Charles Dickens wrote it so well, — ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …’ and that sums up life as we know it with the ups and downs. Perspective is always a key. Debbi Taylor was the first dugout reporter in the Washington Nationals history from 2007 to 2011. She loved her job even as she endured the back-to-back 100 loss seasons (2008-2009). It wasn’t always cheery in RFK and Nationals Park, but Debbi seemed to be the optimist, and she made it the best of times.
There were those times that general manager Mike Rizzo said that the team had to learn how to win. They acquired Jayson Werth for that 2011 season in a chance to turn the team around to bring that change to the clubhouse. The best of times would come would come for the Washington Nationals, and while Werth and Taylor had moved on, their contributions to the team were there.
While Taylor appeared on the MASN Network, she saw a carousel of people in and out of jobs there as she and play-by-play announcer, Bob Carpenter, remained the constant from 2007-2011 during the game broadcasts. It was the removal of Rob Dibble during the 2010 season that many remember as a low-point until last week when MASN parted ways with their dugout reporter, Alex Chappell, as well as Dan Kolko and Bo Porter from the pre/post-game shows. That could be the age of foolishness. Stability in a sports job is always up in the air.
“I was shocked to hear about the changes with MASN,” Taylor said. “So many good people and friends are losing their jobs. I feel for Alex Chappell who did a terrific job in her role with MASN. No doubt she will find another opportunity. In addition to the amazing on-air talent, there are so many good people behind-the-scenes that will no longer be working. It’s hard to leave the game. It’s even harder when it isn’t by choice. But, I’m a big believer in perseverance and moving forward!”
With that same foresight and positive thinking, Taylor moved forward in her own career after she left MASN, and has worked NFL games, NASCAR, and teaching as well as other ventures.
“Also, since leaving the Nationals, I’ve been fortunate to team up with Bo Porter on some very cool projects,” Taylor said. “We wrote a book together, The End Game, and I helped him launch CORE Magazine. CORE features champions of real excellence so it’s fitting that Nationals President of baseball operations and GM Mike Rizzo was our cover story. I enjoyed catching up with Mike to talk about the amazing 2019 World Series Championship run and the makeup of a champion. I’m so happy all of his hard work and dedication paid off.”
Added to Debbi’s list of current jobs, she is teaching students at the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University and loves being in the studio with them and spending time out in the field.
These days, Debbi and her husband Wade and their 13 year old daughter Kaitlyn live in Orlando, Florida. Like everyone, she says they are just trying to navigate this new normal of social distancing and staying safe amidst COVID and have become very adept at using FaceTime and Zoom! You might remember that Wade Taylor was a former Yankees’ pitcher and after his playing days became a scout for the Washington Nationals.
The Taylor family still considers themselves Nats fans and Debbi, Wade and Kaitlyn enjoyed the World Series win as they saw familiar faces from ownership, the front office to players on the field, and people behind the scenes who they know.
“My family and I continue to follow the Nats and we were so happy to see them win the World Series,” she said. “The games were enjoyable to watch and seeing them hoist the World Series trophy was special.”
“The Lerner’s were always so kind to my family. Kaitlyn still has a pink scarf that Judy Lerner knit for her during our last season in Washington.”
“Naturally, I miss the team, the games and the ballpark. But, I especially miss the people around Nats Park. People like you, Andrew, who shared that love and passion for baseball and the Nats. Fortunately, I’m able to keep in touch with lots of friends from the area and from time to time, Nats Broadcaster Bob Carpenter keeps me updated as well.”
When they show MASN Classics of some of the greatest Nationals wins, you can see Debbi Taylor in many of the broadcasts. She had so many positive moments with the team. Last month, MASN rebroadcasted the Ryan Zimmerman grand slam walk-off game from 2011, and there was Debbi Taylor doing her thing. Besides Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Ray Knight, Johnny Holliday, and Dan Kolko, it was Debbi who had the next longest tenure on-air with MASN. Unfortunately for the others, it was a revolving door.
During the best of times, Debbi and I were DM’ing, IM’ing and calling each other to do this offseason piece because she still follows the Nats, and she agreed to be interviewed even before the changes happened at MASN last week. That just kind of changed things for this interview. She can certainly relate to the best and worst of times and bouncing back. The good news as she said is that Bo Porter landed a new job in a matter of days with a spot in MLB operations department.