In this latest edition of “Mic’d Up” at LAKings.com, we hear from Mark Gubicza, a former Major League pitcher and a current broadcaster for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A few minutes with Mark produced the following Q and A:
Q: You go to several Kings’ games a year. Can you talk about the experience of watching a Kings game at STAPLES Center?
Gubicza: I’m a lifelong hockey fan and I even used to go to games at the Forum back in the day and now at STAPLES Center—it’s a great experience. I take my family all the time and we have a blast there. Every seat I have ever sat in at STAPLES Center has been amazing as far as the views. I just love the experience of going there. The fans that go to hockey games, they are so different than any other sporting event for me in L.A. because everyone’s in to it, from the moment the puck drops to the last horn of the game. It’s pretty much an amazing experience.
Q: You have been a key part of a World Series winner. How did you view the Kings’ recent championship run?
Gubicza: It was fun. On a side note, last year I took my family out to Las Vegas and my son and I were talking about and joking around about putting a little side bet on the Kings to win the Stanley Cup. I bought a ticket and it was 20-to-1 or something crazy like that so before the season even started I gambled that the Kings were going to win the Stanley Cup. To watch them go all the way through, being a hockey fan and a Kings fan, and then to also have that little side bet with my little ticket from Vegas was a lot of fun.
Q: Do you think the mindset of a hockey player / goalie and that of a baseball player / pitcher is similar?
Gubicza: I think so because the bottom line is, the game is controlled by what you do as a pitcher and what you do as a goalie. You can control if your team is going to win or not and in another sense, certainly if your defense isn’t good in front of you, as a goaltender it’s going to be difficult just like if the guy doesn’t make a play behind you in the field, so sometimes numbers aren’t as good as an indication of how well you play both as a goaltender or as a pitcher.
Q: You are from the East Coast originally before playing the bulk of your Major League career in the Midwest with Kansas City. Have you, in any way, dropped some of those allegiances and become a full-time Kings fan?
Gubicza: You know what, the minute I moved out to California, I think it was full-time in 1986, I’ve been to Kings games non-stop, so I would definitely say of all the teams, the Kings are the one team that I can say I would be a typical fan for. In other words, I would be screaming my head off for games and I do that when I go to the Kings games with my family. I’m totally into the Kings more than any other team in L.A.
Q: Assuming you skated at a young age, did you ever entertain the idea of playing hockey at a high level?
Gubicza: I got a couple of broken teeth to show for that. I got the veneers so I could always say that about playing hockey back in the day, but I needed the wall and the boards to stop me when I was skating so I wasn’t a real good skater. I liked to shoot but as far as overall skills on the ice I don’t think I had any chance.
Q: Fourteen years in the big leagues, one championship (1985) and two All-Star Team appearances (1988 and 1989). What highlights come to mind when you reflect on your career with the Royals (1984-96) and then, briefly, with the Angels (1997)?
Gubicza: I think the big thing was winning the World Series in 1985. We were down two games to none and then three games to one in both series, first against Toronto and we had to win the last two in Toronto. I got the start in Game 6 in the elimination game and we won that game and then came back and won Game 7. We were also behind two nothing against the St. Louis Cardinals and eventually three games to one and came back and won that series too. At that point, no one had ever done that in sports, to come back after a deficit in back to back rounds of a playoff round and win a championship so that was special. I also remember the camaraderie with that team. Talent-wise, there was no doubt there were a lot better teams than ours, but I think similar to what you saw with the Kings last year, yeah they had a lot of talent, but they played with a passion that allowed them to win like we did.
Q: As a player dealing with members of the media on a daily basis, did you ever think that someday you might join that club by moving upstairs into the broadcast booth?
Gubicza: You know, the one thing I did learn and I was always the guy that—I was almost like a sponge—I absorbed a lot of information from fellow players about how to get hitters out or how pitchers prepared themselves from teammates. I watched George Brett. The way he handled the media, he was the guy the media went up to after every game because he was our star player and he was very cordial and honest and gave good, in-depth answers. Not the old ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers where a lot of guys have a tendency to do, and I learned a lot from him. That’s why if you look at how he was voted into the Hall of Fame - I think he was in the top five of percentages of players being voted into the Hall of Fame at well over 93 percent – it was because he had such a rapport with the media and he was so honest with them that they thought better about voting for him.
Q: Now that you are in the broadcast field for a club, do you listen to a broadcast – say one featuring Bob Miller and Jim Fox – a little differently?
Gubizca: I don’t miss a game to be honest with you. Besides the fact that I love the sport, my son would kill me if I don’t watch the game with him. I’ve known Bob for quite some time and I don’t think you can find a better human being than him. He’s a genuine person and that’s the thing between meeting him and Vin Scully—those guys are absolute legends. They want you to call them Bob or Vin and most times I always want to call them Mr. Miller or Mr. Scully and that offends them because they want to be treated just like any other person. I think that’s what makes those guys so special. Foxxy does a great job as far as when you watch or listen to the game, that he makes you feel like you’re a part of it and that’s what a good color analyst should do. He makes you feel like you’re actually on the ice with the players.
Q: Finally, the 2013 baseball season is a long way from starting, but do you have any early predictions for the Angels and the Dodgers next year?
Gubizca: Well, I think when you look first and foremost with the Angels, I think they are going to have to sort out their bull pen, I think if there bull pen would have been consistent we’d still be talking about the Angels right now because there’s no better talented team in the game. They may tweak the rotation depending on who they can re-sign but there’s no question when you have the best player in the game—Mike Trout – and arguably one of the best in the history of the game in Albert Pujols, whose going to be better because he’s going to have a full year of playing in the American League, they are going to be right there.
The Dodgers, if they don’t make the playoffs next year and go deep, I would completely be surprised. I don’t want to sound like a homer because I’m certainly not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up having a Dodgers-Angels World Series because both owners have proven now that they will spend extra money and do whatever it takes to be able to make sure the fans have the best team on the field this coming year.
Mark Gubicza is entering his 11th year with FS WEST and FS PRIME TICKET. This season will mark his sixth year of providing color commentary on Fox Sports West. Gubicza will also continue as analyst for the Angels’ pre- and post-game shows, now known as “Angels Live,” which he has done for the past seven seasons.
Gubicza finished his Major League career with the Angels in 1997. To honor his many accomplishments on the field, he was named to the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame as well as the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2006. He was also named to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Gubicza lives in Chatsworth, Calif., with his wife, Lisa and their three children, Nicolette, Chad and Ashley.