Players aren't the only ones on the pitch clock. Announcers are, too.
Pitchers and batters have spent spring training adjusting to baseball’s new pitch-clock rhythm. But they are not the only ones who must acclimate.
Announcers, too, will encounter changes large and small.
For example: In a sport that traditionally has allowed for expansive commentary and storytelling, well, not so much anymore. That might not be a bad thing.
“The job has gotten more difficult over the last few years because of all the dead time in the game,” SNY’s Gary Cohen told Newsday. “I think we've had to work a lot harder to come up with fresh stuff.
“I think the new rules this year are going to change things considerably. We're not going to have as much spare time to gab. I think we're going to have to keep it a little tighter.”
Cohen said the rhythm of spring games reminds him of what it was like when he began on Mets radio in 1989.
He was anti-pitch clock until about five years ago, when he came to see the game was suffering because of its ever-slowing pace of play.
“Players have more information to process, so they took more time to think it through, whether it's the hitter or the pitcher,” Cohen said. “Now they're going to have to condense those thoughts and I think the game will be much better for it.”
The announcing booth will be right there with them.
“We won't be able to have some of the more lengthy conversations we've had in the past,” Cohen said. “We'll have to have those same conversations but maybe edit ourselves a little more.”
Howie Rose, the lead Mets radio announcer for WCBS-AM, told Newsday, “With the rules changes, it’s a matter of saying, OK, look, if I've got this story to tell I’m either going have to be more succinct than I might have been last year or don't tell it at all. Or just give a CliffsNotes version.”
Rose said the countdown of the pitch clock will be an added element for radio announcers to describe, since unlike on TV, fans cannot see it for themselves.
He said at times he has felt like Marv Albert as he counted down the clock.
“When you're calling the game, you're not only calling the play now, you're calling the cadence of the pitcher and hitter,” he said. “It requires a lot of concentration.
“But that concentration is something I'm delighted to utilize at the expense of something we don't have to do anymore, which is report those ridiculous changes pitch by pitch (for fielding shifts) . . . We don't have to deal with that nonsense anymore.”
Gary, Keith and Ron to set a new mark
When Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling call their first regular-season game for SNY, they will set a new longevity mark for Mets announcing teams.
This will be the trio’s 18th season together, surpassing the 17 of the original group of Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson.
“It’s incomprehensible,” Cohen said. “As somebody who grew up listening to Lindsey, Ralph and Bob and for whom that was the soundtrack of my summer and was the sound of Mets baseball for their first decade-and-three quarters, it's beyond belief that that's even possible.
“Those guys were in a class by themselves. They established what it meant to be a Mets broadcaster. They also handled all the radio and TV, just the three of them, which is phenomenal. To be even mentioned in the same breath is stunning to me, much less surpassing them.”
Howie Rose hopes to mentor new partners
Howie Rose, 69, is older than the combined ages of his two new under-30 Mets radio partners, Keith Raad and Patrick McCarthy, which is fine with him.
Perhaps not the part about being old, but rather the part about having a chance to help young talent.
“I’m very much in the camp of fulfilling the obligation that I think everybody of my generation now in this business has, which is to pay it forward,” Rose said. “There are very few things I enjoy about this business any more than mentoring.”
Rose said he is proud of his former partner, Wayne Randazzo, who left for a TV job on Angels games. Now he will restart new partnerships from scratch.
“The challenge of seeing young broadcasters improve is one I absolutely love,” he said. “My only concerns about my job are doing it to the standard which I have to this point, and I want them to be ready in case such time comes where I can't anymore and it's time to walk away. So, yeah, that motivates me.”
Raad will be Rose’s primary partner, with McCarthy filling in for games Rose skips, mostly on road trips to the West.
“One thing I've told them is, don't judge yourself or analyze yourself daily,” Rose said. “Do it weekly or biweekly or even monthly, because you're going to sound better on May 1 than you do on April 1.
“It's just a fact of life the way this stuff works when you're breaking in. I'm excited as can be about the upside for both of them. I think they've got huge upside.”
The voices behind baseball microphones this season (subject to change)
Radio: WCBS (880 AM) -- Howie Rose, Keith Raad, Patrick McCarthy
TV: SNY/PIX11 -- Play-by-play, Gary Cohen; analysts, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez; reporter, Steve Gelbs
Spanish-language radio: WEPN (1050 AM) -- Max Perez Jimenez, Nestor Rosario.
Radio: WFAN (660 AM/101.9 FM) -- John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, Justin Shackil
TV: YES/Prime Video -- Play-by-play, Michael Kay, Ryan Ruocco; analysts, David Cone, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill, Jeff Nelson; reporters, Meredith Marakovits, Justin Shackil
Spanish-language radio: WADO (1280 AM) -- Rickie Ricardo
Sunday Night Baseball -- Play-by-play, Karl Ravech; analysts, David Cone, Eduardo Perez; reporter, Buster Olney
Saturday baseball -- Play-by-play Joe Davis; analyst, John Smoltz
WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY
Tuesday baseball -- Play-by-play, Brian Anderson, Bob Costas; analysts, Ron Darling, Jeff Francoeur
Friday night baseball -- Play-by-play, Wayne Randazzo; analysts, Dontrelle Willis and Ryan Spilborghs; sideline reporters, Heidi Watney and Tricia Whitaker
Sunday baseball -- Play-by-play, Jason Benetti; analyst, local announcers.