The Yankees have several behind-the-scenes “players,” who without them, the team could not function. Stretched beyond limits this year, meet Ben Tuliebitz.
Yankees union rep Zack Britton called the team together at 12:30 pm on Tuesday. Bunkered down in Philadelphia, the Yankees knew Commissioner Manfred had just postponed their two-game series with the Phillies as a safety precaution pending test results.
For discussion, Britton asked the team if they wanted to bus back to New York to wait for the Phillies to be “released” for play.
Or, they could travel to Baltimore to play the Orioles, whose games scheduled against the virus-infested Marlins were also postponed.
The Yankees didn’t hesitate. Adapting quickly and firmly to the fact the MLB 2020 season will be like no other, the team (mostly) said, get us there, and we are ready to play – no matter what city or who our opponent is – let’s go.
Easier said than done, except the Yankees have a person whose job depends on making the change in plans happen with no hiccups.
Ben Tuliebitz is a ten-year veteran as the Yankees Traveling Secretary, and his experience already had busses and drivers on standby to transport the team and the rest of the considerable entourage associated with a big-league team to Baltimore.
The bigger problem, though, was the matter of securing hotel accommodations in Baltimore while the busses were en route on a trip that Greyhound routinely makes in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Seventy rooms in all, in the same hotel, cleaned and disinfected, says Ben Tuliebitz. And make sure you have the kitchen and serving staff to accommodate our need to remain in the hotel per MLB and Yankee’s team protocol.
And by the way, we have four players who have family members accompanying them on the trip, so they’ll each need adjoining rooms if you don’t mind. Oh, I almost forgot – we’ll need one of your conference rooms to do COVID-19 testing.
P.S. The Yankees won both games against the Orioles, and today (Monday), the team is back in New York awaiting word from MLB as to where and when their next game will be played. More on that in a minute, but first a bit more on the Yankees MVNP.
All in a day’s work for Ben Tuliebitz? Not even close.
The Yankees pride themselves on doing everything first-class. As an organization, it’s a trait that affords them a reputation as a destination that is attractive for free agents.
Gerrit Cole, for instance, was duly impressed when Brian Cashman led a contingent to visit with him at his home during the courtship of the “White Whale” Cashman had long been seeking.
Accordingly, Yankees players are treated exceptionally well, and Ben Tuliebitz is responsible for several of those areas, in addition to coordinating the team’s travel doings.
Every major player is entitled to receive a per diem, presumably to pay for meals when the team is on the road.
It is Tuliebitz’s job to distribute (in cash) the established amount to each player daily.
As a traveling secretary, his job also entails ensuring that when a player is called up or sent down, the player has hotel accommodations waiting, and he arrives promptly.
Then, there is the inter-personal contract between Tuliebitz and twenty-six (now 30 plus a taxi-squad) players, all with individual needs and quirks.
Some present more of a challenge than others, but as a representative of the Yankees, all are given equal consideration. In a 2016 story by Ryan Hatch, Tuliebitz explains the gamut of a player’s concern:
“He (Player A) is the kind of person who knows what he wants ahead of time. He’ll tell me a month in advance, ‘Hey, I’ve got family flying in, will you set this up ahead of time?’ And I’ll have another guy, who literally will be at the hotel and say, ‘Hey, I forgot to tell you, my dad’s here.”
The 2020 Yankees season promises to be his most challenging, though, and the fun has just begun.
Everyone Has A Plan – Until They Get Punched In The Mouth
So said Mike Tyson. Tuliebitz knows how to take a punch like the one described earlier. But as it goes in baseball, you’re only as good as what you do for me today.
For the Yankees, the weekend looks safe as the three games against the Red Sox should be completed without a hitch at Yankee Stadium.
Next week, however, is in full flux, and the Yankees will undoubtedly need the services of Tuliebitz to provide another traveling circus miracle.
Jon Heyman is reporting, but not yet confirmed by MLB, that the Phillies, currently barred from playing until further notice due to COVID related testing results, will not be traveling to Miami as scheduled.
Instead, they will play a home and home series against the Yankees Monday thru Thursday. Maybe. Probably. Who knows?
Assuming, though, is something that keeps a Yankees traveling secretary ahead of the game, at least for the moment.
Thus, it is likely Tuliebitz has already secured transportation and accommodation for the entourage of the New York Yankees in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.
Yankees 2020: Rolling With The Punches – Day To Day
By the time the Yankees 2020 regular-season is complete in early September, never will it seem like sixty games could take so long.
Initially, the challenge of squeezing 60 games into 66 days was severe enough. Today, “Adapting” to the immovable COVID virus is the keyword that rules.
Up for grabs, in territory no traveling secretary has been before, is the expected increases in doubleheaders teams will be playing; as a result postponements due to positive testing and inclement weather.
Today, MLB and the players’ union (MLBPA) announced an agreement that provides for seven-inning games on days doubleheaders are scheduled.
But that’s just another piece added to the puzzle Ben Tuliebitz stores in his “what if plan” to do his job.
While the Yankees have proven that they are up to the challenge, likely, meeting held on Tuesday is not the only one Zack Bitton will be calling over the next two months.
Just as surely, Brian Cashman will summon his MVNP, Ben Tuliebitz, to “get us moving” again. What a season!