March 28, 2014
By Sean Tenaglia `16
Chuck Freeby better watch out. The Irish play-by-play broadcaster now has some radio competition from two members of the University of Notre Dame baseball team: first baseman Blaise Lezynski and third baseman Phil Mosey. Over the past two months, the Irish juniors have begun hosting "The Tater Show" at 10:30 on Monday night's on the student radio station, WVFI.
"I think Chuck is feeling a little pressure now," Mosey says tongue in cheek. "He doesn't want us to steal his thunder. I asked if we could borrow his equipment during spring break, and he wasn't having any of it. He's definitely feeling the heat of competition."
Mosey and Lezynski, who enjoy joking around when they are off the baseball diamond, came across the radio program almost on a complete whim.
"We were talking about doing a show with one of our friends, Nick Ossello, who is on the lacrosse team," Lezynski says. "Phil actually did most of the legwork. He contacted the director of WVFI, and after we got some background info from Nick, that's when we got interested in doing our own show and just kind of ran with it."
"I kind of aimlessly emailed the director to see if he had any slots open on Monday nights because that's our off day and the only time we can consistently do something," Mosey says. "We got the late night slot, 10:30, which is pretty prime for us.
"We were just joking about it and then all of a sudden it was a real thing. It's been really fun so far."
The question that everyone must be asking is where did they come up with the name of the show?
"It was a funny process," Lezynski says. "We were sitting in my house one day, and we figured we should definitely have a name for our show and we wanted it to be symbolic of our baseball backgrounds.
"We flirted with the idea of `The Pickle,' but that's actually the name of a sports show in Pittsburgh, so taking into consideration copyright laws, we didn't want to use that. We also wanted to keep it unique, so that's where `The Tater' came along. I guess a home run could be considered a tater."
"There was kind of a series of ideas thrown out, then Googled, and then turned down," Mosey says. "We actually opened up a list of baseball terms, most of which I hadn't heard of before because they were so bad, but `The Tater' just kind of stuck."
For all those "Tater" fans out there, the Irish baseball duo have a marketing proposal they could use your help with.
"Our slogan right now is `Don't sip your haterade, sip your taterade,'" Lezynski says. "Shirts are currently being made. If anyone is interested in designing a taterade logo, that would be great. Maybe that can be our next contest on the show."
For Mosey and Lezynski, the show serves as an outlet to have a little fun and get away from the daily grind of a student-athlete. This past Monday's show featured wide ranging discussions of topics such as George Michael, March Madness and rap lyrics.
The guest stars of the week were Vince Cicciarelli and Max Lachowecki, two members of the 2013 national champion Notre Dame men's soccer team. Lezynski, a Newtown, Pa., native, believes that the structure of the show allows them to connect "The Tater" back to baseball without necessarily talking about the sport.
"It's more of a release from the whole athletic spectrum, although the outline of our show kind of has a skeleton of baseball jargon," Lezynski says. "We have a `Leading Off' segment, a `Call to the Bullpen,' a `Pickle,' and sometimes if our listeners are lucky we'll have `Extra Innings.' There is some baseball banter back and forth, but it's basically Phil and I just discussing our daily routines."
As listeners will soon discover, "The Tater" is very loosely organized, which Mosey believes actually is a benefit.
"We go into the show with about a page worth of parameters that we set and just go from there," says Mosey, a native of Fishers, Ind. "But the best shows are when we don't stick to the scripted stuff and it just kind of gets out of hand, in a good way."
While the two juniors enjoy doing the show just for fun, they do see some potential long-term benefits associated with the experience. Mosey, who is majoring in film, television, and theatre, believes the show will at the very least give him some valuable experience.
"I want to work in media," he says. "I think specifically I want to write. I've added an English minor, and I'm trying to get well rounded in film creation and fiction writing.
"I don't know if I want to do stuff behind the camera or in front of the camera, but I think it's a good way to get out of our comfort zones a little bit. If we can have fun doing something once a week and it looks good on a résumé, I think it's great."
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Lezynski, who is a marketing major, has found his own way to work some career experience into the show.
"In terms of marketing, I might want to work in advertising, and we have some great homemade ads that we like to cook up on the show," the Irish first baseman says.
"I don't know necessarily what I would like to do down the road. Ultimately, I'd like to play baseball, and if not, one of my dream jobs is to be an actor, so I would say that this is definitely within that arena."
On the baseball field, Mosey and Lezynski have seen their roles change drastically from last year to this season. On a very youthful Irish team, the two juniors are now among the elder statesmen in the clubhouse.
"As juniors, we are looked up to as leaders," Lezynski, who leads the team with a .313 batting average, says. "I think Phil and I innately see ourselves as natural born leaders, but it seemed as though before we had to earn that respect.
"Now it's the flipside of that. I try to put myself in the younger guys' shoes now and take them under my wing and give them all the advice I can."
The Irish have struggled out of the gate this season after losing a strong class of upperclassmen that included major league prospects Eric Jagielo, Trey Mancini and Dan Slania. Despite a 9-14 start, both Lezynski and Mosey remain positive that the team has what it takes to turn it around and close out the year on a strong note.
"I hate to say it, but it is evident right now that our team is experiencing some growing pains," Lezynski says. "There's plenty of time left to right the ship, but right now we just need to focus on taking care of our individual roles before we take a broader perspective."
"We need to not let things overwhelm us or get out of control," Mosey says. "We've shown flashes of really good baseball, and we definitely have the ability to win at this level. Most of our games have been really close, but we just need to be more consistent. There's time, we just need to click and keep training upward."
The Irish get back to work in ACC play this weekend with a series against Wake Forest. With nearly two months remaining in the season, don't be surprised to see the Irish turning things around on the baseball diamond. Meanwhile, Mosey and Lezynski will be hard at work in the studio to make sure "The Tater Show" becomes the next radio hit.
If you enjoy a good laugh and some entertaining banter, be sure to give the show a listen at 10:30 on Monday night's on the student radio station, WVFI.