When Twins manager Rocco Baldelli comes in twice a day to do his pre- and post-game Zoom sessions with the media, he looks largely identical to the participants of the video conference call: well in front of a navy blue backdrop. Published and checked with well centered Twins logo and US Bank ads.
To the outside observer, everything looks professional – so much so that you’ll never guess what the view on the other side looks like.
“At times it’s like us and some of these rooms have a half dozen bugs,” Baldelli said.
To limit in-person interactions due to COVID-19, Major League Baseball teams began conducting interviews over video conferencing software at the start of the 2020 season, a practice that has carried over into the current season and has done its fair share of has provided. Light moments.
And since the ballparks weren’t explicitly designed with Zoom rooms in mind, the twins have often found themselves zooming in from some, well, interesting places over the course of the past two seasons.
“You’re sitting on a bucket or a random chair they found. It’s like, ‘Don’t touch this because it’ll fall,'” reliever Tyler Duffy said. “Literally it’s like rake and … trailer parts and Whatever and it’s like, ‘Yeah, here’s your Zoom room.’ It’s like, ‘Okay. cold.’ ”
After spending years traveling to ballparks around the league, senior director of communications Dustin Morse has kind of fun coming to a park and looking for Zoom rooms for the first time in the COVID-19 era.
Morse said, “We would find ourselves wandering down the hallway, opening doors we never knew existed, whether they were the broom closet, the irrigation room, the massage therapy room, the assistant clubhouse, the clubhouse attendant’s office, the kitchen. Be behind the mechanical room.” “It was like ‘Oh boy’ every time.”
When they arrive at a stadium, Morse and communications coordinator/Spanish interpreter Elvis Martinez remove the Twins’ backdrop from a duffle bag and set it up, making sure everything is fine. One or the other will sit down, testing the lighting, camera position, and sound to make sure everything is good.
Where they are doing this setup varies greatly by city.
When players speak to the media at Comerica Park in Detroit, the Zoom setup is located in the club’s irrigation room. Speaking of a thrilling win or a disastrous defeat, some damp, smelly areas of the ballpark can be field rakes and dirt for players and Baldelli.
“This is where all the heavy Home Depot-type stuff is,” Baldelli said.
On the Twins’ recent visit to Wrigley Field, visitors to the Zoom Room were surrounded by heavy electrical equipment while the Twins discussed two victories over the Cubs.
“There’s definitely a lot of radiation out there at Wrigley,” Baldelli said. “Lots of heavy machinery in the room.”
And in Boston’s Fenway Park, a member of the ballpark operations staff’s office doubles as a Zoom room, with clothes in one corner of the room and family photos nearby. The space was so small, Martinez recalled, that his background didn’t fit right in.
“Boston is kind of like ‘office space’ where they put you in a little office with papers and notes and pictures and all kinds of stuff,” Baldelli said. “There is not a single blank piece of wall anywhere in this place. Basically you can’t breathe. … you feel like Milton.”
In Cleveland, Progressive Field’s zoom room is located right next to the dugout. It sounds convenient – except the door to the room won’t close and the postgame firework show can make for an undesirable Zoom atmosphere.
The Zoom Room tour at Tropicana Field is short. But the Twins haven’t seen anything smaller than the brewers’ setup, Martinez said. During Zoom at American Family Field earlier this season, the twins’ Kinexon devices, which were taken for COVID-19 contact tracing, kept buzzing repeatedly, interrupting video calls.
Globe Life Field, the Rangers’ new stadium, receives high marks for its installation.
At Target Field, the visitors have taken over an office near their clubhouse. Domestically, the twins have converted a conference room right next to the batting cage into their zoom room. The rear of the room doubles as work stations for the Advanced Analytical Team.
Among the items in the room, is a framed Tom Kelly jersey on one wall, a large monitor for players to watch while talking in the middle of the room, a Bomba Squad bobblehead, and a podium with a little sticky note on it. On them, Morse has left small talk and smiling faces, reminding everyone of them smiling at the camera.
Morse sits side by side with the duel monitor. Potential pitchers, stats and injury reports are pulled for Baldelli for reference when needed.
Dan “Rocky” Baldelli didn’t like what he was seeing. His son, Rocco, would try to make eye contact with the reporter talking to him during Zoom, but on television, it didn’t appear.
“His father came to town and his father yelled at me,” said Morse. “Rocky, he’s like, ‘You have to tell my son to look at the camera, to look at the screen. He always looks up to the sky!’
Starting pitcher Griffin Jacques has had the same issue, often noting that it appears as if his eyes are off center when he is trying to look at the reporter asking a question. Figuring out who is speaking to him when journalists are often masked has at times been a challenge for Jacques.
Adjusting to interviews on Zoom was initially difficult for everyone for a variety of reasons.
As for Duffy, he found himself missing out on human contact. Although he brought some of that into his Zoom, it wasn’t quite the same. He found himself speaking “weird”.
“To be able to joke, give people the hell here and there[and]have fun with it,” Duffy said. “I don’t think (Zoom is) gone either way. I think it’s going to stick around, but I do hope that at some point, it will return to somewhat of a normalcy.”
For Morse, the most challenging part was making sure the lighting was just right. In an attempt to avoid the shadows and make things right, she sometimes gets calls from the television truck saying “It looks like Rocco’s forehead is on fire.”
Another concern was getting “Zoom Bombed” by an uninvited guest. The twins use the same Zoom link for all the interviews and at this point, it has been shared widely.
“Sometimes I get scared that we have random fans in our Zoom rooms and then I think to myself, ‘Well, at least they’re silent and they’re cool,'” Morse said. “… Sometimes I laugh at myself when Rocco asks me who he was, and I’m like, ‘I’m not quite sure.’ ”
A lot of adjustments had to be made on the media side as well, as COVID-19 limited the number of interactions between players and journalists, especially in 2020 when all interviews were conducted on video – in 2021, players Now do interviews often. Pre-game area – makes it difficult to change coverage.
Duffy noted that, the game is less recognized, with some players appearing on Zoom every day, with an entire clubhouse open and a full roster of 26 players available to chat.
“It’s something we never thought we’d have to do in our profession,” Morse said. “Where it goes next year or year after, it’s probably here to stop for a part of what we do.”
only on zoom
Over the past two seasons, there have been plenty of “only-on-zoom” moments to provide leverage and laughs.
Once, as outfielder Jake Cave sat on the podium in the home’s zoom room, gazed at monitors full of faces of journalists and team radio broadcasters, Willian Estudillo stood by the sidelines, trying his best to distract him.
As Kev answered a question about Pirates pitcher JT Brubaker this April, Estudillo mimicked the batting pace. When Cave gave Estudillo a nod in his reply, the utilitarian threw up two peace signs and hit his chest with his fist.
It’s only natural, Cave said. Both are constantly joking with each other.
“If I were to walk through the Zoom room and see him doing an interview, I’m definitely going to try to do some smack talk to him like he’d do the same thing or dance like him, trying Tha ask me to say his name in the interview like this,” Cave said.
While having fun in the zoom room, various players are often chatting with their teammates.
Miguel Sano, Morse recalls, once showed up for a shirtless media session after having already removed his jersey top. He grabbed the shirt he had and put it on, ready to answer questions. One problem: It had the logo of protest against the twins. Morse said that Sano was doing the interview with the shirt turned inside out. While waiting for his teammates to zoom in, Sano could often be found in the corner of the room, flexing or making silly faces, and he once joined a media Zoom session with Nelson Cruz when Cruz. Came back as a member of Minneapolis. Tampa Bay Rays.
Duffy admitted that he likes to play with his teammates when given the opportunity. Morse said that like Estudillo with Cave, Luis Arrez can sometimes be found trying to inspire his teammates to talk about him.
Louis last year, when former Twins pitcher Jose Berrios was addressing the media, Estudillo was peeling a banana in front of him and waving around the peel, Martinez recalled.
That trip came at a time when communications staff forgot to pack familiar backgrounds in a duffle bag, something that Morse and Martinez realized on a flight there. To compensate, he hung two Gray Twins jerseys.
While the twins strive to provide a coherent background, the journalists’ locations often differ.
Last September, a reporter was hacked while driving and then hurled a slur at the offending motorist. Unmute, the moment was caught on Zoom – and remains Baldelli’s favorite Zoom moment to this day.
For the second time, the sound of a toilet flush was heard over the Zoom. And one time, Morse said, in the background of a zoomer was a man who had just gotten out of the shower wearing a towel.
To a reporter who occasionally zooms in from a couch, Arrez will scream “wake up” and “stop sleeping,” a bit he did beginning at the beginning of the 2021 season and during subsequent visits to the Zoom room.
But for all the adventures in the Zoom room over the past two years, count Baldelli among those who wouldn’t be sad to see Zoom — and whatever else that came with it — go.
“Some rooms are real damp and a little dirty and maybe a little smelly, and some not too bad. It’s like everything else,” said the twins’ manager. “You get a little bit of it and a little bit of that, but we get a chance to talk to you (guys). Yeah, you guys do all this work.”