a winner and a loser.

But today, a bubble wandered through my brain that nobody promised next season. Hell, nobody promised tomorrow. A colleague here with the Blue Sox, Michael Crossland, is a perfect example. I take this straight from his website,

“His life has been filled with adversity & overwhelming odds being told more than 4 times throughout his life that he was going to die, yet has not let that get in the road of achieving unbelievable heights”

This is a man who has battled all kinds of adversity, including cancer, and has spent 1/4 of his life in a hospital. Yet he brings that “it” factor every time he performs; be it on TV, a stage, or on the field. Michael is a true inspiration and I’d recommend taking some time to read his story.

So as I think about how fortunate I am to be in this spot… in a foreign country with all sorts of new “change”, to be able to call a game at the end of the night makes it worthwhile.

I love calling the game.

But this chapter (Australia) will end. The season will conclude, and hopefully a new opportunity/challenge presents itself.

In an email to another broadcaster tonight, I wrote, “the uncertainty is just tough, frustrating. It’s a very humbling experience.”

I sure hope to have a long career as an outstanding broadcaster, but you just never know. And perhaps the thrill of the “great unknown” is what makes the middle of the book so damn good.

But the book will indeed close… for all of us at some point. I just hope that book is far from over.IMG_0229

Cheers… and Good Luck.

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