Mets fans have watched Kevin Burkhardt grow right before their eyes since joining the SNY broadcast team in 2007. With Gary, Keith and Ron garnering most of the publicity, in what is regarded as the best broadcast team in baseball, Burkhardt has rounded out the team nicely as the field reporter.
Each season Burkhardt’s role seems to expand, his insight is always valued by the guys in the booth and SNY has made him host to numerous Mets studio shows throughout the year. Burkhardt is not called upon to give us meaningless reports such as “The team needs to play better”, that we hear so often from other field reporters in the industry. No, Kevin Burkhardt brings much more than that to the table and is a rising star that will surely lead to greener pastures than the stands of Citi Field. It’s as though in the last year or so Burkhardt has really found his voice, so to speak, not afraid to express his own opinions and doesn’t hold back from reporting what’s really on his mind.
These last few weeks, with the return of Mets Hot stove, Kevin Burkhardt has really caught my attention with his coverage of the off-season. Right from the get-go, Burkhardt was all over ownership and the front office, pushing them to fulfill their promise that 2014 would be the start of the return of relevancy for this franchise. Many in his position might not have attacked the team with the same demeanor, there was no “sugar-coating” what needed to be done. It has been as though he was speaking directly on behalf of the fan base with each remark he has made. Every move the Mets have made, he gives a realistic response that you would hear from any die-hard fan that has gone through this teams hardships for the last several years.
When Chris Young was signed, he was mildly amused, as were the rest of us, and reiterated that was simply not enough. A few days later when Justin Turner was released, despite only being due $1 million in salary, due to his “lack of hustle”, Burkhadt was all over it and came to his defense both on the air and twitter. Then the Mets FINALLY made the type of signings everyone had been waiting for in Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon and his tone has begun to change. You could sense a sigh of relief and joy in his on air reporting, as a sign of better days ahead for the Mets seemed to be a reality. The same tone that many of us will be using ourselves, with a few more fine tuning moves, heading into the 2014 season.
This football season, Burkhardt took his first step to being heard by a much broader audience. Fox signed him to be the play-by-play man along side John Lynch and Erin Andrews. I have heard him call a few games this season, including his most recent this past weekend of “The Snow Bowl” game in Philadelphia between the Eagles and Lions. While many tuned in to watch a game played in the horrific winter conditions, they may have gotten there first chance to hear a voice that will be in broadcast booths for years to come. Although the Giants may be eliminated from the playoffs, Burkhardt will be calling their game against the Seahawks this weekend, allowing the NY fan base a chance to see him do some broadcasting that isn’t done in front of the Shake Shack.
Burkhardt’s contract with SNY runs through the 2014 season and I don’t exactly see him signing an extension to stay on as a field reporter. With his relationship with Fox already established through football and calling the occasional Saturday baseball game of the week, it would be a no brainer for him to join Fox Sports full-time. They have recently launched the Fox Sports channel and could use the versatile Burkhadt both in the broadcast booth and studio to help strengthen their team and grow with the Network.
Now I’m not ready to write my full Kevin Burkhadt farewell just yet, this is just simple reminder to Mets fans on how lucky we are to have him. Let’s hope “KB” stays involved with the Mets/SNY somehow for many more years to come.