December 9, 2022

Simply by not being Gary, Keith and Ron, ESPN’s crew of Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and David Cone will start the Mets’ playoff series with an 0-2 count.

This is the case for all national crews, because fans like their local broadcast teams, and SNY’s trio of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have already reached iconic status.

So, in other words, upon the first pitch of Mets-Padres on Friday night, we have these words for Ravech, Perez and Cone: Good luck!

This is the biggest spotlight yet for ESPN’s new top crew, which just completed its first season of “Sunday Night Baseball.” They replaced Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez.

On play-by-play, ESPN chose Ravech over the likes of Jon (Boog) Sciambi, Jason Benetti, Michael Kay, Dave Fleming and Ryan Ruocco. It wasn’t really a competition, because the Ravech to SNB behind-the-scene machinations were in motion last season, which seemed to be part of the reason Vasgersian left on his own accord before he was pushed from the booth.

Rodriguez remained behind for some SNB “Kay-Rod” broadcasts and will work ESPN’s Cardinals-Phillies coverage with Michael Kay in a conventional broadcast setup.

It goes without saying that Ravech is not ESPN’s best play-by-player on its roster. Not with Joe Buck in the company directory as ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” lead and former SNBer Dan Shulman on college hoops.

Buck has no interest in calling baseball games, but, after nearly a quarter century of doing the World Series, he may be missed. (Shulman will not be on any of ESPN’s TV games as he is calling baseball for Canada’s SportsNet.)

See also  Jay Bilas talks ‘crazy’ March Madness expectations, Coach K, top NBA prospects

The residue of the crazy NFL broadcasting free agency that included Buck leaving Fox Sports for a five-year, $75 million deal to call football on Mondays will be felt on these playoffs.

ESPN's Karl Ravech (r.) with Red Sox manager Alex Cora (l.) in 2019.
ESPN’s Karl Ravech (r.) with Red Sox manager Alex Cora (l.) in 2019.
Getty Images
David Cone during a live episode of The Post's "The Show" podcast at Paley Center on July 25, 2022.
David Cone during a live episode of The Post’s “The Show” podcast at Paley Center on July 25, 2022.
Stephen Yang
ESPN's Eduardo Perez (c.) with the Astros' Jose Altuve (l.) in 2017.
ESPN’s Eduardo Perez (c.) with the Astros’ Jose Altuve (l.) in 2017.
MLB via Getty Images

Buck’s Fox exit resulted in 34-year-old Joe Davis being elevated the top broadcast seat in the sport, as he will call the World Series next to John Smoltz. Fox has depth, as it could be argued Adam Amin, Aaron Goldsmith and Benetti — who was lured from ESPN after Benetti was passed over for SNB — might be better than Davis. Davis is No. 1, but he has a ways to go before being the undisputed champ.

Meanwhile, TBS, after all these years of people saying, “Oh yeah, they have the playoffs?” is the network with some continuity. Brian Anderson will be joined by Jeff Francoeur for one division series, while Bob Costas will team with Darling on another.

None of them will be Gary, Keith and Ron or YES’ Kay, Cone and Paul O’Neill for most fans. It’s always an 0-2 for national baseball announcers, but if they are skilled enough they can work the count.

Keith Hernandez (l.), Gary Cohen (c.) and Ron Darling (r.)
Keith Hernandez (l.), Gary Cohen (c.) and Ron Darling (r.)

Upon further review

Both Kay and John Sterling had strong calls for Aaron Judge’s 62nd homer.

Kay went to the magic number pretty quickly, exclaiming, “62!” He didn’t make it about himself, refraining from using his trademark, “See ya!” and he was more fundamentally sound on 62 than 61 as he said Judge’s name, which is important on a historical call that will be on highlights forever.

See also  Iconic NYC hotel that was home to Dodgers’ World Series celebration faces foreclosure

Kay loves to be critiqued, so it was still a bit too wordy — it’s TV, not radio – but it was up to the moment. Kay receives 4.39 out of 5 clickers.

Meanwhile, fortuitously for Sterling, Judge’s 62nd home run was, “High and far,” which allowed the radio call to get off on the right start. (On 61, Sterling said, “High and far,” even though it was neither.) It is radio, not TV.

On Judge’s 62nd, Sterling, at 84, with a voice that is a medical marvel, went off script and excelled with a particularly nice touch by saying, “Just think of it, three Yankee right fielders: The Babe … hitting 60 in ‘27 … The Jolly Roger … hitting 61 in ‘61 … And, now, Aaron Judge hits his 62nd home run, the most home runs any American Leaguer has hit in a single season….” Not sure anyone has called Maris Jolly Roger, but that’s Sterling. Overall, Sterling had an excellent call, 4.61 clickers.

Clicker Book Club

With the playoffs beginning, Papa Clicker has a baseball book review. Tyler Kepner’s “The Grandest Stage: A history of the World Series” shows his love for the game and his writing skills as he details the 117-year history of the Fall Classic. Kepner is the first author to earn a second review from Papa Clicker, and this book is a winner, receiving 4.5 out of 5 clickers for “The Grandest Stage.”