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Mets broadcast trio becoming like family

While his lookalike, Gary Cohen, is seen on

While his lookalike, Gary Cohen, is seen on SNY covering the Mets. Photo Credit: Handout

For Mets fans of a certain age, Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson forever will be the voices of their youths - a trio that reigned on TV and radio for the franchise's first 17 seasons.

But SNY's Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez are well on their ways to filling the same role for a new generation of fans.

Cohen and Hernandez signed new deals after last season, so now all three are under contract to SNY at least through 2013, which would be their eighth season together.

"I think it's fantastic for all concerned," said Cohen, who unlike his partners grew up listening to the original broadcasters. (The only surviving member is Kiner, who still contributes to SNY.) "The way the players change, managers change, general managers change, in many cases the one thing that remains stable is the announcers."

That theory works only if fans actually like the announcers, and SNY's have received mostly good reviews as they begin their fifth season at 1 p.m. Tuesday when the Mets play the Braves in their exhibition opener.

Said Darling: "We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but together, it kind of makes sense."

Cohen recalled a similar dynamic among Nelson, Kiner and Murphy, although in that era, they rarely were heard together because they divided TV and radio duties. (Speaking of which, Howie Rose brings a long history of his own with the team to Mets radio.)

"Let's call it for what it is," Cohen said. "This really works, and we're all really happy . . . Where are any of us going?"

Cohen noted that in addition to the on-air team, SNY has kept the same well-regarded game production leaders in producer Gregg Picker and director Bill Webb.

Although no one at SNY seriously worried that Hernandez would leave, he did raise the issue publicly after the 2009 season finale.

"It's something that I probably shouldn't have said; it just kind of came out," he said. Now that the deal is done, he is "very thrilled."

"We've been together so long, we know our moods and idiosyncrasies, and it's quite a little comfort level," he said. "We know we've got each others' backs."

Darling also works for TBS on its national package. Cohen could be in the TBS mix, too, perhaps for a wild-card series.

But even more so than Darling and Cohen, Hernandez is irreplaceable, thanks both to his quirky humor and his status as one of the most important players in Mets history.

Thus it was a big story when he tutored first baseman Daniel Murphy last month. Might that put him in an awkward position if Murphy messes up while Hernandez is in the booth?

"I don't believe it compromises me at all or puts me in a tough position," he said. "There is no reason, if he makes a mistake, physical or mental, that I cannot objectively comment on it."

And if the subject of how well Murphy was taught comes up during a game, Hernandez can guess how the conversation will go.

"There would be a little comedy," he said. "We'd joke and have fun with it."

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