Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Michael Kay and Mike Francesa: Self-appointed arbiters of 'The Yankee Way'

The Yankees have won seven in a row, with C.C. Sabathia getting his first win at Yankee Stadium, and Alex Rodriguez hitting in his fourth straight games. But some broadcasting voices don't like the team's current penchant for actually having fun while winning.

I watched the Joe Girardi Show before last night's game, and heard Michael Kay ask - or should I say complain - about the new Yankee whipped cream tradition. Kay claimed that his boothmates David Cone and Paul O'Neill were "not really cool with that." The broadcaster also said it wasn't "The Yankee Way."

Girardi said he was fine with it. He noted that because it was done after the game when the other team was off the field, it wasn't showing up the opponents.

But geez, is Michael Kay head of the No Fun Zone or what? He didn't like Nick Swisher laughing about pitching. He doesn't like condiments, seafood, soup, or bananas. Now he doesn't like - shudder - the Yankees actually acting like other teams, which means having a good time playing a kid's game. Sheesh.

For goodness sake, this team has won seven games in a row, with three walkoff wins in a row in that streak. If having fun contributes to winning - and I believe it does (and vice versa) - then why can't Kay, Cone, and O'Neill get behind that? The late 90s super-serious vibe worked for that team, but it shouldn't mean that every Yankee team ever has to act the same way. Besides, the Bronx Zoo teams didn't exactly carry themselves like choir boys.

Kay's sports radio competition, Mike Francesa, is just as super-serious. He griped on Monday about A.J. Burnett being the instigator, saying that Burnett should win a few games first.

Francesa also said that Burnett better not try that stuff with Derek Jeter or Jorge Posada, a point Squawker Jon and Newsday writer Anthony Rieber agree with. Rieber writes in today's Newsday:
It's a good thing Jeter didn't get the walk-off hits on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A.J. Burnett smashing a shaving cream pie into Jeter's mug on live television might have been the last thing Burnett ever did as a Yankee.
Jeter had already said that the Yanks better not do that to him, so yeah, I wouldn't be surprised over that outcome!

On the other hand I noticed on Saturday how Alex Rodriguez handled the whipped cream pie. He seemed thrilled to be - for once - just one of the guys! For somebody who's been known to worry too much about his looks and image, he appeared to let his hair down there when talking to Kim Jones with egg - I mean whipped cream - on his face!

Besides the whipped cream, and the new WWE wrestling belt tradition (CC Sabathia won it last night), there are a few other new looks in the Yankee clubhouse this year. The bullpen guys are shaving their heads! Phil Coke showed off his new bald look before Tuesday's game. He told the New York Times:
"So far, it’s me, [Jose] Veras, [Brian] Bruney and Alfredo Aceves," Coke said of the bullpen baldies. Coke said Jonathan Albaladejo "is thinking about it; he’s on the fence now. He’s not sure."
Maybe Edwar Ramirez will shave his head, too, whenever he comes back to the big leagues. He got sent down to open up a roster space for Bruney. Ramirez has given up too many walks this year - 15 in 17 1/3 innings. Hopefully he can fix that in AAA.

LoHud's Sam Borden blogged today about the Yankees team's newfound team spirit, including how the Yanks are having a Kangaroo Court today, with Judge Mariano Rivera presiding. Cool! That's the first time I can remember that happening in many years, although it used to be a staple of the Bronx Zoo Yankees.

Borden asked Johnny Damon about the team's current makeup:

Johnny Damon, who started the WWE belt trend, was supposed to help “change the rigid Yankee culture” when he arrived in 2005, but that’s tough for one guy to do by himself. This year, the Yankees have several new players and that’s how the vibe of a team changes, Damon said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys here,” he said. “A lot of guys didn’t know what it was like here before, so they bring their own flair and so far it’s working.”

Newsday's Ken Davidoff wrote about this as well earlier this week.

I think this team having fun, and coming together, is all a good sign for the Yanks. Maybe it all started when Joe Girardi took the Yanks out for that pool expedition this spring. At any rate, I hope this era of good feeling continues.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!


Roger 9 said...

As long as they keep winning, let the fun continue!
I get more annoyed with some of the things that originate from the broadcast and TV alike.

The Emperor said...

I like Michael Kay, but sometimes he really gets on my last nerve.

I mean seriously, c'mon! The Yankees are finally doing something that's been overdue for decaded, and that's having FUN!!!!

The Yankee Way? This coming from one of the biggest corporate sellouts who denounced his loyalty to the Yankees as a fan in exchange for a bigger spotlight in the sports world. If it were up to him, Yankee Stadium would be renamed "Pepsi Park" or "Smith Barney Field" or something like that. He's one to talk about tradition.

Tradition, while it's always wonderful to acknowledge and reflect upon, to me is so outmoded and overrated these days. The Yankee teams of a few generations ago didn't have the contend with the immense media and public scrutiny they have to deal with today. Plus, with the massive payroll and with the standard being set so ridiculously high, the players are always tense and rigid and play with no enthusiam and enjoyment, and how's that been treating us so far these past few years? Do we have #27 in the books yet?

I say let the Yanks have a blast! Have fun, goof around, play jokes on each other, hit eachother with whipped cream pies after walkoff hits and homers, and most of all play with fun and stop taking themselves too seriously!! That's how friendships and comarardarie are developed and how chemistry is forged!

Anyone remember the 2004 Boston Red Sox? The whole "Idiots" thing? Their clubhouse was probably more like Animal House and guess what they did that year? They won the WS --and went through us to get there!

Cut out all this stuffy and ostentatious pomp and circumstance crap and for chrissakes just enjoy playing the game!! We may actually go all the way this year because of it!

The Emperor said...

Not to belabor the point, but all this tradition stuff of acting like your superior than everyone else is stale and old.

Yes, we have the history and glory to reflect upon, but the guys who play the game are human beings, not robots. No person alive is expected to excel in their jobs if they can't enjoy them, regardless of how much they get paid.

It's just basic human nature.

Leonora said...

I think that Mariano Rivera being the one to call for AJ Burnett to get the pie ready says it all. I've always thought of him as being very serious, and even he is having fun and showing it outwardly. I don't understand how it's an offense to baseball's integrity.

I wish I could see Judge Mariano Rivera preside over the Kangaroo Court, it sounds like something amazing.

The Emperor said...

I completely agree with you, Leonora.

As long as the Yanks don't disrespect the other team -- which they aren't -- I don't see what the hell the big deal is.

Personally, I think Michael Kay needs to loosen up.

Lisa Swan said...

Thanks for posting, everyone. I saw this Suzyn Waldman quote linked on the Yankees' Universe site:

Suzyn said: "To those of you who say “Act like you’ve been there before” or “That’s not the Yankee way!”….I say to you…, well, most of these guys have NOT been there before, and how’s that “Yankee Way” worked for the past 7 years? A little life is needed in there…if a pie in the face on a walkoff win is what does it…so what? Add to that the gold WWB (or WWF…whatever it is now) belt being passed around to the star of the day."

Very interesting!

The Emperor said...

Way to go, Suzyn!!

Anonymous said...

Was listening to Kay on ESPN radio yesterday and couldn't believe what I was hearing. These guys have really selective memories...I recall many stories of Martin, Mantle and the crew pretty drunk and pulling some stunts. And wasn't Reggie just talking about Studio 54? I tend to recall some stories of Babe Ruth and his "Ruthian" appetites.
So, what is "the Yankee way"? Heaven forbid the Yankees actually show some camaraderie.
And, maybe what Derek Jeter NEEDS is a pie in the face. What kind of team leader/captain instills a corporate feel and lack of spirit in the clubhouse? Jeter and the old guard need to get over themselves. Their accomplishments are Yankee HISTORY.
Maybe if they are all invested in each other, in October, when it counts, they will pull it together and bring back the real "Yankee way"...winning!


The Emperor said...

You're absolutely right, Jeanne.

You know who's even more rigid than Jeter and may need two pies in the face instead of one? Posada. I love Jorge, but his reaction to Swisher having fun on the mound when we were getting blown out aggravated me, too.

He needs to lighten up and learn to smile and laugh at himself once in a while, too.

Paul from Boston said...

The Sox fan in me says - go back to the "Yankee Way" of the past few years!!! :)

Seriously - every team needs to develop a personality and why do the broadcasters care? Were they part of the "Yankee Way" that they say is being so violated? Good for them for having fun and good for Girardi for letting it happen. Safe to say the only "Yankee Way" the Steinbrenner boys are looking for is winning a World Series.

Glad to see this crowd of Yankee fans gets it.


Uncle Mike said...

When you're winning 7 in a row (and counting?), goofy stuff is excused. It's like Jim Bouton said: When he was winning 21 games in 1963 and 18 in '64, his "Crazy Guggenheim" impression was considered funny; when he hurt his elbow in '65 and went 4-15, it wasn't funny anymore and he wasn't tolerated anymore.

Michael Kay is talking about "The Yankee Way"? Does the Yankee Way include his gushing over A-Rod, to the point where he makes Lisa look ambivalent toward him?

Rivera being the "Judged" in Kangaroo Court means that, yes, not even Jeter is above the law, and The Captain better watch out.

Uh, Damon's being asked about the Yankees' "makeup"? This is a guy who was one of the featured Red Sox on that "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" episode! Bad choice of words there! But, as Emperor said, those guys were loose. The dirty bums...

Suzyn: Oh my goodness gracious! Thank you! For not being the kind of shill that Sterling and Kay are.

Here's hoping Phil Hughes pitches 7 strong to make it 8 straight.

Uncle Mike said...

Oooops... E-Me. I said Rivera would be the "Judged" in Kangaroo Court. I meant the Judge... but then, if even he is not above the law, then that's a good thing. Maybe he could be fined $5 for an overcooked meal at his Westchester restaurant!

The Emperor said...

I'm at work right now listening to the game on the radio - Swisher just hit a homer (GO SWISH!!).

John Sterling is something else - his new homerun call for Swisher is "Positively Swishilicious!!"

Is he a nut or what??

The Emperor said...

Robbie Cano just followed up with his own homer!!

GO YANKS!! the spirit of Peggy:



The Emperor said...

OMG - Melky just hit one!!

Sterling: "Back-to-back-to-back, and belly-to-belly-to belly".

I love Sterling - he's insane!! LOL!!

The Emperor said...

Okay, no more play-by-play by me. Sorry all...

Paul from Boston said...

Emp you're too funny! I have gameday audio on so I will listen to a Yankee game from time to time and I find Sterling entertaining. I think he's got a great radio voice and I do like his custom HR calls for the players even if I don't like Yankee HRs.

Subway Squawkers said...

Good posts, everyone. Very lively discussion!

Emperor, I put your Sterling
Positively Swisherlicious home run call on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I don't even know what to say about it.

The other night, Sterling actually said "2 and 2 for Swisheroo." Good grief!


She-Fan said...

I love your new layout, Lisa. The blog looks great. As for the pies/wrestling belt/kangaroo court/head shaving....whatever works! This group of guys seems to actually like each other. Most importantly, they're winning.

The Emperor said...

Thanks, Lisa - glad I can contribute! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Hey Emp...

Thanks for keeping me on the blog in spirit...I was at the game last night and needless to say it was a blast, a blast, a blast... :o). Even more amazing I was at the last two games and BOTH games were over by 10:00 pm !!!

Can't credit our Mr. Sterling for the Swisherlicious because AJ did an interview with the post a few days ago and said that when things get down the players think Swisherlicious to pick up the spirits. Right now ..EVERYTHING in Yankeeland is Swisherlicious ..

I'm going to the game on Sunday and I think it's Sabby vs Hamels ..should be a great game...can't wait and by that time I hope the Yankees are on their way to 12 straight ....GOOOOOOOOOOO YANKEES and the NEW Yankee Way !!!


Go Yankees 2009 !!!

NY Sports Jerk said...

Great post, Michael Kay is a clown.

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