There hasn’t been much to cheer about for us Yankee fans this year; we’re scudding along around the .500 mark, and the constant injuries, most seriously to Jorge Posada, have cast a downer on the early season. Of the “Big Three,” only Chamberlain has pitched with consistency. Robi Cano has regressed. Joe Girardi, while fairly progressive in the dugout, has so far been defensive and irritable after losses, and in some cases less than forthcoming with the press corps. That’s been a shock to the beat writers, so used to the steady, open Torre.

But as the .500ish record would suggest, things haven’t been all bad. The beauty of Mariano Rivera’s delivery has been matched by his results—as good as ever. Chien-Ming Wang, 5-0, has been his brilliant, maddening self. Matsui and Abreu are hitting. Melky Cabrera has been, arguably, the team’s best position player all month.

For my money, however, these things have all been overshadowed by the emergence of David Cone in the broadcast booth. Yes, his voice is thin and his face a bit sallow. He both sounds and looks like someone’s kid brother. But the Yanks have never had a more perceptive analyst. The intelligence he demonstrated on the mound has translated directly to the air. Listening to him deconstruct a pitcher’s delivery or a batter’s weakness has been fascinating; his eye for the telling detail is spot-on, and he’s never been self-serving about his own accomplishments, though he’s given ample opportunity in that regard. He’s shown himself well aware and open-minded about sabermetric thinking. So, yes, he’s got analytical skills. But what sets him apart from other broadcasters is his engaging, quirky, oddly charismatic personality. Over the first month of the season, he’s exhibited the same presence on-air that Yankee fans remember from his days playing with the club: honest but positive, authoritative but slyly humorous.

The other night in Chicago, bad-boy A.J. Pierzynski pushed a deep fly off Joba in the 9th, and then crossed in front of the pitcher, giving him the needles. The obvious response would have been to take the bait and get a bit riled up, but instead a bemused Cone noted that the incident didn’t seem to phase Joba, and anyway, Pierzynski’s “kinda funny looking, isn’t he?” He wasn’t being insulting; it was almost a compliment—like that was A.J.’s style—but it effectively took the steam out of the situation in a positive, amusing way. (Earlier in the game he had favored listeners with an anecdote from his own days about heckling from the bench.) The commentary made a situation that could have been aggravating (and was, after the Yankees lost a few batters later), something that was enjoyable. That’s the job of the analyst, to entertain and inform, and thus far, David Cone has been doing both.

17 comments… add one
  • To place only a game out with the difficult (or at least draining) part of the schedule out of the way..
    Even if it’s behind three teams..

    Lar April 29, 2008, 10:50 am
  • Agree with the whole post YF. I’ll certainly take one game out after a horribly tough 3-week schedule. I’d highlight the bullpen generally too for good reviews. They’ve been very good from top to bottom with some ugly LaTroy Hawkins appearances tossed in here and there.
    On Cone, I love his presence. And taken together with O’Neill, the Michael Kay factor is thankfully minimized as much as his ego would allow. I actually listen to the games I am watching now rather than watch with the mute button.

    IronHorse (yf) April 29, 2008, 11:00 am
  • I couldn’t agree more on David Cone. Michael Kay actually stops talking to listen to Cone. O’Neill doesn’t talk enough and i think he could have done a better job of taking Hawkins off the hook about using number 21 (horrible job by us yankee fans on that 1). Personally, i think John Flaherty and David Cone are the best in the booth right now.

    Anthony A April 29, 2008, 11:35 am
  • Agreed that Coney is great…smart analysis, and I definitely like the sly humor and subtle references to some of his erm, wild days as a younger player. Very refreshing.
    I actually really like the YES team. Many find Kay annoying – but he’s basically straight man for the likes of O’Neill, Leiter, Cone, and Singleton, all of whom are pretty enjoyable.
    Also deserving of props is the YES camera crew. When I watched Saturday’s game on Fox, I was appalled at the job their crew did in capturing the action, replay angles, etc. Then I realized I was probably spoiled by the top-notch job on YES pretty much every night.
    There’s certainly a lot to make fun of on YES, and Yankee haters I’m sure have a field day with so e of the pomposity and silliness, but they do a great job on the actual broadcasts.

    Mark (YF) April 29, 2008, 11:41 am
  • Anthony – Yeah, I agree O’Neill had his chance to cut Hawkins some slack on the air…I remember that convo and kept waiting for him to do it (and it seemed like Kay and Coney were waiting for it too), and when he didn’t it seemed pretty awkward. And I did forget about “Flash” Flaherty, who is also pretty good, if a little “buttoned up.” A good analyst, though.

    Mark (YF) April 29, 2008, 11:44 am
  • Nice post YF. Regarding the pen, is it me, or does Farnsworth seem to be coming together with his last few outings? He was throwing a nice cutter last night, I haven’t seen him throw that pitch too often.

    bloodyank78 April 29, 2008, 12:09 pm
  • bloodyank78: Farnsworth has definitely shown improvement so far this season. The cutter is new for him and I think Dave Eiland’s charge to all Yankee pitchers to re-take the inside half of the plate that they all (but Clemens and Mo) seem to have ceded in previous years has worked to Farnsworth’s advantage too.
    I still have had enough Farnsworth let-downs to feel a little like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football that Lucy is about to pull out from under me yet again, but with each strong appearance by him I feel my cautious optimism growing. So much so that I even defended him here this morning on the “Yuck” thread…

    IronHorse (yf) April 29, 2008, 12:20 pm
  • I’m not a fan of O’Neill in the booth, and was likewise disappointed by his response to the Hawkins situation. Flash, to me, is fine, but not especially compelling. I do really enjoy Singleton. My fantasy booth: Cone, Singleton, and a return of Kitty. That would be three generations, three perspectives on the games, and three enjoyable personalities.
    Let me just expand for moment on that Cone comment regarding Pierzynski. It gave you a glimpse of what a great teammate he must have been. I can imagine being on the bench in a situation like that, opposing player does something aggravating, and then when you step up to the plate or into the field, you’re a bit distracted or overeager, maybe take a hack at a pitch you shouldn’t, maybe get a poor jump on a ball. But by taking the sting out of the needling, you can imagine Cone allowing his teammates to go about their business in calm, cool fashion and a positive frame of mind. Does that really happen? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe the comments in the dugout really have no effect on the play on the field—maybe there is no “Cone Effect” between the lines. Certainly you couldn’t measure it. But I will say this. Having someone like that on your team (or in the both of the club you root for) makes the process a lot more enjoyable. And baseball is “about” that process—the slow accumulation of events through the season—as much as it’s about walks and hits and runs. So, no, you can’t measure that value, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a great deal.

    YF April 29, 2008, 12:20 pm
  • We’re better off now than we were last year so that’s the positive I’m taking from this month. MLB record road trip in the crappy weather of April and we are 14-13…works for me. I have to think Cano, Giambi and ARod will come around as the weather warms in typical Bomber fashion.
    I enjoy Cone. Flash is good and I even like O’Neill. (how can we not, he’s Paul O’Neill?) I think I just tune Michael Kay out…Singleton is much better. I miss Bobby in the booth. He is a trip and I hope he gets back soon!

    krueg April 29, 2008, 12:30 pm
  • Al Leiter was very enjoyable as the Fox third man in 2004. The only commentary worth listening to between Buck and McCarver’s dueling inanity.

    Paul SF April 29, 2008, 12:37 pm
  • anyone hear the replay of cone saying IPK got “jerked off” in the bullpen.
    here’s the link….
    kinda funny considering david had an issue with bullpen jerking back in ’89.

    sf rod April 29, 2008, 2:19 pm
  • Elaborate Rod?

    krueg April 29, 2008, 2:23 pm
  • Jim Kaat’s the only I ever really liked, but Cone IS actually pretty good.

    Devine April 29, 2008, 2:34 pm
  • Krueg, Cone was sued by three women in 1992 who said they saw him enjoying his time in the bullpen a little too much…

    Paul SF April 29, 2008, 3:07 pm
  • Also, Rod’s link has already gotten pulled the MLB copyright police.

    Paul SF April 29, 2008, 3:08 pm
  • looks like that video has been jerked from the that page. try this one….
    it was the april 9th game in KC where kennedy came in late in the game after a couple of rain delays.
    as for the ’89 inappropriateness, cone was caught jerking around in the bullpen……”Three women had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Cone, claiming he exposed himself to them while he was in the bullpen during a 1989 game at Shea.”

    sf rod April 29, 2008, 3:18 pm
  • Are you serious??? That is too funny…I mean appalling and illegal.

    krueg April 29, 2008, 4:01 pm

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