Port Chester, N.Y., June 26, 2014 — A long-winded and boring-sounding title for the event hosted at the Port Chester/Rye Brook Public Library Thursday evening, but this off night on the Yankees schedule was a blast. One of the laments six Yankee beat reporters shared with us is that in 2014, there really never is a moment that they’re not on the job — a tweeted report of an injury, a trade, a player release is potentially just seconds away.
Yet these six gave up that rarest of happenings on their schedules, a day off — even if all six flew back to New York from Toronto within the last 18 hours — from covering the Yankees to discuss their jobs, in front of 40 or 50 fans starved for info. Because they work for the TV station and radio channel covering the team, respectively, Meredith Marakovits and Sweeny Murti get to fly with the team, but that carries with it a burden too. Meredith, for instance, is often the first to have to question players or the manager about what went wrong on some very bad nights. The other four fly on their own.
The three-part series of library events is being held in honor of the late library patron and Yankee fan Vincent Barbarisi, and it was hosted by his son, Wall Street Journal Yankee beat reporter John Barbarisi. He directed questions and comments to the panel, all Yankee beat reporters: Brian Hoch, of MLB.com; Wally Matthews, from ESPN; Ms. Marakovits, of YES television; Chad Jennings, of The Journal News and Lohud.com; and Mr. Murti, of WFAN radio.
Some primarily interview and report; others interface with bloggers, or share baseball insight as columnists. They all interview players individually, but also convene for Joe Girardi’s pre- and post-game news conferences. Some players are open and free, though it’s difficult to talk with anyone who’s had a tough night. Girardi can be very informative, but testy too. Jennings shared that, fresh from a visit to Lohud.com, where posters were intrigued by a series of triples, Joe asked one questioner, “Did you just ask me why players sometimes hit triples?”
In the open questions session, the panel was supportive of a young blogger hoping to report baseball one day, and assured a concerned fan that the “Core Four” was never about excluding Bernie Williams, but rather an invention to deal with the remaining vets on the 2009 Championship team. They were generally sympathetic of the recent Monument Park additions, but Sweeny made the points that, 1, he wanted Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles added and, 2, that fans were correct to speculate that many of these promotions are designed to sell tickets.
As to trade rumors, though none admitted having any inside info, most expected that moves would be made, more likely for pitching than for hitting. My Chase Utley suggestion, assuming Philly decides to rebuild, was met with, “You DO know Chase is their ‘Core Four,’ right?”; and the suggestion that Cliff Lee is more likely for a series of reasons: He is not a lifetime team member, and he’s a pitcher. But in 2014, they all cautioned, most teams still feel they have a shot. They all agreed that as configured, this team would need some help, but all agreed that the Yankees would go out and do what was needed to get the Bombers into the playoffs.
The 90-minute session ended with hearty applause, and many approached the dais to shake hands and ask for autographs. We just headed out, however, appreciative of the time these pros had generously donated to our having a very enjoyable and informative evening.