What should have been a throwaway line by Carlos Mendoza has instead turned into a controversy.
During his introductory press conference Tuesday, the new Mets manager raised some eyebrows by repeatedly peeking at papers he had in front of him while referencing the Mets’ legendary broadcast crew of Gary Cohen and 1986 World Series champions Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.
“(Looks down) I can’t wait (looks up) to meet and have deep conversations with (looks down) Gary, Keith (looks down) and Ron,” Mendoza said during his opening monologue while referencing his media beliefs.
Perhaps it’s possible that Mendoza, despite serving as Aaron Boone’s bench coach in The Bronx for four years, is not all that familiar with the revered trio.
It’s not as if he spent his nights tuning into SNY to watch games.
What made the line stand out is that Mendoza otherwise maintained eye contact with the media while discussing the relationship he plans to build with press, but kept looking down for that one specific line.
WFAN host Greg Giannotti had a more sinister theory, though, about the awkward delivery and what may have caused it.
“I have heard, I have been told, that Gary, Keith and Ron over the last number of years are never down talking to the players anymore.” Giannotti said earlier this week on “Boomer and Gio.”
“They don’t, and the players and the managers and the coaches, they can’t stand the fact that these guys are so popular, and they sit up there and pontificate in the booth, but they’re never down there talking to the players and they’re like bigger than life.
“My theory on this is that someone was needling Gary, Keith, and Ron and gave Mendoza that line. Because he goes, ‘Deep conversations.’ That is my take on this.”
He later added: “I just know that this past year, in particular, they were never talking to the players.”
The broadcasting trio has been in the clubhouse in past seasons, although their job is different than that of reporters who need daily information.
The Mets booth is known for their honest approach, which has made them popular with fans, but is not the standard with each team.
Other team broadcasts can be quite homerish — even using “we” — while the Mets’ trio keeps it professional, although they still clearly support the team.
Giannotti maintained that’s why that one line stood out like a sore thumb.
“Someone in the organization doesn’t like that and fed Carlos Mendoza a line about it to needle them,” Giannotti said. “Deep conversations with Gary, Keith and Ron?
“There’s something going on there.”