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Behind The Mic: SNY Lets You Judge Johan

The Mets' TV partner finds itself in between a rock and a hard place with Santana's personal problems.

Howie Rose mentioned Saturday on 660 WFAN before the Mets-Twins game that Mets pitcher Johan Santana - who pitched terribly for a fourth consecutive start - has been admitting (finally) recently to having not recovered fully from his injuries suffered last season that required surgery to fix over the offseason. Rose then carefully suggested that maybe Santana's using the sexual battery charge - which is a closed case as far as we know - to attempt to distract the media from his pitching problems.

Let's not mince words: if this were true - and I've never known Howie Rose to suggest something that out of the norm without any reason - it is the shittiest thing that I've seen a professional athlete do in the last 37 minutes, bar none. Johan deserves to fry in the court of public opinion, but the fact is it worked. Some people are just distracted enough by his bad pitching to care about this closed case, and others are just distracted enough by the scandal to not ask too much into his awful pitching. New York can only care about one Johan problem, as far as it's concerned.

As far as the Mets' television arm, they've stayed out of this thing's way as much as they can, but they've done the necessary job of informing the public. It isn't the round-the-clock, "we're-going-to-cover-ourselves-just-as-strictly-as-we-cover-others" job MLB Network did with the Alex Rodriguez revelations last year, but those are different circumstances. The MLB Net needed to be taken seriously with baseball fans, talking tough on the game's biggest star's steroid reveal lent it credibility. SNY doesn't need that sort of goodwill with Met fans, as there's really nowhere else to watch the game.

For SNY's part, they did report on the story (though it was buried into a Wednesday edition of Pre-Game Live) and showed Johan's statement, which up until then no other sports news network had shown me. They were standing by the most odious words in television, "We Report, You Decide," except the Mets have chosen to actually represent that slogan. Think of Johan what you want, we're just here to tell you what's new. It was probably both the safest and most efficient path to take.

Jerry Seinfeld: Master of the Broadcast Domain

On the other hand, how can you get mad at anything around the Mets when the franchise has won itself so much goodwill lately. Ten games over .500 heading toward the All-Star break, what seems like a legitimate chance at a playoff birth for the first time since 2006 (oh, the haunting), and Jerry Seinfeld shows up in the booth to call Mets-Tigers on Wednesday. This was a fantastic experiment, and something that should be repeated five to 10 times every season. I'm dead serious. Seinfeld's not doing anything else, and he's at the games anyway. Why not a few times a year against opponents no one cares about?

Here are some of my favorite moments from Seinfeld's analyst role:

"You know when a man hits his head on the table he's working hard" - in reference to Keith Hernandez falling asleep at a game.

Hernandez: "I'd never acted before." Seinfeld: "Just for Men was a glimmer in his eye"

The SNY text poll: "Do you agree with Jerry's decision to not help Keith move?"

On naming his favorite Met, Gary Cohen [to Seinfeld]: "You can't say Keith."  Seinfeld: "Alright, Keith can't say Keith either."

Finally, on Lady Gaga: "I think it's fair to say we're all big fans of Lady Gaga. Lame, out-of-it, white guys in their mid-50s is her core audience."

Do. This. Again.

Boomer and Carton Next Evil Radio Duo to Bring it to TV

Well, you knew SNY or MSG had to one day respond to YES by bringing a radio talk show to their airwaves. Doing the math, SNY already has about 90 minutes a day used up by mindless drivel screamed at me by men whose opinions are either gospel or worthless. So MSG is jumping into the fray, giving Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason's daily WFAN talk show a daily simulcast beginning "sometime after Labor Day".

Esiason is already an employee of the network and hosts a weekly talkshow. Actually, I'm not totally sure because I haven't watched MSG in about two and a half months, but as far as I know, he's still there. Great media journalism at work!

Regardless, this will be a strange case of WFAN having their shows simulcast across two networks, five days a week, with Francesca on YES and these two idiots on MSG.  Will it create even more of the annoying rivalry between the two in a battle for ratings and the attention their dad never gave them as children? Probably! Stay tuned.

He Said What?

Has an announcer said something that baffled, confused, or just plain bewildered you?  E-mail us at SMLepore@comcast.net for your own "He Said What?".

The baseball networks were batting 1.000 on booth guests this week, even without Jerry Seinfeld becoming the next John Madden. During Saturday night's FOX primetime broadcast of the Yankees/Dodgers game, respective franchise legends Reggie Jackson and Tommy Lasorda visited Joe Buck and Tim McCarver and simply put on a tour de force of sarcasm, weirdness, and flat-out idiocy.

Lasorda did nothing but spew hatred at Reggie, which we could never be sure if it was serious or not. Reggie continued to take the high road. Well, not that high, I counted at least five times that Reggie brought up the Yankees 27 World Championships. I could never be sure whether or not the usually good-natured Lasorda was seriously hateful of him. As Joe Buck snarked afterwards, "you guys should have a sitcom!"

Of course, FOX ruined this batting average by putting Billy Crystal in the booth in the top of the sixth. There is no one on Earth less funny than Billy Crystal. Also, his Phil Rizutto impression is terrible. That's all I have to say about that, and the less said about it the better. Select your booth guests wisely. 

New York Brings Ratings Joy to ESPN for World Cup

This New York/New Jersey metropolitan area is a melting pot of cultures, a lot of them who came here from countries that love soccer, a lot of them that had their children playing soccer, and a lot of them that just plain like the sport, so it is no surprise that World Cup has been doing well for ABC and ESPN in the area. 

Through last Sunday, New York has been the third-highest rated market on average for the tournament, with games averaging a 3.4, only below Washington D.C. (3.5) and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (4.0). ABC has been doing particularly well, scoring a 4.8 for Brazil/Ivory Coast and a 3.9 for Cameroon/Denmark last week, keeping pace with Mets/Yankees coverage on PIX 11, though YES ratings would likely combine to have baseball beat soccer. The U.S. win over Algeria on Wednesday was the second-highest rated World Cup game in New York history, behind the 2006 U.S./Germany game. It'll be interesting to see A) How high ratings went for yesterday's U.S. loss to Ghana (see next week's column), and B) How soccer interest will develop without the United States for the rest of the tourney.

Recent New York sports TV ratings

(Source: Pifeedback.com

1. World Cup Soccer: USA vs. Algeria (ESPN): 5.3

1. PGA Golf: U.S. Open, Final Round (NBC 4): 5.1/12 

2. World Cup Soccer: Brazil vs. Ivory Coast (ABC 7): 4.8/12

3. MLB: NY Mets vs. NY Yankees, Game 2 (PIX 11): 4.5/12

4. MLB: NY Mets vs. NY Yankees, Game 3 (PIX 11): 3.9/10

5. World Cup Soccer: Cameroon vs. Denmark (ABC 7): 3.9/10

6. PGA Golf: U.S. Open, Round 3 (NBC 4): 3.2/7