Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Defending Wayne Hagin

Posted by JD on April 25, 2010

Tonight’s game will be on ESPN, so I’ll be muting it and listening to Howie Rose and Wayne Hagin on WFAN. The quality of the ESPN broadcast is much improved from last season, but only because Steve Phillips was kicked to the curb when he proved (once again) that he can’t keep it in his pants. It’s still tedious to listen to Morgan and Miller, so I’m going to avoid it altogether by tuning into the FAN.

I read tweets from time to time about the radio broadcasting crew and have noticed a bit of a disparity in how the members of the booth are viewed by fans. Howie Rose is a staple: his “Put it in the books!” call is second only to Bob Murphy’s “Happy Recap”. Often asked to MC major events at Shea Stadium or Citi Field, his voice is now synonymous with the Mets. On the other hand, Wayne Hagin, is still working his way into our good graces, to put it nicely. He joined the FAN in 2008 as a replacement for Tom McCarthy (who was unfairly criticized for trying too hard to sound like his predecessor, Gary Cohen). Hagin’s received an awful lot of negative comments though: this post on the Ultimate Mets Database neatly includes a pretty representative sample.

I admit that I didn’t like the hire initially, either, but Hagin’s really grown on me over the past three seasons. He’s not a native New Yorker, but he’s taken to the Big Apple with gusto. From discussions surrounding the origin of egg cremes to the proper usage of the term “schmuck”, Wayne has embraced our local culture with both arms. He brings an outsider’s view to the team we love, a fresh set of eyes that sees old problems in new ways. It’s true that he often refers to the A’s, Giants, Rockies, and Cardinals (the latter can be especially tedious), but he’s a baseball fan first and foremost, and that shines through no matter what team he’s discussing.

Most importantly, he’s established good on-air chemistry with Howie Rose. For all I know, the two of them hate each other off the air. But when the mic is on, they sound like old friends talking about a ball game, which is all I really want. When I turn on the radio, I want to listen to someone who makes me care about the game: someone who’s invested in the action and invested in the Mets, who cares about what they’re describing and who wants me to care about it, too. In his own unique way, Hagin does that. It may have taken me two-plus years to admit it, but Wayne Hagin is a welcome addition to the Mets on-air family.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go mute my television set and tune in the FAN. Howie, Wayne, and I have a ballgame to watch. And if @MetsWFAN (the Immortal Chris Majkowski) wants to chime in, the more the merrier. As always, Let’s Go Mets!

17 Responses to “Defending Wayne Hagin”

  1. DyHrdMET said

    I’d have to say that’s a good assessment of Wayne Hagin. The radio guys sometimes get lost behind the TV guys, especially with a wildly popular TV team of Gary, Keith, and Ron. I’ve made it a point to try to listen to more games on WFAN this year, even it means turning down SNY/WPIX on occasion. The ESPN and FOX games of course are WFAN games for me (including last week’s 20 inning game, entirely on WFAN).

    But back to Wayne. He calls a solid game, and he knows his baseball. He can relate to what he knows, just like Howie Rose and any other broadcaster do. I had a chance to meet him during his first Spring Training with the Mets (2008) before a game in Port St. Lucie. He stopped to talk to me and a couple other fans in the stands. Real nice guy. The biggest problem with both he and Tom McCarthy before him (who I think is one of the best MLB play by play announcers on TV behind Gary Cohen) is that neither one was Gary Cohen or Bob Murphy, who we had been listening to for so many years.

  2. JD said

    That is such a great way to put it. No one can really replace Murphy or Cohen, but with time, Hagin may carve out his own niche with the fans.

  3. Ceetar said

    I like Hagin. He’s not perfect, particularly in the play-by-play aspect, and he’s not as well versed in Mets history from before he got here, but he doesn’t need to be, since Howie is there. What I like about him is he knows the game, and is very observant. He’s always pointing out something interesting. He always to have a sense of what guys are trying to do out there, and what’s really going on in the game and who’s swinging well, etc.

  4. garik16 said

    I’m not a Hagin fan myself. My main beef is the following:

    I could DEAL with him as a Color guy. But the WFAN team insists and continuing the tradition of Howie and the other guy alternating on PBP (with Howie currently getting innings 1,2,5,8 and 9). And i just don’t like him as a PBP guy…reminds me of a less exaggerated but just as poor as getting out information of John Sterling.

    • JD said

      I’m not sure why WFAN alternates the play-by-play guys, to be honest with you. But the comparison to John Sterling is just unfair. He’s light years better than that.

      And his delivery is paced, not exaggerated. I know that seems like splitting hairs, but Hagin delivers information slowly for accuracy’s sake, not in unneccesary attempts to build drama into the situation. And he’s quick to correct himself, something that almost never happens in the Yankee booth. He may not be perfect (who is?), but he’s more professional than a lot of the “homers” that fill radio booths throughout the league.

      • Brian said

        I always though Sterling talked so slow because he knew Yankees fans would have trouble keeping up otherwise

  5. jd said

    Hagin is good and if you people don’t like him, TOUGH. He’s here to stay so friggin’ deal with it.

    That’s my LAST WORD. /End Thread.

  6. MetsFan4Decades said

    I agree with you on Hagin. I didn’t care for him at first. The more I listened the more I warmed up to him. I think he and Howie make a good on radio pair.

    I’m old school going back 40 years so I have to agree that Bob Murphy’s footsteps for anyone are hard to follow. Gary Cohen did an excellent job doing just that. Both tough acts to follow.

    Anyone who has a problem with our Met broadcasters ought to try listening to the Yankees broadcasters for a week….

  7. SoxFan72 said

    I’m a born Red Sox fan living on L.I. for the past 15 years and couldn’t agree more with you about Wayne Hagin. Howie Rose and Hagin are a great broadcast team and when I can’t get my Sox games on the radio, I have the FAN on for Mets games. I dig how they incorporate Hagin’s assimilation to NY culture into the broadcast (favorite example – discussions of the correct use of toochis). Since Michael Kay left the radio broadcast booth, Yankees games are a chore to listen to. It’s great that the Mets have kept things enjoyable for lovers of baseball on the radio.

  8. Ben Nathan said

    A good announcer (like howie) says, “he makes the catch in front of the wall”
    A bad announcer (like wayne) says, “He’s in front of the wall [crowd reaction here] and, to his left, makes a nice catch .”
    Save the poetry for after the play, tell me what happened first.

    • JD said

      If that’s how you draw the line between good and bad announcers, I can’t really argue your point. I think Hagin is better than 80% of the radio announcers out there and far too often we hold him to unrealistic standards. He can call a game for me anyday.

  9. Michael said

    Wayne Hagin destroys the game for me. If I’m driving and it’s Hagin’s inning to call play by play I will sometimes switch to music, popping back periodically to check the score. Hagin knows baseball, but he has no business announcing it. There are too many instances when a ball is put in play and you can’t tell what’s happening because Hagin can’t stop babbling. “The bunt is layed down and Pelfrey runs up and grabs the ball in barehanded fashion and throws the BALL underhand and to tell you the truth he didn’t have a chance to catch Victorino at second and so records an out at first base…”

    I don’t listen to Yankee games, but Hagin is appalling as a play by play guy. Even when he’s accurately talking about the game he sounds like he’s imitating an announcer as opposed to announcing…he emphasizes all the wrong words. “Now the count is three balls and one STRIKE!” (as if we were expecting it to be three balls and one blueberry.) “And Pagan throws the BALL in to second” (as if we thought he’d throw his mitt.)

    • JD said

      Another commenter mentioned Hagin’s style of describing plays. I hadn’t given it much thought earlier, but you both have a point. He does tend to go into “flowery” descriptions of plays. I can see why that would annoy you, especially on bang-bang plays. If that’s why you don’t care for Hagin, I can’t argue it with you: you’re right. It just doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers you. My main concern is accuracy, and Hagin gets major points from me on that. Nobody is going to call every play perfectly: even Howie screws up occasionally. Hagin doesn’t beat around the bush when he does: he corrects himself quickly and clearly. In that way, he doesn’t put himself above the game that he’s calling.

      Could he be more concise? Probably. But as long as he’s accurate, honest, and fair, I can deal with that. Thanks for reading, and for commenting.

  10. Kenny said

    Colorado guy here. Wayne Hagin was the first play-by-play guy for the Rockies and I thought he was excellent, as good as we’ve had around here. He was the voice of our early history and I wish he had stayed—-we would welcome him back.

  11. URMort said

    For another opinion from an avid Mets fan: Wayne Hagin is awful. I agree with Michael about the rambling and uninformative play-by-play, but most disconcerting is how much of an effort he makes to be impartial … it renders him completely negative, and I often find myself cringing in response. For example (and this is a relatively minor one): Last night, when Angel Pagan moved up to second in the first inning while McCutchen airmailed the cutoff, Wayne had to chime in that ~”no doubt Razor Shines was talking to him about all the possibilities before the play.” I know Pagan doesn’t have the best instincts, but for most of this season, he has played smart baseball. He plays the outfield, so it wouldn’t be outrageous to believe that he is capable of understanding that as a runner on first, he can get to second if the there’s no chance at the cutoff. So, for a moment, I was pleased that he had moved up, making a good read on the throw. But no, Wayne (as he so often does) had to spoil the moment, and say that it was all Shines. This is a minor example, but there’s also the general tone that tends to be very defeatist. I’m sure there will be plenty of examples this afternoon, so I’ll post those in a follow up.

    • JD said

      I know what you mean: though I don’t have an example handy, I’m familiar with what you describe here. Its definitely tedious at times, so I won’t argue that point with you.

      However, my point is that while Wayne’s certainly not the best play-by-play guy (working with Howie highlights this, which is almost unfair), he’s much better than some of the bush leaguers I hear on XM radio. Sure, his impartiality can be negative, but I much prefer it to the we/us homers that you get in Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego and elsewhere. I’ll deal with Wayne’s faults as long as he doesn’t decend to those levels.

      Not the greatest defense, I know. Feel free to continue posting your examples: I’ll read them with an open mind.

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