05.26.06

Best : Russo & Francesca, “Not Half Bad” In Mets Play-By-Play Debut

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 5:36 pm by

Not only does Newsday’s Neil Best reveal himself to be the Anti-Raissman in crediting Michael Kay for his “juggling act” handling both an ESPN chat show and calling Yankee games for the YES Network, he has a higher opinon of Chris Russo and Mike Francesca’s afternoon calling the Mets on WFAN than most CSTB readers.

Russo had predicted that critics would write about the event only if he and Francesa bombed. Which means, once again, he’s wrong.

Turns out the boys weren’t half bad, much more so in the innings when Russo handled the play-by-play and Francesa the analysis.

They played it mostly straight, focusing on action with minimal shtick. Three times Russo got to use his home run call, “This one is gone!” They talked strategy. They were well versed in each team’s personnel. They were more willing to be bluntly critical than home-team announcers ever are.

“All in all, I thought they did a really good job,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said on WFAN. (John McEnroe and Bill Parcells called in with less kind critiques.)

At times Russo forgot that as a radio voice, he had to describe everything. And there was his trademark, um, creativity with language, such as when he encouraged Jose Reyes to take a strike, then said, “And he does! And it’s a ball!”

There was some inevitable self-congratulation from two guys with healthy egos, and listening to them read endless commercials was just plain weird.

Funnily enough, I thought they did just fine with the endless commercials (of which there are more than a few during their usual afternoon gig).

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