Why My Wife Thinks I’m An Idiot:
The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad
By Mike Greenberg
In life, everyone has goals. People have things they want to accomplish regardless of the people around them. It can have high impact like owning a home, or something as simple as getting to work on time after waking up late. In the book entitled: Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot: The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad, Mike Greenberg talks about having, “the best job in the whole wide world” (page 211) and all of the mayhem, both positive and negative, that comes with it. Greenberg is a national radio host on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. He talks with famous athletes and coaches’ daily. In my opinion, “Greeny” (nickname) is right. I cannot think of another job that is better than his. He is one of the most popular sports radio hosts in the country and hopefully I know what that is like one day. I cannot think of a better job then to get paid to talk about sports. Greenberg is not lucky, by any means. To get in the position he’s in one has to work very hard and have a few fortunate moments on the way. Every successful person goes through some kind of struggle on the road to success. Greenberg is no different and he doesn’t shy away from it in his book. Furthermore, there is some humor in the book, but also plenty of journalistic views and ideas.
In the book “Greeny” mentions a call he took on his radio show in late 1999. The man told him that he wasn’t a journalist. The funny thing about it is Greenberg agreed with the man. The caller got angry and hung up, but Mike was not done talking about the subject. He said he believed the American people have stopped trusting the media. He does not blame the public; he blames the “bad journalism out there.” He said, “That is the tragedy of journalism today: Everyone thinks the object is to get the story first when in reality the object will always be to get the story right” (page 43). Considering he said this on his radio show twelve years ago and journalism has gotten more bogged down with bloggers, writers and other internet media outlets, I think Greenberg has a good point. The Internet has impacted journalism heavily. It has hurt journalism because news is being reported inaccurate just because “bad journalists” believe it is better to get the news out then to be 100% accurate. This has just reinforced in my mind how important it is to be accurate as a journalist.
Mike Greenberg did not just get handed a radio host job. He had to earn it and like every journalist there were times he needed to think on the fly to get the interview he needed. Greenberg worked in Chicago early in his career and went to cover a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. He tried to get an interview with Jack McDowell who was a pitcher for the White Sox. McDowell kept blowing off the interview. Greenberg was just hired on and if he didn’t get the interview he was likely to be fired. McDowell went on to become the winning pitcher of the All-Star game and Greenberg knew it was now or never. McDowell didn’t interview after the game. Instead, he blew it off and tried to sneak out of the ballpark with some of his friends. Kids waited outside for the ballplayers to come out and sign autographs, but McDowell kept his head down and attempted to walk past. Then, “Greeny” did what any good journalist would do and told kids who it was. They rushed McDowell and he was left with no choice but to sign autographs. Greenberg was able to get a five-minute interview during the autograph session and avoid getting fired. I mentioned earlier how everyone has certain goals that they want to reach. Well, if Greenberg didn’t get the interview, he may have never reached them. He slipped through the cracks and did what had to be done. That’s what journalists must do. Greenberg was persistent and he got the interview he desperately needed. If Greenberg went back to the radio station (who flew him to Baltimore to report and interview the lone Chicago player in the All-Star game) and told them he didn’t come through, there is no doubt that he would have been let go. That is something the book taught me: journalists must think on the fly, be innovative and do their job right; whether it is during an interview, on the radio, or in an email with an angry listener/reader.
Later in the book Greenberg talks about the birth of his daughter and how she impacted his life. One thing that stood out to me is when he was leaving to go on his first business trip since his daughters’ birth. He didn’t cry when his wife was pregnant and he didn’t cry when his daughter was born either. He went on to say, “I never cry. It isn’t a macho thing; I just don’t do it” (page 82). Well, maybe that was true until he was packed and ready to go on his first business trip one week after his daughter was born. “Greeny” admits that he started to cry as he pulled out of the driveway and he said it was “the first time my daughter had made me cry. I remember I also thought it was certain not to be the last. But you never forget the first time” (page 85). This is another thing that the book has taught me about being a journalist. The world doesn’t stop because of a newborn, a death, or any other significant event. Journalists must have an on and off switch that’s ready to be flipped one way or the other at any given moment. Then again, as I am typing this, I think journalists might not have an off switch. In fact, it seems more likely that you are either on or in neutral ready to be called on at a moment’s notice. Either way, you must remain on your toes.
In this book, Mike Greenberg lets you in the mind of a sports journalist; not only professionally, but also personally. He shows you how both worlds coexist with each other and the challenges that stem from each. I am very happy I picked this book to read because it has taught me various things about being a journalist. It taught me things that I wouldn’t learn in a class or in a seminar because it put me in the shoes of a sportscaster. The book showed me what my future profession will entail. There are many adjectives than can describe a journalist. They need to be persistent, motivated, prompt and they must work at their best under pressure. “Greeny” showed how well he worked under pressure when he got the interview at the All-Star game. His job was on the line and he came through in the clutch. We all have moments that shape our future. If one tiny detail was changed our life would be completely different. If Mike Greenberg hadn’t told kids who the baseball player was, he may not have even written a book. I might have been writing about a different journalist. But, that is not the case because he was persistent and motivated enough to think outside of the box to get the job done.
The book really took me by surprise when I finished it. I thought that it would be more about sports and I was worried I wouldn’t get any journalistic knowledge from it. However, I was completely wrong. Mike Greenberg showed me that he is a journalist who happens to do radio. He gave me many different ideas; some of them are listed above. I don’t think the book had many weaknesses. The only weakness I noticed was that the book isn’t that versatile. It is a great read for someone interested in sports journalism, but someone interested in another type of journalism may not get the same knowledge from it. Maybe it is because I am so interested in the life of a sportscaster, but I think the book was a great read. I would recommend it to anyone interested in sports journalism. Overall, this book reassured me that if I work hard enough and get a break or two along the way, I can accomplish my goal, which is to have “the best job in the whole wide world” (page 211).