6:15am PT by Lesley Goldberg
L.A. Dodgers Pitcher Ross Stripling Enters the Podcasting Game
Beyond being a utility man for the Dodgers' pitching staff, Ross Stripling is adding podcaster to a résumé that also includes being a certified investment advisor. With The Big Swing, Stripling and his friend and co-host Cooper Surles are delivering strikes to Dodger Nation in the form of unfiltered interviews with the likes of aces Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler as well as National League MVP candidate Cody Bellinger. The podcast — now 40 episodes in — also features coverage of other pro sports and offers a rare insider's POV.
What was the impetus for The Big Swing?
It started with my buddy Cooper Surles, who is married to my wife's best friend. We enjoy bantering back and forth about sports. He and asked if I wanted to start a podcast. I started listening to a few and enjoyed them and was in. I have a pretty cool network around me of baseball people and [playing] in Los Angeles could potentially get a variety of guests onto a podcast.
Does doing the podcast take your focus away from the game?
One of the first things I said to Cooper was if this starts taking my mind and effort away from baseball, it's not going to work. It's like a stress release. It takes your mind off of what is a pretty cutthroat industry and just how serious it is and how grueling and long a 162-game [regular] season is. It's fun to sit down and prep for an hour of football talk or interviews with entrepreneurs or actors and get away from baseball a bit. How often do you really get to put your phone down and talk with someone for an hour with no distractions? And the baseball interviews have been a blast because we've gotten guys like Kershaw, Rich Hill, Buehler and Bellinger to open up a bit differently than they would to a beat writer. We've given fans another insight into some of the best players in the world, which been pretty cool.
Will you continue to record Big Swing through the playoffs?
I'm taking the postseason off; it can only go badly for me.
Does doing the podcast with your teammates help each of you navigate the pressure of the job? Does it strengthen the bond that you have with your teammates?
For sure. It brings us closer as teammates, and that's been a fun dynamic in the locker room because people I haven't asked on yet are wondering when they're going to be on the podcast. Even some of the [players'] wives are asking when they're going to be on the podcast. It's been fun.
You sell ads on the podcast. Are you looking for Big Swing to be profitable?
We are steadily growing and the idea is to make a little money. We're about break-even now. But we'll never have a podcast that spits ads down your face every 10 minutes.
How have you seen your subscriber base grow?
Our first episode only got like 450 listeners. The Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw episodes both topped 15,000 now. We're certainly not killin' the game, but that's a growth rate I can get on board with and hopefully keep it going.
Who are your dream guests?
Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Will Smith [the actor, not the Dodger catcher] and Jason Bateman — the latter is a really big Dodgers fan. On the athlete side, LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Tom Brady.
As a fan, I'd love to see you guys get Vin Scully.
Vin would be awesome [but], I don't want to necessarily bother him. He put so much into covering the Dodgers for 67 years. I'm going to let him enjoy his retirement. But if that opportunity ever came up, I would take advantage of it.
Not that you're anywhere near retiring, but is the podcast your way of angling for a radio or broadcasting gig after your career ends?
I wanted to test my ability at doing it and thought a podcast was a good way to get some practice. I don't necessarily know if that is what I want to do when my career is over, but I've enjoyed it. I definitely think it's part of the reason that I do the podcast and started it in the first place.
You also have a degree in finance and are a licensed stockbroker and investment advisor. Do you give financial advice to your teammates?
A little bit, but there are so many rules that you have to be careful with what you're doing. I'm like a soundboard to help them if they don't understand where their money is. I don't handle any of their money or do their investment stuff — that would be down the road. I'm not trying to cross-mingle careers yet. But I'm certainly there to help.
What does Dodger ownership think of what you're doing with the podcast?
I was worried what [Dodgers CMO] Lon Rosen would think because his job is keeping the Dodgers brand clean. He knows that I'm a fairly intelligent guy and I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus. He mentioned that if anyone was going to do it, he's glad it was me and that he's not worried.
Who do you think will wind up winning the World Series?
It's going to be tough. My guess is it's us and [Houston] Astros matching up again and Dodgers winning it in six.
Lastly, your nickname is "Chicken Strip." Who has the best chicken strips?
I had Jack in the Box chicken strips for the first time not too long ago and I thought they were great. I also like Chick-fil-A a lot. So those would be my top two.
Interview edited for length and clarity.