Fans of The NYYST Podcast have gotten to know Joe Rivera’s brand of wit and sarcasm over the years as Joe has been a frequent guest of the show where he is usually proclaiming his “love” for the Baltimore Orioles. Rivera covers Major League Baseball for The Sporting News and is a cheeseburger connoisseur. It’s these things and more that you’re about to learn Joe Rivera as we ask him 10 Questions in Quarantine.
While stuck in quarantine, if you could only watch three movies, which three would you pick?
1. The Godfather. I’ve seen it probably two dozen times or so, and it’s one of my favorite movies ever. But a few Christmases ago, my then-girlfriend (now wife) Emily got me Francis Ford Coppola’s notebook that has all sorts of notes and amendments to the Godfather script and I’ve wanted to watch the movie while following along with the notebook. Maybe that’s on the docket.
2. Road to Perdition. Simply because it’s my favorite movie of all time, and every time I watch, I feel like I pick up on a detail or an angle or something that I missed on the previous viewing.
3. Malcolm X. It’s pretty much taken line-for-line from Malcolm’s autobiography, which is an exceptionally enlightening read, and I feel like it’s Denzel Washington’s best role. He brought Brother Malcolm to life, and it’s a movie (and book) I urge everyone to watch and read at least once.
What is your favorite TV show of all-time?
I’d like to preface this by saying I’m not huge on ongoing TV shows. Mainly because you invest years — legitimate years — to a show, and there’s no guarantee that the last season will offer the resolutions or satisfaction you want. So I usually wait for something to hit Netflix to watch, if the ratings are good enough. That said, I binged “Scrubs” twice in a row, once by myself then once with my current wife. It perfectly balances the humor of a sitcom while really tugging on some serious emotional heartstrings. The perfect show. But it ended after Season 7, and that’s that.
What is the best concert you have ever attended?
Loud noises make my head a little fuzzy, so I don’t go to concerts, but I’ve seen Alter Bridge three times because my best friend and I are huge fans. But the first one, at the Best Buy Theater in NYC (now it’s named something different) was a surreal experience. The crowd was hot, and the show was pure, unbridled energy beginning to end. If I can weather it, I’d like to see The Weeknd and Silversun Pickups one day, though. Those would probably be equally ethereal experiences.
What is your favorite meal?
There’s nothing like a fat, juicy cheeseburger and fries, I’ll tell ya. Emily makes a kick-ass mac and cheese though, so those are probably 1-2.
What was your first part time job?
When I was 12 or 13, I worked with my father for a summer. He was a hi-tech scanner technician, fixing these huge-ass, dinosaur-sized scanners that would scan over-sized books and documents. At that time, a ton of companies were switching over and digitizing their paperwork and files to have them electronically. So I would comb through these cardboard boxes full of stapled documents and paperwork, and I would have to remove the staples. I did that for 8 hours a day, three days a week for a summer, and got paid cash for it. It was painstaking, boring work, but money is green all the same. When I was 16, my first legitimate part-time job was as an arcade attendant. I got pretty good at In The Groove, which was essentially the same thing as DDR, but better. It was an easy gig, and I met some of my best friends while working there.
Did you have a hidden talent you’d like to tell the readers about? If not, what is your favorite hobby?
Please. I pretty much suck at everything. If I had any hidden talents, I wouldn’t be a sportswriter. I can juggle a little bit. For like, five seconds, tops.
I’m big into comic books and video games, I love them both equally. At any given moment I have a comic to read or a video game to play. I also love music and am always looking to listen to something new. Comic books are wonderful and there’s something out there for everyone. If you watch the movies, buy the shirts, lunchboxes and all that … read a comic book.
We know you’re a big Jets fan, what’s your outlook on Sam Darnold and the prospects of the team heading into 2020?
How much time do we have here? I love Sam Darnold. I think he’s gonna be a superstar in the NFL. I see qualities in him that are rare for QBs. There are starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and then there are franchise quarterbacks, and there is no doubt in my mind that Darnold is a franchise quarterback. The key for him is to stay healthy. Obviously his first two seasons have been a little bit marred by time missed — 2018 he missed some games with the foot injury, and 2019 he fought mono. 2020, he needs to stay on the field. People seem to forget or glance over the fact that Darnold is 22 — not every 22-year-old QB is going to light up the world his first year or two in the league, but I’ve seen enough flashes from him to know he’s the future. And the turnovers — as with all numbers in sports — require context. Well, in any case, the wild card with the 2020 Jets and beyond (aside from COVID-19), is Adam Gase. I don’t strongly dislike Gase like a lot of the Jets fanbase does, but this is a make-or-break year for him and his NFL head coaching future. I think he did a pretty good job last year, guiding the team to a 7-9 despite the injuries they had and the piss-poor roster construction, so we’ll see if he can build on a deceptively strong first year. If Darnold can continue to grow and Gase can get a roster in place that he’s comfortable with, then this team can win 10 games. The schedule is tough, but so is this defense and team in general
What is your favorite sports moment as a fan?
When the Jets beat the Patriots in the AFC Divisional round in 2011, I thought that was the year. Bart Scott had his “Can’t Wait” speech, Braylon Edwards back flipped — it was all very surreal. I’ve never been more sure that they were going to the Super Bowl. Aside from that, when Dolph Ziggler cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase in New Jersey at the IZOD Center. The fans completely hijacked that show, but the cathartic release when Ziggler won the title was unbelievable. 18,000 people agreeing and screaming for one thing — it was wild. Truly unimaginable in today’s WWE landscape, though.
Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
All of them? It’s tough. I always found myself gravitating towards Jeter, A-Rod and Mike Mussina, when I was younger. I think I appreciated baseball players more as I got a little older: Roy Halladay, David Wright and some others. The one guy that I will always love unconditionally though, is Bernie Williams. He was an electric player and while he doesn’t get a lot of the credit he deserves as part of that ‘90s Yankees dynasty, he was as integral a part as any of the Core 4, and fans should recognize that.
If you could interview one baseball player, past or present that you haven’t yet interviewed, who would you choose?
Alex Rodriguez, easily. I don’t think anyone’s truly gotten in the head of A-Rod either during the steroid years or afterward, during his total and complete renaissance. He’s seen all ends of the public figure spectrum: he’s been the hero, the villain. He’s fallen and risen. He’s a fascinating subject, just on a personal level. But I wouldn’t just ask him about that, I think I’d pick his brain about baseball now. Obviously he’s a bright mind and good at talking about it, but there’s more there than he’d let on.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeRiveraSN
Stay tuned to our "Questions in Quarantine" as we have some great interviews being published throughout the next week!