Bob Raissman checks in with some intriguing news:
Is the curtain falling on Ma and Pa Pinstripe? Will next season be John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman’s last in the Yankees radio booth?
Right now their future is up in the air. The Yankees contract with WCBS-AM, worth about $12 million per year, expires at the end of the 2011 season, so do Sterling and Waldman’s pacts. Sterling has been the radio voice of the Yankees since 1989. Waldman joined him in 2005.
There has yet to be any serious negotiations between the Yankees and WCBS. The job status of Ma and Pa cannot be resolved until a new radio-rights deal is cut. Industry moles say other outlets have chatted informally with Bombers brass. These potential suitors are looking to get a sense of which direction the club wants to go with its radio rights.
Outside of WCBS, which probably wants to keep the Yankees, it’s highly likely ESPN will – if it hasn’t already – stick its beak into the mix. For ESPN-1050, the process of trying to chip away at WFAN, longtime Mets rights holder, has not been easy.
There are 2 issues here. The first is the possibility that the team moves off WCBS, which I think is a terrible idea. WCBS has an excellent signal that reaches across the tri-state area. Conversely, ESPN-1050 has a weak signal that would limit the Yankees to a far smaller constituency. I cannot imagine that a few extra bucks received from ESPN would be worth cutting off thousands of fans and commuters from the product.
The second issue is that of the announcers. I happen to like Sterling, as I find that he handles exciting moments very well and properly captures the drama of important games. Even so, I must acknowledge that he has started making an incredible number of mistakes per game. While I find him entertaining, he is no longer the right announcer to handle a 162 game schedule where he needs to be the eyes for the listener. No matter whether the team stays at WCBS or goes to ESPN, they should take this opportunity to move on from the current broadcast team. With the excellent Jon Miller no longer at ESPN, perhaps he can be pried away from his job with the Giants by a large offer of full-time employment. I think the team should try and pair Miller with a younger announcer who can be groomed to eventually take over the lead role. This would give the Yankees a qualified lead announcer, as well as give them a definitive plan for the future once Miller retires.
How would you handle these issues?
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