04.08.05

Raissman On Michael Kay’s Deep Love For Mariano Rivera

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 11:32 am by

From Bob Raissman in today’s NY Daily News :

Joe Torre was standing at the mound Wednesday afternoon preparing to lift Mariano Rivera, after the Yankee closer had blown his second consecutive 2005 save opportunity against Boston. On the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, Michael Kay, the play-by-play man, wondered what kind of “reception” Rivera would receive from fans as he walked back to the dugout.

“If he gets booed you really have to question the fans, after what he’s done (throughout his Yankees career),” Kay said. “You hope there aren’t boos.”

Kay’s statement was strange on a number of levels. Most notable was the fact that on Tuesday, after Rivera had gagged against Boston in Game2 of the season-opening series, it was Kay, on ESPN-1050 radio, who ripped into the pitcher, casting doubt about Rivera’s future.

While there were no “boos” in Kay’s Tuesday spiel, his content was a lot harsher, and more cutting, than the sentiment offered by Stadium boo-birds Wednesday afternoon. Kay’s outrage over the booing was overdone.

But outraged he was.

“I’m totally flabbergasted that the fans booed Mariano Rivera,” Kay said as the Al-Yankzeera cameras (surprise, surprise) elected to focus on fans who were actually cheering the pitcher as he walked off the mound. “Would you boo Sinatra because he hit a bad note. I’m shocked!”

Why? The fans who chose to boo were, in their own way, expressing the exact same frustration Kay himself had brought to the ESPN-1050 microphone on Tuesday. Whether or not it’s fair, they could have been flashing back to those blown saves (Games 4 and 5) in clinching situations during the 2004 ALCS.

The fact these fans were not holding microphones when making their audio critique of Rivera does not diminish their statement. Or make it any less relevant than the one Kay presented to listeners on Tuesday.

Anyone who makes a living expressing an opinion, but begrudges fans from expressing theirs, not only comes off as a stone elitist, but someone who pays lip service to freedom of speech. Judging by his characterization of these fans, made on his Wednesday ESPN-1050 radio show, Kay clearly believes they do not have the same rights as talk show hosts or columnists.

He called fans who booed Rivera “low class” and “disgraceful.” He said they made him “embarrassed to be a New Yorker.”

Did Kay forget some of these “low class” fans could be sports talk show callers, the lifeblood of sports talk radio? If Kay would characterize fans as “low class” on his radio show, what must he be calling them behind their backs, when the microphone is turned off?

Kay’s Sinatra analogy is unfortunate, as anyone who heard Old Blue Eyes hitting more than a few bum notes during his final years can attest.

3 Responses to “Raissman On Michael Kay’s Deep Love For Mariano Rivera”

  1. ira says:

    Michael Kay makes me embarrassed to be a New Yorker. I grew up listening to Bob Murphy and Marv Albert, announcers who could call a great game without shilling for theiir employers. I’m not entirely anti-homer: I loved the Scooter too–last time I scored a game, I made sure to miss an at-bat while at the concession stand, so my score card could include the classic Rizzuto notation WW (wasn’t watching). But the Yankee broadcasts are unlistenable now. Clearly they require the cool analytical touch of a Fran Healey.

  2. David Roth says:

    I think even if I didn’t dislike the Yankees, I’d dislike the hell out of Michael Kay. (This is a thought exercise: I profoundly dislike both) And I’m with Ira in the idea that Kay’s clearly the anti-Bob Murphy: where Murph was always ridiculously fired up to be announcing a baseball game right until the end (how many times did that guy say “a beautiful day for a ballgame?”), Kay seems mostly to be flogging the Yankee “brand” first and second, and kind of announcing the game third. He wasn’t quite the homer that Charlie Steiner was during his brief stint in the Boogie Down, but he’s a hump for sure. That he’d be on air ginning up the “outrage” — on both sides of this (forgive second smirking set of tone quotes) “issue” — just makes him predictable in another cheesy way: sports discourse, at least in NYC and on ESPN, increasingly mirrors the way our political discourse is given over to the mannered, manufactured harumphing of perpetually scornful conservative talk radio dudes like Rush “2112″ Limbaugh. This, in the end, is baseball. Can ANYONE get that outraged over any of this?*

    And as for Fran Healy: if he were replaced in Atlanta tonight by Fred Willard’s character from Best In Show, would anyone notice before season’s end?

    *Note: statement does not apply to Larry Bowa or Milton Bradley.

  3. CSTB says:

    I’m lobbying to have the Franster replaced on Mets telecast by Jerry Hubbard of Fernwood 2nite. Not only do I think you’ll notice the difference, but I think you’ll notice the improvement in Ted Robinson’s work, too.

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