If you lived in the Philadelphia area over the past decade and love baseball, there is no doubt you are familiar with the name Matt Yallof. Matt was an anchor and reporter at Comcast Sportsnet from 2000 to 2006 and a regular host of Phillies Post Game Live. After a stint in New York as the primary studio host for SportsNet NY from 2006 to 2008, he joined MLB Network and has been there ever since. Matt now co-hosts The Rundown with Lauren Shehadi on MLB Network weekdays from 2-5.
Matt Yallof was always one of my favorites on Comcast Sportsnet, because it was evident when he hosted Phillies Post Game Live that he was a baseball guy. He gave the impression that he would stretch 30 minutes into two hours if he was able. For a baseball nerd like myself, it doesn't get any better. That is why it came as little surprise when MLB Network grabbed him.
I had the chance to catch up with Matt to learn a little more about him and a few of his thoughts on the Phillies.
Matt, it was clear from your days at CSN that you love the game of baseball, so working at MLB Network must be a dream come true for you. How has your experience been at MLB Network?
MLB Network absolutely is a dream job, but it’s not just about baseball. It’s also how the place is run that makes it special. It’s the combination of the content and the people I work with and their passion that makes it so great. It's as good as it gets here. This place is air tight.
What is a typical day for Matt Yallof?
Up until one year ago I never really had a day I would call typical. Unless you are covering a team as a beat writer, no two days are alike. You’re in the clubhouse one day, preparing for a post game show the next, and hosting an afternoon show the following day.
I would have to say this is the first job in over twenty years of working in this business that I have had typical days.
Typical now is hosting The Rundown Monday through Friday. We have a meeting each morning and then need to fill three live hours. You may not realize it, but three live hours is about as much as any show on any network. It's a lot of research, reading, writing, and phone calls. Then it's a show for three hours. You need to treat it like a Soap Opera and you’re just filling out trends. Trends like right now with the run the Phillies are on. It’s really all out.
When I go home, I’m working with my feet on an Ottoman watching baseball. I’ll see a home run or a great play and then call somebody with an idea for the next day’s show.
So, you must have baseball on your mind 24 hours a day.
Pretty much, yeah. But even if I didn’t have this job I would probably be thinking about it 23 hours a day.
Before MLB Network you also worked for sports stations in Philadelphia and New York. Be honest, who did you root for growing up?
My family was all Brooklyn Dodgers fans, but when I grew up in Long Island as a kid I loved the Mets. I’d be coaching baseball and then heading out to the ballpark for twenty games a year at Shea.
How, then, were you able to cover the rival Phillies for seven years?
When I got older I moved around a bit and the truth is, the longer I worked around sports, you get to see the inner workings and meet the players and the coaches and my fandom kind of waned. But I really enjoyed my time with the Phillies. I got to cover a team I grew up hating.
What can you tell us about what led you to Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia and how did it prepare you for your current role at MLB Network?
Here’s the deal. I don’t want to get all Zen on you because that’s not me at all, but every job prepares you for the next. There is a link between my first job and this job.
Comcast Sportsnet was great for me because for the first time I was in contact with Major League Baseball on a daily basis. That was a tremendous help.
Some would say that outside of playing baseball for a living, covering Major League Baseball is the next best thing. What does it take to make it to the top in the tough world of sports broadcasting?
I’m definitely not at the top. There’s always someone better and it will always be that way.
What it comes down to is desire, passion, patience, and taking advantage of every opportunity. Believe it’s what you want to do and that you are capable. You also need a lot of luck, but I’m a big believer that you make your own luck.
On to some baseball now, in particular the Phillies. The Phillies were 14 games under .500 as recently as July 13. How the heck are they now in the Wild Card race?
Early on, the Phillies had some bad breaks, a bad bullpen, and two big bats missing. Talent tends to show itself over 162, and it has shown itself a lot with the Phillies in the last couple of weeks. The Phillies are not a panicky type of team at all. In fact they might be over confident.
They are as cool as they come. When you speak to Chase Utley you wonder if he has a pulse. Then he goes on the field and he’ll kill you. He’s my favorite player today.
Another reason the Phillies are still in it is that the Phils maintained their pitching. Ruben could have dealt Lee, but he didn’t. Pitching still wins.
Do the Phillies have a chance if they reach the post season?
Can the Phillies still win? Absolutely. If they get in, with this pitching staff, of course they do. Will Halladay be favored in a one game playoff? Absolutely.
Care to predict the World Series?
This is just for fun, so let's say it's the Rangers and the Giants. But there is one little caveat. If the Rays get in they could do some damage.
Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to chat with us. Be sure to check out Matt and his co-host Lauren Shehadi on The Rundown every weekday from 2-5 ET on MLB Network. The Rundown features look-ins of live games in progress, highlights, news, updates and interviews with players, general managers and correspondents throughout MLB.
You can also hit up Matt on Twitter at @MattYallofMLB