Three New York teams, three different press conferences for the Giants, Mets and Yankees
On Wednesday afternoon, three New York teams held press conferences for markedly different sentiments: disappointment, celebratory and historic.
The New York Giants have brought in owner John Mara to address the firing of Joe Judge as well as the search for a new general manager and coach following the ugly 13-game losing season that ended in six consecutive losses and continued a run that has seen the franchise lose 100 times since its fourth Super Bowl in February 2012.
The New York Mets held a press conference to celebrate the announcement that No. 17 broadcaster Keith Hernandez would retire in July. It was another notable move for a team that dominated free agency headlines by signing Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha in the frenzy leading up to the Dec. 2 lockout and then signing Buck. Showalter to be the manager for the greatest pleasure. of the majority of his fans.
As those press conferences continued, the Yankees discussed in a crowded virtual setting whether to hire Rachel Balkovec to lead their Single-A team in Tampa for the upcoming season, making the 34-year-old the first woman to manage at any level of professional baseball.
It was quite a contrast and unique event for the three New York teams whose final months have focused on loss, inactivation and free spending.
For the Yankees, the path to getting Balkovec appointed as a manager in their minor league system began in 2019 when they named her a minor league hitting coach. Last month, the idea of appointing the manager of Balkovec developed for vice-president of player development Kevin Reese.
On a routine day when Balkovec simply showed up at the Tampa Player Development Center intending to do some off-season work with minor leaguers, she was invited to a meeting with Reese.
Reese then offered the job to Balkovec, Tuesday it was official and a day later, shortly before Mara tried to express where things went downhill significantly and Hernandez expressed his joy that a career as player be honoured, nearly 120 people attended a virtual press conference as Balkovec pointed out. her winding path to the executive position, including what she first said to Reese.
“Look, I’m going to make mistakes,” Balkovec said. “’I’m going to need support.’ I think they were like, ‘Duh, we’re here to support you and we see you in a leadership position.’
The Yankees’ response was basically “we know” and we’re here to support you.
“There wasn’t a ton of debate about whether baseball was ready or whether the world was ready,” said Reese, who hired her in 2019 as the team’s batting coach. “We try to find the best people and put them in the best position to make an impact here.”
“Comments about Rachel have always been positive,” Reese said. “It’s about his qualifications, his ability to lead and (the decision-making process) was relatively quick. I think the hardest part was probably talking to him, selling him the opportunity, what it was going to look like and how we were going to try to help. Once she was all-in, it’s been fine ever since.”
Among the things that put Balkovec in this position was an ability to lead and build relationships with players. Balkovec, a Nebraska native, taught Spanish on her own when she became the Houston Astros’ Latin American strength and conditioning coach in 2016 and among her most important jobs was with top prospect Jasson. Dominguez, who the Yankees signed for a $5.1 million signing bonus in July. 2, 2019.
Another factor was his analytical nature, a direction every team cites when looking for management and coaching talent.
“We’re going to talk more throwing and hitting details with them, and defense,” Balkovec said. “It’s really just to be a supporter and to facilitate an environment where they can be successful.”
The road to a crowded virtual introductory press conference began in 2012 with the St. Louis Cardinals as a temporary strength and conditioning coach in the Appalachian League. Two years later she was promoted to a full-time position and in 2016 Balkovec joined the Astros and was promoted to strength and conditioning coach for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
After moving to the Netherlands for a second graduate degree, Balkovec worked as an assistant batting coach for the Dutch softball and baseball programs. Next, she took a fellowship at Driveline in Seattle, using analytical tools like researching batter eye tracking and batter hip motion.
Then in November 2019 the Yankees hired her and on Wednesday she was tackling a new role nearly 14 months after Derek Jeter hired former assistant Yankee GM Kim Ng to lead the Miami Marlins as the first female general manager. , a role Balkovec said she craves. hold at a given time.
“You want to surround yourself with the best people you can, no matter who they are or where they’re from so they can help serve the organization,” said general manager Brian Cashman. “Rachel is obviously a part of that process and we’re proud to say she’s a New York Yankees employee and finding her calling, climbing the ranks and forcing opportunities to be considered.”
Balkovec is among 11 women in field jobs in Affiliate Baseball next year and the first to manage and eventually Cashman hopes that such things aren’t as newsworthy, but a routine affair.
“There is always a first. There’s always someone emerging who isn’t scared – who wants it, who chases it, and is strong enough to take it, and unfortunately some categories take longer than others. Cashman said.
Either way, a historic announcement is always better than discussing the wreckage of another ugly season, which Mara found himself trying to do.
“It’s the American dream,” Balkovec said. “There have certainly been dark moments in my career that I have been able to overcome, on my own and with the support of those around me. I think everyone can appreciate a piece of my story.