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Alex Rodriguez: ‘I Don’t Blame Michael Kay For Criticizing Me In The Past’

“I was the jackass who got in trouble. Michael was doing his job, and that’s why he’s good at his job.”

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With the success of the ManningCast on ESPN during the 2021 NFL season, the network is introducing a new, special viewing presentation called Kay-Rod Cast featuring New York Yankees’ play-by-play announcer Michael Kay and three-time league MVP Álex Rodríguez. The duo will call eight games together, initially from ESPN’s Seaport District Studios in New York, NY during the 2022 regular season, starting with the Yankees’ matchup against the Boston Red Sox this Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. EST.

With the new style of broadcast, which they both describe as a “party on ESPN2,” ratings are not so much the focus. Instead, it will be about generating content and genuinely establishing a feel as if they are, according to Kay, “in the stands talking about the game with some friends who sat down next to us.”

“I think ratings – and ESPN is not going to want to hear this – they are overrated,” said Rodríguez. “I think this cast is really set for great content and really to entertain… and [to] show off my experience and my knowledge; my highs and lows, and what I’ve learned over my career.”

Even if the trend of secondary broadcasts and alternate-viewing presentations being subservient in the ratings to the traditional style of broadcast holds true, Kay reiterated a point of saliency that some may choose to overlook.

“The numbers will be where they are, but all the numbers are for ESPN,” said Kay. “We’re not going to look at it and be upset if the main broadcast has more viewership than we have.”

Rodríguez is excited to get the opportunity to work with his longtime friend Michael Kay, who covered him with both the YES Network and 98.7 ESPN New York throughout his 13 seasons with the Yankees. While Rodríguez received criticism from Kay after he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and subsequently suspended for the remaining portion of the 2013 season and entirety of the 2014 season, he knows that relationships are not always linear, and he values Kay’s friendship.

“Michael and I have been great friends for over two-and-a-half decades, but I don’t blame Michael [for being critical] – I blame me,” said Rodríguez. “I was the jackass who got in trouble. Michael was doing his job, and that’s why he’s good at his job. That’s what I think will make this show really good because you’ll get forthrightness from him and I.”

A central goal of the Kay-Rod Cast will be remaining focused and topical pertaining to the game on the field. Kay, as he recently discussed with Barrett Sports Media, will be trying to fuse his role as a play-by-play announcer and radio host, while Rodríguez will seek to manifest part of his knowledge and personality never seen before.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who knows more baseball than Álex,” Kay said Wednesday. “To give people the opportunity to peel back the layers – this format gives us the perfect opportunity to do that. I think people are going to be shocked at the things they hear from him because he knows the game so well, and this is the perfect venue for it.”

The key to bringing this idea to reality was not only listening to Rodríguez’s prior appearance joining Michael Kay in the YES Network booth where they spoke about why he was hit by so many pitches, but also his outside sports and business commitments, including as a part-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rodríguez wanted to ensure that he would be able to bring his best in the booth before signing a multi-year contract extension with ESPN, but knew he would have to balance it with his busy schedule.

“I told Jimmy Pitaro [that] I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do another thirty games,” said Rodríguez, “and the opportunity to work with Michael was one I couldn’t pass down and I think we’ll have a lot of fun.”

The inaugural Kay-Rod Cast begins this Sunday night as the New York Yankees face the Boston Red Sox from Yankee Stadium at 7 p.m. EST in The Bronx, N.Y. The duo will call seven additional games on ESPN2 throughout the 2022 season, which will be available to stream on the ESPN App, while the new Sunday Night Baseball booth of Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and David Cone continue the traditional broadcast on ESPN. Additionally, Kay and Rodríguez will be the primary broadcast team for the first game of the second half of the 2022 regular season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, along with an additional game that remains to be determined.

Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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