Meredith Marakovits already had expanded her social media portfolio during spring training, because, well, why not?
Her role as the YES Network’s lead Yankees reporter since 2012 is heavily formatted and mostly limited to brief, information-oriented segments.
So she added a YouTube channel and began interviewing behind-the-scenes figures at YES, journalists and others in a setting that let her showcase more of her personality and give fans content beyond just baseball X's-and-O's.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The directive was, ‘If you can stay inside, do it,’ and I’ve been trying to follow that, not only for my health but the health of others,” she said from her offseason / spring training home in Clearwater, Florida. “So I said, no time like the present to ramp this up even further.”
What followed was something that has caught on in various forms across sports media, with on-air personalities seeking new ways to engage with fans while all concerned are cooped up at home.
Fox’s Joe Buck this week invited Twitter followers to send him home videos that would allow him to keep his play-by-play skills sharp, and he has posted some of them with his calls of assorted home antics.
Marakovits decided to start posting virtual visits from friends and colleagues on Instagram Live.
“I want everybody to be safe, but I also miss baseball,” she said. “I miss working every day. Baseball is such a grind, but you get used to the grind and then the grind comes to a halt.”
Her guests have included YES’ Nets analyst, Sarah Kustok; WFAN’s Yankees radio announcer, Suzyn Waldman, and YES’ Yankees play-by-play man, Michael Kay, who appeared with his children. (She and Waldman frequently post pictures and videos of their road-trip experiences together during the season.)
She also did one that allowed fans to join her. The live videos are archived on her YouTube channel.
“People really seem to enjoy it, and I don’t really have anything to do, you know?” she said. “It’s therapeutic for me as well. It gives me something to do.
“Everyone at the YES Network, as corny as it sounds, really does get along. It’s nice to be able to catch up with co-workers in a very relaxed manner.”
Kay posted a video on Tuesday in which he called a virtual inside-the-house home run by his young son, Charlie, which prompted Marakovits to post a mock postgame interview question for Charlie.
YES now has moved to formalize the online contributions of Marakovits and others, including Kay’s interviews on his radio show that the network simulcasts.
It is branded as “YES, We’re Here,” and this week included Marakovits interviewing Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
“It’s still a bit of a work in progress,'' Marakovits said, ''but I think the idea behind it is because we don’t have any Yankees baseball or Nets basketball to bring you right now, we still want the fans to feel connected and know we’re still here at the YES Network, working and trying to provide interesting content and give them as much information as we know.”