From Gary Cohen with long, lush hair to Keith Hernandez getting a haircut, SNY’s Mets announcers have gotten themselves into something completely different for the coming season, their 12th together.
It is called “garykeithron,” an Instagram account launched on March 4 in which Cohen, Hernandez and Ron Darling — three guys born during the Eisenhower Administration — share images of their behind-the-scenes selves with fans.
Because, well . . . why not?
“When we started [in baseball] we weren’t old enough to know that if we were having a good time we certainly did not want to share it with anyone,” Darling said. “Now we’ve gotten old enough to where our good times are PG-rated and are shareable.”
That is the plan. Nothing is to be posted that SNY would not be comfortable showing on television.
Hence pictures such as Darling in a Little League uniform in 1970, Cohen in less follicly challenged days, Hernandez’s final preseason haircut and one in which Hernandez gets help rescuing his spring training parking pass after it got stuck in his dashboard.
Hernandez said he only was aware of Instagram because of his daughters, but he is enjoying it so far. He likened it to listening to his favorite childhood announcers, the Giants’ Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, discuss their off-work activities on the air.
“You tend to think that [announcers], like baseball players, don’t have normal lives like everyone else,” he said.
Producer Gregg Picker said SNY always looks for ways to further engage fans, and the Instagram account seemed like a natural when his college-age sons, Max, a freshman at Delaware, and Jake, a junior at Muhlenberg, suggested it.
“The guys really bought into it,” said Picker, who has sought to keep their heavy lifting to a minimum. They are asked only to submit pictures that are then posted by senior associate producer John DeMarsico. Voila!
“As popular as they are, we want them to be connected to the fans,” Picker said. ”Any way we can do that I think is a positive for them and for the broadcast overall.”
Picker said the account should get even more interesting once the regular season begins, and complications ensue.
Darling called it “a peek behind the curtain for fans who enjoy the broadcast, but more importantly enjoy the Mets, just to see what it’s like to travel with our merry band of misfits.” He said DeMarsico and SNY’s digital team help with the captions and “word it in such a way that hopefully Keith and I won’t get fired.”
If the Mets perform as fans hope and expect there should be plenty of merriness to be had. There was little tempering of enthusiasm from SNY’s crew about what could be in the offing on the field.
“If they pitch the way they’re capable of, they could have one of those seasons that people will talk about for a long time in the history of the game,” Darling said.
Said Hernandez: “I do feel good about this team. I’ve said before that it’s the best I’ve felt about this team going north under Terry Collins’ regime.”
Hernandez said of the Mets’ young players, “My take is they’re no longer rookies now. They’ve been to the World Series [in 2015], had a taste of it, been to the playoffs last year. This is a team where the young players now feel like they are major leaguers. We’re over that hump . . . I like what I see.”
Cohen said, “What you have here is a unique situation with a bunch of young pitchers who have the potential to be as dominant — I don’t mean necessarily as good, but as dominant — a rotation as has ever existed one through five. The problem is those five have never actually been in rotation together a single turn, ever.
“But if it ever happens that way, we’re looking at the possibility of a long-term phenomenon the likes of which we’ve never really seen before.”
If it all pans out, it will be fun for fans, from the field to Instagram. Winning is more fun for announcers, too.
“I think when you go into a season like this, your ears are a little more perky and you really don’t want to miss a thing because things could happen that you haven’t seen in a while,” Darling said.
“Going into the season I probably never have been more excited than maybe the ’06 season because it was my first. But since then I haven’t been more excited to watch a ballclub play every day.”