After Kolko had finished nearly an hour of reporting for MASN from the Nats’ NL-East clinching celebration, he went into a bathroom inside the Turner Field press box, dumped a cup full of stale liquid out of each of his shoes, wrung out his shirts, and toweled off. Then he realized that his backup shirt remained at his seat, and so he was forced to walk shirtless through the press box in search of a change of clothes.
Normal night at the office, all in all.
“I had no idea that I’d become part of the story — I don’t know that I actually did,” Kolko said on Wednesday, when I asked him to describe the previous night. “I mean, in my mind, it’s entirely about the players, and them enjoying a night that they earned. I was in there holding a microphone. I got to enjoy that experience personally, and I’m glad it seemed like fans enjoyed it as well.”
I’m pretty sure they did. While Kolko didn’t want to insert himself into the celebration — he declined the goggles the MASN crew offered him, and decided not to wear a poncho or other goofy props into the sudsy mayhem — there was no chance of conducting traditional interviews amid the giddy booze-spraying players hopping around him.
And so Gio Gonzalez emptied an entire can of beer into his grill; “In the face,” Kolko observed, quoting from The Hangover. Jayson Werth again quoted Mean Girls; “You go Dan Kolko!” Werth said to the reporter. When Kolko briefly choked on the cascading hooch and explained that it went down the wrong pipe, Kevin Frandsen screamed “There is no wrong pipe!” And when Kolko interviewed Drew Storen, he was showered with what felt like a dozen cans of beer.
“We got MASN Dan pretty good,” Storen said on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday. “I think that was half the fun.”
“It just wasn’t stopping,” Kolko said of the beer showers. “I was trying to catch my breath, number one; to make sure I was asking questions that were making any type of sense, number two; and to make sure I wasn’t drowning….And I was constantly running my fingers through my hair, trying to look decent for television, if that was at all possible in that situation.”
Kolko’s phone rarely stopped vibrating in his drenched pants, with friends and viewers texting and tweeting him about his sopping star turn. He lost track of time; the entire celebration felt to him like it lasted five minutes, but crew members later told him it had been around 45. Like others in the clubhouse, he joked that if he had been pulled over by police, the smell alone would have been damning.
“I reeked,” Kolko said on Wednesday. “To be honest with you, I still reek. It’s not much better right now.”
But even though fans seemed to revel in the never-ending deluge of spirits flowing over Kolko, he stressed that he was just trying to do his job: to line up as many guests as possible, come up with different questions as the night went on, and help viewers feel like they were experiencing the party themselves.
“I try not to get caught up in fan reaction to anything that happens, whether it’s positive or negative, but it was nice just to see people appreciating the work that I had done, that our crew had done, because it was a collective effort,” he said. “I don’t want to come off like I’m the story here. I was holding a microphone, and I feel privileged to have been in that situation and to have been able to enjoy the experience from an outsiders’ perspective….
“As a reporter who covers the team, on field or on the sideline, that’s the moment that you look forward to,” Kolko said. “That’s the one you want to be a part of. It means the team you’re covering is having success, it means the players are having fun, and that’s what you grew up watching as a kid….I’m there to do a job and I pride myself on doing that job to the best of my ability — and I hope I did that last night — but at the same time, I hope that I’m able to enjoy the experience. I think for everyone, it’s a cool thing to be in some way a part of.”