Every day during the summer we, the fans, have the beautiful pleasure of returning home from a long day of work-and for writers that spot would be the pool-to crash on the couch, crank the air conditioning, and put on the game. It really only makes the cold glass of ice tea taste better when you have the luxury of watching a good baseball team. There may be a time when your team just isn’t playing that well, or in the Pirates case that would be the occurrence every year, save for this one. In any case it is important for us to take the best out of our insanely boring, horrible baseball teams and to treasure exactly what we have.
The New York Mets aren’t horrible-they recently just swept the Yankee’s in four game home and home series-rather, they are a team in a state of limbo. They are awaiting the arrival of a few prospects, yet have a few players that are already on the big stage, waiting to make their mark. This team in its current state is just lacking some of the panache that last year’s squad had. They don’t have the R.A. Dickey story, the Johan Santana no-hitter, or postseason aspirations. And even though I thoroughly enjoy every Matt Harvey start and look for every inch of positivity on this team, it just isn’t the same.
This is a team that is worthy of appreciation, as stated in my previous article, but there is one section of this team that has been carrying this team for years. An unheralded group that makes the worst of games tolerable and has the perfect mix of baseball dialect and nonsensical tangents. That would be the broadcast and on field reporting crew of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, and Kevin Burkhardt.
I was sparked by a Neil Best article in Newsday that described Kevin Burkhardt’s contribution to not only SNY, but also the profession of field reporting. It was a good article that helped follow the day of Burkhardt and gave you a feel for his work ethic and dedication to his craft, something Burkhardt’s predecessor seemed to lack. Burkhardt is not only a tireless worker, but an incredibly entertaining reporter who brings life to the game and gives the fans tidbits of hard hitting journalism and human interest pieces. Burkhardt routinely engages the broadcast crew with some of his own opinions, but mostly he is able to answer any of their opinions with another factoid he gathered during his endless hours of preparation.
Gary Cohen always wanted to become the head man in the broadcast booth, and after years of being the radio announcer Cohen would be asked to become the play-by-play announcer for the newly formed cable television network, SportsNet New York (SNY). His flawless vocaublarly and ability to ask the proper questions to both Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez gives the viewer the exact inshightful analysis that they are looking for. The moments where the analysts don’t exactly answer the question, Cohen isn’t afraid to readdress the question, making sure he gets the best out of them. And don't get me started on his enthusiasm during a big moment.
Hernandez is simply a voice that grows on you. He makes some comments that are questionable and is sometimes to dependent upon Cohen, but he makes up for it with brilliant analysis and a true understanding of the game’s history. He can truly read a batter’s swing and give proper instruction to what he is doing wrong and he can tell you exactly what a fielder does wrong on an error. Hernadez’s strong suit isn’t just that he tells you what the problem is but, at times, is figuring out on the fly as we are. The beauty of him working through his words to a conclusion that is valid makes his voice worth listening to.
Ron Darling, being a former pitcher, has a pretty good understanding of the art of pitching. Darling has a written a book, appears as a color commentator for TBS, and won an Emmy for “Best Sports Analyst”for his work at SNY. Darling is typically the one keeping up with Cohen in conversation and is still able to relate to the modern day player. He is the perfect hybrid between Hernandez and Cohen making the booth one of the best in baseball.
Next time you tune into SNY be sure to pump that sound all the way up and to tell your friends to be quiet. It wouldn’t be smart to miss out on a Mets’ broadcast. It’s a Baseball/Mets 101 lesson delivered to you by the best professors in the game, and those are ones you don't want to miss.
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