We're in the thick of baseball season and MLB Central, a new show on MLB Network takes us through all the plays. Host Mark DeRosa shares the insider details on the show and his predictions
MLB Central is a three-hour morning baseball show filmed in Studio 21, named in honor of Hall-of-Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente’s number. The show features highlights and the insights of 18-year baseball legend Mark De Rosa who chatted with us about his new gig.
What makes MLB Central a different kind of baseball show?
One of the reasons I want to be a part of the show, is first off, Maddy Vasgersian is unbelievable with his ability to host and his quick wit and Lauren Shehadi has been amazing as well. But for me, I get a chance to dive into a little bit more of the human element of the players. I played for 18 years and pretty much played with almost 200 current players right now and I have good stories to tell and I feel like this is a good platform for me to be able to do that.
Today was a perfect example of how fun the show can be. We had Kevin James, Paul Blark, Mall Cop II is coming out and we had a band on today, Anthony Rizzo from The Cubs – we get a chance to do a lot of different things and bounce around and be a legitimate morning show which I think is fun.
What’s your favorite segment on the show?
I don’t know if I have a regular segment that’s my favorite but I love talking to players and getting behind the scenes with them with in-depth access where I can pick their brain. Not so much about the day-to-day on how the team’s doing, but more about what motivates them, what they do off the field in the community and how that impacts people.
I like to really dive into their lives on a personal level, because I feel like there’s a story to be told about every guy – they shouldn’t just be represented of what their batting averages is or their ERA.
You retired recently and now you’ve gone straight into sports journalism. How did that happen?
I was approached my MLB network when I was still an active player towards the end of my career to moonlight during some play-off games and give some insight. It kind of just snowballed from there.
Was that always your plan – that when you’re retired you’d go into sports journalism?
I always thought it’d be great to do, but it wasn’t something I was aspiring to as my career ended. I just thought my experiences in the game would help a lot. I’ve been on the totem poll of every roster from the last guy trying to make the team, to a guy who’s counted on to get some big hits at certain times. I’ve played from coast to coast and gotten to know a ton of guys from the game, so I feel like when I say something, it’s coming from a good place.
Although I’m sitting her watching St. Louis Milwaukee, and I still think I can go out there and play.
How’s it been being on camera three hours a day? Harder than baseball?
It’s definitely easier than baseball. The stress level of performing in front of the world in baseball and putting it all out there every night was definitely grueling. Staying in the big leagues and having to fight and doing all those things that you have to do to play at the highest level was tough. There are only 750 guys at any given point in the world that are playing at that level so yeah, that by far trumps being on camera for three hours.
But do you get stage fright before the show begins?
I get nervous because I want to to do a good job for the players. I know they’re watching. I want the people at home to learn something, I want the players to feel like I’m knowledgable and what I’m saying is coming from a good place.
The thing I love about MLB network is you don’t have to stare into the camera all the time. We have amazing producers and camera people that have the ability to get a good shot of you regardless so you can kind of lose yourself in the conversation on the couch.
What are some of the highlights looking forward to this season?
There are a lot of ball players who could play throughout the course of the regular season, but the lights shine brightest in October when the weather starts to get a little cool and you realize you’re the only game in town and can you handle that type of pressure? I always relish that opportunity and I always look forward to it.
The toughest thing about this job is having to make predictions. I have so many friends around the league that I hate disappointing. I want to say everybody that I’ve ever played for is going to make the play-offs but having to predict certain games has been one of the more difficult challenges.
Speak of which, what are your predictions for the season?
I think the Dodgers will win the World Series over the Detroit Tigers and if you ask me my reasons why, I mean obviously I can give them to you, but I could also give you 15 other scenarios that make sense as well.
What’s your favorite baseball stadium?
Old Yankee Stadium was my favorite because I went there as a kid but currently right now, my favorite place to play is Dodgers Stadium. I just love the field. Their fans were passionate and it was like you were playing on a golf course – you didn’t even need a glove because it was manicured to perfection and you were playing against the Dodgers, who I think have such a trademark type uniform and a history. I just really enjoyed being out there.
Who did you learn baseball from?
My father. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve played for some amazing managers –from Bobby Cox to Tony La Russa to Bruce Bochy, but I learned the most from father.
How old were you when you started playing?
I had a brother who was six years older so I kind of just followed him around. I would say I was probably five or six.
What’s favorite moment from your baseball career?
My favorite moment in my career? It’s a tough one. I guess calling my father the night I got called up. I remember calling him – I was in Double A and I ran outside to a pay phone after my manager told me and called him up and basically said I was going to the big leagues and his response was, “You’re not ready.”
He was always honest me. I said “Well I might not be ready, but I’m going anyway.”
MLB Central airs Mon-Fri at 10am EST on MLB Network.