Courtesy of Clark Klitenic and Yale Athletics

The Ivy League spring sports season is canceled for the second time in as many years, but that hasn’t stopped Yale baseball pitcher Clark Klitenic ’24 and catcher Jamis DeKay ’24 from pursuing their love for the sport outside of the diamond.

Last semester, all members of the Yale baseball team were enrolled in classes in the hopes that they would be preparing together for a spring season. But DeKay and Klitenic said they made the “difficult decision” to take the spring semester off in late January after talking with their coaches and teammates and concluding that a spring sports season seemed unlikely given the status of the pandemic. Both Klitenic and DeKay wanted to play for the Bulldogs as much as possible, and taking the semester off ensured that they would preserve this chance for the future.

“Pumped for Jamis and Clark taking their time away from Yale to capitalize on opportunities off the field,” Yale baseball captain Cal Christofori ’21 said. “They’re both awesome teammates and proud they’re representing Yale baseball so well outside of athletic competition. I know they’re enjoying their respective pursuits and giving them the utmost support as always.”

DeKay, who is currently residing in his hometown of Los Angeles, is working remotely for former MLB sportscaster Chris Rose. Last summer, amid budget cuts within MLB Network, Chris Rose’s contract was not renewed, and he left the network at the end of 2020. Rose had co-hosted “Intentional Talk” with the network since 2011 alongside Kevin Millar. Since his departure, Rose has started a new endeavor with Jomboy Media, a new media company that is perhaps best known for its YouTube breakdown of the Astros sign-stealing scandal.

DeKay is working with Rose on his new podcast, “The Chris Rose Rotation.” The show is unique in that it features a “rotation” of player co-hosts that includes MLB pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Lucas Giolito, among others. DeKay told the News he is in charge of player research and assists Rose in curating material for episodes.

“I’ve been doing player profiles and helping in either curating interviews or keep[ing] up with current MLB trends,” DeKay said. “Mostly just drafting documents with anything I can find on the player that [Rose] is about to talk to because [Rose] keeps them on for the full hour.”

One of DeKay’s favorite finds was an old interview with pitcher Archie Bradley recounting a major misfortune before a big relief outing: He soiled his baseball pants before pitching a clean 1.1 innings. Rose recounted the story in one of his podcast episodes, and the tale is representative of the lighthearted humor that characterizes the podcast and blends with more serious conversations Rose stages with guests about the state of baseball.

Last semester, DeKay was also one of the Yale baseball players who went down to Florida to train at Cressey Sports Performance, a training facility that operates specialized fitness centers. DeKay worked with Cressey staff and got to admire players like Justin Verlander, who also uses the facility, from afar.

This semester, DeKay said he looks forward to joining some of his other teammates who are training in Houston at a similar facility, Dynamic Sports Training.

“It was a lot of work without the social aspect of being on campus in the library and seeing people,” DeKay said about enrolling last fall. “And so when we got the word that it was looking very unlikely for the season, which was that first letter, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to an online education without the element that I was really kind of pushing for, which was the baseball element.”

Klitenic was also in Florida last fall training at Cressey Sports Performance. A transfer student from Duke, Klitenic began his first semester at Yale on campus in New Haven but changed his enrollment status to remote after a COVID-19 cluster emerged on the men’s hockey team, reverting the athletic department’s training status to Phase 0. After Klitenic started at Duke, the Blue Devils’ head coach Chris Pollard told him he likely would not receive much playing time in the 2021 season because of incoming freshmen and returning seniors.

DeKay is working with “The Chris Rose Rotation” podcast, while Klitenic is working at startup Stat Stak. (Photos: Courtesy of Jamis DeKay and Clark Klitenic)

Klitenic did not get to pitch in his first year with the Blue Devils because of the shortened season, and the canceled Ivy League season this year would have resulted in Klitenic not logging any college innings until his junior year had he not decided to take a semester off.

This spring, Klitenic is working with some of his Duke baseball friends at a startup called Stat Stak. The Nashville-based company wants to make analytic data more accessible for players and coaches by providing new tools for programs that cannot afford costly Rapsodo or Trackman machines, as well as by making the data from these tools more accessible.

Klitenic is the chief of staff for Stat Stak, which is currently in beta testing with 20 schools. Stat Stak takes the information from Rapsodo, Trackman, the Stat Stak app and any other tools with which collegiate baseball programs might be working and aggregates that data into one convenient location. Once the data is processed through Stat Stak, the analytics are turned into actionable steps that coaches and players can use, but Stat Stak’s main benefit is that athletes can see all of their information during the process. Although Stat Stak is a young company, it already receives advice from one of the biggest names in baseball analytics: Bill Petti. The Stat Stak advisor created the widely-used “baseballr” package, on which almost all sabermetricians rely for analysis.

“I try to give myself as much time as possible before making these decisions,” Klitenic said when asked about taking the semester off. “Creating opportunity for myself to develop as a person on the field and off the field was really what drove my decision to take the gap semester, which will probably turn into a gap year … but I want to maximize my time at Yale. So if I can earn myself an extra, free COVID semester, I’m going to do that.”

Stat Stak co-founder Graeme Stinson, right, presents at a staff meeting for Stat Stak. (Photo: Courtesy of Clark Klitenic)

Although Klitenic is not enrolled in classes, he is still participating in a campus club, as he helps to lead the YES Startup Incubator, which is assisting 23 startups with getting off the ground.

Klitenic will be playing with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks this summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Eugenio Garza García | eugenio.garzagarcia@yale.edu

 

Correction, March 16: A previous version of this article misidentified Stat Stak co-founder Graeme Stinson for Klitenic in an inline photo caption. The caption has been updated.