Having a kid is one heck of a thing. I’d go on about all the great stuff about it, but if you already have a kid, you already know, and if you don’t, then you won’t. Suffice it to say, despite all the amazing things about it, the first few years can feel a bit like an exile, especially if your friends don’t also have young’uns.
So it was that I became an avid podcast listener. Taking the baby for walks, doing the dishes, throwing a ball for the dog—the best podcasts make you feel like you’re in the room, hanging out with a good friend. Come 2017, I could no longer listen to pods of a political nature, and so I dug deeper and deeper for diversions: This American Life, Radio Lab, and podcasts about the Timbers.
At first, I only knew of a couple, but the deeper I delved, the more I found. Each with its own style and viewpoint. If you no longer have the time or the friends to go have a beer with and talk about your team (or you never did in the first place), this is the next best thing. With an exciting new season about to begin, but a long month yet to pass (despite that it’s the shortest month of the year), you’ve got plenty of time to add them to your playlists, listen to recent episodes, and dig into their archives.
I suspect the Portland Timbers have the greatest number of podcasts of any team in the league—maybe even the world (that second part is hyperbole). I count 11, including a couple that haven’t recorded in a while.
Actually, make that 12. The “Timbercast” community just grew by one this week, and I start this series alongside the first episode of Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin’s new podcast probably named, “From J to Z.” In fact, they called on their Twitter followers to help them come up with a name, and this one seems to be the winner as of today.
From J to Z breaks the mold of every other Timbers podcast around. Finally, instead of guessing what the players are thinking, or hearing them in a reporter’s guided interview, we hear it straight from them. It’s a thirty-minute conversation between teammates and friends, and it’s from the heart.
“The idea of the podcast was just Jeff and I wanted to help give people an insight into us and our lives within the team,” writes Valentin. “The format is not finalized by any means. It will be a combination of Jeff and I talking about real topics while sprinkling in interviews of players on our own team and hopefully others.”
“It’s just kind of something fun to do while we’re on all these road trips and trying to stay sane,” says Attinella in the podcast.
Their first episode is in the real spirit of what a podcast should be: hitting record and talking. They don’t have a routine yet and they’re just figuring it out. It will be fun to listen as the show tightens up and evolves. What does shine through is that these guys are definitely buddies, and that they love their team and their town.
In the half-hour episode, they discuss how they dealt with the defeat in Atlanta. “You get to Atlanta and all the media is talking about how good Atlanta is, how good their forwards are. To lose the way we did; I really thought it was going to be a banger. I thought it was going to be a top corner. That was the only way they were going to score on me if they were going to win. To kind of lose that way and then go into the off-season was pretty tough,” says Attinella. “When I went home, everyone had watched the game and so everyone wanted to talk about it, but the only thing I didn’t want to talk about was the game.”
During the off-season, Valentin got married. He says that the wedding helped him to cope with the loss in his own way, because no one was talking about it in the midst of the joyous occasion. “I was kind of able able to process things of my own accord and come to peace with an incredible season personally.”
Which leads Valentin into a some deep insight into an athlete’s psyche: It’s one of these things where you do something once and you have a good year that it becomes addictive. Success is addictive. It was my best year last year, but if I enter this year and play awful, no-one’s going to talk about last year. Everyone’s going to talk about what could have been and how good he was, and what happened. I finished-up the year, I reflected, and now it makes you want to do it all over—and you had one of your best years, if not your best year ever, and as great as it is for it to happen, it sets the bar that much higher for the coming year.
From J to Z will certainly undergo its own transformation and improvement as the season progresses, and it will be fun to be right there in the room with them as it evolves. They hope to release one episode per week, but we can forgive them if they’re too busy focusing on making us proud on the field, right?
Attinella and Valentin’s pod is currently found on Soundcloud. They are in the process of getting it added to Apple and Spotify (and hopefully Stitcher, because that’s what I use, by golly).