Suzyn Waldman was embarrassed. She couldn’t sleep. And the root of it all was that she was in the Bronx, at the Stadium, broadcasting the Yankees-Blue Jays game being played in Buffalo on WFAN.
In the ninth inning Wednesday, when the controversial foul tip-or-no foul tip play with Gary Sanchez behind the plate happened, Waldman was looking down at her notes for a moment – and didn’t see it. That’s the life of calling games off a monitor.
“I didn’t sleep all night,” Waldman told The Post. “I was really embarrassed.”
This isn’t the only reason why the vaccinated 74-year-old Waldman and 82-year-old John Sterling – and while we are at it, the YES announcers as well – should be on the road soon, but it is a stark example of what is gained by announcers being at the ballpark.
In person, the game is presented better with more details. Anyone in the business and fans should hear it. Bean counters, be damned.
The issue now is if the Yankees’ radio rights holder, WFAN, will pay for Waldman and Sterling’s hotel and meals on the road. That seems to be basically the only thing stopping Waldman and Sterling from going back to pre-pandemic broadcasting.
Around MLB, sources with knowledge said there are already 8-12 radio broadcast teams doing full-time or limited travel. More are expected after the All-Star break.
The decision is ultimately up to WFAN’s parent company, Audacy (formerly Entercom). Audacy also owns the rights to the Mets (WCBS) and 14 teams in total, but for some the announcers are team employees, so the clubs will pay for road travel.
So, what is the plan for getting the Yankees radio announcers on the road?
An Audacy spokesman said, “We have nothing on this at this time.” He added that maybe in a few weeks they would have more.
What is the hold up? Audacy wouldn’t say, but it would seem to be money. The question for all media companies broadcasting sports is: do you want to be in the majors, or be cheap?
With stadiums going back to full capacity and with the reporters allowed on the field during pregame, there are no COVID-19 related concerns in the Yankees situation.
The criteria MLB has set for allowing radio announcer crews traveling begins with their clubs having to hit the 85 percent of Tier 1 personnel vaccinated. The announcers must also be vaccinated. The final hurdle, which is not much of one according to sources, is there must be room in the visiting press boxes to accommodate the radio teams. Almost all ballparks already or soon will have space for road broadcasters.
While the Yankees’ announcers are in position to travel, the Mets’ are not. The Mets, as a team, are not at the 85 percent threshold, so their announcers are ineligible to go on the road.
For the Yankees, Audacy would have to send Sterling, Waldman and producer Jack Maldonado on the road. They stay with the team at nice hotels, but with negotiated rates.
Let’s say it is $300 per person a night for a three-game series, plus meals. Add it all up, it is around $4,000 per series. So, sell a couple more ads to FanDuel
This is the New York Yankees. We aren’t in Peoria. It is time to have radio announcers on the road, with TV in the on-deck circle. YES said it is “evaluating the situation on all fronts.”
Fox is already at games for its national baseball broadcasts. ESPN will have its “Sunday Night Baseball” crew at Yankee Stadium on July 4.
The Yankees take pride in acting like they are special. They are among the most famous and popular franchises in the world. They didn’t get there by being cheap.
With the pandemic subsiding, it is time to avoid situations like the other night in the Bronx by way of Buffalo.
“It is hard,” Waldman said. “It’s embarrassing.”