YES Becomes KAY As Michael Kay’s Simulcast Will Replace Mike Francesa’s
Unless you’re interested in the endless stream of Yankee-centric infomercials that permeate the YES Network, replacing Francesa with Kay will eliminate the majority of viewers – like myself – who didn’t turn YES on for any reason other than for Francesa or to watch the Yankees games. This is not to suggest that Francesa is objective when it comes to the Yankees. He’s not. But Kay is in another stratosphere of sycophancy to the organization.
Just think about this for a second. If Kay’s radio show stays at its current timeslot of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST, YES will need to find other programming to replace the two hours of Francesa they’ll lose from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. What would they show? Let’s say they start recycling old Yankee games with Kay as the play-by-play man, episodes of the Kay hosted interview shows “CenterStage,” and the “Joe Girardi Show.” Then you’ll get the radio simulcast and, during the baseball season, Kay will be broadcasting the vast majority of the games. You’ll get a marathon of Michael Kay from early afternoon until late at night. It’ll be like the SyFy channel’s July 4 Twilight Zone Marathon, except it will be real and more frightening.
Other than the suits at the YES Network seeking a friendly voice, does anyone want to see Michael Kay all…day…long?
According to the Daily News article, this has nothing to do with Francesa giving Alex Rodriguez a forum for his complaints about his suspension and allegations against the Yankees. Nor is it due to other negative comments Francesa has made about the Yankees. It says it’s a “matter of economics.” Only the Yankees know if that’s true. I find it dubious that they would replace Francesa with Kay based on money when the viewership will undoubtedly decline and any last minuscule smidgen of credibility YES had in their programming will be gone. How can they claim that YES isn’t the Yankees' propaganda arm when there are no shows that provide objectivity about the club?
This decision ties in quite neatly with the way the entire Yankees organization from the Steinbrenners all the way down to the fan base views itself. Since the Babe Ruth days, there's been an air of superiority. It wasn’t due to them winning so many championships alone. There’s a patrician, cultivated, “we’re better than you” attitude that has only gotten worse as they’ve regained some semblance of their footing from the mid-1990s to the present. It was easier to roll one’s eyes and scoff when the team hadn’t won anything for nearly two decades and were an industry-wide joke, but when they started winning again the arrogance was dusted off and came to the forefront. Whether or not it’s realistic is irrelevant. The preordained “Yankees always come out on top” narrative exists even if they’ve come out on top once in the past thirteen years while spending over $2 billion on players.
Here's an open secret: YES is not designed to provide evenhanded sports analysis. It’s there to promote the Yankees brand. Nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps it was inevitable that Francesa would be shown the door as his critiques grew more acute and irritating to the club. The fog of corporations that now own television stations, radio stations, movie studios and publishing houses hasn’t blurred the line of credibility, but destroyed it. The difference with YES is that it isn’t even putting forth the pretense of an unbiased dispenser of information. This Kay move is the final act in the consolidation of insular interests.
Once Francesa’s gone, how many critics of the Yankees will there be on the YES Network? How many actual reporters and not employees of the club will there be? You can go back years and see YES, its website or any of their supposed “news” people failing to report newsworthy stories that would embarrass the organization. They’ve whited out A-Rod’s scandals as much as they could. General Manager Brian Cashman’s off-field peccadillos and subsequent public humiliation were never mentioned. Even injuries such as the one to minor league pitcher Jose Campos in 2012 were ignored as if the mere discussion of the fact that the Yankees had traded a chip – Jesus Montero – for two injured pitchers in Campos and Michael Pineda was out-of-bounds for the delicate sensibilities of the fans.
Will Kay draw the ire of the Steinbrenners, Randy Levine, Lonn Trost and any of the other members of the Yankees hierarchy by criticizing the organization when it’s justified? This is the same Kay who, after Joe Torre’s departure, hammered the former manager relentlessly for his selfishness. None of the criticisms – some of which were accurate – were uttered while Torre managed the Yankees as Kay later claimed to have been "protecting" Torre as if that was his job; as if he could maintain the veneer of reporter and Yankees apologist and not have it noticed. This has gone on repeatedly. Just wait until Robinson Cano shows up as a member of the Mariners and jogs to first base as he did on a daily basis with the Yankees. Kay used to mention it almost apologetically, but now he’ll light into Cano with both barrels because Cano no longer has the “interlocking N and the Y” on his cap.
So which is it with Kay? Will he be a talk radio host discussing sports in a no holds barred manner on the ESPN simulcast, then revert back to the front man who throws lollipop questions at guests on CenterStage, is the master of ceremonies when the team is retiring someone’s number, and broadcasts the games in a tone where he might as well be wearing a Yankee uniform and waving a team pennant? Or will it be all Yankees support all the time, no matter what they do?
The front office can claim this was a financial decision, but think about it logically. Do you really believe the supremely wealthy Yankees are going to save that much money replacing Francesa with Kay? Count up the likely lost ad revenue and ratings and I’d venture to guess the savings will be negligible if there are any savings at all.
This behavior is indicative of an antiquated conservatism exemplified by Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld as they look back with nostalgia at the 1950s and wish the culture was back to their good old U.S.of A. Not the U.S.of A. with the ideas that were the foundation of its creation, but their U.S. of A. Of course, like the Yankees current portrayal of maintaining the 1921 to 1964 dominance that no longer exists, it’s a twisted historical utopia in which only white men were in charge; women were home in the kitchen keeping their mouths shut; gays were safely ensconced in the closet; minorities stayed minorities and liked it; Jackie Gleason was the star of a top-rated TV show with a script that clearly stated if his wife kept getting on his nerves it was perfectly acceptable – and hilarious – that he punch her in the face; and reality was inextricably linked to the preferred storyline independent of facts.
Francesa will wind up on another station for his simulcast and take a large number of viewers with him. YES will get what they want with Kay, who will never take a tack that is too far opposed to what the suits in the Yankees front office dictate. There will be no defending of A-Rod; no discussing Derek Jeter’s own selfishness and decline; no mentioning of off-field episodes that are up for discussion everywhere else; and no honest appraisals of how the team is performing and run.
They can say it’s about money, but that’s hard to swallow when they’re going to have Kay on camera every hour on the hour, never saying anything negative about the club while purporting to be an analyst and cashing paychecks from the Yankees at the same time.
If that’s not propaganda and the weeding out of dissent to meet personal ends, I don’t know what is.