I'm doing something right now, doing something for the sake of this article, that makes me hate baseball a little bit: I'm watching the Marlins broadcast.
Being located about as close to the center of the Florida west coast as you can get, I get two local broadcasts: the Tampa Bay Rays on Sun Sports and the Miami Marlins on Fox Sports. And so you think, hey, the Marlins? That means she gets to see Mets games! It sounds like a win-win, doesn't it?
It's not. Because when the Mets play the Marlins, I have to mute the TV. I can't stand more than few minutes of listening to Rich Waltz, Tommy Hutton, and Craig Minervini go on and on about just how great their team is. How great "our team" is. If I close my eyes, it sounds like an intrasquad game; if the Marlins' opponent doesn't get mentioned, did they really exist? Not if you live in south Florida, they don't.
Because the Mets are occasionally on national TV (pretty much only when they're playing the Yankees, because does ESPN show any other team?), I think fans know the brilliant, incomparable, beautiful group that is the SNY broadcast team. You only appreciate them more when you see what else is out there.
Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling know baseball. There's no doubt about it: these three guys know what they're talking about. In 2010, Hernandez won two New York Emmys: one individual award for Sports Analyst and one as part of the SNY team that won for "Live Sports Event: Series 2009 Mets: The Inaugural Year of Citi Field." Darling has won two individual New York Emmys for Sports Analyst in 2007 and 2012. Both Hernandez and Darling, of course, were part of the 1986 World Champion Mets as well. Cohen began his broadcasting career at Columbia University, covering soccer games with future presidential adviser and Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos, then worked his way up through minor league baseball and college hockey, basketball, and football before joining the Mets broadcast team in 1989. Gary, Keith, and Ron know baseball.
And more than that: they're fun to listen to. They have a rapport with each other that comes only from spending nine years squeezed together in a press box; they bounce off of each other with jokes and analysis and statistics. They have their stories (have you heard the one about Keith and Jay Horwitz at the airport?) and they have their tangents (they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about and sampling ballpark food), but they also have a lot of skill and a lot of heart.
There are statistics to back this up, too. In 2012, Fangraphs completed a survey of its readers to compile rankings of the best broadcast teams, both TV and radio, based on votes, charisma, and analysis. The Mets TV broadcasters ranked fourth, scoring a 4.6 out of 5 for charisma and a 4.4 out of 5 for analysis. Of course, Kevin Burkhardt, one of the best sideline reporters in the business, was still with SNY in 2012.
Television viewership for Mets games is up 47 percent from last year, drawing more than 250,000 viewers per game. A lot of that, I'm sure, is because the Mets are good. But credit also has to go to the guys above the field.
And hey, just for context, here's an actual sentence that was just said out loud on the Marlins broadcast on my TV: "What kind of elevator would they put Bruce Bochy's face on?"