Carlos Beltran returned to the Mets lineup on Tuesday night, a move that was either selflessly brave or needlessly risky. Whichever side you came down on, it did serve as a brief reminder that there will be another season beyond the one that went down in flames long ago. That's good to remember, but the best thing about next season is that whatever happens on the field will be accompanied by the voices of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.
The finest announcing team in New York by miles and miles, and, after a season flipping around the Extra Innings package, the best non-Vin Scully approach to calling baseball in all the land continues to bring their best stuff even though they are working for a team that deserves much less. Every night is a wild ride that usually includes some baseball, but rolls across topics from the sublime to the ridiculous and from culinary pursuits to current events to, on Tuesday, Hernandez's fitness for a Bravo reality show because of his manicure habit.
That was far from the only fun on Tuesday night. The three-man booth grew to four with the 10-year-old Kyle Singh, who won a SNY contest to be a broadcaster for an inning. This is the kind of cloying, saccharine stuff that normally intrudes on baseball but it just goes to show you what watching games called by this trio can do for a fanbase. Singh fit into the booth seamlessly, calling strikes "sandwiches" to the delight of the three adults who wish they thought of something like that and dripping with sarcasm when the Mets "finally" got a hit in the bottom of the second inning.
They stepped aside again in the sixth inning when SNY aired a silent inning filled only with ballpark noise. It was an inspired move (and here's a moment to say that SNY's producers also deserve some credit for the high quality of the broadcasts) for a couple of reasons. The first is that it was a reasonable facsimile of being at the game, right down to the boos when the Mets did something wrong. The second was because it took about forty-five seconds to realize there was absolutely no reason to watch that particular baseball game without our faithful trio of narrators.
Wednesday night's contest promises to be another interesting one. Cohen will take the night off, which leaves things to the unpredictable Darling and Hernandez. Without the professional Cohen to rein them in, the old teammates are just as likely to spend nine innings discussing the Crimean War, Picasso's blue period or what neighborhoods of Manhattan in 1986 had the loosest women as they are anything going on between the Mets and Marlins.
The problem is that any of those topics would be infinitely more interesting than the game, but, then, that would probably be true if this were a pennant race.