Tonight, driving home from work, I was tuned to The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio (1050 AM in NYC). It was sometime near 5:30 pm EST and Kay was doing something he’s been doing often now (for at least the past month or so): Questioning why Yankees fans are on A-Rod so much and then slamming people who call into the show to explain why they’re not Alex fans.
Michael was really bringing it tonight – with rants such as “He’s not just a great player, he’s the best player in the game, and he’s one of the best players of all-time!” (Or something close to that.) You could just hear the spit coming out of his mouth as he was shouting it. In some ways, it was one of those moments in time where paid professional radio host and Jerome from Manhattan become indistinguishable from each other. You kind of expect this from Mad Dog Russo (who probably can’t kiss his wife hello without spitting). It’s just a tad on the sad side when Kay pulls this routine.
Anyway, I’m not sure why Kay has taken on this A-Rod crusade. But, if you listen to the likes of a Bob Raissman (and why would you?) he would tell you about the Kay-Rodriguez relationship. Who knows? Maybe Michael has ticked off enough guys in the Yankees clubhouse that he needs someone to be his friend in there? Or, perhaps Kay sees the Red Light beast in Alex and he wants to feed it – knowing that’s a good thing for both of them down the line?
In any event, the question I would love to ask Michael Kay during times like these – but cannot because I don’t have a cell headset and, regardless of that, I would never burn cell minutes to wait on hold for about a half-hour – is this:
Michael, say the Yankees are losing 1-0 and it’s the bottom of the 9th. They have a runner on 3rd with less than two outs. Based on play that you’ve seen since April 2004, if you could pick one Yankee to be up for you, who would you pick?
Honestly, I think most Yankees fans who watch a lot of games would pick either Sheffield, Matsui, or Jeter in this spot before they would say A-Rod. And, I would not be shocked if some Yankees fans said “Cairo last year or Womack this year” before picking Rodriguez for this At Bat.
And, that’s the issue. Many Yankee fans will not embrace A-Rod until they feel comfortable with him at the plate in a spot where he can/will save the game for them. Yankees fans love that “clutch” quality/security in a player. That’s why (in the last 30 years) they loved Munson, Piniella, O’Neill, Donnie and the like in the past and that’s why they don’t moan about Matsui, Sheffield and Jeter today (even if they do fail in a game sometimes).
That’s the dealio my friends. Once A-Rod is able to win the fans over, by gaining that “the man” trust, then all this debate will end. Is this fair? Too subjective? Whatever – it does not matter. It’s just the way it is. I just wish that folks like Kay would learn it, accept it, and move on to something new. I do a lot of driving and it’s boring to keep hearing the same thing every week.