Next up in our interview series is Joe Vasile. Many of you know Joe from the analytically-driven stories he’s written here over the years but what you may not know is that Joe is a broadcaster in the minor leagues with the goal to make it to the majors. We’re all rooting for him to make it big and for him to remember us when he gets famous. Just know that I get first dibs for tickets when he broadcasts his first Mets game! Anyway, this is a fun interview that I know you’ll enjoy.
How old are you? Under 25, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55+
Do you live within an hour’s drive of Citi Field?
No, I’m about an hour and a half away in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York.
Memories of your first Mets game?
In the 2000 season it was Kids Opening Day. Went during spring break and saw the Mets play the Reds. Glendon Rusch was pitching that day for the Mets and Ken Griffey Jr. hit a home run for Cincinnati. The Mets had a “B” lineup that day — No Mike Piazza, and for some reason I have a vivid memory of Jon Nunnally playing in the outfield. We sat in the Loge Section down the third base line under the overhang from the Mezzanine. They ended up losing 2-1 in 12 innings, but that was the day I went from liking baseball to being a Mets nut.
How did you get involved in Mets360?
I came across an article that was shared on Reddit and saw that the site was looking for writers. I was a college broadcasting and journalism student at the time and was looking for some place that I could write about the Mets and it seemed like a perfect fit. So, I applied and the rest is history.
Take us through your broadcasting career, telling us the stops you’ve made to get you to where you are now.
I graduated from The College of New Jersey in December 2013 with a degree in Communication Studies and started working for the Fayetteville SwampDogs of the Coastal Plain League, where I won the 2014 CPL Broadcaster of the Year award. The CPL is a wood bat summer collegiate league made famous in recent years by the Savannah Bananas. I went back to Fayetteville as the broadcaster and Assistant General Manager in 2015, before I left to join the Salem Red Sox, Boston’s High-A affiliate in 2016 as the Broadcasting and Media Relations Assistant. On that team in Salem, we had Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, so that was a very fun and memorable year. In 2017, I spent the summer with the Long Island Ducks, and then I started a run of what has been now five years working in the Yankees minor league system. From 2018-2021 I was with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (AAA) as the Broadcasting and Media Relations Assistant, and now I’m the lead broadcaster and Director of Media Relations for the Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A).
I’m living vicariously thru you and can’t tell you how proud I am of how you’re grinding to make your dream come true. Tell us how you feel about the progress you’ve made and what’s the next step in your journey?
The journey and the frequent moves haven’t always been the easiest, but I’m happy with where I’m at now. Each step along the way taught me something new and I’ve definitely grown a lot since those early days in North Carolina. It’s always easy to get caught up in where you are in the present moment, but looking back, I’ve had the chance to be around some really cool moments and have made big strides in recent years. Ultimately the goal is still to get to the major leagues, and so the big-picture next step is to continue working on the on-air things that I need to do better to be at that level and continue to grow my network to make more relationships that can open the door for those opportunities. I’d like to try to move back up to the Triple-A level as a lead broadcaster — it doesn’t make a ton of difference for my day-to-day job, but the quality of baseball is definitely better, and things like the hotels we stay in and the cities where teams stay are a little better up there. Outside of baseball I also do a lot of college basketball, so I’m trying to grow and do some bigger games there and hopefully work in here and there on a network game on ESPN/CBS/NBC, but I’m not quite there yet.
Would you take a job of sideline reporter – like Steve Gelbs – or would that be a sideways diversion to keep you from your ultimate goal?
Yeah, I would if it was the right gig. Even just in the Mets broadcast family, Kevin Burkhardt has launched a great play-by-play career after doing sidelines (and doing a lot on the side), and Wayne Randazzo was brought in as the radio pregame and postgame show host after several years in the minors. So, I don’t think a job like that is a diversion, especially since it gets you in the door in the major leagues. There are a bunch of other MLB play-by-play announcers who got their start like that, like Robert Ford from the Astros.
What’s your favorite story of broadcasting minor league games?
There are so many that come to mind. The 2016 Salem Sox played some absolutely wild games and had some big personalities, and the two weeks that Eric Gagne was with us with the Ducks in 2017 is the only time I’ve been star-struck by an athlete that was on my team. Aaron Judge rehabbing in Scranton in 2019 was a blast, too. He stayed after the game and signed every autograph for every kid at the ballpark before leaving. I think my favorite overall was Bucknell women’s basketball’s win over Fordham in the WNIT this past March. This was a team that had two likely NCAA Tournament appearances robbed from them because of the pandemic, and despite graduating a ton of key players, battled to make a postseason tournament and then went on the road as underdogs and won. Was just so happy for the players and coaches who had been through a lot of tough times to have a big win like that to celebrate. From a baseball standpoint, I’d probably go back to 2016 with Salem and just getting to watch Rafael Devers as a 19-year-old develop on a daily basis. He struggled a lot at the beginning of the year, but turned it around and had a great season. He always had a smile on his face and was cracking jokes. His favorite was that he would walk up behind you at the batting cage, make a farting noise with his mouth and then walk away giggling. You couldn’t help but laugh at it — he was just a kid having fun.
Bringing this back to the Mets – how do you feel about what transpired with the team here in 2022?
By and large I feel like 2022 was a successful season. Going in we knew the Braves were going to be tough to overcome and were probably the favorites in the NL East. In March and April, I think I would have signed up for a 101-win season. The playoffs are always kind of a crapshoot, but it also felt like this was a team with real flaws that were exposed by the Padres in the Wild Card Round. Getting bit by the injury bug at a bad time did not help with things either. I think with a healthy Starling Marte in September, the Mets win the division and avoid the Wild Card Round. Hopefully those problems get addressed during the offseason, but obviously the Mets are probably going to have to spend big to be competitive on this level again. The good news is that Steve Cohen is willing to do that, and the expanded playoff field gives me hope that 2022 is not going to be like 2006, where a run that looked promising ended up being just one shot at the playoffs.