Katie Woo sits in the press box during a Cardinals game.
The life of a baseball beat reporter may seem glamorous. You get paid to watch baseball, right? Far from it. Being a beat reporter actually means going to sleep in the early morning, showing up multiple hours before games, traveling to different cities on a weekly basis and always being on call when news breaks. But for The Athletic
's Cardinals beat reporter, Katie Woo, this is the job and the life she has dreamed of since she was a kid.
For our new weekly Q&A series, RFT Asks, the RFT
sat down with Woo, a Bay Area-native, just five days after the Cardinals were eliminated from the 2022 playoffs to get a behind-the-scenes look at the team's final game and what she's up to now.
The season’s over, so what do you do now?
Well, I catch up on a lot of sleep first. It’s shifting from a routine where I would wake up at 9 in the morning, go to bed at 3 in the morning every day, and travel to a different city every week. Now I can get a little bit of a normal lifestyle — go to the gym in the morning, wake up at a normal time, I'm in one place for the foreseeable future. But it is a little strange when it’s 2 o'clock and my body feels like it's time to go to Busch Stadium.
What did the locker room atmosphere look like after the playoff loss?
Throughout multiple conversations, there'd be guys coming up giving hugs, like ‘hey, keep in touch, thank you for everything.’ It wasn’t just players and coaches. It was clubhouse attendants, team staff, medical trainers –– guys that really are the backbones of baseball that don't get a lot of the credit. There were a lot of frustrated guys. I remember talking to Nolan Arenado about how he felt like he didn't live up to expectations, and he was so clearly disappointed about it; his voice was breaking. Or Yadier Molina getting choked up talking about how much he's gonna miss the fans. There was Albert [Pujols], who was just thanking everybody. As [Pujols] was walking out of the clubhouse, to no one in particular, he’s leaving for the final time, he just said, ‘Thank you.’ Nobody was around him. And I was like, ‘that was really cool.’
What happened after you went to the clubhouse?
We go upstairs and we write. At The Athletic
, we don't have a lot of deadlines, but playoff games, we absolutely do, because fans want to read that as soon as possible. So you're trying to convey what just happened on the field, what happened in the clubhouse and what it means going forward — all into about 2,000 words, and you have 90 minutes, ready set go. You just hit a different groove.
Okay, so you wrote the story, what time are you done?
We [the seven St. Louis writers] left the press box at 3 in the morning. They closed it at three in the morning. We could have gone later. But deadlines.
Are the Cardinals reporters close?
Yeah and it's strange, because like we're all technically competitors. So I write for The Athletic
. There's about three or four writers from the Post-Dispatch
and MLB.com has a writer. We spend so much time together as competitors that naturally, I mean, I see these people more than I see my own friends and family. So I try really hard to not let the competition factor get in the way of how I view these people as people and their relationships to me. Even though it's 3 a.m., we're all frazzled, we're all a little bit overwhelmed, we took a picture after being in the press box for the last time.
How do you balance your day-to-day life?
I don't but I kind of like it that way. For someone that really likes a routine, like me, I don't have one here. You just kind of wake up, and you hope that you can knock off as much as you can. So, for example, I can be having coffee with you right now, and the Cardinals could make a trade and I would have to stop everything we're doing, and I’d have to go write because I always have an iPad or computer — just in case.
You could be with your friends, relaxed, trying to decompress and…
I was at a bachelorette party when I got a text that Albert Pujols was coming back to St. Louis. And I was like — this is my worst nightmare. [laughs]
Was the goal always to be a beat reporter?
I always wanted to be a beat writer, and I did not care for what team, for what city. You could have given me any team, and they did. I was lucky enough to get the Cardinals, a team with such a story. But I mean, I could have gotten an expansion team and have been so happy. I just wanted to be a beat writer and I would have moved anywhere. Was it easy to move from my comfy Bay Area home near all my friends and family? Of course not. Was it worth it? Without a doubt.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.