What does a young journalist do after winning a Pulitzer in his first rodeo with the Post? Come back to take over the Nats beat, of course. Here to answer 10 questions about that and more is the man himself, Adam Kilgore. We thank him for his time, his candor and his Christmas card good looks.
1. What’d you do at the Post your first goaround?
I started off in 2006 as a summer intern, which entailed a lot of subbing for the Godfather of the Nats beat, Barry Svrluga, and, back when the Post covered the Orioles, Jorge Arangure. I was actually in Pittsburgh the day Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez made their Nats debut. I remember they were terrible. … And I just checked — 0 for 7, one error, and the groundball that killed a potential game-winning rally combined. Don’t say those two didn’t give everyone fair warning.
After the summer, I moved to college sports and covered both Virginia Tech and Virginia; I lived in Blacksburg because it put me closer to the Triangle schools. The next summer, I covered the Orioles for three months, and those were a brutal three months — the last days of Sam Perlozzo, when players were about as openly insubordinate as you can get. Erik Bedard was a monster, though. I forget if they won any games while I covered them or not. Around the start of college football, the Post started taking wire services for the O’s and I went back to Tech and UVA. I had one more spring and summer spent writing some longer feature stories and filling in a few times on the Nats.
2. Why’d you leave for the Globe?
In late summer 2008, my future at the Post was unclear. I was a two-year intern, and with my time coming up I couldn’t really tell if the Post could or wanted to keep me on. I had worked for the Globe as a summer intern twice while I was in college. It was the paper I grew up reading and a dream to work there. I had an abiding admiration for Joe Sullivan, the sports editor. He called me in the summer and asked if I was interested in covering the Red Sox alongside Amalie Benjamin. Of course, I was. When I was offered the job, it represented security and, really, the chance to fulfill a fantasy really damn early in my career. There was some uncertainty there for a while, but things have stabilized and the paper is in a great place. Whoever gets my old job is lucky and he/she is going to love it.
3. Why come back to the Post now?
I developed some very meaningful personal ties here and, as much as I love Boston, I really love D.C. Shortly after I left, I had a feeling that I wanted to come back eventually, but again, I had no idea it would be this quick. I think the Nationals are going to be a terrific story in this city.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure you even need a reason to justify working at the Washington Post. It’s like the story about Walter Payton getting elected to the Hall of Fame. The football writer charged with stating his case stood up, said “Walter Payton,” and sat back down. “The Washington Post” kind of says it all.
4. So what’s expected of WaPo’s Nats reporter in 2010 (chats/week, stories/day, blog posts/hour, tweets/minute, etc.)?
The space in the paper is not going to change – there will be a notebook and a game story daily. The Web is a different story. I am committed to providing the most comprehensive and thorough coverage of the Nats. What that means as far as number of posts, tweets, chats, videos, and maybe podcasts, I’m not sure. If I do my job the way I want to and plan to, readers and fans will not want for coverage. I do know, along with Gene Wang, who is going to be a regular at Nats Park, that we plan on doing in-game chats during weekday day games. We also plan on doing at least one regularly scheduled Nats chat. I am going to be tweeting a lot. I plan to have somewhere around 5-7 blog posts each day. Again, I can’t say what my exact output is going to be, but it’s going to be a lot and we’re going to let readers dictate a good deal of it.
5. Do you plan on doing it differently than your predecessors Chico Harlan and Barry Svrluga?
My first objective will be to downgrade the number of times eating at Panera during the spring to roughly 150 meals. I hear there’s a Five Guys in Viera now. I can go there and get grilled cheese and the fries.
Seriously, both those guys leave incredibly large shoes to fill. Barry is one of the best sportswriters working today, period. Chico can do things with words that pretty much no one else can. He may not have manned the beat for long, but I think he made a lasting impact with his writing ability.
Even though Barry left the beat only about two years ago, the emphasis on the Web at the Post has evolved so much. Most days, almost everything I write will have appeared online in some form before it goes in the paper. Also, I don’t think they ever sent Barry or Chico down to Viera with a FlipCam. I picked one of those bad boys up today.
There might be one area I get more into. I’m really interested in the minor leagues – player development is just so, so important in baseball now, especially for a building team like the Nats. I want fans to get to know the guys who will be debuting in 2012 and let them know how the Nats are doing when it comes to drafting and developing. I think we can do some good stuff there, especially on the web.
6. What do you think of the Mark Zuckerman experiment?
Extremely cool and I am thrilled it’s working so well. I hope he finds a sustainable approach. Mark is a great guy to share a press box with – always upbeat, fun to talk baseball with, quick with a joke. I really believe Mark being around will improve coverage not only for readers of Nats Insider, but also for readers of the Post. First, his presence is going to challenge me. We’re friends, but at the same time competition is competition, and I’m confident he’d say the same. Second, the more good reporters there are asking questions at press conferences, in packs at lockers, etc., the better it is for all readers and all fans.
7. Have you found a place to live yet, or will that have to wait until after Viera?
It looks like I’m going to be living in Alexandria at least to start. I haven’t made much progress – my last day in Boston was Friday and I leave for Florida on Wednesday. I lived in Cleveland Park when I wasn’t shacking up in Blacksburg my first tenure at the Post.
8. What’s your favorite bar in/around D.C.? Restaurant? Attraction?
Restaurant: For a quick lunch, Byblos in Cleveland Park. For a nice dinner, Vermilion in Alexandria.
Attraction: Falls Road Golf Course in Potomac or the 9:30 Club if Drive-By Truckers is playing.
9. How does D.C. compare to Boston?
The best way to describe Boston as a sports town is to picture what it would be like if the Redskins also played baseball, basketball, and hockey. The fervency of fans there is through the roof. Then again, I think the Capitals are showing that when D.C. teams get good, the same is true here. I can see the same thing happening with the Nationals soon.
Both cities are teeming with smart, ambitious young folk – Boston because of the colleges, D.C. because of the internships and sports blogs. D.C. has more cool places with a wide selection of Belgian beers, which is a fact perhaps better filed under Question 3.
10. Anything else I should’ve asked?
I have no ambition to become a food writer.