As many of you know, I am a huge fan of the Cape Cod Baseball League, as I feel it is the best of what baseball is all about: young talented players playing for the love of the game, wood bats, summertime baseball, family friendly atmospheres, free admission, and the incredible passion and loyalty that each town has for their team. The Cape League also provides baseball scouts the best opportunity to scout college players, as the high level of competition along with the wood bats give them the best picture into what that player’s skills truly are. Most summer afternoons when I am not visiting Cape Cod, I am listening to Cape League games on the internet, typically of my favorite team, the Cotuit Kettleers.
Over the course of this summer, I have listened to many Kettleer games and their announcers encourage email correspondence during the game. Being the overzealous fanatic that I am, I began emailing Seth and Zach to share any tidbits I could offer, but more often, simply to tell them what an excellent job they were doing. As we emailed each other more often, I asked them if they would be willing to participate in an interview with me for NatsGM, as I thought the readers would be interested in learning more about the Cape League and hearing about some of the brightest prospects in the league this summer. Luckily, they agreed. Below is the transcript of our interview, I hope you enjoy this exclusive interview with Seth and Zach.
NatsGM -> “Seth and Zach, thank you for joining me today. Before we get going, would you please give the readers of NatsGM some background about yourselves and how you arrived in Cotuit for the summer of 2011?”
Seth Bernstein: “My dream has been to become a professional baseball broadcaster since about fourth grade. I grew up a diehard (and still am) Cubs fan, and have spent most of my life listening to and watching Pat Hughes and Len Kasper, and they really sparked my desire to do this. My high school didn’t have a radio station, so I did Public Address there for various sporting events, mainly basketball, but my eye was always on Play-By-Play. I knew since I grew up in Chicago that Northwestern had an outstanding student radio station and the best journalism school in the country, so I set my heart on attending Northwestern and applied Early Decision. Once I got there, I began work at WNUR Sports immediately, and fell more and more in-love with the idea of being a broadcaster. WNUR Sports has given me so many opportunities to develop and is really the reason I’m here today. Not only is it where I’ve started polishing my skills, it’s also where I learned about the Cape Cod Baseball League to begin with. Two fellow staffers of mine, Josh Weinstock and Aaron Pepper had broadcasted in Cotuit the summer prior to my freshman year (I just finished my sophomore year), and they gave me the idea. I applied, and they wanted me to come badly, but since I don’t drive yet, they needed me to bring someone along who had a car and can drive (to get to the away games). Zach is a great broadcaster and I knew he had been interested in the past, so it was a no-brainer to ask him to come along.”
Zach Warren: “Well, I’m born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s quite possibly the least interesting state in the union, but I love it all the same. I graduated high school in ’08 and started college as a journalism major at Northwestern, outside of Chicago. I absolutely love it there and couldn’t imagine going to school anywhere else. I’ve been broadcasting there for 3 years now, doing play-by-play for football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and of course, baseball. I also was the Sports Director of the student radio station there from March 2010 through March 2011. I tried to get a broadcasting gig on the Cape last summer, but it fell apart at the last minute. I wasn’t even thinking about the Cape this year when Seth approached me and told me that he needed somebody to broadcast with this year. Of course, I jumped at the chance.”
NatsGM -> “Outside of your play-by-play duties, do you have any other day-to-day responsibilities?”
Zach Warren: “We both work cleaning up around the field for the Kettleers before and after game days, keeping Lowell Park at the top of the cleanest stadiums in the Cape. We also do all sorts of odd jobs, such as painting, fixing things, basically whatever they need us to do. It’s a good way to make a little bit of money (desperately needed for me up here) and still be around baseball in some fashion. It makes for a long day, but I couldn’t be happier with it.”
NatsGM -> “Could you describe what your typical game day schedule looks like?”
Seth Bernstein: “I’ll wake up at 9:55 a.m., since we start work at Lowell Park at 10. Zach and I will hop in the car and drive to Lowell Park, and get the ballpark ready for a game. First thing we do—and most important—is put up the Game Day Signs, so that the neighborhood knows there’s a game and that they should come. We finish work at about 1:00, after three hours of work at the ballpark, and then come back to the house we’re staying at. Sometimes I’ll make lunch for myself, and sometimes I’ll walk a few blocks down the road to eat lunch at Cotuit Fresh Market, otherwise known as “The Coop.” They have the BEST New England Clam Chowder! After about two and a half hours, of relaxing, we then head to the ballpark to set things up at 3:30 for a 5:00 home game.
For road games we leave exactly two hours before first pitch. Once the equipment is set up, one of us will go down and talk to Coach Roberts, and the other will get the lineups. After filling out my lineup card and pouring through some notes for the day’s game, I walk around the ballpark to chat for a few minutes with some of the other interns that I’ve become friends with. About 15 minutes before we hit the air I return to the booth and start doing sound checks and then we’re set. After the game, Zach and I return the Game Day Signs to their shed and go back to the house we’re staying at. A long discussion about the game ensues—what went well, what went poorly—about both the players and our broadcast. Then I just relax and get on Facebook chat to talk to all my friends from back home for a few hours. Then it’s bedtime and time to do it all over again!”
NatsGM -> “What has been your favorite Cape Cod moment so far this summer? How have you taken advantage of your few off-days so far this summer?”
Zach Warren: “My favorite Cape Cod moment has to be when I was on play-by-play for the Kettleers’ top of the 9th comeback win against the Bourne Braves. There are only so many chances to be on the call for a comeback victory, and considering that one came after the Kettleers had lost something like 10 of 11, it was nice to get a win in such dramatic fashion.
As for the off days, I’m a big beach guy, and it’s nice to be living within walking distance of the beach here in Cotuit. My first day out at the beach, I thought it would be a fun idea to put sunscreen on my own back, you know, being safe and all. It was all well and good… until that night, when I clearly saw a solid line across my back where my hand wasn’t able to reach. Still didn’t stop me from going to the beach, though.”
Seth Bernstein: “My favorite moment on the Cape this summer was Alex Yarbrough’s walk-off double in the bottom of the eleventh of a game against Hyannis. We’ve only had two walk-offs this year, one against Wareham—Zach called that one—and this one was my turn. I’d had a pretty subpar broadcasting game that afternoon, and it was a really, really, important game for the Kettleers. It all fell in place on that one play, the Kettleers walked off, and I nailed the call—which is the best of my career so far, and will probably be on tapes of mine for quite some time to come.
I love relaxing at the beach so incredibly much that any time there is an off day, I go to the beach. I also love sleep, so there is a lot of that that happens, as well. On an off day, I’ll stay up really late—until 2 or 3 in the morning and catch up on all of the TV shows I missed that week because of games. Then I’ll sleep until 2 or 3 in the afternoon and get a ton of sleep. I wake up already relaxed, but go to the beach for even more. I stop at “The Coop” on the way to the beach for some lunch, and then lay down at the beach to relax from about 3:30 until 7 at night. There is no better way to spend an off day—I even put on my sunscreen properly to make sure I don’t end up looking like a lobster the way Zach did! One off day, though, we skipped the beach and went to Fenway Park instead to watch a Red Sox game. I was in awe the entire time and had to pinch myself a few times. Fenway is the only other ballpark in the country that has left me anywhere close to in awe as I am every time I leave Wrigley. Wrigley is #1 by a wide margin for me, but Fenway is definitely #2.”
NatsGM -> “To shift a bit more to the diamond, what were your impressions of Roland “Cody” Stubbs, a player that briefly played for Cotuit this summer and also was a 14th round pick of the Washington Nationals earlier in June? I am sure my audience would love to hear your impressions of this young man.”
Zach Warren: “He seems like a very raw talent, a guy who wouldn’t fast track through the minors, but I could definitely see getting to the show with some work. He came through in a clutch situation once or twice, but he just couldn’t develop consistency against much tougher competition than he saw at Walters State. One thing that really impressed me though was his heads up base running. More than once, I saw him take an extra bag when a fielder wasn’t paying attention or not hustling to get the ball. It’s tough to teach that kind of heads up play.”
Seth Bernstein: “We didn’t really see enough of him for me to give a truly accurate impression on him. He struggled a bit at the plate while he was here—but showed flashes of excellence, as well as some pop. He did hit one home run for us at Hyannis, and yanked it over the wall in right-center. Most importantly, for him, though, is that he was a hard worker and you could really tell. He put in extra hours in the cage, always came early, etc. He also was a really heads-up base runner, as Zach mentioned.”
NatsGM -> “Which Cotuit Kettleer player or players have particularly impressed you so far this season?”
Zach Warren: “The three that have really stood out to me are Victor Roache, Bobby Wahl, and Alex Yarbrough. Roache (Georgia Southern) is an obvious answer after leading the NCAAs in homers this year; I see no way that he’s not a first round pick next season, possibly as high as the top 5. He’s got power (2nd in the Cape in HR), but more than that to me, he’s also very patient at the plate (he’s first in the Cape in walks). Bobby Wahl (Ole Miss) is simply electric as a reliever. He’ll never be more than a 1-2 inning guy, but in those innings, he’ll give you mid to high 90s stuff, and a breaking ball that can be deadly when used sparingly. And Alex Yarbrough (also Ole Miss) has really come on recently as a do-everything player for the Kettleers, having played all 4 infield positions at this point. Kevin Ziomek, Mike Yastrzemski, and Deven Marrero are three guys I expect to be on this list too but we haven’t seen them enough.”
Seth Bernstein: “I’ll start with the obvious one: Victor Roache. He’s not only the best Kettleer, he’s also the best player in this entire league, hands-down, and I am positive he’ll win the League MVP no matter what happens the rest of the way. At this writing, he is hitting .383 with 5 HR, 25 RBI, 23 BB, and an OBP of .517. He’s played in every single game this season except two—when he went away to hit in the NCAA Home Run Derby in Omaha, Nebraska. This is a guy that will hit 30 HR a year in the Big Leagues with an average over .300 year-in and year-out, a huge star in the making. Even better yet, he’s an outstanding person off the field and a very hard worker. He puts in hours of extra batting practice every week. He comes early and stays late. He signs for kids for what seems like a half hour or forty-five minutes after every game. I can go on and on. Other guys that have been impressive are Bobby Wahl, Logan Vick, Chris Beck, Kyle Zimmer, and Deven Marrero. Vick has the best eye at the plate of anyone on the team other than Roache, Wahl has an 0.52 ERA as closer with 29 Ks in 17.1 innings, Beck is the ace of this staff and has a 1.82 in 39.2 innings over six starts, Zimmer is a starter that throws 97 mph, and Marrero would be a better defensive shortstop than most Major League shortstops at this point—and he can hit extremely well, too.
NatsGM -> “If I could ask you to wear your ‘scouting hat’ for a moment, which players from around the Cape League have impressed you this summer?”
Seth Bernstein: “This, of course, doesn’t include the Kettleers players I listed above—I think all of the ones I listed have big Major League futures. Adam Walker and Dan Gulbransen of Hyannis are both outstanding baseball players. They can both hit the ball with authority, and I have no doubt they’ll both be first-round draft picks. Walker’s .250 BA in the Cape may not scream out at you, and his 42 Ks are a bit high, but his raw power is incredible. He hit the longest HR I’ve seen hit by anyone this season other than Roache. Gulbransen is just a good baseball player, a very smart one, and gets a lot of big hits in big situations. On the mound, I’ll go unconventional and name Dietrich Enns of Hyannis, who plays for Central Michigan in the school year. Has a 0.86 ERA out of the ‘pen for them, but is a long-reliever with unhittable stuff. Yarbrough’s walk-off was off of him, but it was after he’d pitched 3.2 innings that day. And the Kettleers have faced him four times, with that being his only blemish. Really, really impressive stuff. Ryan Eades of Bourne has the best ERA in the league and has put up big-time numbers on the mound, but we haven’t actually seen him pitch, so I can’t say anything about him for sure.”
Zach Warren: “The most impressive pitcher I’ve seen was Marcus Stroman (Duke) who played for Orleans. He only actually pitched in 2 games in the Cape before being picked up by Team USA, but he was absolutely electric when we saw him. An underrated guy who has looked strong is Chris Pickering (Rhode Island) for Bourne, who is currently top 5 in the Cape in ERA and picked Cotuit off 4 times in one start. On the hitting side, Dan Gulbransen (Jacksonville) has been consistently good and can hit good pitching; he’s the only extra-base hit off of Bobby Wahl this season. And junior catcher Taylor Davis (Morehead State) could very well be playing his way to getting signed by leading the league in batting average and his 2 HR.”
Now to the Lightning Round Questions:
NatsGM -> “What has been your biggest surprise to find out about the Cape Cod League?”
Zach Warren: “For me, it would be the different ways that all of the different parks play. In Orleans, the field is a football field, right down to being square, so you better hit to the corners, because center field is around 430 feet. In Wareham, the infield isn’t normal clay, but rather some sort of grey stone mix. In Hyannis, right center field is about 50 feet further in than left center field, making it a lefthander’s heyday. Teams can scout for their particular parks.”
Seth Bernstein: “I didn’t realize what a pitcher’s league it is. Everyone always talks so much about it, and really makes sure to absolutely hammer into your head that “as soon as the good pitchers get here, that guy won’t be hitting well anymore.” However, Victor Roache is just so good that normal rules don’t apply to him. I’ve been truly, truly, lucky to watch him play every single day for a full season.”
NatsGM -> “Who has been your favorite interview so far this summer?”
Seth Bernstein: “My favorite interviews so far have been with Mason McVay, Cody Stiles, and Chris Beck. Mason calls me Bob and Zach John. We asked him a question, and he started talking about Chuck-E-Cheese and pizza. It was totally unrelated and Zach and I just started cracking up. Couldn’t hold back the laughter. Cody was in the back of the booth waiting his turn and decided to join in, and started talking in goofy accents and about fishing, and we kept laughing. It was a good thing, as the Kettleers gave up several runs during that inning. Chris is just a really professional guy, gives honest, thoughtful, respectful answers, and is clearly well-trained at dealing with media. You can also tell he loves it when you talk about how good he is—a big grin will pop up on his face.”
Zach Warren: “A tie between Chris Beck (Georgia Southern) and Mason McVay (Florida International). Beck is always friendly and gets a huge smile whenever we mention his great strikeout totals, and McVay is just a big jokester who kept calling me and Seth “Bob” and “John” the whole time.”
NatsGM -> “Besides Lowell Park, which Cape League stadium is your favorite? What is your favorite Major League Stadium?”
Seth Bernstein: “We haven’t been to Chatham yet, and I’m assuming that will be my favorite aside from Lowell Park. But of the other eight (not including Chatham and not including Cotuit), my favorites are Bourne and Hyannis. I like our setup in both places, I like the way the ballparks look—they’re both very attractive and well-kept, and I like that the fields play pretty fairly. I am a diehard Cubs fan who grew up a 20-minute walk from Wrigley Field, so my favorite Major League Stadium is Wrigley Field. No stadium is more beautiful, no stadium is more awe striking and not a single one can match the atmosphere when it’s full there. Wrigley is in the middle of one of the nicest neighborhoods in Chicago, and I’ve grown up literally walking there all my life. It can’t be beat.”
Zach Warren: “Everybody’s been telling me that Chatham’s the nicest besides Lowell Park, but that’s one of the two that Cotuit hasn’t played at yet. Out of the ones I’ve been to, I’d have to say that I did like Hyannis. It just seemed clean and a great place to watch a game. For favorite MLB stadium, I’ve only been there once, but Fenway Park absolutely blew me away. If it counts, I grew up going to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, and it was kind of a dump, but it was a dump with character.”
NatsGM -> “Who is your pick to win this season’s Cape Cod League Championship? Who is your pick for the World Series?
Zach Warren: “Of course, my pick to win the Cape Cod League Championship is the Cotuit Kettleers. The team just has too much offense, and with the organizations postseason experience (defending champs, 3 straight championship series), it’ll be tough to knock them out. For the World Series, I’m going to have to say the Red Sox. Everybody’s hitting for them, and that rotation hasn’t looked half bad.”
Seth Bernstein: “Cotuit Kettleers—this team is too talented not to pull out of last place in the final thirteen games. As we saw last year, once the playoffs start, it doesn’t matter where you finished in the regular season. This team has the most future Major Leaguers of any in the Cape League and will finish in their rightful place on top. My pick to win the World Series is the Philadelphia Phillies. That rotation is just too good to be beat this year, and they have more than enough offensive talent to go along with it.”
NatsGM -> “Finally, how can we keep up with you?”
Seth Bernstein: “I’m a Co-Sports Director at WNUR Sports, Northwestern’s student-run radio station (Zach was one of my predecessors and passed the torch to me). We broadcast football, basketball (men’s and women’s), baseball, softball, and women’s lacrosse. I’ll be on the air all school year long through many sports, and you can listen and see our schedule at http://sports.wnur.org. You can also follow me on Twitter at @sethbernstein67; I’m never short on opinions and things to say. My social media rule, though, is to always keep it clean—no vulgarity and personal attacks on anyone or anything—and keep it professional. Since I’m still only going to be a Junior, as long as they’ll have me back, I’d love to come back for a second year in Cotuit with the Kettleers so, cross your fingers, hopefully I’ll be back for one more go-round of Kettleers Baseball.”
Zach Warren: “I’ll be broadcasting throughout my senior year at Northwestern for WNUR Sports, the sports arm of the student radio station at the school. The website is sports.wnur.org, and for me specifically, I know already that I’ll be on play-by-play for the Northwestern football team plays Michigan, Iowa, and Michigan State this upcoming season.”
Simply tremendous! Thanks so much for sharing some insights into the Cape Cod Baseball League and some prospects to watch out for in the future.
Big “Tip of the Fedora” goes out once again to Seth and Zach for giving so much of their limited free time this summer to participate in this interview. Thank you so much guys! I would highly encourage you to listen to their broadcasts if you have the opportunity (kettleers.org for information) as they are extremely talented and have bright futures in broadcasting.
You can follow me on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom, find me on Facebook search NatsGM, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.