ESPN's "KayRod" Cast debuted during the 2022 MLB season as an alternative to the national Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, akin to Monday Night Football's "ManningCast." Former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and current voice of the New York Yankees Michael Kay had a successful run, and the program was renewed for the 2023 season.
However, that doesn't mean it didn't catch criticism from non-Yankees fans. What did we expect, really? A former Yankee (who's a Yankees fan) and a current Yankees personality. Why would any average baseball fan accept this without some sort of pushback?
Then you had the pair calling not one ... not two ... but THREE Yankees-Red Sox games during the 2022 season -- one during which they had Derek Jeter as a guest on the show -- and you had the greater baseball community, most prominently on social media, crying Yankee bias.
Both Rodriguez and Kay were kind enough to answer a question about that exact criticism during ESPN's KayRod Cast Media Conference on Tuesday.
"Joe Buck once said it, when he did the 2009 World Series, he got out of a car in Philadelphia and they all cursed him and said he was rooting for the Yankees. In New York they all cursed him and said that he was rooting for the Phillies. I just don't think that you can make everybody happy, but I don't think I have any bias towards the Yankees. I know them better that I know because I live with them every single day, but in terms of, like, rooting, I have never done that and I have never done that while working for the YES Network, so I don't think I'm doing that on KayRod Cast."- Michael Kay
"While I love the Yankees, I think I get frustrated just like the fans. I've been, I feel, overly critical in some mark and do it in the biggest platforms in the postseason and World Series time. Look, the more people talk about it, the better it is for our sport."- Alex Rodriguez
ESPN's KayRod Cast ready for its second year. No Yankees bias here!
For Kay, he was happy the KayRod Cast got the opportunity to call the Wild Card series between the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals -- a game they could call right down the middle -- to further dispel the notion that there's more of a Yankees imprint taking over the baseball landscape. He said there was positive feedback from both Phillies and Cards fans that the KayRod Cast treated them fairly. For Yankees fans, honestly, some of us were wondering how it would go down. But it was objectively a success.
Throwing the Yankees ties out the window, Kay is a broadcast professional and has been in media since he graduated college in 1978 (and has hosted The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio since 2002, which covers all New York sports). As for Rodriguez, he's one of the best baseball players of all time (regardless of the scandals that rocked him) and posted 22 exemplary years in MLB. This pair has the requisite experience and are, in fact, over-qualified, regardless of whether they've been connected to a franchise that most outsiders have a disdain for.
And for every other baseball fan at home perhaps not paying close enough attention ... do you remember Kay ripping Joey Gallo on his way out of New York? Or his Aaron Boone rant that later resulted in a tense back-and-forth on his radio show? What about A-Rod laying into Brian Cashman over his trade deadline blunders?
"I'm a Yankee fan, and I root very hard for them, and I watch every game that I can on the YES Network. With that said, I think two things are actually funny. One, as a Yankee for almost 15 years, I would hear it over and over again in our clubhouse, on the team plane, in our cafeteria in Tampa. ‘Boy, Michael, isn't he supposed to be cheering for us? He hates us.’ That's pretty funny, right? That goes along with Joe. You can't win either way."- Alex Rodriguez
You indeed cannot. A-Rod and Kay understand that. That kind of awareness will allow them to tune out the noise and deliver the best product possible, which will end up giving back to the sect of the baseball community that perhaps resented seeing them together on TV last year when ESPN realigned their Sunday Night Baseball offering.
After all, enough haters tuned in if they got renewed for 2023, right?