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Yankee Panky: Coney Baloney?

Reports surfaced as early as mid-December that David Cone would not be returning to the YES Network booth for the 2K10 season. Phil Mushnick of the New York Post first reported the story, and the rumblings regarding the potential shuffle only increased.

In that initial article, Mushnick mentioned the possibility of Cone taking a position with the MLB Players Association. Rumors abound now that Cone does have an offer for an executive position at the MLBPA.

Cone confirmed one half of the speculation Wednesday, announcing that he would not be returning to YES. The Network’s official statement was released early yesterday afternoon.

Quotes from the respective parties read as follows:

CONE: “My YES deal was up at the end of the 2009 season, and I’ve chosen not to return in 2010 in order to spend more time with my family. If I do return to broadcasting, YES would be my first choice.”

YES: “David was a valued member of our team. He will be missed.”

Judging from the commentary of Joe Delessio at NYMag.com and many Banterers over the course of the week, Cone will be missed. Cone was a consensus “best analyst” choice on the YES roster. Personally, I enjoyed his take on pitching, his ability to recall Yankees history – an especially detailed review of Red Ruffing’s career during a Yankees-Red Sox telecast comes to mind – and the fact that you never quite knew what he would say next.

Speculation about the reason for Cone’s dismissal has raged for several days now. On January 2, Bob Klapisch cited “sources” saying that a “heated disagreement” set the wheels in motion. Klapisch then used an e-mail from a network spokesman that stated YES “would love to have him back” and that Cone was “evaluating his options” as confirmation that a disagreement took place and that Cone was, in fact, out. That doesn’t exactly validate anything other than a typical step any employer and employee take when a contract is either up or nearing its end: evaluating options and coming to a formal decision.

It’s unknown if the availability at the players’ union pushed Cone toward his decision to leave YES, if Klapisch is right about the “heated disagreement” being the beginning of the end, or if at the end of the season, with Cone’s contract up and two years of work being reviewed, there was a mutual parting of the ways. What is known – and I can speak from experience – is that Cone’s relationship with the network has been volatile, going back to the very beginning.

Cone, while not an official YES employee in the Network’s inaugural 2002 season, did only one game as an analyst: The June 14 game at Shea Stadium where Robin Ventura’s two-run home run in the 10th inning provided the winning 4-2 margin. (That game, a Friday night game, was actually broadcast locally on CBS-2.)

The next year, as Dr. Evil once said, “It got weird, didn’t it?” He tried to come back as a Met, a move that annoyed George Steinbrenner so much that suddenly, Cone’s Yankeeography and Yankees Classics Perfect Game were removed from the on-air rotation.

As a part of our editorial initiative to have former Yankees get involved in contributing to YESNetwork.com, Cone did a chat with me that year — YES was still unavailable on Cablevision and we were trying to build an audience online — and told me that he read YESNetwork.com and thought the site could, and should, be the primary online destination for Yankees fans. Since that’s what I thought, too, I considered that a high compliment.

He then repaired the relationship and signed on for the 2008 season, and in his first game, made a Freudian slip about Ian Kennedy being “jerked off” in the Yankees bullpen. And so began the legend of Cone’s official YES Network career.

What’s next for YES in 2K10? Reported rumors have Tino Martinez in line as Cone’s replacement. Cone may not be replaced at all.

The absence of Cone at YES doesn’t equate to the void left by Jim Kaat in 2006, but it’s a significant void nonetheless. The other void lies in the information surrounding the circumstances of Cone’s departure. Whatever the reason, I hope the network separates his broadcasting and playing careers and keeps his CenterStage, Yankeeography, and Yankees Classic in rotation.

But would you be surprised if history repeated itself?

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Will Weiss  Yankee Panky

Tags:  David Cone  YES Network

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1 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:17 am

Tino wouldn't be as off-the-script interesting as Cone, but he could be an insightful analyst for YES. I've read some criticism that Tino's bland as a broadcaster, but I've found his recent interviews with Kay to be interesting and enjoyable. He doesn't say stupid things, he's not offensive, he's credible, personable. He wouldn't be as cool and slick as Cone, but Tino meets all my criteria for a YES announcer.

2 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:33 am

I liked Kaat, but really didn't notice a void. Similarly, while I enjoyed Cone, I don't think he was indispensable (he was ok with Kay, but excellent with Kenny). The only person whom I would genuinely be sad to see leave YES is Singleton. It's a pipe dream, but I wish the Yankees would make Singleton the primary play-by-play man and jetison Kay.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:38 am

I like Singy too. But I think Cone was a guy who spoke his mind and his insights went beyond the usual canned commentary. He was probably too "out-spoken" for the conservative YES approach. I think SNY has YES beat in this regard--their booth, no matter what you think of them, has far more leeway to call it like they see it without fear of being scolded by their bosses.

4 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:43 am

[2] I agree. I liked Cone and Kaat a lot, but I'm a viewer who tends to tune-out the announcers when the game is underway. I tune in when I want analysis or clarification of a certain play, or if someone's telling a story I'm interested in -- but mostly I watch the games with the audio low. I tended to keep the audio up for Kaat and Singleton games because they had such a great rapport, knew when to let the game speak for itself.

My first choice for replacing Cone would be Willie Randolph. That's a guy I'd love to listen to for hours. Kenny could probably get some great stuff out of Willie.

5 RagingTartabull   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:51 am

My personal favorite YES booth has been Singleton/Kay/Cone. I understand the complaints about Kay, but I have a bit of a soft spot for him and I think it is valuable to have a non-jock presence in the booth.

I'm really gonna miss Cone, but maybe this could mean more O'Neill? Paulie's shown some Scooter-like tendencies in his limited time in the booth and could really grow into something.

I agree with Alex though, being objective about things one has to admit that one area where the Mets have the Yankees beat by a mile is in the broadcast teams. Cohen can be annoying, but he knows his stuff...Darling and Keith are just fun.

6 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:56 am

[3] [5] I agree that the SNY booth is stronger, but I am not so sure how free they are to "speak their minds". Specifically, I recall an issue surrounding treatment of Willie Randolph before his firing, not bringing up the Bernezard issue with Omar and Keith being asked to back off critical comments about the team quitting.

7 RagingTartabull   ~  Jan 8, 2010 11:59 am

[6] you're right about those incidents, but thats the problem with team-owned RSN's. They're a great source of info and entertainment for the fans, but they basically amount to state run media. It's true of SNY, YES, NESN...all of them.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:02 pm

I would pay big money for a TV feed with no announcers. Throw in a choice of cameras and I'd happily pay more.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:03 pm

[7] Personally, I really don't think it's a problem. I don't need YES to be a critical source. I want to see the Yankees win every classic and I want to watch games without having to listen to broadcasters be too negative. The RSNs role, IMHO, is to provide a high level of access to the team as well as a greater variety of team-focused content.

10 RagingTartabull   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:09 pm

[9] thats well and good, and I agree with you that for the most part it isn't a problem. I don't really need to see game 7 vs Arizona on Yankee Classics and hear Ken Singleton complain about payroll disparity during a game against the Royals.

However, we watch a good team...we have this luxury. It's when the team is leaving something to be desired and broadcasters are being instructed from on-high to "accentuate the positive" that it becomes problematic. Basically I'm describing any MSG Knicks broadcast from the past 8 years.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:11 pm

[8] I think a good announcer makes a difference. Al Michaels comes to mind...he is the main reason I watch Sunday night football. Without him in the booth, I'd probably have watched 1 or 2 games. I also go out of my way to watch Dodger and SF Giant games because I enjoy their broadcasts, and with Endberg returning to SD, will try to catch more Padres games this season.

Speaking of announces, it was sad to see that Rory Marcus passed away. The Angels had just promoted him to full time pbp (letting Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc go in the process) and I thought he did a great job work with Mark Gubiza.

12 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:14 pm

[10] The Knicks are an extreme example, but even then, do fans really need Mike Breen going off every night to understand how bad the team is? The fans still watching a team like that are diehards and know what is going on. I know when I watched the Yankees in 1990 (and I watched or listened to just about every game) I didn't need a reminder about how bad the team was.

13 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:19 pm

[11] I agree a good announcer can be a draw, and but sometimes wouldn't you just rather watch a baseball game with natural sound than listen to announcers?
Going to a game would always be my preference, but I dont have the time or the money to do that more than a few times a year with my family.
I'd love to sit with my sons in front of a big screen, listening to the sounds of the game and the Stadium (paying a fraction of the price for food and beverages -- and NOTHING for parking).
As long as you can clearly see the action (and replays when necessary) a baseball game is more than interesting enough to me without narration.

14 RagingTartabull   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:20 pm

[12] You don't need announcers hammering you with negativity, but you don't need them blowing sunshine with the team on its way to being 30 games under .500 either.

It isn't easy to strike a happy medium, but good broadcasters find a way. The task just becomes harder when you're a defacto team employee.

15 vockins   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:27 pm

[8] The mlb condensed game app for the iPhone is announcer free. Not exactly what you are looking for, but it's something.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:28 pm

[13] To be honest, not really...at least not unless I had complete control over the camera. While at a game, I am constantly looking around and observing, but if restricted to a few camera angles, I think I would feel a void.

[14] That's another story...if the announcers are telling you how great the team is, then it would be a turn off, but I can't think of many, if any, instances of that.

17 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:35 pm

[15] cool.
[16] yeah, I'd love to call the shots among the game cameras, and replays etc. but until that technology is availble, I'd be happy to watch a game feed directed by a director (they almost alwyas know which cameras to call) - but with the field miked up to pick up the natural sounds of the game, even if it's just a mic near home plate.

18 51cq24   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:47 pm

i love cone and was at his perfect game and hate that he's leaving.

i do like the sny announcers (actually just darling really), but i think it's overblown how free they are to speak their minds compared to their yes counterparts. in part i think that's because the yes announcers have much fewer opportunities to criticize the players on the field, and in part because criticism of the players or manager is really what we're talking about here, since no one gets away with criticizing ownership or the front office.

[9] i do think it's pretty absurd that people complain that all yankee classics are yankee victories. what yankee fan would want to see a yankee loss in an otherwise "classic" (ie important) game?

speaking of that, i finally got the world series dvd, and was extremely disappointed. whoever directed it must not know much about baseball. so many of the angles were terrible. what's with all the close-up shots of the hitter's upper body during a big at bat?

19 Just Fair   ~  Jan 8, 2010 12:47 pm

I loved Cone in the booth. Too bad.
[16,17] I'd like to see a camera be able to show the entire field during the pitch. Not always. But at leat once in awhile. At least for replays. That's what's great about being at the game obviously. : )

20 Diane Firstman   ~  Jan 8, 2010 1:25 pm


mlb.com (or was it fox or tbs) allowed you to watch from different angles during the playoffs ...

21 ms october   ~  Jan 8, 2010 2:22 pm

[19] who is going to smell friday night coming now?

yeah i'll repeat once more i am very disappointed as i really enjoyed coney.

i noticed his appearances dropped off after he testified this summer - i hope that is not a part of this.
i can definitely see him getting in a heated argument though.

he obviously has a lot of passion about the mlbpa, so i hope he enjoys his time there and does some good things for the players and the game.

i was hoping if he left the booth he would serve as a pitching consultant, but that might have led to friction too - though i think he would have been great with the pitchers.

and yeah definitely on board with kenny for the main pbp guy.

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