David Cone is a popular analyst for Yankees games on the YES Network, and he still will be on that job in 2022. But Yankees fans will have to share him with a national audience on ESPN.
Cone said on Monday that while his schedule is not finalized, he expects to work approximately 50 games on YES, a reduction of nearly half from his recent slate.
That is because he will be busy on 25 weekends as a member of ESPN’s remade "Sunday Night Baseball" team, working with play-by-play man Karl Ravech and analyst Eduardo Perez.
"It means a lot," Cone said of his new job during a video news conference. "I mean, it’s such a great platform. It’s just a star in our industry, to be able to have that kind of exclusivity and to be a part of that crew."
Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez were in the Sunday night booth last season. Rodriguez still is with ESPN, but now he will work only eight Sunday night games on an alternate telecast with YES’ Michael Kay on ESPN2 that ESPN has dubbed "Kay-Rod."
Mark Gross, an ESPN senior vice president, said moving Rodriguez largely was a function of his busy schedule outside ESPN, with business interests that include part ownership of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kay, YES’ lead Yankees play-by-play man, is expected to work his regular number of games for YES in addition to the eight Sunday nights on ESPN2.
Cone, 59, pitched for both the Mets and Yankees, throwing a perfect game for the latter in 1999, won the 1994 AL Cy Young Award with the Royals and has 194 career regular-season victories.
Despite his relatively advanced age, he is interested in and open to modern analytics, something the new trio plans to integrate heavily into its coverage. One thing the three will not do is grouse about the state of the game.
"I think on a lot of the baseball broadcasts around the country, you hear a lot of, ‘The game was better back when I used to play,’ " Cone said. "That’s not the case here. I’m a huge fan of today’s players and how they go about it.
"It’s different than when I played, but that doesn’t mean that one way was better or not. You’re going to see us genuinely get excited about today’s game in a time when that’s really needed, I think, on a national broadcast."
Speaking of things that have changed since Cone’s playing days, he threw 147 pitches for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS in Seattle before manager Buck Showalter relieved him in a game the Yankees lost in 11 innings.
That was Showalter’s last game managing the Yankees. Now he is the Mets’ new manager. (Perez interviewed for the Mets' job after the 2019 season.)
"Since that point in 1995, when I was allowed to throw 147 pitches, he’s changed a lot," Cone said. "Obviously, he’s evolved, and that’s the thing I think people don’t realize about Buck Showalter."
Cone called Showalter "an information hound" who is willing to learn and adapt to changing times — analytically and in player relations.
"The days of criticizing Ken Griffey Jr. for wearing his hat backward taking BP are over," Cone said, referring to a 1994 incident. "Buck understands that. Even though he might have been on the other side of the fence years ago, he’s clearly evolved in that area and understands with today’s player, it’s different.
"It’s a different game, and I applaud it. They should be allowed to show legitimate emotion on the baseball field."
That is the sort of open-mindedness Cone and his partners intend to bring to the telecast.
"You have some people that don't like the numbers or don't want to hear about analytics or don't want to have new theories shoved down their throat in a broadcast," Cone said. "They want to tune in on a Sunday night and watch a game and be entertained and just have the focus on the game.
"But at the same time, we have to understand that side of the game in order to inform the viewer what's going on."