Friday, June 13, 2008

Objectivity at SNY

Neil Best notes that, despite being paid by the team, the SNY guys have managed to provide, good, balanced, and most of all truthful coverage of the Mets as their season has spun out of control:
Of course, adding to the intrigue since YES launched in 2002 and SNY in 2006 is that every announcer is viewed through the prism of team-owned TV stations, especially during tough times. So far SNY has an admirable record of objectivity, a sensitive subject at Shea since Willie Randolph's infamous shot at its camera shot selection last month.

But it's complicated. Here is GM Omar Minaya during a visit to the booth Wednesday: "All of us are together in this. I know that Ron, you care; I know that Gary, you care. I know the radio guys . We are all in this as New Yorkers, and we want this to happen."

In this together? Like I said, SNY mostly has avoided that trap. Or taken a sledgehammer to it.
Best then quotes Michael Kay who noted on his radio show the other day how much trouble he'd be in with the Yankees if he said half the stuff Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling said. Which is sad, of course, because fans aren't idiots. Especially New York fans who are exposed to more team news and information than anyone. They know when their team is playing poorly. They know when there is clubhouse unrest. They know when scandal is afoot. Against that backdrop, a team forcing its announcers to play Pravda to the ownership's Politburo is silly and, frankly, insulting to the intelligence of fans.

With the exception of Willie Randolph's recent complaints about camera angles, the Mets have been pretty good at biting their tongue. Is that because they understand the value of an independent and honest broadcast operation? Is it because they don't want to be seen cracking down on team icons like Darling and Hernandez?

I suppose we can't know that, but it probably doesn't matter. All that matters is that, for now, Mets fans are getting the unvarnished truth. That may make the Mets look bad in any given moment, but it makes them look much better overall.


Dre said...

SNY broadcast is one of the few I don't mind on MLB Extra Innings. Most homer announcers are obnoxious that it makes watching the game unenjoyable.

Jason said...

As a NYer and Yanks fan (go ahead, throw your barbs), I can say that while YES lacks some of the more "direct" criticisms, I do enjoy the analysis by Cone, Leiter and even Flaherty. Coney and Leiter bring a respected view and given the Yanks main sore point (its rotation), they are pretty darned good. Except when Coney wants to show off lil' Coney to Kay and Singleton, of course.

Daniel said...

I love the Angels radio guys (Rory Markas and Terry Smith) because they're mostly straight shooters and will generally give you the truth. Gubicza is pretty good on TV. Physioc and Hudler are blatant homers, which bothers me sometimes, but works if I'm in a bad mood.

It seems like a hard line to walk: it's your job to sell and represent the team, but as a broadcaster/media member you need to be somewhat impartial.

Osmodious said...

Whenever my SO has complained about the YES crew, I've put on a different game so she can see just how good we've got it. I will say, though, that the SNY guys are pretty good, too...though they do get a little wrapped up in anecdotes or sidebars and neglect the game (something Michael Kay NEVER does).

YES has actually improved in their objectivity as well...when they first started, Kay and Waldman were quite critical. Apparently, they has a 'talking to', for that stopped. Jim Kaat really didn't care, since he didn't really need that job, so was always critical. The past couple of years were kind of lame, but it started to improve last year, and this year they have almost seemed completely objective! (well, Al Leiter and David Cone, anyway...Leiter because he is like Kaat and Cone because he doesn't know better, he thinks they actually want his true opinion).

Not all good players make good analysts...and sometimes some pretty mediocre players make EXCELLENT analysts (and managers, for that matter). The Kaats and Girardis, the guys from whom you learn something new every game they cover, they are a prize...and they make the game much more fun to watch...

(Oh, vocal quality and inflection is a big thing, too, though often over-looked. O'Neill needs to get closer to the mic and use his big boy voice, like the beginning of last year. Singleton and Flaherty have actually started to put some life into their voices, but they are still boring and droning at times. On other channels it's often just intolerable.)