Yahoo! Sports’ “Mike Oz” On Getting His Big Break

By the time he hit five-years-old, Mike Osegueda loved baseball. By the time he was fourteen, he knew he wanted to be a sportswriter. By the time he was eighteen, he thought his career was over.

“I walked into the school newspaper the day before classes even started and said I wanted to write for them,” Osegueda recalls of his arrival on the campus of San Jose State University. “It was kind of bold in retrospect. But they told me ‘no’ and listed all of these requirements that I would need.”

Osegueda was bummed out and for a time gave up on the idea of writing about sports for a living. But two years later, at the suggestion of his advisor, he walked back into the newspaper office and gave it another shot.

“They were like, ‘want to go to a baseball game?’” Osegueda says. “Of course, I said ‘yes’. And after that I was on the staff.”

BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION

Osegueda worked his way up the editorial ladder and when he graduated college in 2002, he was immediately offered a job with The Fresno Bee – but not as a sports writer.

“They wanted me to be their pop culture and entertainment reporter,” Osegueda says. “I took the job because it was a good paper. I sort of gave up on sports at that point.”

For a decade, Osegueda was a star reporter at the Fresno Bee, building a name for himself in the Fresno community by starting a pop culture blog, organizing and hosting local events, and hosting a weekly radio show on a local rock station (the one job he still does). He won several awards for his efforts and sports writing, it seemed, was in his past.

However, fate would intervene in the form of Jeff Passan, a well-respected baseball writer at Yahoo! Sports, who Osegueda had gotten to know during his time in Fresno.

“I did a story on [former San Francisco Giants pitcher] Barry Zito when he was with the Fresno AAA team in which I said he should stay in Fresno for his whole career and be a legend,” Osegueda recalls, “I said he would be the mayor of Fresno by the end.”

Passan suggested Osegueda for a job to Kevin Kaduk, who is the editor of the popular baseball blog, Big League Stew on Yahoo! Sports. Osegueda went through the application and interview process and was offered the job. But after ten successful years with the Fresno Bee, the decision to leave was not easy. Reaching his dream of writing about baseball would mean giving up quite a bit of what he had achieved in the previous ten years.

TRUST YOUR GUT

“It was tough to take the Big League Stew job,” Osegueda says, “I was pretty community-centered in Fresno and people asked me if I wanted to give all of that up to talk only about baseball.”

In the end, his love for America’s pastime won out, and since February of 2013, he has built a large, loyal following of baseball lovers on one of the largest websites on the internet.

“Mike Oz”, as Osegueda is known on his blog, specializes in both light-hearted and serious stories. He’s just as likely to break news or write a straight feature on Albert Pujols reaching several baseball milestones in one game as he is to highlight a group of Milwaukee Brewers fans who showed up to a game dressed in full uniform.

In addition to watching enough baseball to make Bob Costas jealous, Osegueda scrolls Twitter constantly, reads newspapers, surfs Reddit, peruses blogs, and makes use of a large number of bookmarks to find the best stories for his readers.

“My boss likes to say, ‘You’re not going to win the Internet everyday.’ So, you just have to do what feels right,” Osegueda says.

“The pillar of a good blog is to have series’ and regular features,” Osegueda says, “You have to let your personality shine through a bit so people get to know you. You can’t be a carbon copy of everyone else.”

BALANCING THE BLOGGING LIFE

While working from home and writing about what you love certainly has its benefits, there is one thing Osegueda craves at the end of a week spent largely in his house with his wife, kids and dog: adult conversation.

“Sometimes it’s nice to talk to people in real life on the weekends,” Osegueda jokes, “I can go a whole week without talking to another adult who isn’t my wife.”

He is also conscious not to burn his household out on baseball, often switching the TV over to Nick Jr. so his kids don’t end up resenting the game he loves.

“I don’t want to bombard my family with baseball so my son associates baseball with daddy ignoring him,” he says, laughing. “I want him to grow up liking baseball, too.”

But as Osegueda points out, this is a problem he’s happy to handle.

“I ended up where I was trying to be, when I wasn’t trying to be there. No matter what it is, there are way worse things that I could be doing for a living,” Osegueda says.

Check out Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew blog here: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/

And follow Osegueda on Twitter at: @MikeOz

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