Pete Rose worked the postseason studio desk for Fox the past two years. In his first season he was awkward and, at times, the butt of jokes. He took a big step forward last year, providing solid analysis and offering some more self-awareness and humor all while demonstrating some nice chemistry with fellow ex-ballplayer Alex Rodriguez.
His tenure as a studio guy came to an end in August, however, as allegations arose that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor back in the 1970s. Now Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated reports that Fox is replacing Rose with SNY analyst Keith Hernandez. David Ortiz will also provide postseason work. Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez and host Kevin Burkhardt will all return.
Hernandez is one of the best analysts in the game. His hallmark is a laid-back demeanor punctuated with sharp opinions which, unlike the work of a lot of his counterparts, make it clear that he does not care if the players he talks about get their feathers ruffled. He likewise refreshingly assumes that the fan knows a little bit rather than acting like we’ve never seen a baseball game. There is no over-explanation and talking to hear himself talk like you hear with so many other guys in his role. How that translates to the studio, as opposed to the booth during games, is an open question, but I assume he’ll be excellent in the role.
Ortiz is more of an unknown quantity as a broadcaster, of course. If he’s as frank as he could often be in interviews as a player it will be great (note: Fox, you want him on a five second delay for the F-bombs). If he plays the “all of these guys are great” game that a lot of green, former players do when they first start with TV work — or as Frank Thomas still does, all these years later — it’ll obviously be less compelling. We’ll see.
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.