I can’t get enough of Gary Cohen in the course of a game. Except for when I know he shouldn’t have just said what he just said.
Example one from Monday night: Oliver Perez is cruising along, as calm as the Ohio River. It’s the top of the fifth, game knotted at one. Ollie is being not just Good Ollie but, after some choppiness in the first couple of innings, Efficient Ollie. The only element that can disturb Ollie’s rhythm is explicitly acknowledging what an unusually low pitch count Ollie has registered thus far.
That’s exactly what Gary does as the fifth begins. So what happens? The baseball gods (who listen to Gary, too, because they know quality when they hear it) mess with Ollie and he goes to three-and-two before striking out Ramon Hernandez. OK, I think, it’s an out. A little more effort than I would have liked, but nobody’s on, and the pitcher, Mike Leake, is coming up.
Nine pitches later, the pitcher, Mike Leake, has walked. The fabulously economical pitch count that was languishing in the low 50s after four innings is now up on its feet and climbing. Where Ollie’s pitches climb, trouble is sure to follow. Granted, there wasn’t all that much immediate damage — just one pesky go-ahead run — but Ollie, after being lauded by Gary for not throwing too many pitches, had to labor through a 38-pitch fifth and was suddenly pushing 90 for the night.
I think we’d all agree that Oliver Perez doesn’t need much of a nudge to throw too many pitches. But he was nudged…which is why I cringed. “Don’t mention how well he’s doing! He’s going to stop doing well!”
And he did.
Fast-forward to the eleventh. Ollie, who left after six innings and (ahem) 108 pitches, gave way to excellent relief: Mejia to Nieve to Feliciano to keep matters tied at two. Sadly, the Reds’ pen has been just as ungenerous to Met hitters. That’s why we’re still playing. The new Met pitcher is Manny Acosta. One out in, Laynce Nix is up as a pinch-hitter. Not really the guy Dusty Baker would want up here, Gary asserts. Too bad, for Dusty, that he already used Jay Bruce in a similar situation and that he’s not still in the game.
Yes, too bad for Dusty. Except Dusty is jumping up and down not a minute later when Nix’s fly to right carries no more than two rows into the stands and the Mets have lost 3-2, seconds after I cried in anguish to the television, “NO, don’t say that about Laynce Nix!”
Let’s be clear: Gary Cohen is doing his job, a job he does better than anyone on the planet. But once or twice a game (some games, not all games) he identifies a situation or trend that appears, on the surface, legitimately positive for the Mets or negative for their opponents and I shudder because, on some intrinsic level, I know he has reversed it.
Gary Cohen has more power than even Laynce Nix when it comes to game-changing. I don’t think he’s aware of it. He’s reporting and analyzing. It’s what he’s supposed to do. It’s why there are cobwebs on my living room radio. Since Gary left WFAN for SNY in 2006, I stick to television on non-Fox, non-ESPN occasions as long as the remote is accessible. But once in a while, probably because the baseball gods are jealous that Gary’s better at what he does than they are at what they do, he is compelled to say something perfectly logical that will be proven inoperative in a matter of pitches. Ollie Perez will stop being efficient. Dusty Baker will not regret having already used Jay Bruce. The Mets will lose.
It’s not the announcer’s fault. It’s mine for noticing.