TODAY'S PAPER
52° Good Afternoon
52° Good Afternoon
SportsColumnistsSteve Zipay

Give Hernandez a Shot at Radio Job

Continuity.

That's what you'll hear in the post-Bob Murphy era on WFAN's Mets

broadcasts.

Not top radio play-by-play voice Gary Cohen working with a different

partner every few days as has been the case in recent seasons. Slowed by

ailments and age, Hall of Famer Murphy had called fewer and fewer games and

WFAN and the Mets were only too happy to accommodate him.

With Murphy, 79, calling his final games this weekend, that page will be

turned. WFAN program director Mark Chernoff "wants to build a new team to do

the games for a lot of years." He wants more chemistry. His philosophy,

Chernoff says, "is Gary and blank for 162 games." Fine idea.

Just fill in the blank with the right person.

Chernoff has received lots of tapes and phone calls from people expressing

interest in the job since Murphy announced his retirement in July.

"Nobody has any inside track," Chernoff said yesterday. A New York native

or someone who understands the city and its sports mania would have an edge,

though. "Having been here always helps," Chernoff said.

He's met with Jon Sciambi, 33, a Regis High School grad whom he's known for

years and calls Florida Marlins games. Ted Robinson and Howie Rose are also in

the mix.

Nothing against those fellows, but here's what WFAN and the Mets should do:

Offer Keith Hernandez the job.

First, I generally prefer a former player or coach as an analyst, rather

than having two announcers by trade, swapping play by play and commentary.

Raise your hand if you think the John Sterling/Charley Steiner partnership has

worked out all that great.

Second, Hernandez has improved and become more comfortable in his TV

stints, although he hasn't totally turned the corner. So he backpedaled on his

dot-com gaffe last year, when he asserted that the Mets had no heart.

Everybody's allowed a mulligan.

Hernandez, 49, knows hitting, defense and strategy, has a good voice and a

passion for the game, will leave the play by play to Cohen, and as the captain

of the Mets' 1986 championship team, is a link to the glorious past.

The Mets would have to approve whomever Chernoff anoints. Remember, the

Mets wanted Tim McCarver out and Tom Seaver in. Done.

Gary Thorne was handed his walking papers, as well. But the Mets shouldn't

block Hernandez if he wants the job.

Hernandez may well prefer his present TV role to one that requires major

travel and a commitment to broadcasting. Radio may just not be glamorous

enough, and his TV presence, which steadily has increased since 2001, may grow

further if Robinson or Rose moves to WFAN full time.

But one good thing about radio: If the Mets ever advance to the postseason

again, the radio team continues to broadcast games through October. The local

TV guys are dumped when the network coverage moves in.

Another needed adjustment might occur, as well. If Robinson, Rose,

Hernandez or another member of the current TV/radio crew shifts to become

Cohen's partner, that role at MSG and FSNY wouldn't be filled because there are

too many announcers shuffling around the airwaves.

All MSG executive vice president Mike McCarthy will say is that he expects

everybody back and is happy with the group.

McCarthy was being diplomatic. I don't always have to be. The opportunity

is here to make a statement to Mets fans who follow the team on radio.

Sign a former player who can complement Cohen. Someone who can offer

different insights rather than a second play-by-play voice.

Someone like a Joe Magrane, Alan Ashby, Mike Krukow or Paul Splittorff, all

of whom provide their insider knowledge to local broadcasts across the country.

Someone like Keith Hernandez.

New York Sports