Behind the Mic: New York Mets Have Upperhand

Jason LempertCorrespondent IMay 2, 2009

The challenge of playing professional sports in New York is no secret.  But what is not generally realized is how difficult it is to be a professional sportscaster in the Big Apple.

But, as they are on the field, the New York Mets are up to the challenge in the booth.  Both on the screen and on the radio, the Mets have themselves a great group of Major League announcers.

On SNY-TV, the Mets have in the booth the three-headed monster of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.  Cohen, the longest current Mets announcer, is a wealth of knowledge. 

If you watch a Mets telecast with Cohen in the booth, there will be at least one instance when you say to yourself, "Oh yeah...I remember him!" because Cohen has a knack of stirring up old names and events from the past. 

Furthermore, Cohen is not partial to the Mets.  You never hear him refer to them as "the good guys" or "us".  He calls the game down the middle, as he sees it, which is a rare trait these days for announcers (i.e. Ken Harrelson and Darrin Jackson of the Chicago White Sox).

Hernandez and Darling sometimes come off a little biased and conceded, always referring to their days as players.  But they have earned that right - they were winners.  Hernandez was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1979; each has been an All-Star; each has won a World Series.

In 1986, the year they won the World Series with the Mets, Hernandez finished fourth in MVP voting, with Darling finishing fifth in Cy Young voting.  So they know how to play the game, and they have all rights to give their true opinions.

Also on the SNY staff is field reporter Kevin Burkhardt.  This young man has really impressed this writer.  He too is honest, hardworking and knows his baseball.  He came on the scene seemingly out of nowhere, and looks like a very promising man behind the mic.

Now announcing on 66.0-WFAN is longtime radio broadcaster Howie Rose.  Formerly a TV broadcaster, Rose took over radio duties after legendary Bob Murphy in 2004.  Rose is from Queens, and is one of the most respected broadcast men in the New York area.

In complete contrast, the broadcasting team for the Florida Marlins is one of the worst this writer has ever been forced to listen to.  Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton on Fox Sports-Florida and Sun Sports make no historical connections, have almost no Major League experience (Hutton amassed an "impressive" 22 home runs during his 12-year career). 

They constantly refer to themselves as if they are a part of the ballclub..."We have to win this one".  I do not recall a time when I heard any of the Mets announcers using the terms "we" or "us" when referring to the ballclub.

And the field reporters for the Marlins, Frank Forte and Craig Minervini seem to only do stories that are fluffy and make people smile.  Very rarely do they give stories relating to any hardships the team is facing or a particular player's struggles. 

Perhaps the quality of broadcasting is proportionate to the market in which the team plays in.  The Mets play in a big market in New York, with millions of television sets tuned in to SNY.

Therefore, the necessity of having top-notch announcers is more significant than the lesser market of South Florida.  Regardless, the tandem of Gary, Keith, Ron, Kevin and Howie give the Mets some legitimate strength behind the mic.