Interview with Branden

This interview was done well before Branden arrived to Sweden. You can read a shorter version translated into Swedish in the game day program.

It takes a few minutes to read through, but it is well deserved time to get acquainted to Branden before the season starts or just to get some reading tips.

– Tell us a bit about yourself and where you come from?

My name is Branden Joshua Porchêr Roper-Hubbert. I am a Bermudian-American that was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I have one older brother (Bradley) and one younger sister (Brielyn). My mother is a Bermudian immigrant who married my father, who is from Alabama and a former professional football player, way back in 1980. My brother currently plays baseball in Germany for the Bonn Capitals and my sister is a college student at Kennesaw State University.

I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta (which is the capital of Georgia) and was always very active. Atlanta has a relatively warm climate that allows you to be outdoors for most of the year. Additionally, one of the main desires that our parents had for us was to remain active in team sports because of their history and the benefits that they saw it had for a child’s development. I started playing sports when I was about 4 years old and loved them since the beginning.I played a variety of sports growing up: baseball (of course), football, golf, tae-kwon-do, and I swam competitively for years. Despite loving all those other sports, baseball was where I found my nitch. I, of course, played up until my senior year of high school, when I attended Chamblee High School in the greater Atlanta area. After I graduated, I knew I wanted to continue to play collegiately, and finding a school for my desired major where I could still play was very important to me. Therefore, I decided upon Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. I have always been interested in Aeronautics (the science, history, and future of aircraft and air travel) and Embry is one of the top schools in that field of study. Additionally, they have a great athletic program there, so I was blessed to have the best of both worlds and find a place that really fit me so well.

I graduated from Embry-Riddle in 2009 with my Bachelor’s of Science in Aeronautics and a minor in Business. From there, I knew I wanted to continue my education because today’s job market is so competitive, that I wanted to give myself an advantage over my peers, plus I still had one more year of athletic eligibility so I began my Master’s coursework in the field of Aviation Meteorology which I completed in December of 2011.

It’s been a blessing for me to be so fortunate in being able to accomplish this much thus far in my life. And I am extremely thankful to my parents who sacrificed so much for us throughout the years to get these types of opportunities.

– Did you read up on Gothenburg as a city yet?

I have looked into the city of Gothenburg a bit. And I have to say that I like what I’ve seen so far. Aside from baseball, I’m very interested in seeing what else the city has to offer. However, I’m especially interested in the archipelago that neighbors the mainland. I am an absolute beach lover. Maybe it’s the Bermudian in me, but I love the water, the beach, and everything in between!

– What’s the word on the street about Sweden? Is it all tall blonde, good looking women and IKEA?

Umm, Yes!! And I’m hoping that it is true!! But I’ve also heard great things about your food. And since my stomach pretty much controls everything that I do, I’m excited to sample your local cuisine! Starting with the meatballs!!

– What have you heard about the Swedish baseball game?

I have heard from a few sources. Travis Bass, who was a teammate of mine this past summer and Evan Porter, a former player for the Sharks as well as the Solingen Alligators (who I played for in 2012). I’m expecting it to be a pretty competitive, high-energy, and up-tempo pace. Although the level of play won’t be close to uniform across the board, I hope that they will be hard fought games by people who love the sport.

– You’ve previously played baseball in Germany. What was that experience like?

My overall experience was great. It was such a culture shock at first. The differences that I saw in the approach to baseball really threw me for a loop. Thankfully, I had a good group of guys and a coach who were committed to being the best that they could be. Once I recognized the desire that my teammates had, and saw that they wanted to win and to compete day in and day out, the way I did, the transition became a lot easier.

– Having been to Europe before and knowing a bit more about the culture of the game here – did you alter your off-season routines this year or are you sticking to an old programme of strength and conditioning combined with hitting and fielding?

I’m sticking to my usual strength and conditioning routine. It’s a routine that I spliced together from my time in college in addition to a routine that I received from a good friend of mine who played in the Oriole’s organization. When done with the proper intensity, and regularity I have found that it gives me great results and gets me in not just great shape, but great baseball shape.

The only thing that I have tweaked in my off-season workouts this year is my increase in pitching and catching drill work. Since I hadn’t done either of those for a while, and because I expect I’ll have to fill-in in those roles here and there throughout the year, I stepped up the intensity in those areas.

– Did your year playing ball in Germany change the way you view the sport? Are there any differences between the gameplay aspect of baseball in Europe and back home in the States?

Yes it did, especially the way I viewed the youth programs. I’m so used to having everything I do revolve around baseball, and when that happens, an added level of intensity/pressure gets placed on the players. So many players in the states are trying to use baseball for some reason, whether it be to earn money for college, or to earn their way onto an affiliated ball club, this incentive tends to make some kids “hungrier” and desirous to reach their maximum potential than what I saw in Germany. A larger number of kids in Germany simply did it for the fun of the game. To have something to do (which is not, necessarily, a bad thing). I think this is the case because baseball isn’t a nationally recognized sport and they don’t truly see the benefit of simply giving your max effort to become the best that you can be for your own pride. At times like that, in the development of the youth players, it helps to have something to aspire to that is relatively close to being achievable like the MLB or having a collegiate team to play for.

With the Bundesliga, I noticed a pretty similar level of desire and intensity to here in the states. Baseball meant more to a larger amount of players then. So it was definitely closer to what I’m used to here.

– What did baseball mean to you growing up as a kid? 

Baseball started for me as just something I did because my parents made me and we got to have awesome snacks at the games (I have to remind you that I started playing when I was 4 years old). As I grew though, it became something I did because I liked doing it because it is fun. After a few more years I realized I liked doing it because I like the team environment- the camaraderie, working together for a common goal and testing your skills and ability against those around you. And now I love it for all of those reasons, and because I want to know how good I can be if I work hard enough. Finally, I love baseball because it’s such a great parallel of life. It teaches you so many things about life and about yourself as well.

– What’s your best baseball memory? Is it something that happened on the field while you were playing yourself? Or is it catching a foulball at a major league game?

I hit a two-run, two out double for a walk-off win to send my 2010 team to the NAIA College World Series.

– How would a baseball scout describe your skills as a ballplayer?

They would probably say that I have good “tools.” That I have above average arm strength, that my speed is about average, and that I can hit for power and average at times. They would say that I can be a little streaky, but that I always play hard and give it my all.

– When not playing baseball, what are your favorite things to do? Hit the movies? Play videogames? Play basketball? Tell us

I absolutely love the beach. Whenever I have free time and there is a beach around, that is where you will find me. Outside of that, I love to dance. I may not be the best at it, but I’ve got a few moves!! I am also an avid reader. My favorite authors are Terry Goodkind, R.A. Salvatore, and George R.R. Martin.

– What’s your favorite major league team?

I have two: Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees

– Favorite major league player? Active or retired, doesn’t matter.

Jackie Robinson.

– Besides the obvious baseball gear and stuff you usually pack for a holiday, name one thing that you’re definitely bringing to Sweden.

Swimming trunks! (I bet you saw that one coming)

– Do you play fantasy sports? Baseball or Football? Anything like that?

I tried to get into fantasy sports a few years ago, but I was just too busy to keep up with my teams. I haven’t really given it a try since I left college.

– Being from around the Atlanta area – what has Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones meant to the baseball scene in Georgia?

They are legends around here. Bobby Cox was Atlanta Braves baseball for the past few decades. He created a legacy of blue collar baseball that will last for years to come. He showed that you could win without having the largest payroll in baseball. With a good core group of guys he created one of the most dominant clubs in baseball. Chipper Jones’ impact was no less prolific on the Atlanta area. Especially since he played under Bobby for so long.

– Expectations on the upcoming major league season? Any teams that really stand out as contenders? Any obvious bottom dwellers (yeah I’m looking at you Astros and Marlins!)? 

I’m really hoping to see the Braves return to form with the addition of the Upton brothers. It’d be nice to see the type of pandemonium that ensues when thee Bravos are doing well. I’m not counting the Tigers out though, they still have a strong team with good leadership and I think that they could, if things fall their way, can have another successful year.

But I definitely agree with you about the Astros and the Marlins. I applaud the Marlins for revamping their whole organization last year, but they over-stretched their resources and they will be paying for it in the wins column this year.

– It’s still early but can we please get your picks for the World Series and who’ll be the WS champ? Will it be a Freeway Series in LA with the Angels and the Dodgers? 

I’ll give you the World Series I hope to see: Braves vs. Angels 

– Thoughts on MVP’s and CY Young winners in each league?

I thought that they were both well deserved and I agreed with both decisions. Despite the fact that both Miggy and Buster didn’t have “MVP” type World Series performances, their contributions over the course of the grueling season are without question deserving of the award.

Price and Dickey are both great. Dickey hands down deserved his and Price, though his was a little closer in the voting, he too deserved his reward after a an exceptional year.