As reporters, we are supposed to stay completely neutral about the games, and - by extension - the coaches of the teams we cover.
But we're human. Throughout our careers, there are coaches we love dealing with, and others we don't.
I'm sure coaches feel the same way about us.
But what I've learned is that dealing with a mentor can't be judged by how they are after a win.
Every coach is happy to talk after a victory.
The way to know what a coach is like is to deal with them after a loss.
A devastating loss.
Which brings me to Heidelberg baseball coach Matt Palm.
It was 2008, and Heidelberg was in the Division III regional in Terre Haute, Ind. 'Berg (it wasn't Heidelberg University at the time) had won two straight do-or-die games, and was now facing Adrian.
Win, and Palm would lead his team to its first Division III World Series.
Heidelberg was up two runs going to the bottom ninth inning. It lost on an Adrian walk-off.
Here's where I'd write that Palm was professional after the loss and his players showed class during interviews. We'd all shake hands, and that'd be it.
That all happened.
But that wasn't it.
Because I had come to Indiana with Heidelberg announcer Jeff Garvin - and Garvin had to leave early - Palm offered to let me ride back with the team.
Of course, he agreed to it the day before.
So there were Palm and his team. On a bus. Probably dying to be anywhere else.
But they couldn't leave, because the beat writer was still in the press box, hammering out a story about how they lost.
I wouldn't have blamed Palm if he told the driver to gun it and tell me he forgot afterward (OK, I knew he wouldn't, because former 'Berg SID Morgan Niedermier was with me, and she's one of the nicest people ever. No way the team would leave her).
And yes, when I finally did arrive on the bus, the team did give me what I assume was a sarcastic ovation.
But Palm never complained. And since then, no matter what the situation, I've always been able to count on him.
Palm announced his resignation as baseball coach Friday, effective after this season. He had been doing the job of coach and athletic director since 2008. Neither job is easy, and one can certainly understand his decision, especially with his longtime assistant Chad Fitzgerald in the wings.
It'll be hard to imagine HU baseball without Palm. As a coach, he's always struck me as a throwback. Fiery and intense, his interactions with umpires were often loud enough to echo throughout Peaceful Valley. Like the Cincinnati Reds of another generation, Palm's players were - at his insistence - clean cut.
No beards. No long hair.
But he wasn't old school to the point where he didn't let his team have fun.
In 2010, the year his team advanced to the World Series, the players would do a practically choreographed dance to David Guetta's "Love is Gone" in the dugout between one of the middle innings.
Now, I never saw Palm dancing with them, but still.
Palm's success on the field is well documented. He has a World Series appearance, numerous regional and Ohio Athletic Conference championships, and is sixth all time in the league in wins.
But all that only tells part of the story.
I've probably written more about Palm over the years, just because he's so quotable. One time before a game, he asked Niedermier if they were using the same color of lineup cards, because they'd won the day before.
She said they were.
He looked at me, smiled and said "Yeah, we're not superstitious."
My favorite quote - which I built a whole column around - came after I asked about a baseball strategy, implying I wouldn't have done it.
He responded with "That's why you write the stories and we coach the games."
Well, he won't be coaching after this year, at least not collegiately. With four kids, it's hard to imagine him giving it up completely.
He'll remain as Heidelberg's athletic director, but it still won't quite be the same.
I've covered HU baseball since 2007. There have been ups and downs (though the downs are relative).
But Palm's teams, and Palm himself, have never been dull.
And for a reporter, that's a good deal.
Zach Baker is the sports editor for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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