Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hanlon: Gary Cohen, the anti-Michael Kay, also broadcasts during his time off

Yea, but at least Michael Kay uses RISP and RISP and at times RISP.

As a statistics-minded fan myself, I had always harbored the belief that Cohen secretly sympathized with the “Stat Guys” in the Insider vs. Outsider, Scouts vs. Stats fault lines that have defined the sport’s discourse for the past decade-plus.

Not so, I found out. I asked Cohen about this, and, to use one of his favorite words, I was disabused.

“People who write from a remove have a different perspective. Either it’s a lyrical perspective, which is nice, or a statistical perspective, which is also useful. But when you’re actually up close and understand the human beings who play the game, it gives you a better perspective,” he said.

He does read various Mets blogs, he told me, citing the “incredibly well-written” Faith and Fear in Flushing, along with Amazin’ Avenue, as two of his go-tos.

I asked him if he had plans to increase the focus of statistics in the telecasts, the better to appeal to what I assume would be a more stats-savvy viewership going forward.

“Statistics have their place: Advanced statistics can tell a sometimes better story than standard statistics. But that’s never been the focus of my broadcasts and it’s never going to be,” he told me.

“That’s not what people want to hear. There’s a small percentage of people who want me to talk about xFIP or WAR. But 99 percent of them do not. Most of them want to hear about the players, and the stories surrounding the players. Because numbers don’t play the game. Players do.”

Repoz Posted: February 22, 2013 at 05:05 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. eddieot Posted: February 22, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4374311)
Gary Cohen is so good a play-by-play guy that it makes me watch Mets games. And I'm a Phillies fan.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 22, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4374314)
I suppose that once you reach the status of the anti-Michael Kay, you have arrived at a comfortable place in your life. Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the air smells fresher... Tranquil. Everything tranquil.
   3. Lassus Posted: February 22, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4374322)
Gary can be a little too traditional at times, and rather baseballier-than-thou others, but he's still just about the best there currently is, so we live with it happily.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 22, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4374327)
Cohen makes me just slightly optimistic about the future of baseball broadcast. Are there any other young broadcasters (as in, young for broadcasters, I realize Cohen is old for a normal person) who have a similar combination of dedication, quality, and voice?

I spent the last decade listening to Don Orsillo degrade from passable to unlistenable. The incentives in baseball broadcast are all wrong - you're supposed to be the "host" who throws the broadcast over to the various other people around the stadium, rather than the lead storyteller. At the same time, you're supposed to be a personality. This has led to Don Orsillo adopting the personality of giggling idiot Dave Matthews Fan who barely pays attention to baseball when he's not in the booth, and to a growing extent also when he is. I watch the away broadcasts on MLBtv pretty regularly.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 22, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4374334)
I can't tell Orsillo's voice from Sean McDonough's.

McDonough was the best Red Sox announcer I've heard -- though I only was really able to watch/listen regularly from 1987-1996.

This is random but I remember McDonough once went off on Brian Bohanon while Bonanon was pitching for the Tigers. McDonough went on and on about how expansion is "what has left us" with horrible pitchers such as Bohanon. I remember thinking his rant seemed kind of odd at the time, in that he usually didn't just single out a player and conduct target practice on him.
   6. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 22, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4374341)
I still like Orsillo. I think Orsillo is harmed by the Sox trying to play up the broadcast rather than letting him be himself. His rare national broadcasts he plays it pretty straight and when he does that I think he does a very good job.

McDonough was fantastic though I think sometimes he got a bit ranty. Towards the end of his time he seemed to ##### a LOT about the umpires to the point where it got rather repetitive and annoying but the overall experience was excellent.

I don't know much about Cohen but from the excerpt he seems like a pretty good guy. I don't need a stat-geek announcer, I just want my announcer to be secure enough to grasp that there are other ways of looking at things. I don't mind the story-telling romantic (hell, that's Scully and we all love him), just don't punctuate a great story with "and that's why the numbers don't matter" type crap.
   7. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 22, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4374346)
Cohen is very, very good, and he works at it. He was excellent when he did the Mets games on radio, too. Between him and Howie Rose, the Mets are in very good shape when it comes to play-by-play broadcasters.
   8. Rough Carrigan Posted: February 22, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4374363)
So, what you're saying is that the Mets have a 5hitty product wonderfully presented while the yankees have had a good product presented like merde.
   9. bobm Posted: February 22, 2013 at 07:34 PM (#4374372)
Cohen is very, very good, and he works at it. He was excellent when he did the Mets games on radio, too. Between him and Howie Rose, the Mets are in very good shape when it comes to play-by-play broadcasters.

Howie Rose is closer to Fran Healy than Gary Cohen in terms of quality IMO.
   10. Flynn Posted: February 22, 2013 at 07:42 PM (#4374380)
Are there any other young broadcasters (as in, young for broadcasters, I realize Cohen is old for a normal person) who have a similar combination of dedication, quality, and voice?


Hell, Dave Flemming is great and he's young for young. 36 now and he was a keeper from when he first stepped behind a Giants mic in 2004. He's so good, in fact, that Jon Miller and Duane Kuiper, who are great broadcasters and not that old, have basically stepped back and let Flemming get more of the important calls. He got to call the final out of the World Series for example.

It's fascinating to watch, I don't know if there's been an example where seasoned broadcasters have just stepped aside like that for the prodigy. I can't imagine Red Barber stepping aside so Vin Scully could call the big bottom of the 9th.

Brian Anderson of the Brewers is real good too. I don't know how old he is but he can't be much over 40.
   11. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 22, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4374385)
So, what you're saying is that the Mets have a 5hitty product wonderfully presented while the yankees have had a good product presented like merde.
Kay is a terrible play-by-play man and even worse when he starts editorializing but he's at least a good traffic cop in the booth. And several of the Yankee analysts are, IMHO, pretty good: Cone, especially but also Leiter, O'Neill and even Singleton. In fact, the best YES booth is basically any combination of the first three analysts, with Singleton doing PBP. The worst is Kay doing PBP with Flaherty--who is inoffensive if deadly dull--as the analyst.
   12. Dan Posted: February 22, 2013 at 07:50 PM (#4374386)
The Mets' broadcast team is very good, especially Cohen. It is funny to compare him to Kay and wonder how the incompetent team got the better broadcaster.

Orsillo is pretty much a nonentity. He sinks to or rises to the level of whomever he is working with. So as Remy has gone from a decent broadcaster to a caricature of what he was, he's dragged Orsillo down with him. Orsillo himself loves baseball; when they're on the road he goes back to his hotel room to watch other games. But Remy is increasingly uninterested in the game, so it shows in the broadcasts and Orsillo isn't a strong enough personality to get the broadcasts back on track. As mentioned up thread, Orsillo is decent on the national TBS broadcasts. He was also decent when he was working with Eckersley and others while Remy was out. By himself he'll never be great, but paired up with a good color guy, Orsillo can be a perfectly adequate announcer.
   13. Flynn Posted: February 22, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4374391)
Yeah, when Remy was out with health problems Orsillo really shone. A lot of people didn't care for Orsillo before then, but he came out of his shell with Eckersley and Frank Viola. Especially Eck - they had some pretty funny back and forths going on.

Remy used to be an icon in Boston but I don't think that's the case anymore. He tried pretty hard to cash in on the RemDawg craze and his increasingly bitter rantings and disinterest in anything other than infield fundamentals makes for a dull broadcast. Everybody wants to see Eck in the booth but he's a homebody and doesn't want the roadtrips. I wonder if Pedro...
   14. shea80 Posted: February 22, 2013 at 11:41 PM (#4374464)
The Mets' broadcast team is very good, especially Cohen. It is funny to compare him to Kay and wonder how the incompetent team got the better broadcaster.

The Mets were a winning team (coming off an 100 win season) when Cohen joined them. The Yankees were a losing team (coming off a 91 loss season) in Kay's first season in the Bronx.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: February 23, 2013 at 12:11 AM (#4374467)
Howie Rose is closer to Fran Healy than Gary Cohen in terms of quality IMO.

He's always just seemed to dorky for me to really respect.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 23, 2013 at 12:48 AM (#4374476)
He's always just seemed to dorky for me to really respect.


This.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: February 23, 2013 at 12:53 AM (#4374477)
Too. Bad typo. Apologies.
   18. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 23, 2013 at 06:46 AM (#4374509)
Flemming is wonderful. I think he has a good chance to be a legend if he sticks with it.

There really isn't anyone else who's young, good at it, and not an idiot. There are a few other fairly young ones, but none stand out. What makes Flemming great is that he takes you to the game. He tells the whole story. Few broadcasters of any age really know how to do that. With most, it's ball one, strike one, etc., but you'd have no idea what stadium the game was in, or what time it was, or what time of year, or what any of the players looked like or acted like, unless you already knew. It's just not terribly exciting to listen to that when you can watch the gameday applet and get more information. Maybe eventually there will be pressure to make broadcasts better in order to get anyone to listen. I suppose it stands to reason that broadcasters were more descriptive as a general rule when they had grown up listening to the radio instead of watching tv (that's not a generational indictment--no one can help the adaptations that occur because of technological change). Maybe Flemming's parents didn't let him watch tv.
   19. Flynn Posted: February 23, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4374538)

The Mets were a winning team (coming off an 100 win season) when Cohen joined them. The Yankees were a losing team (coming off a 91 loss season) in Kay's first season in the Bronx.


Also, one guy is from the Bronx and the other is from Queens. I'll let you guess who is which.
   20. eddieot Posted: February 23, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4374540)
Kay is a terrible play-by-play man and even worse when he starts editorializing but he's at least a good traffic cop in the booth. And several of the Yankee analysts are, IMHO, pretty good: Cone, especially but also Leiter, O'Neill and even Singleton. In fact, the best YES booth is basically any combination of the first three analysts, with Singleton doing PBP. The worst is Kay doing PBP with Flaherty--who is inoffensive if deadly dull--as the analyst.


I second this entirely, and add that I thought the best combo of all was Kaat and Singleton. They played well off each other. I really miss Kaat. He had a great tone and almost everything he said was insightful.
   21. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 23, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4374546)
Gary can be a little too traditional at times, and rather baseballier-than-thou others, but he's still just about the best there currently is, so we live with it happily.


He was hard on Lastings Milledge, but then it turned out that Milledge really did suck, so I guess it's ok.
   22. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: February 24, 2013 at 12:10 AM (#4375035)
And it's outta here!
   23. billyshears Posted: February 24, 2013 at 12:46 AM (#4375040)
He was hard on Lastings Milledge, but then it turned out that Milledge really did suck, so I guess it's ok.


In the alternate reality of Mets history I occasionally construct, Lastings Millege is a 6 time all-star and Gregg Jefferies was just elected to the Hall of Fame.
   24. Ron J2 Posted: February 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4375571)
#4 He's a hockey guy, but the same could be said of Jim Hughson. Great voice. and his preparation is superb.

There is a baseball tie though. He left TSN because they wanted him to do baseball in the off-season. He had been doing baseball for a couple of years and was ... well he had the great voice and the work ethic, but he really didn't know or like baseball and it showed.

In effect CBC and TSN made a trade. Chris Cuthbert for Hughson. Cuthbert is perfectly happy as a multi-sport guy and Hughson is probably going to be the #1 hockey guy at CBC for a while.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
TedBerg
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT: Politics - December 2014: Baseball & Politics Collide in New Thriller
(5142 - 8:26am, Dec 21)
Last: The Id of SugarBear Blanks

NewsblogThe Jeff Jacobs HOF Ballot: Keep The Voting Serious And Fair
(19 - 8:24am, Dec 21)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogThe 2015 HOF Ballot Collecting Gizmo!
(157 - 8:19am, Dec 21)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogMarty Noble's HOF Ballot
(2 - 7:57am, Dec 21)
Last: NattyBoh

NewsblogOT: Soccer December 2014
(319 - 7:16am, Dec 21)
Last: ursus arctos

NewsblogAP sources: Umpires, MLB reach 5-year agreement
(3 - 5:48am, Dec 21)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogAngels, Red Sox discontinue pension plans for non-uniformed personnel - LA Times
(23 - 4:00am, Dec 21)
Last: The TVerik of Lordly Might

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - December 2014
(762 - 3:19am, Dec 21)
Last: Win Big Stein's Money

NewsblogOT: NFL/NHL thread
(9189 - 1:38am, Dec 21)
Last: AuntBea

NewsblogThe right — and wrong — way for Mets to get Tulowitzki | New York Post
(12 - 1:09am, Dec 21)
Last: Cargo Cultist

NewsblogGiants acquire McGehee to fill third-base spot
(4 - 1:03am, Dec 21)
Last: Cargo Cultist

Newsblog2014 Disabled List Information and So Much More – The Hardball Times
(4 - 12:59am, Dec 21)
Last: Batman

NewsblogDodgers biggest spenders in payroll
(7 - 12:42am, Dec 21)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

NewsblogRuben Amaro Jr. says it would be best if Phillies move on from Ryan Howard
(35 - 12:16am, Dec 21)
Last: John Northey

Hall of Merit2015 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(105 - 11:14pm, Dec 20)
Last: Dr. Chaleeko

Page rendered in 0.2913 seconds
48 querie(s) executed