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Mets nix YES format (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday February 1, 2006 1:02PM; Updated: Wednesday February 8, 2006 6:22PM
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Since the Mets cannot match the kind of history that the Yankees enjoy, SNY may also be wary of pinning itself too directly to the team's success. What if the Mets go through a rough stretch? SNY won't have the same kind of comfort zone to fall back on.

At the same time, other fans are leery of SNY becoming another vehicle for generic sports highlights. "If it were up to me, SNY would follow the YES model, only more so," opines Greg Prince, co-author of the blog Faith and Fear in Flushing. "You can get information on other sports and other teams elsewhere. We want as much Mets as we can get from this particular network. Channel 9 used to show a treasure trove of Mets programming during rain delays, including every Mets annual highlight film in captivity. A little digging would surely unearth commercials and movie clips and all kinds of rarities that would tingle every Mets fan's spine."

Yet no matter what you make of SNY's ambitions, the most pressing issue for the locals is whether they can watch SNY or not. "Fans want to know if they can get it first," says Bob Raissman, media critic for the Daily News. "They'll pick at it later." There is no telling whether Wilpon, who owns 60 percent of the network, and his partners, Comcast and Time Warner, will encounter the same kind of hostilities from Charles Dolan's Cablevision (the team's former network) that YES faced in 2002. After all, Long Island, which is serviced primarily by Cablevision, is Mets' country, and the cable giant could lose a lot of advertising should it choose to play rough with SNY. "Comcast and Time Warner are two powerful partners," Raissman continues, "but Dolan is unpredictable."

An air of uncertainty will hang over SNY's immediate future until the Cablevision situation is resolved. However, one thing everyone seems to agree on is the hiring of Gary Cohen as the play-by-play man. Cohen, wildly popular as the Mets' radio announcer, comes equipped with a sterling reputation as a guy who is not afraid to criticize the home team. He is the foundation of SNY's objective approach. Coupled with analyst Keith Hernandez (who "has Tourette's where the truth is concerned," according to Prince) and Ron Darling, the Mets are seeking to create thoughtfulness and honesty in the broadcast booth. Having two articulate voices from the '80s glory years, plus Cohen's well-respected stability, should help set the tone.

It remains to be seen how Minaya's Mets and their new network will develop. As closely as the the team is compared to the Yankees, it appears as if the Mets are consciously trying to create something altogether different. "I think if you gave them a truth serum, [they'd agree that] 'SNY' is not the most mellifluous name in the world," says Sandomir. "SNY sounds like something is wrong. 'Oh, you've got a SNY on your face.'"

There certainly have been plenty of lovable losers in Met history. Will SNY emulate the hapless failures Met fans have witnessed, or will it pave the way for future glory? With bright young stars such as David Wright and Jose Reyes, a future Hall of Famer in Pedro Martinez and a powerful supporting cast, the $64,000 question is: Will the Mets and SNY turn out to be Must See TV, or a re-run of the Worst Team Money Can Buy? Stay tuned.

Alex Belth is the founder and co-author of Bronx Banter. His biography of Curt Flood, Stepping Up: The Story of All-Star Curt Flood and His Fight for Baseball Players' Rights, is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.