SNY To Celebrate the Mets’ 50th Anniversary All Season Long
This season, the New York Mets will celebrate their 50th anniversary with gala events in New York City, alumni gatherings at Citi Field, and comprehensive anniversary coverage on the franchise’s television home, SportsNet New York (SNY).
“We’re really proud to be able to kick off our regular season live on April 5 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets,” says Curt Gowdy Jr., SVP/executive producer, SNY. “During the season, we’ll be celebrating that 50 years during our broadcast, but also, in particular, we’ll have two documentary specials, two different programs celebrating the great history of the New York Mets.”
The first of the two documentaries, 50 Greatest Mets Players, will chronicle the best players in club history, based on votes submitted by SNY’s panel of broadcasters and local columnists. The 60-minute program, a collaboration with MLB Productions, will air in May.
“We have some really unique historical footage that is also combined with interviews with former players [and] some of the top 50 greatest Mets,” says Gowdy, “as well as testimonials by members of the media [who] have followed the Mets over the years.”
SNY will pay tribute to the Mets’ greatest players at a gala event at the 92nd Street Y on June 17, where the Mets’ All-Time Team will be announced. The network will tape the show live and air the event the following week. Once again, a panel comprising broadcasters and local writers will discuss and select the best Mets players in team history at every position.
Throughout the season, the New York Mets will celebrate the anniversary with special booth guests, on-field presentations, video flashbacks, and more.
“There’ll be a lot of past Mets that will be visiting Citi Field [during] home stands,” says Gowdy, “and I think our viewers will get a great sense of remembering the past of the Mets by seeing these past stars on our air and in the ballpark.”
Producing an Amazin’ Broadcast
SNY will deploy a range of Sony cameras, including six hard cameras, two handhelds, a super-slow-mo, and four robotic cameras. This season, the regional sports network will introduce an Inertia Unlimited X-Mo v641 to the complement.
Gowdy and his production crew plan to experiment with framing and frame rates.
“If we [capture] a swing, we may use [the camera] at 800 frames per second,” he explains. “If it is a defensive play, whether it’s in the infield or outfield, we may dial it back down to 480 or 500 frames per second. We’re really excited about this new X-Mo v641.”
On Opening Day, SNY will broadcast a special, 90-minute pregame show live from a large stage constructed at Citi Field, as well as a postgame show. The network will cover the productions with three hard cameras and a jib.
In addition to the camera complement, SNY has a number of production tools at its disposal, including SMT Visual Data Intelligence’s freeze camera, which allows the network to zoom in on questionable calls, close plays at the bag, and disputed homeruns; Elias Sports Bureau ScorePAD; and Sportvision radar feeds. True Vision Graphics will provide the scorebug.
SNY will continue to experiment with audio enhancement and wireless-microphone placement. In the past, the network has placed wireless mics in the base paths and on the players, among other locations. This season, Gowdy’s team is considering adding enhanced audio to the outfield walls.
“We have had great cooperation and access every year from the New York Mets, and we bring that in [through] live audio enhancement [and] live in-game interviews with players and [the] manager during the course of our broadcast,” says Gowdy. “One of the things that we did last year, which was very unique for any baseball network, is interview players live in the game.”
Meet the Mets (Broadcasters)
SNY, now in its sixth season as the official television home of the Mets, will welcome back Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Cohen to the broadcast booth.
“They’ll be up [in the broadcast booth] all season long, and the one key thing about this group is, it’s a consistent group,” says Gowdy, noting that field reporter Kevin Burkhardt is also in the mix. “These are the four main people that come into your living room night in and day out. I think our viewers have a very close affinity to this broadcast team, not only because Keith and Ron are former stars with the team but [the four broadcasters] have developed a tremendous chemistry over the years.”
Ralph Kiner, a member of the Mets broadcast team since the team’s inception in 1962, will return to the booth as a contributing analyst. Lead studio analyst Bob Ojeda and host Chris Carlin will anchor Pepsi Max Mets Pre Game Live as well as W.B. Mason Post Game Live, which are broadcast from SNY’s street-level studio in midtown Manhattan.
Behind the scenes, Gregg Picker will produce and Bill Webb will direct SNY’s Mets coverage all season.
“Our philosophy, really, is to educate, enlighten, and entertain every single night,” says Gowdy. “I think that’s what makes our broadcast so successful from the truck all the way up to the booth.”
Unusual Location, Unique Perspective
SNY’s production crew plans to continue to experiment with unique positions throughout Citi Field for its on-air analysts.
“Greg Picker and Bill Webb like to move Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling down around the playing field to get their perspective on the game,” says Gowdy. “It may be at the low first side or the low third side, they may be in the right-field corner, they may be in the left-field corner, they might be right behind home plate. It’s just another unique way that our analysts are able to expand their analysis of the game.”
Last season, all three broadcasters left the broadcast booth to call the game from the Pepsi Porch. Although it wasn’t the first time that Mets talent has broadcast a game from an unusual location — in 1965, Lindsey Nelson called a Mets-Astros game from a gondola hanging 208 ft. above second base in the Astrodome — the right-field location allows the broadcast team to connect with the fans. SNY plans to broadcast several games from the Pepsi Porch this season, with dates to be determined.
“They’re out amongst the fans. That’s another thing that we really stress: the affinity that our broadcast [team] has with our local fans. That’s very important to me,” says Gowdy. “We capture the essence and the passion of that. When you get out in there amongst the fans, like we do in the Pepsi Porch, we’re in there with the fans, we’re in there with the passion, we’re in there with the excitement.”