With the current state of baseball and the world – and just because we just think it’s a neat idea – we are doing a series on “the glue guys” of the baseball world, people who aren’t players or a part of teams but who are important connectors and folks who amplify the joy of baseball for others.
Next up, is Twitter and YouTube baseball breakdown artist and podcaster, Jomboy (AKA, the Bronx’s own Jimmy O’Brien).
Jomboy got his start as one of the most entertaining and engaging voices of #YankeesTwitter, and has leveraged his keen eye, love of baseball, and video editing chops to develop immensely popular “breakdowns” of fun, interesting, important, or just plain goofy baseball moments.
He achieved larger and more national media attention after his video breakdowns that illustrated the Houston Astros cheating scandal and – in a local Twitter boy makes good story – has been featured on the YES Network, the Michael Kay Show, and on ESPN. Adventurous, fun, and self-effacing, he has looked to grow his nascent baseball media empire by creating Jomboy Media, which was to be run out of an apartment in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium this season.
Jimmy was kind enough to sit down and answer some of our questions about his love of the game, what he does with @Jomboy_ and and Jomboy Media, why he does it, why it’s become so popular with baseball fans, and how baseball can adapt and connect with its fan-base going forward:
Good Men Project Sports:
I started covering Yankees baseball in 2017, because I just wanted to talk to people who knew about the Yankees.
I was living in California, away from any of my family or fellow Yankee fans, so I took to Twitter to live tweet games.
I’ve always wanted to produce content. I messed around with taste test videos, blind taste test videos, food reviews and a scripted web series. I always wanted to film, record and edit.
Once I built the Twitter following and people seemed interested then I started doing a question-and-answer video series, which turned into the Talkin’ Yanks podcast and that kept growing. It eventually led to more podcasts.
In March of 2018 I was given the chance to go full time with a very small seed funding opportunity. I covered just the Yankees and did our best with what we had. By the end of the year I realized I was going to have to do a lot more if it was going to turn this into something, so in 2019 we started to turn our focus to all of baseball as well as the Yankees.
DJ Lemahieu drives in Wade to take the lead in the 9th, another late night breakdown from one year ago todaypic.twitter.com/FvA3255T71
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) April 25, 2020
I made breakdown videos, a podcast all about MLB and tried to diversify.
What do you think @Jomboy_ brings to the baseball fan-base – why has it been so successful?
I think it reminds people that sports are fun and baseball is fun.
For a long time now all people would hear about baseball is how slow it is and old the sport is. There are a lot of young players in the league with big personalities and there’s a lot of really interesting strategy involved in the game. A lot of the x’s and o’s are really entertaining when you know the grooves of them. I try to blend those two: the silliness of the personalities and the conversations with strategy and thinking that goes on in the game.
How do you do it? How much time do you put into Jomboy Media?
A LOT of time.
Last summer was incredibly busy. I think I worked 16 hours a day, pumping out 24 podcasts and 24 breakdown videos every week. In June alone, I think I posted 78 videos to the Youtube channel. That doesn’t even account for my coverage of every single Yankees game. We do a pre-game show before every single game, so that’s four hours basically every day dedicated to just that game. On top of that we’re recording other podcasts and radio shows and making the breakdown videos. The average breakdown video probably takes around 40 minutes to make.
What is your “real” job and how long have you been involved in the game of baseball?
I was a lead videographer and editor for an event company, primarily doing weddings and festivities of that sort.
I’ve been interested in baseball since I was five years old, as a fan of the Yankees and part of a family that just loves baseball. I have a brother that’s ten years younger than me, and we constantly coached him and went to his tournaments, once I stopped playing.
The Yankees have been a part of my life basically since the YES Network was created, and I was able to watch every single game from my living room.
Why baseball for you? What is it about the game of baseball that you love? What makes it bigger than ‘just a game’ for you?
I think baseball is in a way, the easiest to relate to, since it’s one of the only sports where the size and shape of the players isn’t a determining factor for how they play or who they match up to. You can have an overweight guy and an incredibly skinny guy share the same mound on the same day, and throw the ball the same speed and make it break in the same way. You can be 6’7 and skinny as a rail like Randy Johnson and on the other mound can be 40-year-old Bartolo Colon who’s short and fat, and they can both go toe-to-toe.
Unlike basketball or football where if you have varying sizes there’s always a leveling off point where it needs to be somewhat equal. Baseball is the great equalizer. Anyone can do it as long as you have that skill. Body size doesn’t matter, so I think it’s relatable in that way.
The pace, I think is beautiful, in that it allows you to digest and discuss what’s happening in live time. There’s a quote that says “baseball breathes conversation.” In between every pitch you can discuss what you think the next pitch will be. You can discuss the topics of the day. You can read a book and look up every thirty seconds and watch the pitch.
In an NHL game sometimes you’re breathless for ten minutes straight because the action is non-stop, which is fun, but I do enjoy the flip-side. I enjoy being able to sit down with family or friends and share a conversation while watching the game.
One thing about baseball that you would change and one thing that you would never change?
I would try to weed out the announcers and beat reporters that have been worn down by the game. There’s a lot of people that have been on the grind day-to-day and you can tell in the way they promote the game. It really puts the sport in a bad light, when the people who are announcing the games seem to be upset that they’re stuck announcing the games. Or the people who are covering the games for newspapers everyday seem to have a general distaste for the sport. That’s rampant in baseball. There’s a lot of people in a great position to promote the game that are doing the opposite.
I would never change the uniqueness of each field, or force them to be uniform. Each stadium has its nooks and crannies and are so different, and that is something that I love.
Any ideas for what types of things baseball can do to better connect to its fans?
I’d go to where the fans are. I’d find out where the young people are and put your product in front of them.
It’s a very simple concept that MLB didn’t do for over a decade. If you wanted to see an MLB highlight you had to go to www.MLB.com and search out the player and the video. Highlights never found kids.
They’re starting to change that now; they have a TikTok channel, they have Instagram. They’re doing a lot better, and they should continue to do that. Whatever the next app kids are going to be on, find them there.
People shouldn’t have to search out your product. You should have to search out the people. That’s exactly what they need to do.
For this Series, we are focusing on people like yourself who aren’t players or a part of teams but who are important connectors, people who amplify the joy of baseball for others.
If I asked you to name one or two of those people, who would you name and why?
PitchingNinja has obviously done a great job with his platform. He’s really highlighted the difficulty and art of pitching.
The Cespedes Family Barbeque guys have been awesome.
We haven’t met anyone within baseball that hasn’t been incredibly kind and passionate.
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) December 12, 2019
Photo Credit: @Jomboy_/Twitter