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?