Saturday, November 15, 2003

You Gotta Believe...That It Can't Sound Any Worse by Steve Reynolds

The past two seasons have been painful to be a Mets fan, with botched front office moves, odd injuries, rumors and haircuts stirring up more news than the team’s shoddy play. But what makes watching this team even worse is one single factor—Fox Sports New York and MSG announcer Fran Healy. After many years of watching Mets games, nothing makes me cringe more than the sound of Healy pontificating.

Healy has the amazing ability to take the most glaringly obvious play and somehow repeat exactly what happened and make it sound like sturdy, in-depth analysis. For example, one evening I’m pretty sure I heard Healy talking about the Mets lack of hitting this way: “If you’re not hitting as a team, you can’t score any runs.”

[Pause to let it sink in.]

Really, Mr. Healy? And here I thought the Mets could just buy runs by paying off the umpires and not even bother with that pesky thing we call going up to bat.

Healy has ruined more games for me this season more than any other because he’s been paired with Ted Robinson, perhaps best known as the tennis voice of NBC. Robinson is a fine play by play man, and does a great job with the Mets radio broadcasts. But he’s content to let Healy and his hair-brained comments dominate most telecasts. Howie Rose, Healy’s partner since 1996, has been moved over to the radio side of things for much of the season. The few times Rose has worked with Healy I have let out an audible sigh of relief because I know Rose won’t allow Healy to say something insane like, “Tony Clark is swinging a really hot bat” when the first baseman is batting under .200.

Let me put my Healy hatred another way—I’d rather hear Tom Seaver and Keith Hernandez (two of the biggest egos in baseball) call a game together than suffer through Healy. While Seaver and Hernandez might spend much of their time behind the mic saying how much better they were than today’s players, I’m sure you’d never hear one of them say, “Benitez has really turned it around” when it was obvious to anyone that he hadn’t.

On a non-Healy note, I do miss Gary Thorne on the WB 11 telecasts. He made Tom Seaver bearable (which is a tall order in itself), he made fun of Seaver’s pomposity, he always sounded like he was excited to be at the ballpark and most importantly, he was consistently funny. Thorne’s replacement, Dave O’Brien, is good, but he doesn’t put Seaver is his place enough.

I know many people have suggestions about what free agents to bring in next season to make the Mets winners—personally I think the team should stick with the kids and let them grow another season. Who cares if having a young team robs Tom Glavine of his chance to get 300 wins? If he wanted that chance, he should have stayed in Atlanta. My suggestion for the Wilpon family is to bring in some free agents on the broadcast side of things. Bring back Thorne and Tim McCarver to do the WB 11 games. Many folks hate McCarver, but he’s miles better than anyone else out there. Dump Healy, and rotate Rose, Robinson and Hernandez on Fox Sports and MSG. And then when Al Leiter retires after next season, grab him as your color guy and let Hernandez do Brooklyn Cyclones games instead. Leiter has shown during his brief stints on ESPN in 1998 and 1999 and being miked during games by Fox that he has no problem speaking his mind and has a great ability to analyze baseball in simple terms.

Lastly, thank you Bob Murphy for a lifetime’s worth memories in the radio booth. Listening in the car to a Mets game will never be the same.

No comments: