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Gary Cohen Is On the Radio

With apologies to the late Warren Zevon [1]:

Hurry home early, hurry on home
The Rays and the Rangers, and you’ll hear Gary Cohen

Fortunately, you don’t have to hurry home. At 2 o’clock Eastern, just flick on ESPN Radio (1050 AM in New York) wherever you happen to be. Or go to espnradio.com [2]. Fire up the appropriate app. Hitch a ride to St. Petersburg and stand outside the broadcast booth if you have to.

Gary Cohen is doing baseball on the radio. How can you not listen?

OMG (which stands for ohmigary), it’s been a thrill having Cohen on the radio once more this fall, even if it’s for a division series in the other league, even if it’s in the company of tyro/bogeyman Aaron Boone, even it’s ultimately only going to be a four- or five-game reminder of when Mets radio broadcasts were something to seek out, not shy away from.

It’s not like we don’t get 150 or so games of Gary on TV, which is a fact that makes my cable bill worth paying. But this is different. This is where Gary Cohen’s voice belongs. All of Gary can continue to be on TV, expertly conducting the orchestra of Keith and Ron and Kevin and updates from the studio and Toyota Text Polls and all that. The man deserves the exposure SNY has brought him. He’s fantastic there, too.

But my radio deserves Gary Cohen. My ears deserve Gary Cohen. I want OUTTA HERE! back where it belongs. I want the ebb and flow of nine or more innings that baseball on the radio is supposed to be, the way Gary brought it to me with Bob Murphy from 1989 to 2003 and the way Gary brought it to me just as satisfyingly with Howie Rose in 2004 and 2005. I’m tired of crossing my fingers that Wayne Hagin will have the inning off.

I love Howie, but I loved him way more when he and Gary bounced Metsiana off each other. Howie without Gary, but with Wayne (or anybody else) is a voice in the wilderness. He’s become a bit of a kvetch, actually. A lovable — and knowledgeable — kvetch, but a bit cranky. Black uniforms tick him off. Odd start times tick him off. Coffee shop menus on the road tick him off. Commercials featuring Randy Johnson (“he’s not cuddly!”) tick him off. Howie’s become noticeably prone to bouts of irritability…which is understandable, given that he loves the Mets. Yet I don’t remember him sounding so less than thrilled doing his dream job before he was left to fend for himself against the inanity of Tom McCarthy first and Wayne Hagin now.

But this isn’t about merely craving Radio Free Hagin, and it isn’t even about getting the band back together. It’s about figuring out a way to get Gary Cohen some kind of Vin Scully deal down the road. Vin does a simulcast for three innings and then slides over to TV for the rest of the game. Can Gary do something like that, maybe? Vin works alone. Gary wouldn’t have to do that. He shouldn’t do that. He makes every announcer better. He made Ed Coleman an almost decent listen.

We’ve got a great thing going with GKR, but a lousy thing going where G&H used to reign supreme. I don’t want to lose the great thing, but I want to fix the lousy thing. Mets games on WFAN have been less than optimal since 2006. They’re OK when it’s Howie talking (kvetchiness notwithstanding) and Wayne getting a coffee or something. But they’re not the showcase for broadcasting they used to be. They’re not an end unto themselves anymore, not in that “turn the radio on, game’s about to start!” sense. They’re a means to an end: “We are on our way to a television, but until then, we should probably settle for the radio, lest we be tempted to hit refresh while driving.” The best Mets radio announcer alive isn’t doing Mets radio. He’s busy being the best Mets TV announcer alive. There’s got to be a way to properly apportion those competencies.

I knew the Rays and Rangers would be having a better October than us, but I didn’t realize how much better.