Something else that’s changed during the SNY crew’s nine years in the booth is having its broadcasts available to a much wider audience with innovations like MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV. And viewers also have a greater voice than ever through social media. Has that resulted in a different sort of feedback from the audience or is it something the team is adjusting toward?
“I am not a Tweeter, or any of that stuff,” said Hernandez. “I don’t get involved in all that stuff. I don’t know why the players do, to be honest with you. But I certainly don’t.”
“I’m not really tuned in with social media all that much,” Cohen added. “I try not to listen to the chatter because I think that can be distracting — just as much for announcers as it is for athletes.”
“I’m definitely a voyeur on Twitter,” Darling said. “I don’t participate on Twitter, but I like being a voyeur because there’s so many good people — Kenny Rosenthal and others — guys who follow the team that I love reading what they have to say, some of the best writers in our sport.”
One development in baseball that’s occurred during the trio’s nine years in the SNY booth which all three agree on is the increasing length of games and slowing pace of play in the sport. The trio are encouraged about the rules MLB is implementing to address such concerns.
“You spend a lot of time just watching things not happen,” said Darling. “To do anything where the pitcher’s moving a little quicker, where the athletes are running out to their positions, where guys are staying in the box, all of those things are just aesthetically better to watch.”
“I hope that the steps Major League Baseball is starting to take have some kind of effect,” added Cohen, “because to me, its product is suffering from the lack of pacing. And it’s certainly had an impact on the broadcasts. No question about that.”
As you might expect from an analyst known for his sharp opinions, who likes that they “have a little edge to our broadcast,” Hernandez has definite thoughts on what’s caused baseball to slow down.
“I think that a lot of the big culprits for length of the games are relief pitchers,” he said. “Those times when you get three changes in an inning, a manager makes three moves. I like the fact they they got a clock on that relief pitcher to warm up and throw his pitches. I can’t tell you how many games are gone through six innings, you’re cruising right along, as soon as the bullpen comes in, they’ll blow it up. It’ll be a three-hour, three-hour-plus game.
“Anything to make the game shorter. Four-hour games are outrageous. Anything over three-and-a-half hours is ridiculous. It just shouldn’t be that way.”
The feeling of camaraderie grows stronger with Cohen, Hernandez, and Darling on the road, especially because the broadcast team is largely on its own away from home. Traveling together for seven months out of the season means spending plenty of time together with one another both in and out of the broadcast booth.
“The announcers, when I played — Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver and others — it would be routine to have dinner with them or to hang out and sit and talk with them,” Darling explained. “That’s not really the case anymore with today’s athletes.
“I didn’t realize that it was going to be just kind of us and them. The ballplayers, they’ve got their deal. It’s really our crew of five or six guys who travel, we’re the other guys.We know we’re not the players, we know we’re not associated with the team. So we kind of take care of each other and hang out with each other all the time on the road.”
As the SNY crew heads into its 10th year in the booth, that relationship seems stronger than ever and each broadcaster grows more appreciative of how good this combination has been.
“I have to tell you, I’m incredibly fortunate,” said Cohen. “Those guys are so good at what they do. Ronnie has obviously become an elite national broadcaster, and brings such intelligence and such a work ethic to what he does.
“But I think also that Keith is very underrated by a lot of people for the insight that he brings. A lot of people tend to put his curmudgeonly ways first and foremost, which I think is part of his charm and is hilarious, and we have a lot of fun with that. But he knows the game better than anyone else I hear on television. It’s my great fortune to work with those two guys.”