By Mike Brandyberry
Last October, Chris Rose and Kevin Millar broadcasted their one-hour television show, “Intentional Talk,” live from the field before each World Series game. The thought of broadcasting the show from Progressive Field before a World Series game is too much for Rose to consider.
“Don’t go there,” Rose said. “I can’t let myself go there or think about that.”
Before he was the host of “Intentional Talk” on MLB Network or an analyst on Fox, Rose was a Clevelander. He has been an Indians fan since birth, and just like all Indians fans, he’s hoping to see a World Series win before death.
Rose to this day relates to Indians fans nationwide, having struggled through some rough times like other fans. He was born in Shaker Heights and attended University School in Hunting Valley, growing up during some of the toughest days in the Tribe’s history.
“They didn’t finish higher than fourth for the first 24 years of my life,” Rose said. “It’s pretty hard to be that bad.”
Despite the Indians’ struggles during the 1970s and 1980s, Rose remained a die-hard Cleveland fan and attributes some of his success as a broadcaster to all the empty seats at old Municipal Stadium.
“The old stadium was a great place,” Rose said. “I was able to get up and move around the park and really watch baseball from all the angles. It really helped me craft my passion.”
He used that recreational training at Miami University (he graduated in 1993) both as the manager of the school’s student run radio station as well as in an internship he fondly recalls.
“In 1991, I had an internship with WKNR and I split covering the Indians with another intern,” Rose said. “I used to sit down behind home plate and just broadcast games into my recorder. The nun from ‘Major League,’ she was really there. She was my audience.”
Rose continued to wear his passion for Cleveland sports on his sleeve throughout his travels and climb in the broadcasting business. While the Indians were coming of age in the mid-1990s, so was Rose in his career and personal life.
“I was working in Cincinnati when Jacobs Field opened,” Rose said. “The first time I went to a game there I was with my brother, and we were amazed. We knew they had something going.”
Unfortunately, the Indians were 66-47, just one game behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division, when the players went on strike in 1994. The season never resumed, and the final six weeks and postseason were lost. It was the Tribe’s best chance in 40 years to reach the postseason.
“When the strike happened, it was so depressing,” Rose said. “That team was growing before our eyes and they started to have that swag. They were going to be tough to beat.”
But 1995 was a big year for both Rose and the Indians. Rose moved to Reno, Nev., and met his wife late that summer, while the Indians returned to the postseason and the World Series for the first time in 41 years.
“I met my now wife in September, and she’s not really in to sports,” Rose said. “Then the Indians make it to the World Series a month later, and I’m crying I’m so happy. She didn’t get it.”
Those moves, empty seats, internships and broadcasts to a nun have paid dividends to Rose, who previously hosted “The Best Damned Sports Show Period” on Fox Sports Net from 2001 to 2009. Rose and Millar began their current show, “Intentional Talk,” on the MLB Network before the start of the 2011 baseball season. The one-hour show, broadcast daily from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern, consists of banter between the two hosts and player interviews about the baseball stories of the day.
While the show is just more than a year old, the show chemistry with Millar began years earlier. The co-hosts have been friends for eight years and felt if they were given the chance, a show together could be something different and special.
“We knew we had a chance to do something different,” Rose said. “We knew we could do something fun. We aren’t about yelling at each other, we’re great friends.”
While other two-host shows like to have their personalities clash and create arguments, that isn’t Rose and Millar’s goal. They try to present a discussion between two friends, just talking baseball.
“What you see from 5 to 6 each day is a friendship,” Rose said of the tandem’s chemistry. “Other shows might work together, but they don’t have a friendship. He makes fun of me for the way I throw, and I make fun of him because he doesn’t watch movies. For me, as a viewer, I have to believe who I’m watching. That’s what I get with Kevin.”
While Rose jokes daily with Millar, and despite his fan loyalty to the Indians, the analyst in him picked the Detroit Tigers not just to win the Central Division in 2012, but also the World Series. “I picked the Tigers, because one through 25, they are solid,” Rose said. “Their offense is great, (Doug) Fister is a solid number two starter and the bullpen is tough.”
Despite Detroit’s slow start, Rose still believes the Tigers will win the division. But the fan in him is pulling for the Indians. He hopes the team will stay consistent and injury-free through the summer.
“I want us to stay in it to September,” Rose said. “Anything can happen then. I’m passionate and just trying to enjoy it in the meantime. My boss just emailed me and said, ‘(The Indians) have a good game every day, you must be in heaven.’”
Rose, who now lives in Southern California, is enjoying the season with his family, in which he has instilled his love of Cleveland sports. His two sons, now 11 and 6 years old, have Cleveland in their blood despite being raised on the West Coast.
“That’s the best thing about DirecTV,” Rose said. “That’s all they watch — Indians, Browns and Cavs. That makes it easy when your kids gravitate to what you love.”
In order for his heaven to continue, Rose thinks the Indians need more consistency at the plate, so the pressure does not always remain on the bullpen.
“The problem with the Indians is they play too many 4-3 and 3-2 games, and it puts wear and tear on the bullpen,” Rose said. “We don’t win 7-1 very often. That’s tough to do all summer.”
The Indians are 8-2 in one-run games through 44 contests.
One of the key pieces of the Indians’ bullpen, Chris Perez, spoke out last weekend about the lack of fan attendance and support. He has backed up his statements on and off the field, giving away six tickets to every home game for the rest of the season and closing all three games in the Indians sweep of the Tigers this week.
“I think the Indians are as proactive as any organization in breaking down the barrier between fans and players with their social media use,” Rose said in regards to Perez’s statements and the attendance issues.
“I’ll never tell people how to spend their money, but if you have the money to go and you are waiting until July to see how the team plays, that’s BS,” Rose said. “I agree with (Perez) in that players need support in crisis. If the goal is to all pull in the same direction, then let’s pull.”
Rose will be pulling for the Tribe this summer like he has done for decades. If the Tribe is able to make it to the World Series this year, he’s not sure if he would be able to broadcast “Intentional Talk” from Progressive Field. “I gave up my Fox duties this season,” Rose said. “It was too much for my family, so I’m not sure if I would be there.”
Not broadcasting from the field for a Tribe World Series would be OK with Rose, however. He just wants to see his team play in October.
“I would gladly make that trade any day.”