City Sports Report

New York Mets television changes on SNY

KevinKeithRon

By Lloyd Carroll

There will be a number of changes on SNY New York Mets telecasts this spring.

Longtime in-game reporter Kevin Burkhardt left for greener pastures, literally and figuratively, by moving to Los Angeles where he has quickly become one of the top play-by-play broadcasters for Fox Sports on both their National Football League and Major League Baseball telecasts. Burkhardt is expected to be replaced by his understudy of the last two years, Rego Park native Steve Gelbs.

It was just learned that longtime pre and post-game host Bob Ojeda, whose contract expired at the end of the 2014 season, will not be returning. SNY executives wanted Ojeda, a member of the 1986 World Series-winning Mets, back but they couldn’t agree on compensation. Indications are that another former Mets pitcher, Brooklyn native and Brandeis University alum Nelson Figueroa, who has gotten some broadcast experience at the MLB Network, will be replacing Ojeda.

Figueroa will have big shoes to fill because Bob Ojeda was popular with fans and the media because of his refreshing candor. He could never be accused of being a shill for the home team. Having gotten to know Nelson over the years I am certain that he will be insightful and will never insult anyone’s intelligence. SNY executives are undoubtedly hoping that his matinee idol looks will draw more women to Mets telecasts.

Former Mets general manager and Newtown High School alum Omar Minaya was hired by the Major League Baseball Players Association to serve as an advisor to union president Tony Clark, who played first base for the Mets in 2003. Minaya has spent the last four years as a vice president in the San Diego Padres organization and will now return to the New York area full-time. My guess is that Omar will be coming to Flushing quite often briefing both Mets players and those on opposing teams at Citi Field.

One-time Mets pitcher and Flushing native Charlie Williams passed away last week at the age of 67 from complications arising from heart surgery. Williams will best be remembered as the player the Mets sent to the San Francisco Giants in the 1972 trade that sent Willie Mays to the Mets.

Len Berman, who grew up in Long Island City and won numerous Emmy Awards during his 24-year career as the sports anchor on WNBC-TV evening newscasts, is now doing a morning radio show on WOR (710 AM). It’s a general talk show and he is partnered with Todd Schnitt.

It’s going to be an uphill battle. First, AM drive-time radio habits tend to be firmly established. Secondly, Schnitt is in Tampa while Berman is here in New York City. Even with Skype technology, the conversation doesn’t flow naturally. Third, the show is predictable talk radio. Berman plays the straight man “voice of reason” to Schnitt’s wild guy conservative shtick in much the same way that Boomer Esiason interacts with Craig Carton on sports on their WFAN morning show.

On the topic of radio, my colleague and friend from the Bronx News, Rich Mancuso, just launched a Tuesday night ( 8-9 PM) Internet sports talk show, “All Bases Covered,” on inthemixxradio.com. Many of you may remember Rich from the wrestling show he co-hosted with Jody McDonald during the wee hours of Sunday morning during the early days of the Astoria-based WFAN.

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