David Cone addresses Paul O’Neill’s absence from Yankees booth
New York Yankees icon/beloved announcer David Cone has seen his broadcasting career grow in scope in recent months, though he’s yet to abandon his post in the Bronx.
In addition to providing expert color commentary on Yankee games for the YES Network, as well as dancing to Megan Thee Stallion on occasion, Cone has joined ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball team in 2022 and also co-hosts a podcast with Jomboy Media.
Cone is unique among modern broadcasters, as his ability to be an enthusiastic and engaged teammate belies his impressive knowledge of advanced statistics and layers-deep conversations that don’t often find their way to your typical game coverage.
A portion of his Yankees team has been missing in action recently, though, throwing the “team” off slightly.
Although Michael Kay joked as spring training ended about how much he couldn’t wait to hug Paul O’Neill in the tunnel before Opening Day, O’Neill has rarely appeared on broadcasts this season, often giving way to new color commentators like Carlos Beltran and Cameron Maybin. When O’Neill has participated, he’s done so from home in Ohio, as he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
When asked about the disruption, Cone was his classic self: supportive, wondering if there’s something he doesn’t know behind O’Neill’s personal decision, and hoping for a resolution soon.
As Cone told the New York Post:
"Cone said that he was not privy to all the specific circumstances, but was hopeful O’Neill could return to the booth.“I’m not sure what the details are behind the situation — whether he has a medical exemption or not, or if something else might be going on there. I’m not privy to that information. But, I miss him. I know that. He’s such a big part of the Yankees and our broadcast and I certainly would like to see him back.”"
The broadcasts with O’Neill staying home work. They’re not as awkward as, say, John Sterling attempting to call a long fly ball. Occasionally — very occasionally — Kay and O’Neill mumble over each other, but there was no catastrophic clash.
Unfortunately, O’Neill hasn’t even been used remotely much in recent weeks, and has not been a fixture on the YES broadcast seemingly since the opening homestand against the Red Sox and Blue Jays wrapped.
Though the team can soldier on without him, it doesn’t quite feel right to be missing his affability in the booth — though Beltran and Maybin each bring a unique set of skills to the broadcasts they’ve been asked to carry, too.
As Cone’s other duties take him nationally, it would hurt the broadcast to also lose O’Neill’s anchor for a mysterious reason.