Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: New York Yankees

Game: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees
Date: June 8
Network: YES Network

Play-by-Play: Michael Kay
Color Commentator: David Cone

Say what you will about the Yankees and their satanic ways, it's actually pretty refreshing to watch a baseball broadcast that doesn't involve Fox Sports Net or Comcast's cookie cutter approach. The YES Network is relentlessly self-serving and exquisitely aware of its importance in the sports-shape-my-identity existence of Yankee fans. That's to say that all of the network's own back-patting serves a purpose and, more importantly, at least Michael Kay and his revolving door of color commentators aren't John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Chemistry: Kay and Cone were quite good together. I don't watch enough Yankee games to know how often they're paired up, but the banter between them didn't seem the least bit forced (often a problem with Kay) or insincere. There were a few times when Cone would cackle at his own inside joke to no reaction from Kay, but otherwise, there was effectively analytical give and take with enough levity to keep things loose on this Sunday afternoon. Grade: 8/10

Knowledge: Cone could probably have any major network gig he wanted. His breakdown of how Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek managed to elevate a high fastball for a hit was dynamite. Later, he carefully explained the "blind spot" concept regarding a Jorge Posada passed ball followed up by a perceptive quip that Posada doesn't like to be shaken off by the pitcher. Even Kay had his moments with good points on the folly of sacrifice bunting early in the game. Kay did mispronounce "Hochevar", but we'll let it slide. This time. Grade: 8.5/10

Enthusiasm: Kay was able to drop in his infamous "See ya!" home run call here. It was a 95 degree day in the Bronx, so that might explain why it sounded more restrained than usual. Cone and Kay probably overdid it with the resonance of Joba Chamberlain's second career start, but if you were expecting posturing akin to New York's sports talk radio callers, you'd have been pleasantly surprised. Grade: 7/10

Bar Stool Q: Cone is terrifically glib with a baseball mind able to remember obscure facts from some of his long-forgotten starts. Plus, he once (allegedly) exposed himself to some women out near the Mets' bullpen in the late '80s. That covers his half of the deal here. Kay seems like he'd be a real-life Ron Burgundy ("I'm kind of a big deal.") away from the ballpark. I did like Anchorman, but I don't wanna sit next to him for an entire evening. Grade: 5.5/10

Camera/Production: In one of the more unintentionally funny moments I've seen for this feature, YES flashed a "scouting report" graphic on the Royals' Alex Gordon that included the line "Joba's Mate". Oh, come on…baseball and lowbrow were born to be together. I assume there wasn't enough room in the graphic for "Joba's former roommate", which isn't nearly as funny. Otherwise, YES has all of the excellent production graphics that you'd expect from an ESPN mid-week broadcast. Grade: 7/10

Homerism: I expect this won't make me any new friends, but Kay actually kept his team colors in check. The bunting criticism I mentioned earlier was directed at the Yankees. And, while I've heard and read some of his insanely slanted rants against Trevor Hoffman (vis-à-vis Mariano Rivera) and Johnny Damon (Red Sox caveman version), Kay was about as even-handed as I've ever heard him here. Ditto for Cone. The Joba man-crush was a little much, though. Grade: -5

Commerciality: Pure f*****g gold. I know that my NY readers have probably seen the "wicked psyched to be heah" Avis spot before, but it killed me. And, the Derek Jeter-in-disguise Ford commercial is one of those that's so howlingly awful, it ends up doubling back to be (kinda) good. I haven't seen enough of that "little bit of luck" guy from the Take 5 Lottery for it to annoy me yet and seeing pro wrestling personalities Chavo Guerrero and Jimmy Hart in a hair restoration ad almost made my day. But, the clear advertising winner? A 60-second ad featuring…this.

Smokers Quit Line Trivia Question: "David Cone debuted as a reliever in 1986 with the Kansas City Royals. Who started that game?" (My answer: (expecting it to be anyone but the easy call, Bret Saberhagen: Bud Black; Correct answer: Bret Saberhagen) 10 for 21

Final Grade: 31


Nicka Franco said...

OK, here's the first of many posts, might I add this commercial...which at one point was shown during every commercial break between innings. It might even be it's own post.


ny jon said...

On the one hand, I'm glad the YES team scored better than the choads from NESN, but I think the score's a little tainted as the Kay/Cone mash up is probably my favorite.

Ken Singleton is good for at least one batshit ranting per month and if you've ever heard one you'll never forget it.

Kay is what he is: Alz-stien-mer's Mouthpiece, but if you can look past his sniveling loyalties, he's really not a bad broadcaster. It's just those biases kill his credibility sometime.

Worth the wait, Cam!

mikey mejor said...

Kay's insanely persistent defense of Mariano's imaginary "greatest reliever ever" tiara and sash is just pointless. No one outside of San Diego could pick Trevor Hoffman out of lineup and even the locals here in SD view him more as a novelty who's outlived his usefulness.

Jeff Hansen said...

David Cone! I loved him as a kid.

Call me crazy, but I think that actually was Derek Jeter.

Everyone knows that Gary Busey is the best example of healthy hair.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Singleton and Kay were in rare form last Saturday for Carl Pavano's first start of the season. They spent two full innings passive-aggressively ripping him to shreds, then praised his "gutty" performance and wondered aloud, "If the Yankees can get THIS Pavano in September..."

Mark Smo said...

For some reason I can't stand Cone, it might just be his voice that annoys me but when I watch Yanks games (during commercials of the much better NESN team)I prefer when Singleton is with Kay. And who doesn't love ShamWow!! A buddy of mine uses them and swears they actually are great but I'd rather keep spending $20/month on paper towels (who actually uses that many paper towels anyway!?!??)

NYnicka said...

The Yankee themed shows on YES are bad but nothing is quite insufferable as Sox Appeal.

What ah you lookin fowr ina gha?