It was the fifth inning of a mid-week afternoon  game between the Rays and Mets at Citi Field earlier this season.

As Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez discussed Rays pitcher Taj Bradley’s rookie season, a statistical comparison came up that linked him to former Giants great Juan Marichal when he was a rookie in 1960.

Cohen and Hernandez soon veered off into a discussion of the long-ago pitcher’s style, including his famous high leg kick, likely baffling most SNY viewers under 60.

Then, out of nowhere there appeared a full-screen graphic with Marichal’s career statistics and highlights, and later a picture of his unique delivery.

Where the heck did that come from?

It came from the kind of behind-the-scenes work that goes into a telecast such as SNY’s Mets coverage or YES’ for the Yankees.

To gain insight into the process, Newsday recently spent  an afternoon in SNY’s production truck in a lot beyond the outfield wall at Citi Field.

Later, producer Gregg Picker and director John DeMarsico helped deconstruct what had unfolded.

Gregg Picker, left, has been SNY's producer on Mets games...

Gregg Picker, left, has been SNY's producer on Mets games since the network began in 2006, and John DeMarsico began as an intern in 2009 and became director in 2020. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Is there a file for Bobby Pfeil?

Associate producer Tom Rochlin had time on his hands during the pandemic, so naturally he read the media guides of the other 29 MLB teams.

He also over time has compiled an archive of more than 600 graphic pages highlighting various players’ careers.

Marichal is a household name compared to some. With three announcers in their 60s in Cohen, Hernandez and Ron Darling, one never knows in what direction the conversation might travel, but often it involves travel into the past.

Rochlin always is prepared.

“Unbelievable,” DeMarsico said. “He's such a talented guy. I don't know that he sleeps or has much of a social life, because he spends his whole time researching and building graphics for any random person that might come up over the course of a broadcast.”

DeMarsico, 36, added, “Tommy's a few years younger than me. We'll look at each other and go, ‘Who the hell is that?’ . . . Keith can bring up anybody.”

Picker said, “We will name somebody incredibly obscure and next thing you know he will pop that graphic up. We get very concerned about Tommy and his work / life balance when that happens.”

An homage to De Palma

Inside the SNY production truck: The 'DePalma' screen effect Credit: Newsday/Mark LaMonica

The score was tied in the sixth when Pete Alonso came to bat against Rays pitcher Zack Littell.

DeMarsico ordered up an image that showed Alonso in closeup on the left of the screen and Littell looking in from the mound on the right.

But rather than a line serving as a typical split-screen divider between them, there was a blurred area that had the effect of blending the two shots.

“I call that ‘De Palma,’ based on [famed film director] Brian De Palma,” DeMarsico said. “One of his cinematic techniques is he uses a split diopter lens.”

The particulars are technical, but basically it allows for integrating images, with “a subtle little blur in the middle.”

“So I've sort of adapted that as a way to build tension and do pitcher / batter stuff that way,” said DeMarsico, who has been lead director for SNY since 2020.

“It’s sort of my visual cue to the audience to say, ‘Hey, pay attention; this could be a moment,’ ” he said. “It's my way of jarring the viewer out of the seat a little bit and getting them to pay attention to the screen and get off their cell phones.”

DeMarsico, whose father, John, grew up in Patchogue, was a film studies major at North Carolina State and has brought a cinematic touch to SNY.

Last August, SNY’s artistic, multi-shot video of Edwin Diaz’s entrance from the bullpen between innings went viral.


The Mets loaded the bases in the first inning, but rather than show each runner individually, as is customary, DeMarsico ordered up a shot of all three at once.

The images appeared in a fan-like effect, which eventually folded into itself.

In this case, the impetus for the artsy shot was not artistic. It was pragmatic, one of the adjustments production teams have had to make in the pitch clock era.

Inside the SNY production truck Credit: Newsday/Mark LaMonica

DeMarsico said a camera operator came up with the idea as a way of doing in one shot what usually took three.

While the pitch clock widely has been hailed as an improvement to the game, it has been a challenge for announcers and production teams.

“Those extra 30 minutes the pitch clock is saving every game, those 30 minutes are kind of where SNY shines,” DeMarsico said, “whether it be the guys in the booth or us down in the truck doing our thing.

“It’s that little extra, whether it be a conversation, a cool graphic, a cool shot.”

During that May 18 game, SNY was showing a Kodai Senga pitch sequence from the night before when it had to switch back to live action, leading DeMarsico to utter some unprintable words in frustration about the clock.

Take it home, Kai

When Alonso homered in the fourth, DeMarsico began yelling “Got it! Got it!” when the ball was hit. Was he talking about a camera shot? Was he reacting as an excited Mets fan?


Once he sensed the ball would be over the fence, it was his way of telling handheld camera operator Kai Stendel to leave the visiting bench camera well and get on the field to follow Alonso.

“The worst thing you can do is have a handheld camera on the field and the ball doesn't go out and he’s on the field during play,” DeMarsico said.

DeMarsico called Kai’s father, Pete, “the greatest handheld camera operator who's ever covered a sporting event.”

Pete usually operates from the first-base side, but with Kai filling in that day DeMarsico stationed him on the third-base side to try something new.

It resulted in Stendel meeting Alonso at third base and following him down the line to home plate as DeMarsico shouted, “Go with him, Kai! Go with him, baby! Take him home!”

“I was debating whether or not to take another cut before getting back to the handheld, but the shot was so good, and he was moving,” DeMarsico said. “He was keeping up with him so well.”

Inside the SNY production truck Credit: Newsday/Mark LaMonica

Camera operators who work regularly for SNY and YES tend to be among those chosen for national events, up to and including the World Series.

“It’s magical what these guys can capture," DeMarsico said. "It's the flair they bring to their craft. It's that extra sparkle that separates our broadcasts and the Yankees broadcast from all the other broadcasts out there.”

Candid cameras

SNY sends its core group of two producers and two directors on the road, and has five cameras under its control, supplemented by feeds from the home TV crew.

But at Citi Field, it deploys 20 cameras operated by a total of 11 people. 

  • Total cameras used: 20
    • Stationary (manned): 8
    • Stationary (unmanned): 7
    • Robotic: 4
    • Handheld: 1
  • Total camera operators: 11
    • Stationary: 8
    • Robotic: 2
    • Handheld: 1

Buttoned up

From left, producer Gregg Picker, director John DeMarsico and technical director Seth...

From left, producer Gregg Picker, director John DeMarsico and technical director Seth Zwiebel. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

At home, the truck is a mini-village of workers, before them a dizzying array of video screens.

The front row has three occupants. Picker, who has been in charge since Day One of SNY in 2006, is akin to a head coach, overseeing the operation. He is on the left.

DeMarsico, as the director, is the equivalent of the quarterback, in charge of real-time decisions about which cameras to call upon. He is in the middle.

To the right sits the technical director, before him a large, complex board full of more than 500 buttons and a half-dozen or so colors of lights and other seemingly incomprehensible geegaws.

Is it as complicated as it looks?

“No, no, no," DeMarsico said. "It’s actually more complicated. What those guys do, I could never do. Sometimes I feel like he's able to put the camera shots up on the screen before they leave my mouth. That's how fast they are.”

DeMarsico calls for the shots, but the technical director, in this case Seth Zwiebel, pushes the buttons that make them happen.

“That position is the true magician of the broadcast,” the director said.

Rochlin sits behind Picker and DeMarsico with two other graphics experts. In a separate room to their right, associate director Ed Wahrman oversees another group that handles video replays.

Picker said a total of 16 or 17 people work in the home truck.

“Our strength is really in our group as a collective unit,” Picker said. “That's the takeaway from me, doing this for 18 years, how important it is to be together.”

Bug’s life

Mike Levinson also writes the notes that drop down from...

Mike Levinson also writes the notes that drop down from the scorebug on your screen during a game. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The graphics one sees on their screens are a mixture of automated and manual. That includes, for example, the scoreboard “bug” in the corner of the screen, for which baserunners are manually updated in the truck.

Those player statistics that appear when a batter comes to the plate for each at-bat? The basics are updated automatically.

On-screen lineups are updated automatically but also can be edited manually. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

“The graphics box is connected to the internet and we pay for a service that updates all of the graphics to keep them in real time,” DeMarsico said.

“It takes a step out of the graphics guy’s plate so he's able to do more big-picture stuff rather than update the minuscule stats after every at-bat.”

SNY was one of the last regional sports networks to use the strike zone box, but now everyone does, using shared technology from MLB PitchCast.

“It’s not something I love, but it has become an industry standard,” DeMarsico said. “A lot of people that wear suits in offices really love it, so I have no choice.”

Ready, aim, focus

As good as SNY’s camera operators are, they do not focus their own cameras as you would at home. That is done by the video technician in the truck.

Why? Because with cameras in varied locations and varied lighting conditions, there must be a central authority.

Inside the SNY production truck during a New York Mets...

Inside the SNY production truck during a New York Mets game at Citi Field. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

“Think of it as an Instagram filter for the camera,” DeMarsico said. “During sunny days when there's clouds going in and out, the amount of light hitting the field changes, so he has to open up the lenses when it's darker and close them a little bit when it's lighter. It's all very technical.

“Those guys are the unsung heroes of the broadcast, because the shots are one thing that camera guys actually capture, but whether or not they look good on the air is up to those video technicians.”

Calm in eye of storm

One striking aspect of the vibe in the truck is the relative calmness, given the pressure of live television.

The nature of baseball is part of it. Football trucks tend to be more intense, like the sport itself. But it also is about the tone Picker sets and the personalities involved.

Picker and DeMarsico are not big on pregame meetings that burn out the crew before the game even begins. The mood is one of quiet confidence.

“That all starts with Gregg,” said DeMarsico, who started at SNY as an intern in 2009. “Gregg sets the tone for the rest of the crew.”

It’s a team sport

From left, associate director Eddie Wahrman, producer Gregg Picker, director...

From left, associate director Eddie Wahrman, producer Gregg Picker, director John DeMarsico and graphics producer Tommy Rochlin outside the SNY production truck at Citi Field before a recent Mets game. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The marathon season can test the patience of everyone, from the clubhouse to the production truck. It is a grind, even if it is just a game.

Picker said SNY has been lucky in that regard.

“We’re very fortunate to have personalities that mesh,” he said. “I think we have a lot of opinionated people and a lot of personality on both our announce group and our production group.

“But what we also have, which is really important, is we have a lot of respect for one another. When our opinion is not shared by someone else for the group, we try to listen.”

Picker also credits the announcers, who are the public faces of the operation. Cohen, as the play-by-play man, is particularly crucial to making it all work.

“He's phenomenal at what he does,” Picker said. “He sets a bar for the other guys in terms of preparation.

“It would take a lot for me to spring something on him that he does not know. So that's of incredible benefit for a producer and a director. He can handle anything.”

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