It is about telling the stories at the Major League level.
That is why the Yankees and Mets broadcasters and producers must eventually return to traveling on the road if top executives at SNY and YES want to crow about how they have the top baseball productions in the land.
SNY president Steve Raab and YES Network president of programming and production, John Filippelli, both said their telecasts were the best in separate conversations with The Post about when and how their announcers will be perched at road ballparks in the future.
We spoke to the executives, but their actions, and those of their bosses, will speak louder. Over Labor Day weekend, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are now scheduled to be in Washington for a five-game series as SNY will try an experiment to broadcast the game using less people on the road than pre-pandemic.
While Raab tried not to classify it this way, this is a slimmed-down, cloud-based production that could be used to reduce future costs.
Meanwhile, Filippelli looks at the September schedule and thinks YES could go to Citi Field in the middle of next month and then possibly end the season in Boston and Toronto. However, nothing is set.
Can YES really not go crosstown for one game at the Mets on Friday, Sept. 10? (The other two Subway Series games are on Fox and ESPN).
Fox, ESPN Sunday Night and TBS’ Sunday afternoons all have their broadcasters at the games.
In fairness to SNY and YES, doing local teams with a relentless schedule and full series, is more onerous than the one offs of national broadcasts. But no one is saying to travel full-time right now.
The Cubs’ new network, Marquee, is calling road games on-site within the central time zones. It is alone and setting the standard.
Raab and Filippelli admitted that business is a factor behind the decisions.
“I would say that in everything we do, right, there is, of course, an economic consideration,” Raab said.
The fact the Mets aren’t at 85-percent vaccination is not really the issue, Raab said, but rather a combination of complicated issues involving travel to go along with clearance issues from the other cities, teams and the league in each ballpark.
Storytelling and knowledge is lost in the long term and the short term.
On Sunday, Kay, broadcasting from the Bronx as the Yankees game took place in Chicago, said two runs scored on a ninth-inning hit when it was one. On Tuesday, at Yankee Stadium with the game in front of him, Kay had a great call on Wandy Peralta bouncing off the mound to make the play to end a sixth inning threat, punctuating it with, “They got ‘em! They got ‘em! What a play by Peralta!”
It is also the production. On the road, YES and SNY are pretty much at the mercy of the home team’s usually inferior broadcasts. Nuance, like a scratched-out lineup card, is lost.
Filippelli and Raab are both right about their broadcasters and producers doing a tremendous job to make it look and sound as good as possible. It is a credit to their skill level to compensate during the pandemic.
Filippelli, with six World Series under his belt, talked about the mantra George Steinbrenner gave him when they started YES two decades ago to be the “gold standard.”
“I’m still up for traveling the announcers,” Filippelli said. “I am. I think it makes a better telecast. But do I think the days of us going to Seattle, fly everybody coast to coast at a tremendous expense that we have to incur for a game that starts at 10:30 at night, is over. I’d rather put my resources in Boston.”
Ultimately, it will be up to Raab and his counterpart at YES, CEO Jon Litner. They can eventually prove it is not all about money.
The new variants are, of course, a factor, and should not be taken lightly. If anyone is uncomfortable about going on the road, it is completely understandable and he or she should be respected. But if it is safe enough for teams to travel, for fans to be at games in full attendance, writers to be on the road and other networks to have its announcers at games, then the New York networks will have to explain why they do not eventually act like major league operations.
“During the pandemic, I think we have done a terrific job,” Raab said. “And however we end up doing it, after the pandemic, it is still going to be arguably the best baseball production out there. You have my word on that.”
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