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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 Cohen Is On the Radio

With apologies to the late Warren Zevon:

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 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.

17 comments to Gary Cohen Is On the Radio

  • J M

    Thanks for the heads up, Greg (gosh, I’m so meta sometimes). As usual, you failed to speak an untrue word. I still miss Gary on the radio.

    Funny how one of his best moments was that epic 11 inning Marlins-Giants NLDS game (2003?), and another one of his best moments was being there as if almost by fate to detail “the catch”.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Was it a coincidence you were writing about Gary Cohen on ESPN Radio?

    Driving home from work I turned on the radio to catch part of the Tampa/Texas game. There was a play (since forgotten) that happened so quickly yet described with equally as quick without hesitation or pause by the announcer. My first thought was that is a great call. My second thought was that it was Gary I was listening to.

    The third thought was John Sterling would have been unable to follow the play, be pausing between words, stop the flow and only give a general account of the action after it was completed (leaving Suzyn Waldman to tell us what we didn’t know before). Thought number four was how could Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts once say John Sterling belonged in the broadcaster’s wing of the Hall of Fame? They cited his length of service and having called every innng of every game. Let being able to visualize the action in the listner’s head and maintain the momentum of the moment be the criteria of how great a play-by-play announcer is – not how long one hords the microphone and keeps listeners guessing.

  • Jacobs27

    I think you may be right about Gary making all other announcers better, Greg.

    Even the eminently bland Aaron Boone seems half-supportable.

    I absolutely agree with all of the above, by the way. Well-said.

  • Jacobs27

    Also, if anyone’s feeling nostalgic:

    (G & H calling one of Mike Piazza’s last big Met homeruns)

  • sturock

    Come on, Wayne’s not that bad.

  • Rob D.

    I do believe that is Paul Lukas’ (uniwatchblog) anti hagin corner of the web.

  • G / J

    Hagin did take some getting used to, and indeed there was nothing like Howie and Gary together.
    However, these days I count my blessings with all five Mets announcers. A simple flick of remote to MSG to view an episode of “Halls Of Fame” with Fran Healy will sober you up in short order. How about those years where the Mets seemed to be on 5 different channels, with different braodcast crews on each one? At least now there is some consistency and good to excellent quality on SNY, PIX 11 and WFAN.

  • Ed

    Greg, I missed hearing Cohen working the ALDS, but have enjoyed Darling working the tbs games.

    I think that the Mets should be careful not to disrupt the chemistry of Cohen, Darling, Hernandez, and Burkhardt in the TV booth. But an alteration could be done to solidify the radio side and not seriously damage the TV side.

    If the Mets hire back Julie Donaldson (Original “Mets Weekly” host) some other reporter to handle Burkhardt’s current role, both Cohen and Burkhardt could be used as swing men between TV and Radio.

    Kevin Burkhadt has done well when working Bisons or Cyclones games or pinch hitting for Cohen on Mets telecasts – and probably would work well with Howie Rose and of course Darling, Hernandez.

    Howie Rose and Burkhardt could work the first 3 innings on FAN, then wing with Cohen as they switch radio/tv fo rmiddle innings.
    Both Cohen and and Burkhadt would finish back where they started for the final 3 frames (barring no extra innings).

    I think Burkhadt is the talent that would mesh well with Rose and Julie Donaldson or another (perferably a female)reporter would freshen up the SNY telecasts.

    While I’m on the subject, I would love to see SNY replace Chris Carlin on the post game show. Where’s Mazzilli? Also with the rotating crew on – there should be some real talent there to pool from if they wanted to upgrade the postgame show.

  • Bobby F.

    Greg, Sorry I missed Gary. I would have tuned in for sure.

    I respect Howie’s knowledge of the game & the Mets, but he has never been a favorite of mine as play by play guy, even with Gary. I liked Howie where he was 25 years ago: doing the pre and post game shows on the FAN. If I recall, Howie was cranky back then too, and he was covering some very good Mets’ teams. As a pure play by play guy, Howie is better at hockey.

    Didn’t Gary want to do TBS on tv a couple of years ago, but Jeff Wilpon nixed the idea, as Gary’s contract prohibited it? I hope there aren’t hard feelings there.

    Gary does a superb job manning the 3-man booth, not an easy task. He manages well two very different personalities in Ron and Keith. I don’t see anything wrong with allowing Gary to be the main TBS play by play guy replacing Ernie Jonhson, with Kevin replacing him on the SNY games he misses. Cohen doing some network games is a good thing for the Mets, but maybe Jeff W. doesn’t understand. Lindsey would leave some September weekends to do his Notre Dame games. I remember feeling good that a Mets guy was in the booth for those national college games, plus pro football too.

    I agree that Kevin has talent. I hope he doesn’t bolt to a different organization if he doesn’t find a more meaningful spot with SNY and the Mets, whether on SNY and/or FAN.

    As for the radio, it’s time for a fresh start, and that means so long Wayne and so long Howie too.

    Greg: get the voice in shape so you are ready when they come knocking on your door!

    • I don’t remember Gary and TBS ever coming up in tandem. You may be thinking of Fox approaching Kevin for Saturday work and SNY/the Mets vetoing it, which I found odd.

      When I’d hear Lindsey doing football, I kept waiting for him to start talking about the Mets. Was always a little disappointed he didn’t.