Back on December 23rd, we got the news. Matthew "Don't call me Matt" Leach was dumping us. He didn't call or text but instead just left some note about how much he used to love us but he found someplace that is prettier and smarter and has way fewer mullets. It was the classic, "It's not me; it's definitely you" moment.
Well guess what Leach, we found someone new too. She's gonna move to St. Louis and cover baseball sans eccentric music tastes. I hear she likes mullets too*. Jenifer Langosch (note the single 'n' in the first name; she's like a reverse Matt Holliday) was kind enough to answer some of my insightful and less insightful questions. Formerly a beat writer covering the Pittsburgh Pirates, Langosch got the call up to the big leagues -- and by that I mean she'll cover a team that has had a winning record after she started kindergarten.
Azru: Let's start with a little bit of background. Where in Missouri did you grow up at?
Jenifer: I actually did not move to Missouri until I began studying at the University of Missouri. I was born in Virginia, moved to Illinois shortly after and then spent most of my childhood in Marietta, Ga. Technically, that would make me a southerner. But my family roots are very much in the Midwest and I never did pick up that southern accent, love of fried chicken or obsession with the SEC.
Azru: And you went to college in Missouri as well, right? I presume for journalism.
Jenifer: I did earn a degree in journalism – with an emphasis in news-editorial – at Mizzou. I also majored in French, though I am still looking for useful ways to use that degree. While in Columbia, I wrote for the Columbia Missourian newspaper and did freelance work for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader [edit: That's the Double-A Cardinals hometown paper] and Inside Mizzou magazine.
Azru: How did you get started at MLB.com?
Jenifer: I was fortunate enough to land an internship with MLB.com the summer before my senior year at Mizzou. I spent 12 weeks in Atlanta, where I assisted our Braves beat writer with coverage. The experience was tremendous, and it opened the door to a full-time position covering the Pirates. I moved to Pittsburgh to begin that job the day after college graduation.
Azru: You've been the Pirates beat writer for five years, who was your favorite player to interview on the team?
Jenifer: I’m honestly not sure I can single out one individual, perhaps because of how many classy and professional athletes I have covered with the Pirates. I would say, though, that Matt Capps, Adam LaRoche and Neil Walker have been among the most genuine and accessible players I have been fortunate to work with.
Azru: If you had to characterize your style of coverage with 3 adjectives, what would they be?
Jenifer: Thorough. Fair. Personal.
Azru: How familiar are you with modern statistics and how much, if any, credence do you give to them?
Jenifer: I am familiar with many of the statistics that we tend to classify as sabermetrics, though I, too, have more to learn in this area. I will regularly cite statistics like WAR and UZR in stories, but I often hesitate to include the more bizarre modern statistics in fear of alienating readers who don’t yet grasp them. I think there is an appropriate balance that can be found in coverage.
Azru: What is your favorite and least favorite part of covering baseball?
Jenifer: The best part of my job is going to work every day and not knowing what you’re going to see or get to write about. The toughest part is probably the unconventional hours (working almost all nights and weekends) and grind of a 162-game season. [edit: I was expecting 9th inning re-writes.]
Azru: Do you have any hobbies?
Jenifer: I started playing competitive tennis when I was seven and still manage to participate in several leagues/tournaments now. I also picked up the sport of paddle (platform) tennis two years ago in Pittsburgh. Since it’s hard to play tennis regularly during the baseball season, I took up running last year and completed my first half marathon in May. I hope to finish another sometime this year. Separate of sports, I have a passion for traveling – particularly internationally. I traveled to India last year to work with an orphanage and have also done mission/humanitarian work in Pakistan. I’ve visited eight countries in Europe, and I’m actually headed to Costa Rica and Nicaragua later this month.
[edit: In a follow up, Jenifer said that, while she doesn't follow tennis as a sport regularly -- mainly the slams, she likes to watch Federer play. As a Rafael Nadal fan, I am disappointed. On the women's side, she follows Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki. As a fan of any player that doesn't rhyme with ... damn that last name ... look I just think Wozniacki is terrible.]
Favorite book? To Kill a Mockingbird
Favorite musician? Rascal Flatts
Last movie you saw in movie theaters? We Bought a Zoo
Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate
Favorite non-baseball sport to watch? College Football
(This one is for the ladies and Aranathor) Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling? Ryan Gosling
My thanks to Jenifer for taking the time to answer my questions. I, for one, am looking forward to another new aspect of the new era of Cardinals baseball we find ourselves in. Best of luck to Jenifer in her new endeavors. Good Luck to Matthew Leach as he heads off to bigger things. Don't be a stranger Matthew.
* I didn't actually hear if Jenifer likes mullets. It's probably safe to assume that she doesn't like mullets, skinny ties or boat shoes. She's undecided on knee-high boots.**
** I'm pretty much just making things up now.