As playoffs begin, Michael Kay and YES broadcast team leave the booth for TBS and Ron Darling
Tuesday, October 5th 2010, 4:00 AM
New York Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay is relegated to pre- and postgame duties as a national broadcast team takes control o
f the play-by-play for the Bombers.
Near the end of the Yankees‘ loss toBoston Sunday in the regular-season finale, Michael Kay, in a funereal tone, said the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network would be turning postseason coverage of the team over to “the network.”
This was not the first time a YES voice has lamented the fact he would be turned into nothing more than a hood ornament on the Bombers’ playoff sedan. You cannot blame Kay, or any other mouth, for feeling blue.
It’s cold being turned away at the door when the party is about to start.
YES‘ cast of thousands does six months of heavy lifting, then another broadcast team parachutes in, landing on prime playoff real estate. It’s even worse for Yankee voices. Don’t ever forget the regular season is relatively meaningless for the Bombers. The “mission statement,” often repeated on YES (it’s written in blood and locked in a safe), is that anything short of World Series victory is failure.
In April, year after year, it’s presented as a given that the Yankees are guaranteed a postseason berth. Making 15 trips in the last 16 seasons validates the mantra. These cats mean what they say. So now after regular season hors d’oeuvres have been served by YES voices, TBS’ crew comes in to work the banquet. YES mouths do get to sweep up. They are working pre- and postgame shows.
There use to be a time, many moons ago, when a network with postseason TV rights would add a local voice to its broadcast team. Not only would this lend some educated insight, it also would be of great appeal to fans in the market.
That all changed when the money got big. Fox (NLCS/World Series and TBS (LDS/ALCS) are paying Seligula & Co. a combined $3 billion in baseball’s current TV deal that runs through 2013. Both outlets also air regular-season packages but the bulk of the dough is spent on acquiring postseason inventory.
For that kind of cash, TBS and Fox suits (besides praying each series goes the distance) do their own thing. They want their baseball brand to be “pure.” That means using theirvoices, the guys they are totally invested in. Under this philosophy, there is no room for one of the participating team’s voices, even if it might rid the booth of a perception problem.
Not only do fans believe these national crews don’t have intimate knowledge of their squad, they swear they are rooting against them. Of course, this is nonsense. No matter. It happens every year without fail.
As they did last fall, some Yankee fans will be pointing fingers at TBS’ booth. Ron Darling, the Mets‘ SNY analyst and a regular on TBS’ Sunday afternoon baseball cablecasts, will be working Yankees-Twins along with John Smoltz and Ernie Johnson.