The “Tipping Pitches” podcast was recorded live at “Pizza With the Pros” on Monday, Oct. 24. Longtime friends and co-hosts Bobby Wagner and Alex Bazeley were joined on a panel by Manager of the Trenton Thunder Jeff Manto, Assistant General Manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks Liz Welch, and assistant professor of History and International Studies at Rowan Debbie Sharnak.
The two Brooklyn natives began recording the weekly podcast five years ago and have logged 256 episodes. Bazeley, an Athletics fan, and Wagner, a Mets fan, have amassed a Twitter audience of over 12,000 followers. However, emerging in the podcast space has been a challenging journey.
“It’s really hard to build a really big podcast audience because the market is so flooded with so many podcasts,” Wagner said. “There’s four and a half million podcasts on Spotify right now that you can go listen to. It’s hard to compete for those audiences.”
Bazeley and Wagner went on to lay out the steps they take to record each episode. They spark up a conversation about the hottest topics in baseball and then land on the subjects they feel most passionate about. Each episode ranges from an hour to an hour and a half in length. Wagner will then place the recording into an editing software to trim and polish the audio before adding the “Tipping Pitches” intro music and then publish.
Monday’s live recording, which is set to upload in the near future, was mostly centered around minor league baseball.
The treatment of minor league players has long been at the forefront of discussions about the progression of modern baseball. Minor league baseball pays far less than most jobs in the U.S. In 2021, after years of demand, the MLB raised weekly wages. Though, according to Sharnak, the conditions of minor league baseball in Latin America — her area of expertise — are far behind.
“Because it’s so deregulated in Latin America, what happens is there are all of these informal agreements that are made,” Sharnak said.
She added that teams can make verbal promises to young players with life-changing contracts, and go back on them.
Manto, who’s been a pro player, coach and manager, shared his thoughts on the new and improved minor league landscape.
“The clubhouses are, thank God, beautiful and they have sleeping pods, they have caterers, they have all kinds of upgrades. The game has changed, there’s nothing gritty about it anymore,” Manto said.
Welch, who’s been the assistant GM of the Wilmington Blue Rocks since 2021, has been working diligently to improve the minor league experience on the business front.
“People want to know the players, so I think you’ll see a lot more, for lack of a better term, humanization of the players,” Welch said.
The panel also touched on the regulations that the MLB is set to enact this upcoming season. In early September, it was decided that the league will feature a pitch clock, larger bases to prevent player collisions, and, most radically, the banning of defensive shifts which allows for infielders to move to more favorable positions based upon a batter’s hitting tendencies.
Manto talked about his distaste for the banning of defensive shifts.
“I think you should be able to play wherever you want… What strategy is there if you’re going to tell me I have to play there [designated position on the diamond]?” Manto said.
There will be no “Pizza With the Pros” next week as Michael Barkann of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the designated guest, will be covering the Philadelphia Phillies as they compete for a World Series title.
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