Is David Cone Baseball’s Best Analyst?

In January of 2008, when we learned that Cone would be joining the YES booth, this is what we wrote:

the job seems a natural for him. As a player and de facto team spokesman, Cone's candor and essential even-handedness was something all sensible fans appreciated. He had an intuitive grasp of the "game" between media and athlete—he understood what each of those parties needed to practice their professions—and was gifted in satisfying all parties without resorting to the constant stream of cliches we expect from both sides of that equation. Cone was also the Yankees player rep, and so should give fans a more nuanced picture of the relations between union and ownership, and what they've begot. Don't expect a firebrand. Just a bit of honesty. Welcome back.

Some athletes have trouble making the switch to the booth comfortably (see: Paul O'Neill), but not Cone. By late April, he already seemed at home, as we noted:

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. 

Listening to Cone hold-up Michael Kay in Toronto this past weekend, I'm prepared to answer my titular question and state that Cone is now the premier color man in the game, or at the very least on a par with the absolute best in the business. He does exceptional preparation work, freely uses advanced metrics, and has an eye for telling details that an ordinary fan (or his broadcast partner) might easily miss. He's terrific when it comes to deconstructing a play or discussing tactics (even if one is not always in alignment with him.) He knows the business of the game as well as anyone, and he is able to both be critical and honest while also in sympathy with the players on the field. Mainly, and above all, he's likable—relentlessly optimistic, a natural leader who knows just how to tweek his partners—and makes the game a joy. Those skills were on full display this weekend, in an essentially meaningless series against a scuffling team. Cone made watching a pleasure, despite the circumstances. It's nice to have him back.

43 replies on “Is David Cone Baseball’s Best Analyst?”

I have to say, I absolutely love it when Cone is in the booth. He’s so smart about the game, especially pitching, and he’s funny and keeps the game fresh.
Face it, during 162 games there can be boring stretches. Not when Coney’s around.

I love the guy. I like the whole YES crew on the whole, but Coney is definitely the best. Hands down.

Coney always inserts one dirty joke into each broadcast. Coney is the man.
The pitcher “jerking off” the catcher’s signals… “Hot naked yoga” with Michael Kay from a few days ago…

I couldn’t believe Cone actually said ‘hot naked yoga’. I think Michael Kay couldn’t believe it as well.

Walk, 1st and 2nd, 1 out…i cannot believe how terrible Burnett is. Complete mental case.

One of the easiest 1-2-3 innings I have ever seen…great job boys. Sonnanstine sure is intimidating, huh???

Molina singles through the middle…BASES LOADED!!!! COME ON CAPTAIN CLUTCH!!!! 0 OUTS!!!!

I’d really like Jeter to get 1 or 2 hits tonight. Am going to the game tomorrow and if he’s less than 3 hits away from tying and breaking the record I figure I’ve got a good chance to see something exciting.

And Jeter lines out. If the game stays this out of hand, Jeter will be pulled by the 7th. Oh well, focus on the win – that is, if AJ can not implode.

OK, based on Jeter’s 0-for across the doubleheader I’ve arranged childcare for Wed night so I can hit that game too if Jeter doesn’t break the record tomorrow. After that, the tug of parental duty and budget kick in and I’ll just have to catch it on tv.

Going to bed before the game ends, but barring a major collapse, the numbers…
AL East Magic Number: 16
Playoff Berth Magic Number: 14

By far the most important thing about today: AJ Burnett had a great outing. Apart from 2 doubles in the first inning, he was great. Notwithstanding the fact that Pena was not in the line-up, he really needed that. If it’s the start of him returning to strong form for the remainder of the season then he won’t have to worry about Pettitte taking his slot in October.

Was at the game. Burnett is infuriating to watch. But once the Yanks put up eight runs, I knew it would be a cake walk. Yankee Stadium isn’t the bandbox that Fenway is.
No way they throw the two southpaws back-to-back. Burnett gets Game 2 at home, especially since his ERA is almost two runs lower there. If they’ve lost Game 1, that’s a scary thought. Pettitte is also pitching better on the road.
This team will obviously go as far as Burnett takes them. And how many years has he been the league? It shouldn’t matter who the receiver is. Grow up, meathead.

I’m pretty sure they’ll go as far as their number 1 pitcher takes them. Burnett pitching well, to me, is an unlikely luxury. Pettitte is a fine number three, although I would rather have him pitch twice than Burnett pitch twice, but at least in the division series Burnett would pitch at home both times.

Sabathia versus Verlander: Who do you put your money on? Down one game, how do you feel about Burnett in Game 2?
We have a good idea what we’ll get from CC and Pettitte. We have no idea what we’ll get from Burnett and Joba.
The #2 only goes once in the ALDS, unless you want them to start pitchers on short rest?

CC is no lock when it comes to October ball. His record is shaky there though that’s based on very small samples size. The only guys in the Yanks rotation and pen who are unquestionably able to handle October pressure are Andy and Mo. I have faith in CC, esp given how he is pitching in this homestretch and given that he won’t be called upon on short rest just to get the Yanks in (unlike last year for him), but Burnett is a much bigger question mark. You have to be concerned with his mental toughness. He has a fairly good record of pitching well in high-pressure mid-season games so I don’t think it is so much about the pressure of the moment for him as it is how he handles a hiccup during the game. An inning of lost focus complete with 2-4 runs scored seems a regular thing for him and that is not cool.

i share your concern IH…i just posted on another thread that the yanks strike me as a team built for the regular season…sure that can carry over into the post season…but with the exception of andy, mo, jeter, posada, and joe g, i don’t see a lot of guys with positive post-season experience on our team…joe’s biggest challenge will be getting the guy’s with more fragile psyches to treat the playoff games the same as they would any other…there’s a big difference between having a sense of urgency and panic…i like the one game at time approach this team has, even when they weren’t going well, but one implosion by [not picking on them] burnett or cc could cost us big time…

How can the Yankees possibly strike ANYONE as a team ‘built for the regular season’?
They have a dynamite back end of the bullpen with Hughes and Rivera. Robertson is very, very good but is a rookie, and the rest of the middle relief is iffy. The rotation has one of the best pitchers in the game, backed by a very solid Andy Pettitte and a boom-or-bust AJ Burnett. Joba is a liability, and who knows who the 5th starter really is. Apparently offense matters very little in the postseason, so we won’t look at that.
The Yankees are a very top-heavy pitching team. In the postseason, we won’t see Brian Bruney or Albaladejo come in an important spot of the game. Instead, we’ll see Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera nearly every single game, if it’s close. We won’t have Sergio Mitre giving up hit after hit, and Joba probably won’t even start a game in the first round, while Sabathia can start two. All of the Yankees’ high-end pitchers have very good to excellent strikeout rates.
The Yankees are exactly the kind of team that’s ‘built for the postseason’. More, I think, than any other AL contending team.

Except for one thing, Andrew: CC’s postseason resume is awful. It could change, mind you. But that is one reason for concern. And it is a very good reason.
That offense, however, well …

Oh puh-lease. Beckett’s postseason resume was spotless, then he singlehandedly cost the Red Sox a trip to the WS. Anything and everything is possible in a short series. You just have chances of things happening, and the chances of Sabathia pitching lights-out baseball are at or higher than any starter on an AL contending team. If you actually think CC Sabathia will pitch differently in the postseason based on a handful of starts at the end of seasons where he was ridden like a rented mule, your posts belong on SOSH or LoHud.

Andrew, do you overreact to everything? You remind me of pre-2004 Red Sox fans. Is there anything you DON’T rationalize?
“Anything and everything is possible in a short series.”
Yes. YES! That’s exactly my point.
There are reasons to fear the Yankees and there are reasons to see vulnerabilities. The positives are obvious: Since about, what, June 1, the Yankees have been worldbeaters. But … Oh, fuck it. Why do I fucking bother?
You win, Andrew. The Yankees are indomitable. They are flawless and wartless. Everyone else should surrender to the Yankees. Don’t even try.
Oh, wait. Except …
“Anything and everything is possible in a short series.”

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