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SNY Prepares to Do Right By Us

As trophies and t-shirts [1] were being passed around Wednesday night on five different channels, I flipped to SNY out of curiosity. Would they be taking their New York sports mandate seriously and covering the grim doings at Yankee Stadium? Would they have something special on to cheer up the rest of us? Would there be racing from the Meadowlands?

They were airing a repeat of The Best of Mets Weekly which, at that moment, featured Dave Howard giving Julie Alexandria a tour of a Citi Field luxury suite. I can’t say it made me feel any better.

But this does, courtesy of Neil Best’s Watchdog [2] blog on the now restricted newsday.com (which I can still access thanks to being spun inside Cablevision’s customer web):

Call it offseason filler if you must, but SNY’s new “Mets Yearbook,” debuting Thursday night after its “Hot Stove” show, is off-the-charts cool for sports and TV nostalgia buffs.

The series features 27 season highlight films from 1962 through ’88 that had been languishing in the Mets’ archives for years.

The ones from the early years were made for promotional purposes and shown mostly to community groups; they were not designed for television and in some cases never have been seen on TV before.

Gary Morgenstern, SNY’s VP of programming, said the hodgepodge of films followed various formats and were of varying lengths but have been turned into half-hour shows for “Mets Yearbook.”

The first five — 1971, ’84, ’75, ’68 and ’63 — will be shown on Thursdays in 2009, with about 10 more in ’10 and the rest sometime the following year.

So far I have watched ’71, ’68 and ’63.

The ’71 show includes footage of an old-timers’ game in which Satchel Paige is seen pitching, and in which Bobby Thomson pitched to Ralph Branca. (You read that right.)

In the ’68 show, Gil Hodges is seen going over scouting reports in the locker room with his young pitching staff, including Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.

The ’63 highlights were most interesting of all, because they included extensive, full color, rarely seen footage of the Mets playing at the Polo Grounds.

That includes the final major league game played there, after which Casey Stengel is shown walking off through centerfield in a scene similar to the one featuring Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza at Shea 45 years later.

We’ve all rolled our eyes incessantly at SNY’s lack of imagination and dismal deployment when it comes to the Mets archives. But this is a great and encouraging sign. This is what we’ve been asking for since 2006. MSG does this sort of thing relentlessly and beautifully with MSG’s Vault. Show us old Mets stuff. Show us old games (we’ve seen 42 by my count, some of them 42 times apiece, it seems) but also show us footage and clips and highlights and oddities. Show us these films…and that’s what they’re doing.

Kudos to SNY. It’s nice to receive a little good Mets news on a day like this.