Most professional athletes despise sports radio, as the round-the-clock negativity can be tough on anyone's ego. But apparently not all jocks tune out the noise. At least one has run toward it.
Michael Taylor of the Oakland Athletics has taken an unpaid internship at an all-sports radio station this offseason. The outfielder has dreams of working in the media someday, as he studied the business at Stanford and figured he needed something productive to do during his down time.
"We have a lot of time off and I felt like, 'Why not be productive?' " Taylor told the San Francisco Chronicle. "This gives me experience in a world I'd like to know something about. One of my best friends told me, 'You're the only guy I know who goes to the big leagues for the first time and then gets a job interning for free. What's wrong with you?'"
Taylor, 25, made his Major League debut with Oakland in 2011. He's considered one of the top prospects in the sport. Taylor was thought of so highly, in fact, that he was a key piece the Phillies sent to Toronto in a three-team deal that landed Roy Halladay in Philadelphia and sent Cliff Lee off to Seattle in 2009. Taylor was ranked 29th on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects List prior to the start of the 2010 season.
Yet former Athletics outfielder Eric Byrnes, who played for five teams over 11 seasons hosts a nighttime show on KNBR and indirectly helped get Taylor into his sports radio apprenticeship, still had no idea who he was.
Byrnes set up the internship with Taylor's agent, but he says he was unaware Taylor played in the Big Leagues.
"I found out a week after he'd started," Byrnes told the Chronicle. "I said, 'Michael Taylor? Of the A's? Wait a minute, you've got to be kidding me. I can't believe you withheld this information.' The next thing I said was, 'Why isn't he working on my show?'"
Byrnes, always a great quote himself, went on:
"What Michael is doing is brilliant. He's got an advantage; he's already doing advanced work. Why not educate yourself and see what else is out there? It's so smart. He's got a foot in the door."
No one else at the radio stations recognized Taylor, and since management never said he was a professional athlete, nobody knew.
Unlike most lowly sports radio interns, the A's outfielder enjoys the adrenaline rush of going on-air. Taylor does a segment titled, 'What's Bugging You?" Its a man-on-the street bit during the "Fitz and Brooks" show that has Taylor interview random strangers on the streets of San Francisco and get comments on sports-related issues. He tells the Chronicle he's not shy he even edits his own audio before appearing on air.
Even A's GM Billy Beane had no idea what his coveted prospect was doing with his down time. "Wait, what? What are you talking about? He's really on the air?" That was the executive's response when told about Taylor's free offseason employment.
Here's Michael Taylor talking to MLB.com about his first experience after being called up to the Majors with the A's during the 2011 season.
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