Cohen, Darling Leading the Way For Mets
If you live in New York, or even if you don't, you probably have been exposed to the two cable sports networks dedicated to covering New York sports.
They both pride themselves in their baseball coverage. YES covers the Yankees, and SNY the Mets. After several seasons of feeling each other out, the two networks have been continually raising the stakes.
The Yankees have a bevy of booth personalities, anchored by the insufferable homer Michael Kay. The Mets have a simpler formula: broadcasting veteran Gary Cohen flanked by Met legends Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, with an occasional cameo by the one and only Ralph Kiner.
Both broadcasts are top-notch. But in this media scholar's opinion, the Mets' broadcasts surpassed the Yankees' last year and the gap has been widening ever since.
The Yankees on YES
If you are not a Yankee fan, Kay is difficult to digest. He is one of those broadcasters who practices overkill, with a flair for the obvious. His home-run call ("see ya") is totally unbecoming of a professional, and can anger even the most peripheral viewer. After all, this is a guy who was once a columnist for the New York Post.
Despite Kay's presence, the broadcasts are still high-end sports entertainment. The team somehow believes that employing a stable of broadcasters and analysts is better than finding a formula that works. On any given night you may be subject to a trio that consists of Kay and two of the following: Ken Singleton, John Flaherty, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, Al Leiter, or if your really lucky, Bobby Murcer. Murcer, as many readers know, has been battling serious health issues and just recently resumed his role in the YES rotation.
The studio show is anchored by a number of hosts, but it's usually the polished Bob Lorenz. It is a well-produced informative show that provides the freshest and exclusive Yankee content around. After all, the Yankees own both entities—the network and the team.
The Mets on SNY
The Mets, unlike the Yankees, choose to clutter the pre and postgame shows with bodies rather that the booth. Those productions are hosted by Matt Yallof, who is joined by either Lee Mazzilli, Darryl Strawberry, or Harold Reynolds. On occasion, Ron Darling may sit in if he is not handling booth duty.
Darling's star has been rising in the broadcast sky. He has already won an Emmy for his work on SNY. He compliments Cohen's fluid style with intelligent and honest observations, and anecdotes lending to the broadcast's laid-back, unobtrusive approach. Add the knowledgeable, senior spokesman Keith Hernandez to the mix, and you have a winning combination.
Hernandez has been criticized by media pundits for his flat delivery and apprehensive demeanor. That was a hindrance in the infancy of this trio, but lately when SNY employs the three-man booth, Cohen and Darling have learned to play off Hernandez.
They have learned how to extract information out of Hernandez that he has not able to provide himself. He has also become the butt of jokes, and Keith has resigned himself to the role of third wheel.
SNY, because they are the Mets, and they have a looser, more fluid production. YES, with Kay and a slew of company men, provide a more contrived broadcast. For my money, they are both worth watching, but it's SNY that really brings it.