The biggest Washington Nationals news on Tuesday was the acquisition of Brittany Ghiroli as a Nats beat writer for The Athletic. Some would say “finally” they hired someone at The Athletic whose main purpose is to cover the Nats and give some fresh perspective to a team that has few regulars on the beat. Many baseball fans know Britt Ghiroli from the Orioles beat and from her appearances on MLB Network. As a former collegiate swimmer at Michigan State, Ghiroli fits right in with athletes — even athletes who compete on grass and dirt. She does not know any of the current Nats players, but knows manager Dave Martinez who she covered with the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2008.
“I am very excited! Also scared, nervous and a bit intimidated which is a good thing,” Ghiroli said. “After nine years in the same spot you get comfortable. And getting out of your comfort zone is how you grow! Plus, I’m stoked to be closer to the Spy Museum (Yes, I’m a nerd…)”
Ghiroli just wants to give Nationals fans a place to read even more about their favorite team and players. She knows there is a lot of great info already out there but thinks of The Athletic as sort of Sports Illustrated-esque.
“I won’t have a lot of stuff [to begin with],” Ghiroli continued. “But I’ll work my tail off to make sure everything is a good read and as unique as possible. (Now that I’ve put all that pressure on myself, give me a little slack as I catch up!)”
Ghiroli will have a budget to travel to Spring Training and road games. One thing about the Athletic is that they do not do game stories so Spring Training will be a great time for her to meet the players and coaches and gather information and start to get a feel for the organization.
“I’m excited for a lot of road trips because being in the AL there’s a lot of cities I don’t get to go to,” the former swimmer said. “Also my family moved out to San Diego a few years back and now I get to see them at least one more time a year.”
Speaking of Spring Training, she will be on the east coast of Florida versus being on the Gulf side and she asked that if anyone knows where to eat, lift and other cool spots, send her a message on Twitter!
The team Ghiroli just covered lost a record 115-games in 2018 which makes the job much tougher for everyone involved. There was a time after college that Ghiroli lived in Washington, D.C. and she remembers the days when the Nationals struggled but nothing like the Orioles this past season.
“From a professional perspective, I was always told you want a team to be either really good or really bad because average is boring,” the former Orioles beat writer said. “So, there was not a lot of dull moments for me this season (which is good), but there was A LOT of bad baseball games that didn’t matter. That part got tough. Guys I had covered and known for nine years were gone. The clubhouse was angry, then deflated and then brand new. The second half of the season was incredibly emotional. You could see the writing on the wall. Everyone — coaches, players, Buck [Showalter], the front office— were all on eggshells. No one knew their fate. People turned on each other.
“When I took over the [Orioles] beat in 2010, it was insane. I was incredibly naive in thinking players are ALWAYS in good moods and want to talk to you. I had come from going to the World Series with the Rays in ’08 to helping out with Yankees coverage in the WS in ’09. Good teams have stories everywhere — from A.J. Burnett’s wrestling belt to all of Joe Maddon’s quirks that year that put Tampa Bay on the map. It makes it 100x easier to do your job because guys want to talk, they are in good moods and it’s positive stuff.
“Then, I get a beat of my own and the O’s were so bad that they fired their manager mid-season and hired an interim before getting Buck. Guys are frustrated and you’re the one in there first with a recorder. A lot of times that means you catch the brunt of things. I’ve been yelled at in person, drunkenly over text, and just flat out told, ‘no, I’m not talking to you.’ Winning greatly reduces the odds of all of these, hahah.”
You can tell by those quotes that Ghiroli does not sugarcoat things, and there is some honest stories from covering a team that she shared with us.
We asked Britt if she preferred NL baseball or AL baseball which has different strategies with no DH.
“[That] is a trick question because Orioles fans are reading! 😉 I mean, chicks do dig the long ball, but I like how much more thinking goes into the no DH. Buck always likened it to a good game of chess with all the moves and countermoves. And NL baseball tends to be quicker. (No one complains about time of game more than reporters, trust me.)”
When Brittany covered the Tampa Bay Rays in their World Series season of 2008, she got to know Dave Martinez who was Joe Maddon’s bench coach. She said she wished she could say she had that foresight that he would be a future manager. however, his success did not surprise her. As she said earlier, everyone is nicer when you’re winning, and the Rays did a lot of it when she first met Davey that season. During an inter-league game between the Nats and O’s this past season, Ghiroli decided to see if Davey remember her.
“I hadn’t seen Dave [Martinez] in years, honestly wasn’t sure if he would remember me, so I thought I’d re-introduce myself quietly at the end of his [presser]. Not only did he remember me, Dave went out of his way to come over and say hi before I could and asked how things were going in my life. We chatted for a few minutes while others waited before he was finally whisked away in what’s always a packed day. As a reporter, that little interaction speaks volumes about who Dave Martinez is. I’m excited to cover him on a daily basis.”
As mentioned, Davey Martinez is the only current Nat that Ghiroli knows well. She is hoping that general manager Mike Rizzo signs a familiar face this off-season.
“Not unless they bring back Matt Wieters! Adam Jones’ wife joked over the weekend that maybe they’d follow me to DC (though obviously that’s not a real need for the Nats.) I’m holding out hope they’ll add someone I know so that person can convince the rest of the clubhouse I’m OK. Unless they sign a guy who doesn’t like me. Then I’m screwed, hahah.”
For those who want some fun facts on Britt Ghiroli, she freely admits that she is an obnoxious Michigan State fan and not sorry about it. For the local Terps fans, there will be a basketball rivalry for the Big Ten schools! She had also competed in powerlifting for two years and her best squat was 270 lb. at 128 pounds which is some serious lifting based on the rules of how deep you have to go on those lifts. She went well over double body weight which is impressive! She also has a black belt in tae kwon do so she can defend herself against real bullies! Add to that, she also loves hockey and excited to be able to go to more NHL games now that she will be in Washington D.C.
“I get a lot of questions about how I got my start or what it’s like to be a female in this business, so if people are curious about either — they can read this: