“It is time,” SNY play-by-play man Gary Cohen said Sunday after New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo grounded out to end the eighth inning at Citi Field, “to sound the trumpets.”
The minute-long video of the spectacle shared on Twitter has been viewed more than 8 million times. It looks like something out of a movie, and that’s no accident. DeMarsico, who is in his third season directing games for SNY, studied film at North Carolina State and embraces what he describes as the inherently cinematic nature of the sport.
“I never understood why a baseball broadcast can’t be more like a movie, and that’s how I approach every day,” DeMarsico, 35, said in a phone interview. “I’m covering a game, but I’m going to pick a spot here or there where I’m going to show people something that they’ve never seen before.”
Díaz entering games to a bouncy trumpet beat is nothing new. After walking out to “No Hay Limite” by Miky Woodz in 2019, the right-hander’s dreadful first season in New York following a trade from the Seattle Mariners, Díaz reverted to “Narco” before the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and has been using it ever since. With the first-place Mets enjoying their best season since they won the World Series in 1986 and Díaz striking out more than half of the batters he faces, the entrance has taken on a life of its own this year.
Díaz’s signature song has inspired T-shirts. The New York Giants played it at training camp this week, and an engaged couple plans to use it at their wedding reception. On Sunday, Mets Manager Buck Showalter put off a trip to the bathroom before the ninth inning so he could watch Díaz’s entrance in its entirety for the first time.
“I don’t care how you feel about all that stuff — that’s pretty good,” Showalter said.
SNY had shown parts of Díaz’s jog from the bullpen this season, but it hadn’t skipped a commercial break or sent a handheld camera operator to follow him before Sunday. With the Mets leading the Braves 5-2 in the seventh inning, DeMarsico told associate director Eddie Wahrman, who was filling in as producer, the plan. Wahrman replied that it was better to ask their bosses for forgiveness than permission.
“With the way the ballpark was abuzz, it just felt right,” DeMarsico said.
DeMarsico wanted to stick with Stendel’s field-level shot of Díaz until he reached the mound, but he decided to cut away to fans in the stands when umpires stopped Díaz to inspect his hands for foreign substances en route. Díaz went on to strike out the side for his 26th save.
If Sunday’s broadcast were a movie, it would have been Oscar-worthy. Hours before Díaz closed New York’s fourth win in five games against the defending World Series champs, ace Jacob deGrom warmed up for his first start at Citi Field in 13 months. Fans stood and cheered as deGrom’s walk-up song, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” played over the stadium’s PA system. SNY’s broadcast team of Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez was quiet for nearly two minutes, allowing viewers at home to take in the scene.
“Am I the only one who got chills?” Darling asked as deGrom prepared to deliver his first pitch to Braves leadoff man Dansby Swanson.
“No,” Hernandez replied.
The feeling was similar in the SNY production truck.
“That first chord hits, and everyone in the truck goes, ‘Whoa,’ ” DeMarsico said. “We all felt it and knew this was going to be very cool. I felt like the truck was levitating at one point.”
A die-hard Mets fan, DeMarsico interned at SNY in 2009 and was hired after being invited to spring training the next year. While working his way up from production assistant to graphics coordinator to graphics producer, he had the privilege of learning from Bill Webb, who directed baseball telecasts for Fox Sports since 1996 and Mets games for SNY from the time the network launched in 2006 until he died in 2017.
DeMarsico credits his crew, including Wahrman, producer Gregg Picker, graphics producer Tom Rochlin, technical director Seth Zwiebel and SNY’s freelance technical operators for making his experimentation possible. Together, that group worked hundreds of World Series games for Fox under Webb’s direction.
“It kind of gives me the freedom to be creative and take some more chances that I otherwise wouldn’t get to do because these guys are just so good,” DeMarsico said.
A recent example is the Quentin Tarantino-inspired effect shown on SNY’s broadcast after a Mets player is hit by a pitch. It had become an inside joke that DeMarsico would cut to a shot of a stoic Showalter in the dugout every time New York added to its MLB-leading total in that statistic. He eventually thought to add the siren that sounds and the red filter that appears in Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” among DeMarsico’s favorites, when Uma Thurman’s character encounters someone who wronged her in the past.
In a nod to film director Brian De Palma (“Carrie,” “The Untouchables”), DeMarsico uses a fake split diopter shot on occasion, which gives viewers an artistic view of the hitter and pitcher simultaneously. He and Picker also have been working to perfect a seldom-used shot from behind home plate.
“Before a broadcast, we always say to each other, ‘Have a good show,’ ” DeMarsico said. “Our broadcast takes that pretty literally. Obviously there’s a game, and we don’t want to miss anything going on on the field between the lines, but we’re providing a product that should be entertaining, and that’s how we approach it.”
Despite glowing reviews for SNY’s coverage of Díaz’s latest entrance, it’s not something the network will do every time.
“We want the moment to be right, and we don’t want to oversaturate it,” DeMarsico said.
Meanwhile, Baltimore Orioles closer Félix Bautista recently added his name to the list of closers with dramatic entrances, one highlighted by Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera (Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”) and Trevor Hoffman (AC/DC’s “Hells Bells”) when he walked out to flashing lights and Omar Little whistling “The Farmer in the Dell,” the sound made famous by the late Michael K. Williams in “The Wire.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re going to see a lot more attention on closers coming in after the attention that the Díaz clip has gotten, and I hope they do,” said DeMarsico, who saw a clip of Bautista’s entrance. “Baseball has tried to grow the game with a younger audience through a number of different things, whether it’s showing more advanced analytics or odds and probabilities, but that’s not really my cup of tea. This is the entertainment business. This is Ricky Vaughn in ‘Major League’ coming in to ‘Wild Thing.’ Edwin Díaz is Ricky Vaughn, and this song ‘Narco’ is ‘Wild Thing.’ Regional networks should be taking more chances and showing the spectacle of the game.”