Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sad Day in Mets History

I haven't cried over anything involving the Mets since Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones. (The 2000 World Series was over too quickly to be as devastating as '99 was, in case you were wondering.) This morning I feel like crying, and by April I might. Usually I read the morning New York papers in November to see who the Mets might be looking at or what teams are eyeing Mets prospects. This morning's New York Post brought the worst offseason news I've ever dealt with as a Mets fan: Gary Cohen is leaving the radio booth, and taking the innocence of millions of Mets fans with him.

Now, before I get accused of overreacting, two things need to be said. Firstly, he's still a Met announcer, just in the TV booth. If you read the above paragraph, I made it seem like he's leaving the Mets altogether. This was done intentionally, to prove a point: a simple booth switch is not so simple. Secondly, I can't blame Gary himself for the move; he owes it to himself and his family to do what's best for him careerwise, and if he considers this a step up, then so be it.

I grew up with Gary Cohen under my pillow, talking me to sleep through the days of Keith and Gary leaving the team, Anthony Young's 27 consecutive losses, and Vince Coleman's explosiveness. In 1999, when we realized we might be having a special Mets year, my brother and I began recording Gary's calls during the highlight shows, ultimately making a casette of the best calls. We did the same in 2000. For us, as I'm sure was the case with many, a classic Met moment may have been produced on the field, but it was concretized for eternity by a classic call. Pratt's home run. Grand Slam Single. Piazza caps a 10-run inning. Agbayani. NL Champs. And all the little calls that may mean nothing to the world, but you remember it because of where you were and what you were doing when you heard the call. Those calls will continue no longer.

Friends of mine from out-of-town tell me Gary Cohen is the best radio play-by-play guy they've ever heard. Yankee fans tell me he's the best radio play-by-play guy in the business. Everyone believes it, and with good reason. It's true. In 17 years, he has established himself as someone who embodies every single possible thing you could want in a baseball radio announcer. Some time ago, I listed these things in a long letter to him explaining why I liked him so much and respected his work. I never sent it. I wish I had. Maybe if he understood how much his being on the radio meant to Met fans, he'd take one for the proverbial team.

When the emotional shock wears off, I'll take the time to explain from a more logical perspective why Gary's switch to TV is such a big one. But in the meantime, my life as a Met fan will never be the same. I wish I could say that's an overstatement, but it's not. I know many Met fans of my generation will agree.

Thanks for the radio memories, and good luck, Gary. With bittersweetness, I look forward to not muting my TV in April.


Anonymous G-Fafif said...

Amen and well said. Gary's gain is our loss whether our cable systems get the new network or not. Can you imagine a Mets game on in a bar with the sound down and knowing that the volume they've lowered is on Gary Cohen's voice?


1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah! i just turned on the radio to listen to the first pitch as i have in past years and literally started crying!!! i had absolutely no idea he wasn't in the booth anymore (out of the country...) man...its gonna be a loooong season, i cannot imagine anything other than listening to this guys voice on the radio calling the games...carzy crazy times :-(

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just did a search for "sad day in Mets history". So true, pal. So true.

Not that I didn't agree with you at the time. My heart broke when I heard the news. And now Cohen's a shell of his former self.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Renji said...

We may have lost a great radio play by play but we have gotten the best play by play tv man in the business. SNY made a great choice making Gary Cohen the voice of the Mets' telecasts

7:46 PM  

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