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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.”

Derek Futterman

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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

Kirk Herbstreit Energized, Not Worn Down By College GameDay

“I’ve been invigorated with this energy of the show and some of the different locations we’ve been to with the show.”

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Few in broadcasting have as busy of a schedule as Kirk Herbstreit. From announcing Thursday Night Football for Amazon Prime Video, to working as an analyst for ESPN’s College GameDay and Saturday night football schedule, the man stays busy. It would be easy to be worn down, but Herbstreit says he’s been energized by GameDay this year, rather than worn down, and pointed to new addition Pat McAfee as a a reason why.

“Pat has been huge for the show but for me personally, I can’t even describe what he means to me,” Herbstreit said. “For the travel and the fatigue. We’re in an era where I have four sons and their in their apartments in college and I don’t know if they have a TV. We’re in an era where nobody watches TV. It’s the damndest thing. They look at TV like I used to look at my parents and their radio.

“You look at everyone’s ratings and they’re going down, and you look at College GameDay and it’s the best 11 or 12 week start for the show. I’ve been invigorated with this energy of the show and some of the different locations we’ve been to with the show. It’s been a blast and it’s a year I’ll never forget.”

When asked whether Herbstreit was committed to his current schedule, he affirmed he’s locked in for the remainder of his contract.

“I’m completely committed. I think the part where people are like ‘Geez, you call a game on Thursday and a game on Saturday?’, then you throw in a three-hour show every week. I would never even let my mind think of that. I’m already think about what I wanna do after my five-years. Do I wanna stop working? Do I wanna just enjoy my family? Just do GameDay? Just do the Saturday night thing? I don’t know. I’m already think about ‘I’m on the treadmill for four more years’ and then see where I’m at at that stage of life. But it hasn’t crossed my mind to take something off my plate.”

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Sports TV News

World Cup Opener Delivers Big Ratings For FOX Sports

FS1 and FOX Sports streams accounted for 3.23 million viewers for the English-language broadcast of the opener. That number was 1.72 million in Russia four years ago.

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Many questions circled around the unusually timed 2022 World Cup and what it would mean for television ratings. FOX Sports saw a gigantic increase in ratings for this tournament’s opener compared to 2018.

FS1 and Telemundo combined for an audience of 7.23 million viewers for the Ecuador-Qatar opening match. That is a 128% increase from the Russia-Saudi Arabia match that opened the 2018 event.

FS1 and FOX Sports streams accounted for 3.23 million viewers for the English-language broadcast of the opener. That number was 1.72 million in Russia four years ago.

The broadcast on FS1 topped 43 of the 48 games from the group stage of the 2018 tournament.

In 2018, the event began in June with a 10:30 ET start. This year, the tournament got underway on a Saturday at 1:00 PM ET.

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Sports TV News

Charles Barkley Laments Loss of Michael Jordan Friendship As Biggest Media Career Fallout

“Michael got offended about something I said about him. And we haven’t spoken in probably almost 10 years. And he was my best friend at the time.”

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Charles Barkley

During an appearance on the Let’s Go! podcast with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald, and Jim Gray, Inside The NBA’s Charles Barkley said the loss of his friendship with Michael Jordan has been the biggest downside of his media career.

Brady asked what the biggest issue has been with Barkley’s unlimited candor has been during his media career, and Barkley immediately turned to his relationship with Jordan.

“Michael Jordan, losing his friendship was probably the most prominent thing that’s happened to me,” Barkley admitted. “But I was being honest about what I thought. I said, ‘Listen, the toughest thing about Michael, he’s got to put better people around him.’ Because the toughest thing, when you’re famous, they’re on your private jet, you’re buying all the drinks, you’re buying all the dinners. Very few people are gonna be honest with you.”

Barkley was alluding to his comments made on ESPN 1000 in 2012 where he said Jordan had “not done a good job” in owning the Charlotte Hornets.

“I try to surround myself with people like, hey, if I’m screwing up, please tell me,” Barkley explained. “And Michael got offended about something I said about him. And we haven’t spoken in probably almost 10 years. And he was my best friend at the time. And I love the dude like a brother and we’re both stubborn and we haven’t talked.”

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