This weekend’s question was - Who is the better TV Play By Play broadcaster, the Mets’ Gary Cohen or the Yankees’ Michael Kay.
In our nationwide, unscientific poll, you chose Cohen over Kay 60% to 40%.
I asked for some input, specifically relating to the following criteria -
How do you factor in:
- Voice Quality
- Broadcast Partners
Rather than a full dissertation on the role and duties of a play by play broadcaster, here are my thoughts on these points.
In terms of knowledge, I don’t think you can argue that each of these guys lives and dies with his club. They each grew up watching and rooting for the team for which he now works. Kay knows the Yankees extremely well, and Cohen’s knowledge of Mets history is borderline encyclopedic.
As for enthusiasm, Kay is certainly the more overtly enthusiastic of the two. Especially if you measure simply by voice elevation, volume, etc. In fact, many would argue that this is a negative in his style, going overboard with his Pinstripe enthusiasm and catch phrases.
These two broadcast veterans have paid their dues. After Fordham, Kay worked up the newspaper reporting ranks before hopping over to the radio airwaves. He held a variety of TV positions and eventually moved from radio to the YES Network. I think he is terrific as a daytime talk-show host, which allows him to showcase his deep and passionate knowledge in all areas of sports. He is also one of the best interviewers in the country.
Cohen excelled calling games in the minor leagues, not to mention years broadcasting locally and nationally - college basketball, Olympic hockey, and much more. He’s been a consummate pro, calling a variety of spots for a long time.
I don’t think you can equate Kay’s raspy voice to the clear pipes of Gary Cohen. I’ve never believed, by the way, that this should be one of the top criteria in judging a broadcaster. Simply put, however, Cohen was blessed with a terrific, clear broadcasting voice. Kay’s can become grating at times.
Both of these TV broadcasters did well on radio, with descriptive styles that painted the word picture for the listener. Television is a different medium, where less is often more. I see Kay often doing radio play by play on TV, using too many descriptive words when less will do. Cohen occasionally does the same. After a longtime career in radio, these habits can become ingrained.
When it comes to broadcast partners, it is an advantage to work consistently with the same team. In Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, Gary Cohen has two regular counterparts with which to banter and develop on-air chemistry. Michael Kay has a larger cast of characters, from David Cone and Ken Singleton to Al Leiter, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill. In my estimation, however, he handles the revolving booth quite well. Both men excel at setting their color partners up to succeed and share their vast experiences with the viewer. Both have fun and keep the focus where it belongs - on the field - rather than inserting themselves into the story.
In conclusion, both of these broadcasters have attributes that make them well liked and respected by fans and colleagues. Kay is a Yankee fan through and through, and it comes across on the air. Gary Cohen is the more classic, Marty Glickman-like TV play by play guy. He very rarely has a verbal flub. He maintains a steady even-handedness, and he hardly ever gets overly riled up.
Either way you call it, New York baseball fans have two of the very best in the business.