(John Sterling, after stupidly leaving the cage open, describes a child’s escaped budgie as “high, far, gone, etc.” but can’t determine if it was flying towards right or left field)
Even if the Mets get swept over the weekend, even if the Yankees go on to win their 27th World Series in October, there is one area in which the Mets hold a decided advantage over this historic and revered franchise.
And that is in the broadcast booth. Television and radio.
This is the undisputed truth. The advantage is so clear-cut that in recent years the Mets have actually fired broadcasters – Tim McCarver and Gary Thorne – who are better than most current Yankee voices.
Even an unprecedented in-season, interleague broadcasters trade – tonight Suzyn Waldman works with Gary Cohen in the sixth inning on WFAN and Howie Rose joins John Sterling in the Yankees’ WCBS-AM radio booth – in no way tips the balance of talent or power.
Balance. A key word in this equation. The Mets’ TV and radio booths are not total propaganda organs for Fred (Skill Sets) Wilpon. The same cannot be said for Steinbrenner’s Al Yankzeera and Radio Al Yank.
Of course there are extreme exceptions on both ends of the totem pole. The Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network has straight-shooting Jim Kaat, the top analyst in town. The Mets, on the Madison Square Garden Networks (MSG/FSNY), have the dubious distinction of employing the annoying Fran Healy.
So, if you like, toss out these high and low cards.
The Mets still hold more aces.
On the radio, the Mets have the best baseball broadcast booth in the city – Cohen and Rose. They exemplify a Mets philosophy going back to the team’s origins. Mets brass has always placed a premium on play-by-play skills.
In Rose and Cohen, they have virtuoso performers. They are never behind a play. There is never a need for recapitulation. Both men, who are also Mets historians, have showed why you did not have to play the game professionally to analyze it.
Cohen and Rose never talk down to listeners. They don’t treat us like morons. They are never shy about ripping the Mets – or a player – when necessary. Sometimes their egos do surface, showing us they ain’t perfect. Cohen’s distaste for the Yankees, which will be on display tonight, can be extreme and petty. But you never feel cheated after listening to a Mets game on the radio. Fans always come away entertained and informed.
It’s the same old song – literally – in the Yankees’ WCBS-AM booth where Sterling croons with Waldman. Sterling’s shtick has been well-chronicled. A Yankee radiocast is more about Sterling’s style – and signature calls – than substance. His affected play-by-play cadence often leaves him trailing a play. With Sterling, there is excitement, but absolutely no balance.
In her rookie season, Waldman does have chemistry with Sterling (he’s not as condescending or pompous) but she clearly is still trying to find her way in terms of providing the analytical asphalt to fill Sterling’s potholes.