GL: What was your major at U$C? Did you always wants to be a sports journalist?
MP: Journalism (I would've gone to UCSB with my older brother if the place only had a freakin' J-School). My great-great grandfather was a pretty well-known newspaper editor in Indiana and my late father was the sports editor at the News-Press from 1954 to 1971, when he passed away at age 45, so I suppose it's in my blood. I started out as a police and courts reporter at the Santa Maria Times, but I jumped at the chance to write about sports when my father's successor gave me a call. My childhood dream was to play shortstop for the L.A. Dodgers, but getting to cover a few Dodger games was a nice consolation prize. Plus the career lasts longer. I also studied poli-sci at USC and even won an internship to work on Capital Hill in Washington DC. That was a real incredible experience, but it convinced me that I'd never be able to stomach politics. The congressman that I worked for later became the governor of Minnesota — and soon became the target of an assassination attempt by several Iranian students (no kidding) at a time when terrorists seized our embassy in Tehran. Somehow, I got a worse evaluation from the congressman than those Iranian students did. Whatever.


GL: How has the internet age impacted your covering of sports? What challenges has it provided?
MP: It has obviously made it easier to gather information and conduct research -- incredibly easier -- but I hate to see how younger people now rely on it as their sole news source. The internet doesn't do the same in-depth, thorough job as newspapers and magazines can.


GL: What sports related site do you make a habit of viewing? What non sports sites do you surf regularly?
MP: I've bookmarked ESPN.com and just about every site that ever mentions UCSB athletics. I'm also a baseball nut and check out all the MLB Websites.


GL: Your articles oftentimes include references to history, literature, culture, etc. Do these references come to you or do you have favorite resources that you rely on?
MP: I am a real history buff (it bugs my kids to no end that I watch the History Channel religiously) and I am also into literature, so I often tap into that. I don't have a photographic memory for all that stuff -- but that's what the internet is for, right?


GL: You have four daughters that played softball, and we noticed that at least one of them played briefly for the Gauchos. What happened to her Gaucho career?
MP: Megan enjoyed being a Gaucho for awhile but she eventually concluded that she was missing out on the entire collegiate experience ... she felt as though she had become nothing but a full-time softball player. She also said she had no chance of ever playing pro softball --- so she gave up her partial softball scholarship (ouch!), joined a sorority, worked a few marketing internships and spent more time on her studies. She basically had started playing the game when she was 6, and just decided that enough was enough. She's now in grad school at USC and wants to become a high school counselor ... and, yeah, maybe even coach softball. Hearing that really cracked me up. She does play shortstop on a real competitive coed softball team in L.A. and even got a free trip to Las Vegas out of it. I told her that she proved herself wrong -- she DID become a softball pro.


GL: The environment at the News Press has become quite controversial. How has the work environment been of late? Are you in frequent contact with some of your former colleagues like John Zant? What is your expectation of resolution to the current issues?
MP: I've remained pretty insulated from much of the turmoil since management has continued to encourage strong sports coverage — but I was directly affected when John was fired after taking part in that demonstration on the bridge. I do see John all the time -- either socially or at games. He is a dear friend and was truly my mentor. My dad hired him in 1968. My hope is that management and the union put their differences aside for the good of the newspaper, and that they give John his job back. Will that happen? I seriously have no clue.


GL:
How many more years do you want to cover the Gauchos?
MP: Until they cart me out, feet first ... Or until the Dodgers finally come to their senses and let me play shortstop.