Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Ray of Journalism

By Juan López

When the Sports Journalism Institute met with Fernando Perez before Wednesday’s Rays-Royals game, they all had something in common — a journalism background.

The Tampa Bay center fielder holds a degree in American Studies with an emphasis in creative writing from Columbia University.

Perez is on the disabled list with ligament damage in his wrist and is due to return in July or August. In his downtime he writes a blog for the New York Times Web site.

“It’s the challenge of trying to re-articulate what’s going on,” Perez said. “It’s challenging me to think creatively and that’s kind of why I did it in the first place.”
Perez, 26, admits his blog topics have been “random.”

The latest piece he wrote, “What’s in a song?” told the tale of what goes into a major leaguers’ choice of pre at-bat music.

“There was only one song that I would choose for myself, and that was the ‘Price Is Right’ theme,” Perez said in his blog.

Blogging isn’t new to Perez. He did it while in the minor leagues in 2007.
But getting into it at first was not an easy thing, Perez said. Not because of the writing, but because of the prejudices athletes face.

“That’s the kind of climate we’re in,” Perez said. “People are very presumptuous and they think if you’re an athlete, you can’t possibly be thoughtful and creative.”

But in the end, Perez will likely make his money on the field and not as a journalist. His injury has set his progression back, but has given the observant Perez a different avenue to soak in the game.

“There’s a lot that I’m seeing differently,” he said. “It’s just a different perspective that I’ve never had before. I’d obviously much rather be playing, but I’m still learning.”

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