Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kay, an all-time legend


March 16, 2008 - 1:15 p.m. ET
Spring Training Game 16
Legends Field, Tampa, Fla.
Play-by-Play: Michael Kay
Color: John Flaherty

Open: On the starters, Chien-Ming Wang and C.C. Sabathia: "How about the pitching matchup today? You'll take this matchup any day, and you'll pay to see it. And you'll see it free today on YES."

  • First of all, no one wants to hear someone who gets paid to call baseball games tell him who is worth spending money to see. Second, I love that Kay is so sure I would pay money to see Sabathia and Wang pitch in a Grapefruit League game. How many of the 10,000 or so people in the ballpark do you think knew the pitching matchup when coming to the park, much less when they bought tickets? No matter how great the starters do, they'll both be gone after the fifth inning at the latest. Also, thank heavens YES has provided us Kay free of charge.

For those scoring at home, Kay did the, "When we come back: lineups, first pitch, baseball" routine on the way to break.

Top first: YES comes back from commercial early, and Kay is forced to fill. "Yogi Berra's not just a legend, he's an all-time legend."
  • I wonder what would happen if Kay were placed on a similar scale. "He's not just a bad broadcaster. He's an all-time bad broadcaster."
"Let's just sit back and let the sunshine come through your television, whether it be plasma, or something else."
  • Kay clearly not versed in other forms of TVs.
Top second: Chien-Ming Wang doesn't look great, so YES decides to go to the pitch-count graphic.Without fail, Kay will read the numbers on the screen. That's the second time in two such graphics he's done that. It's like clockwork.

David Dellucci makes his second plate appearance. Kay again doesn't mention he used to play for the Yankees. Odds that he doesn't remember? 2:1.

As YES goes to break, Kay says the Indians scored three runs on three hits. YES' graphic says four. Tough to tell who is right without some research, but Kay takes the hit on that one.

Bottom second: Well, if you bet on Kay forgetting that Dellucci played for the Yankees, you lost. But, Kay tosses in a gratuitous "actually" by saying, "When he actually plays against right-handers, he does very, very well."

Top third: We're not crazy about John Flaherty, but he has some self-deprecating humor. He tells Kay that he won't be at opening day and says YES will have the A team there.

Kay: "You can be part of the A team, John."
Flaherty: "I'm on the B team."
Kay: "I can't accept that." To himself: "Wait, if he's on the B team, does that mean I am too? But I'm on the A team. Hey, how come Paul O'Neill isn't here to order food? It's the third inning already."

Bottom third: Flaherty starts talking about how Alex Rodriguez was "cheating" on C.C. Sabathia's fastball when he swung way too early on a changeup. Kay: "Explain to the people out there what you mean by cheating. A lot of people will think Alex is doing something wrong."
  • How many people out there watch spring training games and didn't understand what Flaherty meant there? ["Cheating? Is he corking his bat?"] Three? That's poor faith in the public's grasp of idiomatic language. This also shows Kay's bad habit of playing Jim Lehrer with a his color commentator and asking silly follow-up questions when everyone already knows what the color guy meant.
C.C. Sabathia's pitch-count graphic comes up, and, you guessed it, Kay reads it aloud.

Kay on Grady Sizemore's routine catch of Shelley Duncan's fly ball to center. "Sizemore back, STILL back, makes the catch. Takes an extra-base hit away from Duncan."
  • Calls like that make Kay wish he were still on radio, when fans had no idea how much he distorts reality.
Bottom fourth: Kay reads another pitch count graphic. This isn't egregious in itself, but when it happens every time, it's a problem.

Top fifth: Kay tells everyone how Josh Beckett's "back has been barking." Two minutes later, in talking about Bartolo Colon, says "his shoulder has been barking."

Flaherty then compares catching a knuckleball to working with Kay. Meanwhile, a pitch count graphic goes by unannounced!

"You really hated catching a knuckleball. I hope you don't hate being here with me."
  • Don't ask questions you don't want answered.
Flaherty: "I thoroughly enjoy this. ... You have made this transition into the booth so enjoyable."
Kay: "Oh, go on. No, go on."
Flaherty: "That's enough."

Of course it is. Makes me sick.

Thank goodness this Captains' Corner isn't a series. Just a one-time show with people like Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and Mike Eruzione. Hold on while I set my DVR.

Bottom five: Back to that pitchig matchup I will pay money to see. Wang didn't finish the fifth, and Sabathia doesn't even start the inning. What a ripoff.

With Aaron Fultz in the game, Kay uses the opportunity to talk about how great the Indians bullpen was in 2007. Of course, he only mentions Joe Borowski, who Kay says has the worst stuff of the bunch. ("But that's not a knock on the guy.") Besides, Borowski has to be great because he "got it done" with 45 saves. Kay doesn't mention the 5.07 ERA or Rafael Betancourt or Rafael Perez.

Top sixth: This isn't a knock on Kay, but as he says the Yankees have set a Legends Field recordwith today's attendance. YES shows wide-angle shots and the park looks 1/3 empty.

This is a knock on Kay: The Yankees have played at Legends Field since 1996, a fact Kay has said at least four times in the past two games. He follows up this non-nugget of information by declaring that the Yankees have made the playoffs every year since then.

He also describes it as a "small major-league stadium." Look, I'm sure it's nice, but doesn't that make it a minor-league park? It holds 10,000 people. That's 25 percent the size of the smallest big-league park.

Top seventh: Kay follows up some Flaherty commentary on how useful Darrell Rasner is by, out of the blue, congratulating the North Carolina basketball team on its win over Clemson in the ACC title game. Now that Tyler Hansbrough has heard Kay acknowledge that, he can go do something else.

Kay also asks Flaherty if he lost weight catching in hot weather.

"What did you lose, five pounds?"
"Well, I didn't go in and weigh myself."
"I like to weigh myself 15 or 20 times a day -- see the ebb and flow."

Where to begin? Is Kay looking for a weight-loss plan? Catching a baseball game would probably rank about 101st on my list of such plans. Does Kay really weigh himself 15 or 20 times a day? That is such a bizarre total it almost has to be true.

Bottom seventh: "Let's take this baby to the eighth."

Top eighth: "Pretty play!" makes its return. Cody Ransom makes a diving stop to end the inning. "That's a pretty play by Cody Ransom." For those who don't know, Kay said this about 45 times per game in 2006, but someone was listening enough to realize that he said it too much. It virtually disappeared in 2007. Maybe that same person will realize that Kay is on the air too much.

Bottom eighth: I'm ashamed to admit this, but I just laughed out loud at Kay. Nick Green was robbed on a diving catch by Ben Francisco, and Kay comes up with, "Green could have been singing 'I left my hit in Ben Francisco.'" Not half bad.

Bottom ninth: Kay gets excited when Nick Green wins the game with a two-run single. He's thrilled he won't have to call extra innings.

Oh, what a play!: 1-for-2. Blows it on Ransom's diving catch, but tosses in a variation on a nifty double play by Bernie Castro and Alberto Gonzalez. "Oh, what a DOUBLE play."

Fields, fires!: 0-for-1: Casey Blake started a double play, but Kay's call curiously omitted his famous phrase.

I owe Juan Rivera an apology: No real major flubs in this game.


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