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!