What do you like to drink? “I am a whiskey drinker. My all-time favorite used to be Black Maple Hill Bourbon, but now they’ve changed it and it’s no longer the same. I enjoy bourbons, but I don’t drink rye. I’m also not really a Scotch drinker—I don’t think I’m sophisticated or cool enough for it. I have a lot because people give it to me as gifts, but I don’t like the smoky flavor. If I’m just at a sporting event or out at a bar, I’ll drink Crown Royal and ginger ale.”
What’s on your home bar right now? “I, of course, try to have a variety of things for other people, but I don’t drink anything clear, really! On my bar now, I’ve got Redbreast 15 Irish Whiskey, Crown Royal and a bunch of bourbons: Rowan’s Creek, Buffalo Trace, Breaking & Entering and Four Roses Single Barrel.”
How do you usually take your whiskey? “On the rocks, mostly. Though I really do enjoy a Manhattan.”
You have a reputation as a very talented golfer. How did you get started playing? “In my prior life, before I moved to L.A., I was doing theater all around the country, and it’s incredibly difficult—eight shows a week. There’s no opportunity to get outside and be in the world, and I was trying to find something where I could be in theater and I could get outside, and golf was perfect. Shortly after college, I started playing, and I just fell in love with it. To the weekend warriors, the once-a-week guys, I’m really good, but when I go play in these celebrity tournaments with these athletes and retired guys, I’m not really good.”
You’re hosting the official podcast for the second season of the Emmy-winning series All or Nothing, which follows the Rams’ disastrous 2016 season, its first after moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles. What can we expect? “My podcast is much less a recap than an examination of the series and of the LA Rams and what went down last year. It really is a lot of times like you’re watching Shakespeare, that level of drama. Unfortunately for the Rams, it turns into a tragedy. The show opens with [then-head coach] Jeff Fisher announcing both to his coaching staff and to his team that he’s been fired. You start to see that the life and livelihood of all these other people are tied in with all this. It’s just such an interesting look into the huddle if you will, into everything that goes on.
I’ll be frank: The Rams are not very interested in talking about last season now, and that’s another reason I was brought in, as an outside voice to tell the story. Getting some outside perspectives from football experts, from other players in the league, that’s where our focus is for the podcast.”
Were you a Rams fan before All or Nothing? “No, not really. The whole time I’ve been in Los Angeles, we haven’t had a football team, and now we have two of them. I grew up in Atlanta, and I’m actually a big Packers fan: They’re the greatest franchise in the history of sports! But now I am a Rams fan, because of the people involved and really getting to know them. John Fassel, who was named interim head coach at the end of last year, you see him taking over this job he didn’t expect to have and by his own admission wasn’t prepared for, but the love and respect he has for the players and that the players have for him, it’s just so good to watch. (Good things don’t necessarily happen to Fassel, but it’s definitely good to watch.)”
You seem to be a big sports fan in general: You started a sports-focused production company that’s made everything from a golf documentary to a web series about turtle racing. What’s your favorite sport? “To play? Golf. To watch as a fan? Football. But baseball is really hard to beat, too. I really like everything.”
You grew up in Atlanta, went to college in Dallas, ran a theater company in Minneapolis, acted in plays all over the country, and now live in Los Angeles. Which city has the best food & drink? “I think I have to say L.A. in terms of really quality, good food. When I’m cooking or when I’m going out, I’m sort of a follower of the Alice Waters type of school—simple, farm-fresh ingredients, spend the money and effort on really high-quality food as opposed to something with a lot of stuff on top of it. Just in terms of local produce and meat, L.A. is great. I have to give a shout-out to McCall’s, my go-to butcher shop.
But in terms of just fun, laid-back bars and Mexican restaurants, Dallas is super-fun. There’s a place there I’ll throw my props to, too: Javier’s, which is just so old-school. Unbelievable.”
Did the cast of The Office get to hang out together much off the set? “Quite a lot, actually. At least for the first couple of years, we watched every single episode together at somebody’s house. We really did like each other and spent a lot of time together. We still go out to dinner from time to time. One of our favorite places is Pace. It’s Oscar Nuñez’s absolute favorite. Good Italian food and good wine.”
If you could have a drink with any athlete, living or dead, who would it be? And what would you be drinking? “I have been so lucky, because I play golf in celebrity tournaments, to have had a lot of drinks with a lot of people who would have been on that list prior to my current life! So, I guess where I’m gonna go is Wilt Chamberlain, with a giant lowball of Scotch (which I don’t really enjoy, but it seems like the right thing to choose). I’d want to just sit back and hear his stories.”
All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams is available now on Amazon Prime Video, and you’ll be able to find Brian Baumgartner’s All or Nothing podcast at NFL.com/podcasts.
Interview has been condensed and edited.