There’s still a month and a half before pitchers and catchers report, so New York Yankees fans may need a fix to help them deal till Spring Training begins in earnest. There are plenty of Yankees fans who turned their passion into something constructive, more so than just ranting on social media. One such Yankees fan is Dani Cipolla, the mastermind of the podcast Dani’s Dugout.
A Podcast for Yankees Fans, by a Yankee Fan
Ms. Cipolla has made no secret about disdain for modern, analytics-based baseball in several episodes. And, you know what? She’s got a point. The Yankees have been an analytics-based team for the better part of the last 15 years, and it’s starting to pay off… during the REGULAR season. The team has won about 300 games in the last 3 years, (17-19), but the best they got was game 7 of the 2017 ALCS. And let’s also look at the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’re also heavily analytics-based, and they lost the World Series in back to back seasons.
How many professionals in the sports reporting community is talking about how analytics are great for a long haul regular season, but are a detriment to short postseason series? Little IF ANY!
So, much of her takes are based on what many would call “Old school baseball.” As a result, she’s made many calls that I disagree with. She’s in love with and celebrates Gio Urshela as the future third baseman of the Yankees for the next 10 years. I’ve documented how the old school metrics, AND new school metrics show that Urshela (both offensively and defensively) wasn’t that much of an improvement in 2019 compared to Miguel Andujar’s 2018. She even thought, and voiced her opinion, that the Yankees should have traded Gleyber Torres during the 2019 season because Torres is a better hitter against bad pitching (citing specifically the Orioles) than he is against good pitching. The best pitching comes in October, and it was Torres and DJ carrying the team in the ALDS/ALCS this season. But, it’s her podcast, her opinion, and I still enjoy the product she turns out. So, I cope. No one is going to agree with you 100% of the time, so don’t try to make them.
So if you’re a numbers/analytics wonk, her podcast isn’t for you. But it doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her stuff. At the end of the day, while analytics is a great way to evaluate talent, we are still talking about human beings playing a game. Part of what made the 2018 Red Sox season so remarkable was manager, Alex Cora, trusting that his HUMAN players were going to excel at the moment he saw unfolding, not what the paper from the analytics department tells him.
This is a knowledgable person, who knows and gets the game better than most who report on the game in the more traditional professional settings (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the like).
Her Fandom is Her Biggest Weakness
She is a prototypical diehard New York Yankees fan. If you heard the expression “Fan is short for fanatic”, this is Ms. Cipolla to a T. While I tend to agree with her takes more often than not, her rationale behind her opinions is still viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of total fandom. That aspect of her broadcast style is what I find the most frustrating about her show.
Baseball has the distinct advantage of being the longest regular season in professional sports. It almost doubles the typical NBA season. If she got what she wanted 100% of the time, we’d be back in the Bronx Zoo era of the franchise, where we went from 1982 to 1993 without even a Wild Card berth (94 was the strike year). Remember, the Yankees more than any other team are vocal about “World Series or bust”. If you want to make the World Series, it’s going to mean sticking with players you would want to see benched or traded. It’ll mean letting go of guys who brought a level of magic no one expected to the position. And in today’s baseball, it’ll mean LISTENING to the analytics department from time to time.
It’s Still a Great Listen
Dani’s Dugout can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube. You can find Dani’s Dugout on social media, or through the podcast’s main site. You can also get custom Yankees merchandise through Dani’s Dugout on Etsy. We are within 6 weeks till pitchers and catchers report. Get your New York Yankees to fix by listening to Dani’s Dugout.
Some of her episodes feature profane language. So, if you’re turned off by profanity, be warned. She’s the Yankee podcaster who’d follow John Oliver on HBO.