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.
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.
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.
 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.