Here is a brief exchange between me and Gary Cohen during an appearance by Gary, Keith, and Ron on the SNY Plaza in midtown Manhattan this past summer:
Me: Who is going to replace Kevin Burkhardt after this season?
Gary Cohen: No one. He's irreplaceable.
For the past eight seasons, checking in with Kevin was like checking in with heaven. Those days are over, as Kevin Burkhardt has departed SNY for Fox Sports, where he is the network's #2 play-by-play guy for NFL games, as well as a pre-game host for MLB games. We wish him the best and he will be missed.
Burkhardt might be figuratively irreplaceable, but unless SNY dramatically alters its broadcast format and eschews the sideline reporter, he is not literally irreplaceable. Who should replace Burkhardt? Here are some options, with a poll that follows.
Gelbs has been with SNY since 2013, working in a variety of jobs including SportsNite anchor and fill-in for Burkhardt during Mets games. He was often seen in the latter role this past season during Burkhardt's absences. Gelbs previously worked for the MSG Network and MSG Varsity. Like so many in sports journalism, he graduated from Syracuse University.
He's also the favorite to replace Burkhardt, according to Adam Rubin.
Don't know for sure, but the educated speculation from mulitiple people is Steve Gelbs will succeed Kevin Burkhardt as SNY's field reporter.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) September 26, 2014
Bob Raissman at the Daily News agrees:
SNY is close to naming Steve Gelbs as its Mets roving reporter, replacing Kevin Burkhardt, who moved to Fox Sports.
While Gelbs was clearly the frontrunner for the gig, his road to the role did not come without potholes. Sources said there was a division in the management ranks over who should get the gig, with some wanting to go the outside route, checking out talent not already in the SNY stable.
Pros: Knowledgeable about the Mets and New York sports in general. Has experience as an anchor, pre-game/post-game host, and reporter. Boyishly handsome.
Cons: Still rough around the edges as a sideline reporter. Development of rapport with Gary, Keith, and Ron still in progress. A bit awkward, in general.
Martino is a baseball columnist for the Daily News, having previously served as Mets beat writer for the tabloid. He also appears on various SNY programs, including Daily News Live and Mets broadcasts as a fill-in sideline reporter. Deadspin once named him "Worst Mets Beat Writer," in a crowd-sourced poll.
Pros: Often writes interesting, introspective columns (such as this one about vs ). Has on-camera experience.
(photo via SNY website)
Burke has been with SNY since 2011, working as an anchor/reporter on SportsNite as serving as a sideline reporter during UConn women's basketball games. She's not from the New York area, but if her Twitter account is any indication, she is certainly enthusiastic about the local sports scene.
Pros: Has unusual but cool first name. One of the better SportsNite anchors. Attractive. "Let's check in with Kerith!" has a nice ring to it.
Cons: Seems to be more interested in basketball and hockey than baseball.
McAnaney works as an on-air personality for both SNY and ESPN. A jack-of-all-trades, he has hosted Mets pre- and post-game shows and SportsNite, and also filled in for Kevin Burkhardt as sideline reporter. He was a lax bro at Notre Dame, playing defense for the Fighting Irish in the late 80s/early 90s. Click here to become a fan of Eamon McAnaney on Facebook.
Pros: Name is fun to say. Attractive, somewhat resembles Bradley Cooper. Was a part of this hilarious moment from a Mets broadcast.
Cons: Known to forget sunscreen during day games (see picture above).
Monte is the traffic reporter on PIX 11's morning show from 5 - 9 am on weekdays. She also hosts Mets Insider, a behind-the-scenes show that airs on SNY about twice a month. Click here to watch some clips.
Pros: Has experience as a host. Attractive. Is a fan of Zelda.
Cons: No experience as a sideline reporter. Traffic job would leave little room for sleep after Mets night games.
Carlin is a big man on campus at SNY, having worked for the network since 2008. He's done it all at SNY: hosting Mets pre- and post-game shows, filling in for Burkhardt as sideline reporter, co-hosting Loud Mouths, and emceeing the pretty terrible trivia show Beer Money. Nicknamed "The Continent" (email me if you can't figure out why).
Pros: Affable. Has on-the-job experience (see above). Seems to be generally liked by Mets fans.
Cons: Rarely insightful. Sometimes a purveyor of atrocious hot takes.
Rubin is the Mets' beat writer at ESPN New York, and was previously at the Daily News. He is not shy about criticizing Mets ownership or the front office, and was famously embroiled in The Great Lobby Scandal of 2009 (see picture above). He went to Wharton.
Pros: Extensive knowledge of Mets organization. Will not sugarcoat anything. Best Mets beat writer, in my humble opinion.
Cons: A bit of a troll sometimes; likes to needle Mets fans on Twitter. Minimal experience on camera.
This means there would be no sideline reporter. Just Gary, Keith, and Ron all game.
Pros: Fewer interruptions of game discussion. No chance of SNY cameras missing a play because of an interview with some actor promoting a new movie.
Cons: No one to provide in-game injury updates, or other such news. Gary Cohen can't say "Let's check in with [reporter name]!"
Verdict: I don't have a strong opinion about this. The worst part of sideline reporting from a viewer's perspective, interruption of the game, is largely out of the reporter's hands. The distractions are here to stay, so the reporter might as well be likeable. Gelbs would probably be adequate, as would Burke or McAnaney. Perhaps SNY will look outside of the network to fill the job, combing the minor leagues, the beauty pageant circuit, or car dealerships for talent.