Thank God this three-game series between the Red Sox and Yankees is now over. The Red Sox may have lost two of three to The Evil Empire, but that's not the important thing. I can watch the Red Sox again without having to listen to the broadcasting team from "Al-Yankzeera."
I've never been happier to see and hear Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in my life.
Last night's Red Sox-Yankees game on the YES Network infuriated me like no other Yankee broadcast has in recent memory. (By the end of the game I was actually doing something I almost never do: yelling obscenities at the screen.) We all know about Michael Kay and what a Yankee shill he is. But he and his broadcasting cohorts hit a new low last night. Before I get into Kay, I'll start with the newest member of the gang, Al Leiter.
It's with a bit of sadness that I titled this article calling Leiter a hack. I've always had a great deal of respect for Leiter. He's a genuinely good guy, and was always very accessible and likeable with the press in his playing days. When he pitched for the Mets, he was their equivalent of Tim Wakefield: one of baseball's better citizens and a great man with the community. He was very easy to root for, and a very gutsy and gritty player.
He did a very credible job as the third man in the booth during the 2004 ALCS with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. It was easy to see he would end up in the broadcast booth with someone. I wasn't so bothered to hear the Yankees signed him to do some YES telecasts.
But last night, his defense of yet another Randy Johnson putrid performance (his sixth straight, as Kay pointed out to him) left my head spinning. Kay asked him what grade he'd give Johnson for this game, a game where Johnson gave up 5 runs and 9 hits in five innings. "I'd give him a 'B'", Leiter said. Even Kay and Ken Singleton couldn't believe that and demanded an explanation. (They both gave him a "C". Personally I'd give him a "D", and had the Yankees lost, he'd get an "F" from me.) Leiter went into full spin doctor mode, and his explanation seemed right out of Al-Yankzeera 101.
Leiter seemed to have been indoctrinated into the Yankee Propaganda Ministry way of thinking. It's a shame, as he showed some real promise once.
But Michael Kay was the real "star" last night. Literally from the time that YES went on the air at 7 PM, he was absolutely fixated on the Manny Ramirez "pose" at home plate after his home run off Scott Proctor on Tuesday night. He seems to have a real fetish in disliking Manny. A couple of friends last night told me that they heard his radio show on 1050 AM and he just ranted about it all show long. Even after Manny's first home run in the first inning (which Manny didn't pose and just ran to first, which Kay totally ignored), he couldn't shut his fat yapper about it. Hey, I've made it known I don't like ANY player who does that crap. But Kay seems to think Manny's committed some act of heresy here. He sure isn't the first one to do this, and won't be the last. Could someone point out to Kay that one of his idols, namely Reggie Jackson, started that nonsense back in the 1970s? Not one word from Kay or anyone else in the YES booth about that last night.
(A friend also told me that the radio side of the Yankees, namely John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, didn't make a big deal over the Manny home run pose, and that for the Yankees it wasn't that big a deal either. Interesting.)
Manny hit another home run in the seventh off Proctor that made the score 8-6. In the top of the next inning, Kay went off on another ridiculous rant about how Manny was "an embarrassment" and embarrassed Proctor with his second home run. Huh? Proctor threw Manny a nice meatball over the plate that Manny killed over the Monster in left. (And there was no posing again.) So is Manny supposed to let that pitch go? I know Kay hates Manny with a passion, but his ranting sounded like a frustrated Yankee fan loose in the booth. Kay should ask both Proctor and Joe Torre why he served Manny such a fat pitch on a silver platter rather than blame Manny for it. Kay also talked like the Yankees should have thrown at Manny as well.
Kay thoroughly embarrassed not only himself and his boothmates, but the Yankee organization with his childish BS last night. He's proved why he is so absolutely disliked not only by Red Sox fans but by YANKEE fans as well. A few dedicated Yankee fans I know wish Kay would just disappear from the YES booth altogether.
I actually caught part of a Yankee game last week with Singleton and Jim Kaat, and it was far better to watch that Kay was MIA. Singleton is one of those broadcasters who seems to get caught up in the "web" of his play-by-play partner. (I call it "The Phil Rizzuto Syndrome.") But when he's away from Kay and with Jim Kaat, he's actually a decent listen. I still have a lot of respect for Kaat, as he doesn't talk down to his audience, and usually has something of interest to say.
I never thought I would write this, but last night he actually made me want to listen to John Sterling instead, and God help me, Ken Harrelson, the notorious homer from the White Sox. I'm officially done with any Yankee games that involve Michael Kay.
That is, until June 5th, when the YES network is shoved down our throats again when the Sox return to the Bronx.