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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Gary to Snigh? (Sigh)

My radio antenna is at half-mast today. If it results in static, so what? It’s not like there’s anything to listen to.

Gary Cohen is leaving the WFAN booth. There go 162 reasons to keep living.

That SportsNet New York has tabbed him the television voice of the Mets merely cushions the blow — assuming Cablevision actually adds Snigh to my system without too much hoo-ha. Making TV better doesn’t nearly compensate for blowing up the radio side.

According to Andrew Marchand in the Post, this is probably a bigger payday for Gary, so who am I to cut him off from that? And the way the world is this past half-century, television is the glamour gig in any given endeavor. The people who like to watch the Mets will benefit from having Gary Cohen as part of their package.

But those of us who live the Mets are at a loss. We consider the radio to be our oxygen, our atmosphere. We don’t make a move without it. It would be disingenuous to suggest we’ll be withdrawing all our AA batteries now and saving them for the next blackout. No, we’ll listen to whoever does Mets games because we are Mets fans. But they’ll just be baseball broadcasts. They won’t be a way of life.

Imagine being in a bar or some other public place where televisions are tuned to sporting events. You’ve found one that has the good sense to be showing a Mets game. Usually that’s cause for celebration. Now picture it in 2006, a Snighcast glowing between bottles of Jack Daniels and Grey Goose. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

The sound is down. Gary Cohen is talking about baseball in your midst and you can’t hear it. Suddenly he is not even completely necessary to your absorption of the Mets. This is unconscionable. It’s an insult to all he and we stand for. It’s just wrong.

Lowering the volume is something you do to Fran Healy, not Gary Cohen.

And, as our loyal reader J M reminded me today, what about post-season? The Mets’ participation in it is far from a lock but if/when they get there, who’s going to do the games? Not Gary Cohen. Who will filter, reflect and interpret the tension of every unbearable moment? Not Gary Cohen. Whose call of the next epic Todd Pratt homer or grand Robin Ventura single – the next indelible, improbable, insane swing for the ages — will imprint itself on our souls for eternity? Not Gary Cohen’s.

There was a time when I and presumably millions like me couldn’t imagine a world without Bob Murphy. That world came to pass. There are millions now in the same position. Younger Students of the Game have come of age with Gary as their Murph. He schooled them. He made Mets fans out of them. He can do something like that on TV, but the relationship just won’t be as intense. It can’t be.

We sang Gary’s and Howie’s praises and illustrated what made them the best team in baseball here last month. They were doing a game, like most, that had no lasting impact on the franchise but was important to each of us because it was a Mets game. It was a game like that that made me realize how lucky I was to be living at the intersection of Murphy and Cohen. September 29, 1993. Seventeen innings. Mets 1 Cardinals 0. Aficionados will recall it as The Kenny Greer Game. I was working late and had the game on. And on. And on. The game kept going and Bob and Gary did the same. I don’t remember what was said but I remember not wanting the game to end. They were so good together. I knew once and for all that these two voices above all others, giving me every pitch on the last Wednesday of the worst season imaginable, were the voices I’d want in my ears this way for the rest of my life if I could have them there.

I can’t.

If Omar Minaya or any GM wants to copy a winning formula, good luck. See how hard it is to replicate success on Gotham Baseball.

14 comments to Gary to Snigh? (Sigh)

  • Anonymous

    It is a sad day indeed, but I am very happy for Gary and his newfound success. I'd love it if Howie joined him, but that likely won't happen.
    No Fran Healy = the best three words of the off season

  • Anonymous

    Given that you do your best work under adverse conditions, the thought of reading your musings deprived of Gary as well as the Mets on TV is a delicious one indeed.
    That said, you can't leave yourself at the mercy of the Dolans come April. Directv is the way to go, Greg.
    Bail on Cablevision, dude.

  • Anonymous

    Not sure I quite understand, Greg. Given the choice of watching the game on TV or listening to it on the radio, I would choose the former. Always. (Is there a third, hybridized option?) I guess my question is: Why is radio important for Mets baseball? To me, it's only useful if I can't watch it (i.e., in the car). I'm not trying to offend; I just don't understand the commitment here……

  • Anonymous

    There may never again be a better example of there's good news and there's bad news, because it's the same fricking news.
    I guess I have to be brave and say that this is good news because Gary Cohen wanted it. Good for him — at the risk of being maudlin, multiply all the happiness Gary Cohen has brought me by the number of Met fans out there and you realize he deserves far more than this. I hope he hits it out of the park. Heck, it's Gary Cohen — I know he'll hit it out of the park.
    And Howie, of course, is hardly slouch material himself. Like Gary, he'll make anyone he shares a booth with better. So maybe while the best radio team we've ever had is sundered, we'll get two very fine teams on radio and TV, instead of a perfect team and a crapshoot. Yeah! That's it!

  • Anonymous

    A reasonable question. I think it comes down to three things.
    First, Gary's simply great at what he was doing. It takes a special talent to call radio and make you see what you're obviously not seeing. Even if he's great at it on television, it's not as necessary to the presentation. I can see strike one. I can see a deep fly that's going to be caught. I don't need a play-by-player to tell me that. On radio, I do. They don't get any better than Gary at that.
    Second, it's a great team, Gary and Howie. The innings they're together have been magic. There's a great rapport and respect that comes through and it informs and it enlightens and it entertains. I've heard Gary with Eddie C. and it's not the same. I've heard Howie with Eddie C. and it's not the same. In the latter stages, it wasn't there with Gary and Murph (though there was certainly something between the two of them their first several years). I hate to see something that good broken up especially when I know I'll wind up, by necessity, listening to whoever's on radio.
    Third and most important isn't that radio is better than television or that television is better than radio. It's that unless I know I can plant myself in front of a television for 162 games, every pitch, I'm going to need radio. I'm going to be away from my couch plenty in 2006 (even if I don't get out much). I'm going to be in the car or on a train or in this room or that room or walking down the street. Baseball demands your attention and I comply. When I have someone as good as Gary Cohen giving me my baseball that way, I am loathe to give him up.
    Television's great. I've yet to pass up the chance to watch highlights of games that I was “forced” to follow on the radio (when the Mets win, it's a mad dash among channels 11, 9 and 5 and then 4, 2 and 7 to see it over and over and over again). But I could live without it because radio exists (somehow it doesn't work if you reverse the equation because who carries around a television?). Baseball has to be portable because it's constant. That's why radio matters so much to so many, or at least to me.
    All that said, if this is what Gary Cohen wanted to do, then, with some reflection, I wouldn't want to be the one to not let the butterfly flap his wings or however one would say it. But I would contend that announcing baseball on TV should not be valued as something greater than doing it on radio. It takes a special talent to keep you tuned into something that is being described to you for three hours. For television, you just need to make sure your cameras are working.

  • Anonymous

    The third hybridized option is tv volume down and radio volume up. It's been a way of life for me since I discovered Mr. Cohen ~16 years ago. For that period of time, whenever possible, Gary was there to caulk all the gaps of Mets games…able to spot and convey more than any one set of cameras possibly could, through both the lulls and the critical nanoseconds of baseball action.
    He's not going to be doing that anymore because you can't really do that on TV. I'm going to sorely miss Gary's down-to-the-micron descriptions of each game. And of course, I only realized today what this is going to mean for the games I attend. Radio Gary is gone, and I have frankly died a little inside.
    However, I would be remiss not to note that I wish Mr. Cohen and his family nothing but the best. As the tippy top guy in his trade, save possibly Vin Scully (who does alright on TV himself), he deserves any amount of satisfaction/recognition/dough he gets from this, probably a hundredfold, as well. And he deserves to be able to make this decision. I wish him luck and I look forward to him and the Mets revolutionizing the way baseball is broadcast on TV. You don't tag a guy like Gary Cohen for TV and then cut to the fans and dugout reactions every four seconds. It is my hope that these broadcasts will take us as far inside the game as Gary's voice used to do all by itself. I at least get the feeling they're just going to be on top of things, and that *is* a consolation, if only a small one. And Gary might bring out a part of his game that none of us even knew existed, which could all by itself be worth the price of admission.
    On the dark side, any postseason appearances that occur without Gary there to guide us will be bittersweet ones. Over time, I've become as much a Cohen fan as a Met fan. As Jason pointed out, the good news rings and the bad news stings; and it's the same damn news. On what I believe to be a further bright side, I think it's inevitable that Gary happily make his way back to Mets radio eventually. It's his home.

  • Anonymous

    Here's a positive: I can now stop wondering if I need to buy this device.

  • Anonymous

    That thing's pretty cool, but it can't beat my (now virtually obsolete) home fashioned Dual-Tivo Gary Cohen Super Duper Deluxe Satellite Sync-Up Device. Course, now Gary will always be in step with the TV broadcast.
    Good, however, to see that someone has made the delay-play process a little bit simpler. It was only a matter of time…

  • Anonymous

    Of course, the could go back to the olden days when the radio ran on diesel and TV's were hand cranked and just have 3 guys who alternate between the radio and TV booths every 3 innings. Back in my day, when ballplayers were more concerned about getting drunk and laid and less so about huge biceps and tiny testicles, we didn't need to have one crew for radio, one crew for free TV home games, one crew for cable games and one for road games. I assume the specialization is the same as it has become in relief pitching but it seems quite unnecessary. Rotate the fellers around, bring a guest into the booth(s) once in a while and talk baseball. Fine, have an onfield reporter interview the relievers on how far they can spit or their favorite body part to scratch if ya wanna modern it up. But let the baseball guys tell the fans about the game and move on.

  • Anonymous

    I can't tell if this is you or Ralph Kiner speaking.

  • Anonymous

    There's adversity and then there's cluelessness…
    I Have No Idea What Happened
    by Greg at 02:48 AM (EDT) on April 12, 2006
    Well, I hate to disappoint all our readers, especially those in Albertson, but I remain in the dark. I understand the Mets' season began last week and perhaps a game was played yesterday. Don't know what happened. No Snigh, no Gary and I live in a building where DirecTV isn't a viable option. However, I did watch that Halls of Fame Fran did with Bobby Hull in 1998 again, so I'm going to comment on that.

  • Anonymous

    Fran leans in, squinting earnestly:
    “So, when you were annointed as 'The Golden Jet,' how did that affect your confidence?”

  • Anonymous

    Home Run hitters now gum steak and drive golf carts in circlesDAMN, I WAS channelling Ralph Kiner again. Surprising, since that is usually only done for dead people. Lindsey, take off that jacket, it's making me sick and I've got the Korner to do in 10 minutes…

  • Anonymous

    Looking on the bright side, you will be singularly qualified to advise your loyal readership whether or not it is, in fact, The Best Damn Sports Show, Period.