Over the course of the seventeen seasons that preceded the current one, Mets fans have had the pleasure of listening to the best booth in baseball—Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling. The trio brings everything a viewer could possibly want to the table: passionate play-by-play calls, intelligent analysis, and an endless supply of humor.
Just two regular season games have been played thus far with Major League Baseball’s pitch clock in place, but it is clear at this early juncture that we will be hearing a lot less of GKR over the course of this season, a significant downgrade in the experience of being a Mets fan.
There’s the basic math of it all: 162 games at roughly two-and-a-half hours per game gives us 405 hours of Mets broadcasts, while the roughly three-hour game that had been the norm before the pitch clock would generate 486. Even factoring in a dozen national broadcasts would mean 375 hours of GKR rather than 450.
Considering how talented all three members of the booth are, they will surely adapt, and there’s no reason to think that they won’t remain better than everyone else at the job. But in these early games, conversations that involve all three members of the trio have understandably been rarer than they ever were in the past.
These first couple of games have presented a question that never came up in the past: With so much less time for the game to breathe, is there enough air time for three people? Over the past seventeen years, the full complement of the three broadcasters—along with field reporters Kevin Burkhardt and Steve Gelbs—has always been the preference. But it’s hard to imagine there will nearly as many opportunities for the production to get creative.
That creativity was the inspiration for This Week in SNY here at Amazin’ Avenue, a series masterfully crafted by James Kannengieser, revived by Steve Schreiber, and on a few occasions, attempted with mixed results by yours truly. Would there ever have been time for us to meet the incredible Jake of cup snake fame at Wrigley Field if that half-inning were as brief as many of the ones we’ve seen in the new era? Or Professor Burkhardt?
No matter the circumstances, the incredibly talented production team at SNY will still give us the best broadcast in the sport. But when it’s late in a game and the score isn’t close, we might not get the consolation of Gary Cohen reading the media guide or the entire booth telling stories about random old baseball cards. Maybe all of this will be worth it, but if these things are lost, I’ll certainly miss them.