Reusse: Following Plouffe’s journey into sports podcasting
The Twins opened Target Field in 2010 with 94 wins, ticket sales of 3,223,640 and a sixth AL Central title in nine years.
And then came the start of a baseball apocalypse in 2011: 63 wins, 99 losses and a 19-50 finish to the schedule. It was the first of four consecutive 90-loss seasons, and five out of six.
Trevor Plouffe arrived for 22 games in 2010, then was called up on May 6, 2011. He was tried at shortstop and second base, batting .238 with eight home runs in 81 games.
There were times when the postgame media would approach Plouffe's cubicle. Trevor had a very strong antenna to detect a negative element to a question, even when none was intended.
Early Friday, Plouffe was on the phone from his home in Calabasas, Calif. Near the end of the conversation, I said to Plouffe:
"Those first couple of years, when you had a tendency to find the worst in most questions, I don't think many of us imagined a future for Trevor Plouffe as a star of new baseball media."
Plouffe laughed slightly and said, "After a year or two, it occurred to me that everybody has a job to do."
He found a home at third base for the Twins when hitting 11 home runs in an astounding June 2012. He had 80 RBI in 2014. He hit 22 home runs with 86 RBI in 2015.
The Twins didn't sign Plouffe after 2016. The local sports writers missed him. He had become a go-to for quotes.
Plouffe was in spring training with the Phillies in 2019. When he found out late in camp that he wouldn't make the big club for Opening Day, he decided to go home to California. He was 32 and had no desire to simply hang around as a player.
Soon, he was seeing a future that the old ball writers trying to interview him a decade earlier never imagined: a baseball media not intended to break down specific ballgames, but to entertain with two or three people offering odd opinions or insights, tales of their daily lives, and all with an inside look at the sport.
Plouffe made $22 million pre-taxes, according to Baseball Reference, and he used some of that to buy into Jomboy Media. It had gained notoriety with a younger audience by adding humorous dialogue to baseball moments shown on its YouTube channel.
That channel now has 1.7 million subscribers. It has three of the top 10 baseball podcasts in America — No. 1 being "Talkin' Baseball," with Plouffe as a main host. He also co-hosts No. 8, "Baseball Today," with Chris Rose.
"Olivia and I have two kids — Teddy, 7, and Isla, 5 — and my goal when this podcast opportunity started was to be home as often as possible," he said. "That wasn't a real option at the start, and then COVID came, and working at home became the norm for endless numbers of people.
"Now, I go to New York a few times a season, and I go to some Padres, Angels or Dodgers games — not to interview players, just to say hello, remind players we're out there.
''There's still an audience for people who look at the boxscores every morning, and we'll talk about things that happened 'last night' in the game.
"What we are, though, is a 'show' about baseball, and shows are meant to entertain, aren't they?"
The subscribers — again, 1.7 million of them — seem to agree.
Now, what we really need here, Trevor, is to put yourself back in front of that Target Field locker and give an opinion on the pitch-clock rules — 15 seconds to throw a pitch, 7 seconds to be set in the box and facing the pitcher.
"Right now, there's a little bit of chaos, but I think everyone is going to get used to it," Plouffe said. "People who have watched minor league games with the clock the past couple of years tell me you didn't even notice it."
A week of exhibitions has changed the working theory that the clock was a disadvantage for pitchers. The new narrative is that it could be a disadvantage to hitters who will have minimal time to process what occurred on the previous pitch and what might be coming next.
"There's that, but there's also this: stamina for pitchers," Plouffe said. "Right now, in early spring training, starters are only going one or two innings.
"When you get a month or two into the season, and you want those guys going six or seven innings, firing that many pitches so quickly … are they going to hit a wall way earlier?"
Thus, it's a mystery that should create both inside-the-game and way-outside baseball conversation, which could boost Jomboy to new heights.
"Yes," said Trevor Plouffe, an entertaining voice for new baseball.