Let me start by saying that Wayne Hagin is a nice guy. I met him during Spring Training 2008, at the very beginning of his Mets broadcasting career. He did nothing wrong during his 4 seasons in Flushing. He was himself. He was a solid #2 guy in the Mets radio booth.
I use past tense because the reports strongly indicate that WFAN is not going to renew his contract in 2012. I've seen a wide list of actual candidates and fan suggestions. Let me throw out some opinions about these guys and the job in general.
Howie Rose is your #1 radio announcer. There is no replacing that. In the 50 year history of the New York Mets, they have always had a rotation of at least 2 play-by-play announcers (a list that includes ex-player and HOFer Ralph Kiner as a play-by-play man). Two of the announcers auditioning are basically analysts. That would be an interesting shift, though some fans would welcome having Howie Rose call all 9 innings.
Let me throw this out there. SNY is not going to allow the team of Gary (Cohen), Keith (Hernandez), Ron (Darling), and Kevin (Burkhardt) get broken up. So we're not going to see the reunion of Howie and Gary. And as much as I would like this pairing, I don't think we're going to see Howie Rose with Kevin Burkhardt together.
One rumor is that Chris Carlin of SNY is in the mix. Personally, I don't like him on TV, and I won't like him on the radio (though it would get him off of Mets pre/post game shows). But, he does have radio play-by-play experience calling Rutgers Football and Men's Basketball (I've never actually listened to him, so I have no idea if he's any good). I do think we're better off leaving him at SNY.
Billy Sample is in the mix. He had a short playing career, and has had a long resume as a broadcaster/writer (according to Wikipedia). I vaguely remember him on Atlanta Braves broadcasts on TBS and I know he's been with MLB.com. As good as he may be, I'm not sure how well he would fit in on Mets broadcasts.
WFAN's Ed Coleman is another candidate. I can live with him as a fill-in on the radio broadcasts, but he's much better suited to be WFAN's Mets beat reporter.
Jim Duquette is another candidate. This is an interesting choice, and the one I think is most likely to happen (based on no real information). He's an ex-GM. He's an ex-Met GM. He traded Scott Kazmir. After that, I stopped reading his bio. But to be fair, I think he was a lame-duck GM after Steve Phillips was fired and before Omar Minaya came in. He currently co-hosts a show on an MLB satellite radio channel (to which, I don't subscribe). He has no known playing career, but I've never thought an analyst serves much purpose on the radio because you don't have replay (ok, they can "spot trends"). There's a reason why a lot of baseball teams have gone with 2 play-by-play men on the radio. I think bringing him in would be an interesting change in direction for Mets radio. Imagine the stories of the Mets front office that he could tell.
I wonder if one of the SNY kid-casters is now old enough to take the job. No matter what, Mets radio broadcasts will be different in year 51.
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