Sterling Myhre is a 16 year old Junior at St. Albans High School in Washington, DC. Sterling started his blog, “The First Week Of Summer” in October of 2013 with the goal of chronicling his annual baseball trips with his dad that take place during the first week of summer vacation. In July of 2014, Sterling’s blog became a MLB Pro Blog and one of only four “youth pro blogs.” Since then, Sterling’s blog has evolved to also focus on various other baseball subjects like the MLB Draft, his stories of acquiring MLB players’ autographs and his favorite team, the Washington Nationals. You can find Sterling’s blog at www.thefirstweekofsummer.mlblogs.com, follow it on Twitter @1stWeekOfSummer and like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thefirstweekofsummer.
As we head into the interview, I would just like to say a huge thank you to Sterling for his cooperation and his insight.
1: Now let me ask you, how many MLB games have you attended?
So far this season I have seen 30 games if you include the two spring training games and the one exhibition game that I saw before the season. In total, in my life, I’m not sure exactly how many games I have seen. My first game was an Orioles vs Mariners game all the way back in 2004. I recently started using a website called Hardball Passport to try to log every game that I have ever attended. So far I have entered 140 games into the system, with 64 of those coming at Nationals Park. 140 is a pretty good number but in some seasons, like 2013 for example, I’ve only logged eight games. In reality, I probably attended between 20 and 25 games that season. So I’d say I’ve probably been to somewhere between 200-250 games in my life.
2: Are you excited about the recent acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies to the Nationals?
I’d say that I’m definitely excited that the Nats got a good relief pitcher because I think that the bullpen has consistently been the weakest part of the Nats roster this season. Although, I’m not so sure that Papelbon was the right guy to get. Drew Storen definitely did not deserve to lose his job as the closer, especially not to Papelbon who has, in my mind, had a worse season than Storen this season. If the Nats had gone out and gotten one or two good setup men, I’d be extremely pleased. So, like I said, I do think that it is a good thing that the Nats got another good reliever but I really don’t think Papelbon was the right guy. I’ve heard that he doesn’t have a good attitude and him demanding to be the closer has to bring a lot of tension and turmoil to the clubhouse.
3: Who is your preferred baseball player on the Washington Nationals?
I’ve been following the team ever since they moved to DC in 2005, and for the longest time Ryan Zimmerman was my guy, and I still find it hard to admit but I am starting to gravitate more towards guys like Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Obviously their on-field performance is awesome, but I think it’s really that competitive spirit that they both display game in and game out that make me love each of them so much. I’m also a big fan of some of the lesser known players on the team like Manny Burris, Matt den Dekker, and Jose Lobaton. Burris is a former coach and camper at the baseball camp that I work at, Home Run Baseball Camp, and I’ve coached his nephew so altogether, him being a DC guy and being a part of Home Run Baseball Camp is a big deal to me. When den Dekker was on the Mets, I saw his first career home run which was and upper deck homer which was pretty cool because his Twitter handle is @UpperDekker. I also got a chance to meet den Dekker which was really cool. Jose Lobaton just seems like an all-around awesome guy who is pretty funny, and he has some awesome hair. He has had a lot of playing time this season and he has performed well, and like den Dekker, I got a chance to meet him as well which was pretty cool.
4: Any trades that you thought the Nationals should’ve conducted before the trade deadline expired?
I think the Nats’ biggest issue is the bullpen which they did strengthen by adding Papelbon, but I would have rather seen them acquire a couple of good setup men like Tyler Clippard and maybe Tommy Hunter, Kevin Jepsen or Steve Cishek.
5: What’s the best part about your annual trips to various ballparks every summer?
There’s really a lot that I love about the trip. During our nine trips, we have had a lot of long drives so I get to spend a lot of quality time with my dad. I also love getting to see new cities that I probably wouldn’t have visited yet if I hadn’t gone there on the baseball trips. Also, you know, seven baseball games in seven days… What’s not to love about that?
6: You (and your blog) are one of the few pro-youth baseball bloggers for MLB.com, how has this experience helped you as a writer?
I think being part of the MLB Pro Bloggers group had helped me most as a writer by just giving me more confidence in my blog. I started my blog back in October of 2013, but didn’t really start writing until May of 2014 and I’m not sure how long I would’ve kept going if I didn’t get that “boost” from becoming a Pro Blog in July of 2014.
7: Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
If you ask my friends they’ll probably tell you that baseball really is my passion, and they would probably say that I’m going to be the General Manager of some MLB team. I definitely would love to do that, but with there only being 30 jobs available in the entire country, I think that it might be somewhat of a stretch. I’m really interested in becoming an agent for athletes or even continuing as a baseball writer.
8: Have you made plans to see the new Washington Nationals exhibit at the NEWSEUM in Washington, DC?
This is going to sound really bad since I tell everyone that my favorite museum in DC is the NEWSEUM but, I hadn’t actually heard that there was going to be a Nats exhibit. I actually visited the NEWSEUM back in late June and I’m surprised that I didn’t hear about the upcoming exhibit. Now that you mention it, I’m going to do some research about the exhibit and will make sure to go and see it as soon as I can.
9: Like all sportswriters who have a motivation to write, what is yours?
I think my main motivation and the reason I created my blog originally was to document all the awesome baseball experiences that I’ve had. Back in 2007, when I started going on the baseball trip with my Dad, I kept a hand written journal of the trip and I did that for the first four trips but then I got tired of it and stopped. So the first idea for the blog was to be an online journal so I could remember all those great trips and let other people hear about them. Another form of motivation is being an MLB Pro Blogger, I’m one of only four “youth bloggers” in the Pro Blog system and I feel like they made an investment in me and I have to return the favor by producing good, consistent content. I’m also hoping the blog will help me make good contacts in the baseball world and will help me out later in life. Another thing is that I really just love talking, thinking and researching about baseball so I figured I should record my thoughts and findings somewhere.
10: As seen from your recent blog posts, you have many autographs. A) How many autographs do you have? B) What is your most-cherished autograph in your collection?
You know, I wasn’t really sure how many autographs I had until you asked me this question. But I did a little “research” and as far as I can find, I have 621 signatures. I’m sure there are some others that I haven’t counted because I couldn’t find them, but for now that is as many as I can assure you that I have. I think my most cherished autographs have to be a signed, game-used bat from Michael Morse, and a signed, game-used jersey from Jeff Kobernus. But, I cherish those more because they are on such valuable items, I think if I had to choose based on signature alone, I think it would be an extremely hard choice. I have multiple Bryce Harper autographs, which I really love, and same goes for Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman. For awhile, my favorites were some Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun signatures I have. But as of right now, I would have to say the best, and therefore most cherished autograph I have is Miguel Cabrera. I have a lot of other great players like Ozzie Smith, Ivan Rodriguez, Paul Molitor, Jim Palmer, Jim Thome, Yogi Berra, Andre Dawson, Justin Verlander and Goose Gossage. But, I’d have to say that Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) is the best. Right now, the two autographs that I’m after are Mike Trout and Max Scherzer. Trout has skipped me a couple of times when I’ve been trying to get his autograph and I haven’t really had a shot a Scherzer but I’m sure I will get both eventually.
11: How do you tend to know where the visiting team of an MLB team is staying?
Finding out where a visiting team stays is really kind of random. According to my dad, teams used to publish in their media guides where they stayed in every town but recently took that out because they were worried about the safety of the players. We use various different ways to try to figure out where teams are staying. There is some website that is probably pretty out-of-date that has where teams at least used to stay. Recently we asked the local ticket agent that we bought from in Tampa and he knew where the teams stayed. Once when I was in Toronto, I actually asked one of the Nationals’ assistant coaches and he told me where they were staying. If I can’t find a suggestion online and asking around doesn’t work, normally we just walk around the city about 4-5 hours before game-time to see if there are any autograph seekers standing outside of some of the fancier hotels.
12: In your mind, what was the biggest blockbuster deal of the 2015 trade deadline?
There were really a lot of big name guys dealt at this years deadline, personally I think there were the most in recent memory. When I think about the biggest blockbuster of the deadline, there are a couple of names that come to mind. Yoenis Cespedes, Cole Hamels, David Price, Carlos Gomez, Troy Tulowitzki and Johnny Cueto. I think it is pretty obvious that the Hamels deal will have the biggest long term affects. That’s just bound to happen when you have a trade with eight players involved. But right now, for this season, I’d have to say the Yoenis Cespedes trade is the biggest deal. This decision was pretty hard seeing as I think both the Price deal and the Gomez deal will give the Blue Jays and the Astros a much better chance to win their divisions, and the Cueto deal will help the Royals run away with the AL Central even more. But when I look at the Cespedes deal, the Mets have had literally the worst offense in all of baseball and they are now getting a big bat. That combined with the fact that they are tied with my favorite team, the Washington Nationals, for first place in the NL East makes it the biggest trade of this season in my mind.
13: Favorite MLB player? (Aside from Nats)
This is actually a really tough question that I myself have been pondering in my free time. I’ve come up with a list of guys who I really like and it’s pretty hard to pick out who my favorite is. Right now my list includes Steven Souza Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, Munenori Kawasaki, Carlos Rodon, Zach Walters, Huston Street, Bartolo Colon, Yoenis Cespedes, Odubel Herrera, Nick Hundley, Yasiel Puig and Justin Maxwell. Out of that group of guys, I’d have to say my favorite is Yoenis Cespedes. It’s a really tough decision and I almost like Kevin Kiermaier better. I really love the hustle that Kiermaier plays the game with but the talent and swagger that Cespedes plays with just overmatches Kiermaier. Yo, as they call Cespedes, is just really awesome to watch.
14: Describe the sport of baseball in one word.