Analysis of the Mets announcers: Gary, Keith and Ron | Mets360

Analysis of the Mets announcers: Gary, Keith and Ron

February 25, 2013
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Over the course of Spring Training, we will be doing a series of articles where we analyze the Mets announcers (both current and former).  Today we bring you the first article in the series: Gary, Keith and Ron.

There are two categories of baseball broadcasters: Vin Scully and everyone else.

In recent years, one television crew has begun to emerge as the leader of the “everyone else” category, and luckily for Mets fans, that crew is Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.

After launching in 2006, SNY brought in Darling, previously with the Washington Nationals, to add to a booth already consisting of Cohen, making the jump from radio to TV, and Hernandez, who had been doing color commentary with the Mets since 1999.

In that first season, the results were not bad, with the chemistry between the announcers being solid and Cohen admirably making the difficult adjustment between radio and TV-style play by play.[1]

As the seasons have come and gone, Gary, Keith and Ron have remained constants in the booth, giving fans some reason to watch the games as the seasons dwindled away.

Cohen’s baritone voice describes the action accurately (a problem for certain announcers in the Bronx) using descriptive language that speaks both to his Ivy league pedigree and the years he spent working the booth with the legendary Bob Murphy.

Growing up a Mets fan, Cohen possesses an almost encyclopedia-like knowledge of obscure Mets facts.  During blowouts, he will often pull out references to obscure Mets of his childhood like Ed Charles or Skip Lockwood.

What helps to separate Cohen is he knows exactly what to ask Hernandez and Darling to get the best, most informative answers out of them, a skill not to be taken for granted.

After a rocky start to his broadcasting career, Hernandez has developed into a very good analyst alongside Cohen.  The hitting demonstrations he occasionally does inside the booth are informative to both casual and die-hard fans alike.

While Hernandez has the tendency to get cranky, sometimes sounding like Grandpa Simpson in his analysis, his criticisms are rarely unjustified.  If he sees something on the field that he doesn’t like, he is not afraid to be brutally honest and give his opinions.

Unfortunately for Hernandez, his blunt honesty has gotten him in trouble in the past.  That aside, he accounts for some of the more entertaining moments of the night, including but not limited to; grunting whenever a hitter takes a 2-1 fastball, calling RBIs ribeye-steaks, and gushing about “fundies.”

Then we get to Ron Darling.  Darling’s self-deprecating sense of humor and excellence at breaking down pitching makes him enjoyable to listen to.

Darling’s style is a nice compliment to Hernandez’s; he is more analytical than emotional when he speaks.  This is not to say, however, that he doesn’t provide fireworks of his own in the booth; his legendary “There is no book!” rant from early last season could go down as one of the finest moments in his broadcasting career.

Together they are a dynamic trio, offering serious analysis, light-hearted jokes, and always entertaining banter.  If there is one criticism to make of them is that Cohen especially does not have a very open mind when it comes to sabermetrics, often going out of his way to bash them.  Unfortunately, anyone who knows about these advanced statistics well enough knows that Cohen’s criticisms can not only be answered well, but demonstrate that he doesn’t understand what he is criticizing.

Of course, Gary, Keith and Ron should not be defined by this one minor shortfall.  Mets fans are very fortunate to be able to listen to them on a regular basis.  I mean, how many other broadcast teams have their own drinking games (courtesy of our friends over at Amazin’ Avenue)?

 

Joe is a freelance sports broadcaster and host of ‘Ball Four with Joe Vasile’ on 91.3 FM WTSR in Trenton on Tuesdays from 12:00-12:30 p.m.  You can follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.

 



[1] This is much more difficult than it seems.  Radio and TV-style announcing have subtle but important differences, and usually radio guys who switch over to TV have some difficulties early on because they have to lean more on the analysts and describe less action.

22 Responses to Analysis of the Mets announcers: Gary, Keith and Ron

  1. February 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I think one of the under appreciated aspects of GKR is how together they are greater than the sum of their parts. I think Cohen gets the vast majority of credit for this as he gets a lot out of Ron and Keith.

    I think your criticism of Gary is spot on. The other thing I would add is that he’s maybe a bit too deferential towards Darling. I think there are things that Darling says that if Hernandez said – Gary would be directly questioning him.

    Perhaps my favorite thing is that these guys seem to legitimately like one another. In the game against the Nationals, they were talking about Keith still being without his mustache and Keith said he felt like he was looking too much like Charley Weaver from Hollywood Squares and Gary and Ron just busted their sides laughing. This wasn’t “Morning Zoo” radio where you laugh just because it’s supposed to be funny — this was true laughter.

  2. Name
    February 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I love this combo. Of course, most of us are really biased because we don’t watch other team’s announcers, but just judging them to the Yankees, they are leaps and bounds better. And it’s also no contest vs FOX(Buck/McCarver is the WORST combo out there) and ESPN.

    Of the 3, i prefer Darling the best. Like you said, he is the most analytical of the bunch and gives the best insight in my opinion. That’s probably why he also has a contract with TBS. I hate watching postseason baseball if the Mets aren’t in it because of the terrible announcers, but having Darling do color actually makes it more tolerable.

    • February 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Great point, Name. I live outside of the SNY broadcast area (and lived in multiple different markets), so I watch games via MLB.tv. Because of this, I’ve been subjected to watching the announcers of the local teams when games are blacked out online. Bias aside, there are some truly awful announcers out there.

      Those Mets fans who’ve never had to listen to the announcers of other teams may not truly realize how great GKR are. Of course, that could be my bias talking :) .

      • Joe Vasile
        February 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        Last year Fangraphs did a croudsourcing project where they asked the fans to rank their own team’s announcers. Number one was Vin Scully, number two was Gary, Keith and Ron.

  3. J
    February 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    My only problem with this group is that Ron and Keith have similar voice qualities. So much so that I sometimes wonder why Keith is talking about pitching and Ron is talking about batting, until I catch that subtle difference between the two.

    • NormE
      February 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Here I thought that my wife and I were having hearing problems. Thanks, J.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Hmm…I never really noticed that.

  4. steevy
    February 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I like the broadcast team whole lot.What I DON’T like is the cutaways to the guy in the stands(Kevin Burkhart?who I think is a good broadcaster too) and ,I just don’t like those sideline or in the stands filler pieces.Something important always seems to happen when they are doing one too.

    • February 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      I agree 100% Steevy.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 25, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      Something I always chuckle at is when something happens during a Burkhardt report, he will go into play-by-play mode. The sound of excitement in his voice when he gets to call a play is great.

    • kjs
      February 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Yes. The game should show the game. Nothing else. SNY can use Burkhardt’s gossip the other 21 hours they’re trying to fill.

  5. NormE
    February 25, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I know it has been commented on before but, Bob Murphy was at his best when he worked with Gary Cohen. Listen to the way he gets Ralph Kiner to entertain us. Gary is a master at this.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Absolutely. That is why Cohen has been able to make the adjustment to TV so well; he knows exactly how to get the most out of his partners.

  6. Metsense
    February 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Living out of state, I only get MLB feeds and GKR only for home games. There is only one Vin Skully, and I thoroughly enjoy the Dodger feeds, you would think that Vin was telling a folk story. He also works alone. I listen to the other team’s announcers to get a different perspective (ie they think David Wright is God in Colorado and in most cities they are ga-ga over him) but also to check if GKR are a little biased. They are not and they are heads above all the others. I was unaware of Cohens Sabrematic phobia, he really should get over it, heck even a 50 year Met fan like me did it.

  7. AJ
    February 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    A favorite memory of the ongoing Gary-Keith-Ron years was at the end of the 2011 season, which was a real stinker, as you may remember. Keith was so obviously bored that he would grow more and more silent as the game went on, almost to the point of causing one to wonder if he was still awake or even in the booth. He may have been doing crossword puzzles. Every now and again he’d groan out some cranky comment about how a play should have been made, or something that happened never should happen in the majors, and it was obvious that he wasn’t enjoying being stuck in the booth having to watch the poor play let alone provide commentary on it.

    Then, and I don’t know if it was by design or just a wild-hair, but he left the booth and started wandering around the stadium to see what the view was like from various parts of it. He was wearing a mic and the cameraman would find him sitting out in the upper decks off in some far-flung corner of the park, put the camera on him and then Keith would give his review of the view from there. He was obviously enjoying himself much more doing that than he was having to talk about the ball game. My memory of it is that he did this on several occasions, always during otherwise terrible games. One time he wound up briefly taking over one of the field cameras and giving his commentary on being a cameraman. It all helped get the fans through the end of another miserable season.

    Sometimes in recent years the Mets’ announcing team has been the best reason for tuning in the games. Hopefully they will someday soon get to provide the play-by-play and commentary for another winning season, and maybe eventually a championship year.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      “Maybe eventually a championship year.”

      We can only hope AJ.

      I vaguely remember this happening, but by that point in 2011 I was too disgusted with the team’s play I wasn’t watching a whole lot. I know one time last year Keith did a game from behind home plate and of course, there’s the annual game from the Pepsi Porch. Little things like that add a lot to the broadcast and have really helped them become popular amongst fans. I always love when they do things like this.

  8. kjs
    February 25, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    If home, no matter the time or score, I watch about every inning. It’s because of this trio. The best. And I go back to the Original Three: Kiner, Murphy, and Nelson. I can’t believe—save for homeboy Scully—how awful most other MLB broadcasters are. Utter homers or dull.

    I fear the GKR chemistry will thin out with their extra on-air time this year. Awful call by the dummies at SNY?

    • Joe Vasile
      February 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

      I agree with your evaluation of many other MLB broadcasters. I remember when the Braves used to be broadcast on TBS years ago, listening to their announcers would put me to sleep. On the other side, the Chicago White Sox have Hawk Harrelson, who makes it exciting, but is the biggest homer at the Major League level, and Sox fans hate him for that. Also, I think we can appreciate this trio because it wasn’t too long ago that we were sitting around listening to Fran Healey on a regular basis.

  9. February 26, 2013 at 4:01 am

    As a lifelong Northern California resident and die hard Mets fan, watching Mets games on MLB.tv is such a blessing. I never watch the Giants anymore and have missed only a handfull of Mets games since 2005. Used to have to listen to the home team announcers (ugh) but only SNY the last few years. GKR make the games fun to watch. Their different views of the game complement each other. I laughed out loud at Keith’s “Charlie Weaver” reference Saturday. How can you not like Kevin? And the sideshow stuff doesn’t take away from the game. Some games they need more off the field stuff. Keith roaming the ballpark was classic! Krukow and Kuiper used to make Giants games fun to watch but now Giants fans are just spoiled. Gary, Keith, and Ron are truly the best in baseball.

  10. February 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

    fans were chuckling about how much Ron was eating last night.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

      The perks of Spring Training.

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