David Cone is a popular analyst for Yankees games on the YES Network, and he will still be on that job by 2022. But Yankees fans will have to share him with a national audience on ESPN.
Cone said Monday that even though his schedule is not complete, he expects to work about 50 games at YES, a reduction of nearly half from his most recent board.
That’s because he wants to be busy for 25 weekends as a member of ESPN’s recreated “Sunday Night Baseball” team, working with play-by-play man Karl Ravech and analyst Eduardo Perez.
“It means a lot,” Cone said of his new job during a video news conference. “I mean, it’s such a great platform. It’s just a star in our industry, to be able to have that kind of exclusivity and to be part of that crew.”
Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez were in the booth Sunday night last season. Rodriguez is still with ESPN, but now he will only work eight Sunday night matches on an alternate broadcast with YES ‘Michael Kay on ESPN2, which ESPN has dubbed “Kay-Rod.”
Mark Gross, a senior vice president of ESPN, said the move by Rodriguez was largely a function of his busy schedule outside of ESPN, with business interests including co-ownership of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kay, YES ‘leading Yankees play-by-play man, is expected to work his normal number of games for YES beyond the eight Sunday nights on ESPN2.
Cone, 59, pitched for both the Mets and Yankees, and played a perfect match for the latter in 1999, winning the 1994 AL Cy Young Award with the Royals and having 194 wins in the regular season of his career.
Despite his relatively old age, he is interested in and open to modern analysis, something the new trio plans to integrate heavily into its coverage. One thing the three will not do is grouse about the state of the game.
“I think on a lot of the baseball shows around the country that you hear a lot about, ‘The game was better back then, I used to play,'” Cone said. “That’s not the case here. I’m a huge fan of today’s players and how they do it.
“It’s different than when I played, but that does not mean one way was better or not. You’ll see us really get excited about today’s match at a time when it’s really needed, I think , on a national broadcast. “
Speaking of things that have changed since Cone’s game days, he threw 147 lanes for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS in Seattle before manager Buck Showalter relieved him in a game the Yankees lost in 11 innings.
It was Showalter’s last game of managing the Yankees. Now he’s the Mets’ new manager. (Perez interviewed for the Mets’ job after the 2019 season.)
“Since the time in 1995 when I was allowed to throw 147 lanes, he has changed a lot,” Cone said. “Obviously he’s evolved, and that’s what I think people are not aware of about Buck Showalter.”
Cone called Showalter “an information dog” who is willing to learn and adapt to changing times – analytically and in player relationships.
“The day of criticizing Ken Griffey Jr. for wearing his hat back and taking BP is over,” Cone said, referring to a 1994 incident. “Buck understands that. Although he may have been on the other side of the fence for years. since, he has clearly evolved in that area and understands with today’s player that it is different.
“It’s a different game and I welcome it. They need to be allowed to show legitimate feelings on the baseball field.”
That’s the kind of openness Cone and his partners intend to bring to the TV show.
“You have some people who do not like the numbers or do not want to hear about analyzes or do not want to have new theories pushed down their throats in a broadcast,” Cone said. “They want to tune in on a Sunday night and watch a match and be entertained and just focus on the match.
“But at the same time, we need to understand that side of the game to inform the viewer about what’s going on.”
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