SVG Sit-Down: YES Network’s Bob Lorenz, Jack Curry, and David Cone
Bob Lorenz, who has won 10 Emmy Awards at YES, is the network’s primary studio anchor. He is the host of the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets pre- and post-game shows, as well as the network’s Yankees Baseball Tonight and Forbes SportsMoney programs. He also has play-by-play credits to his name at YES, including Yankees regular-season and Spring Training telecasts, Staten Island Yankees games, and Ivy League football.
David Cone, the strikeout artist who endeared himself to New York Yankees fans for his gutsy clutch performances and for hurling a perfect game in 1999, returned to his current YES Network post as a Yankees analyst for the 2011 season. Upon his retirement from the game, he joined the YES Network team during its inaugural year in 2002, later returned to YES for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Jack Curry, who covered the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball at the New York Times for nearly 20 years as its Yankees beat writer and most recently as its national baseball writer, joined the YES Network in February 2010 as Yankees studio analyst, reporter, and program contributor, as well as a columnist on YESNetwork.com.
SVG sat down with the Lorenz, Cone, and Curry — just before the Derek Jeter news broke on September 11 — to discuss their preparation for the pre- and post-game shows, what they’re looking for during the game, and how checking Twitter can transform a missed play into a scoop.
It’s three hours until game time. Where are you in terms of preparation?
Bob Lorenz: We’re really just reading, going over notes, maybe putting some notes on our rundowns. The real meat of what we discuss is going to come when we meet with Jared [Boshnack, coordinating producer, studio] and fine-tune the thoughts that David has in his head. Jack [Curry] will add his two cents’ worth, and then I kind of figure out how I sort of traffic-cop it all and make sure that they get their comments in that they want to get in.
David Cone: He’s the only one who knows what he’s doing. (Laughs)
BL: That’s the beauty of these guys. Because they’re prepared, it makes my job easy because I can just ask them anything and I don’t have to feel like I’m hanging them out to dry. I [asked] David on the postgame last night about [Yankees starter] Ivan Nova — what he saw, where his breaking ball was — and he’s paying attention to all of that during the game. Again, it makes my job easy, I’m not throwing him a curve ball, and he’s left staring at the camera going, I don’t know what to say. He’s always prepared.
DC: Bob has so much experience hosting the show; he calls himself a traffic cop. Jack, [after] two decades with the Times, we’re watching the game, we’ll think of a story, Jack will look up a story he wrote 15 years ago. Bob’s got his perspective, and whatever player’s in here can throw in their perspective, so it really is a teamwork situation. It’s a good mix.
During the game itself, what are you looking for? What really stands out to you guys?
BL: We sit here and watch trends, certainly how the starting pitcher’s pitching. For example, tonight, we’ll talk about Andy Pettitte on the pregame; we want to see if what we’ve said basically comes to life: whether he’s pitching a certain way, is he as good as he’s been lately, what’s made him good lately, and is he taking it into this game? And then can the offense do what it’s been doing, which is score more runs?
DC: I’m always looking, for my angle, for something that you may not have heard or seen before, some little nugget from a pitching standpoint that maybe could tell you something that you don’t know. I try to really narrow my focus, [keep it] mostly pitching-centric.
Jack, with your journalism background, do you find that you’re now watching the game in a different way?
Jack Curry: I don’t think that I watch the game any differently than when I was a newspaper writer, but I think that’s a plus. When you’re at the game sitting in the press box, you’re constantly thinking, what’s my story going to be in this game? You go into a game [where maybe] CC Sabathia is pitching against [the Red Sox’] Jon Lester, [and] you think, well, this is going to be a game about pitching.
In the second inning, Lester [could] get hit on the hand and replaced by a reliever. … I’m an information guy, and I’m a preparation guy, so I want to see everything that happens. We’ll rewind; we have the ability to check replays: if there’s something we want they can call it up for us. I don’t think I’ve changed from being a newspaper guy, but again, I think that that’s a positive because [I have] tunnel vision on what’s going on in the game.
Where do you draw the line between relying heavily on stats and numbers and telling the story of what happened during the game?
BL: I don’t want to say less is more, because people like stats, but I think people can get too bogged down by stats. The story is the story, and it can be supported by stats, but I don’t think the numbers are always the story, unless a guy has a crazy game.
DC: I love the numbers. I love the data. But I’m still learning how to taper it down and not go overboard with it, so I try to pick a few [stats] that are simple and, once again, just kind of narrow it down and try to fit it in.
BL: See, I say less is more, and he says more is more. (Laughs) So that’s good; we found a nice balance.
Throughout the game, do you rely more on your own knowledge or outside sources?
DC: I think all the resources, whether it’s baseball-reference.com, fangraphs.com, there’s so much data out there. Even Twitter, during the game. We get a lot of stuff from fans, from blog writers that really help [with] little points that come up. Even when I’m broadcasting during the game, I’ll check Twitter in between innings.
BL: Twitter has changed the way we can do, not so much pregames but postgames, which are just flying by the seat of your pants. Meredith [Marakovits, YES Network’s clubhouse reporter] might tweet from the stadium that Jeter’s done for the year. OK, we didn’t know that because we’re sitting there talking, doing the highlights; she’s at the stadium. She tweets that; we can actually generate that tweet on the air and immediately start talking about Jeter’s done for the year. What are they doing? Where are they going? The immediacy of what’s out there on Twitter has just really changed the postgame.
DC: I was broadcasting a game earlier this year, and we missed something during the game; actually, the umpire missed that he let a batter walk on three balls. And we all missed it because it was a long at-bat [and] there was a delay in the middle of the at-bat. I checked Twitter, and a couple of fans noticed that guy walked on three pitches. … it took until the next at-bat, and, finally, I called down to the truck and said, hey could you rewind that video, and he did: [Royals outfielder] Lorenzo Cain walked on three pitches. We replayed the videotape, and I feel like I’m Mr. Scoop, but really, I found out on Twitter. I gave him props, this guy on Twitter.
BL: Our research department — Jeff Quagliata, Seth Rothman, Glenn Giangrande, Amanda Caputi — they sit off to the side [and provide information during segments. They’re] very good about that.
JC: I usually like to watch the first couple of innings, but I always have my laptop open; I always have MLB.com or Yankees.com up, because I’d love to tell you that I can guess every pitch that a pitcher throws, but sometimes [you think,] was that a cutter? Or maybe they’re calling it a slider. [Relief pitcher Junichi] Tazawa on the Red Sox they were calling [his pitch] a fork ball. Fork balls become splitters, but, for some reason, they called him a fork ball, so I always have that open. I check Twitter a lot. … I want to follow the guys who I respect and see what they’re saying about the game. They’ve got their eyes on the game, and sometimes, guys on Twitter beat us in showing that [, for example,] Boone Logan is now up in the bullpen. You look on your scorecard, [and] three batters away, there’s two lefties in a row. [Manager Joe Girardi] must be preparing for that. It’s kind of one eye up [on the game] and one eye down [on the screen.]
It’s mid September, and the Yankees are still very much in the Wild Card race. I would assume that makes your job a little more fun.
BL: About a million times more fun, because it’s relevant. People are watching. The great thing too about this time of year that we found over the past couple years is, especially with the way the [Tampa Bay] Rays have played, it’s not only exciting in the game you’re watching; you get to keep your eyes on the other games, too. What happens to the Yankees impacts the Rays and Red Sox and vice versa. … You’ve got a lot of activity; it’s almost like you want to watch three or four screens at a time and for 15, 16, 17 straight days.