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Michael Kay: ‘My Skin Is So Thin, It Is Translucent’

“There are parts of me that when someone say something nasty about me in the newspaper that I think is unfair, my first inclination is to strike back at them.”

Ricky Keeler

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EH Wallop/YES Network

On Tuesday, Michael Kay added another new job to his many list of jobs. Not only is he the voice of the New York Yankees on YES and a host of The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN Radio in New York City, he is now an author. His book, CenterStage: My Most Fascinating Interviews – From A-Rod to Jay-Z was this week released recapping all the memorable interviews he’s done on YES Network’s CenterStage since it first aired in 2002. 

Kay was recently a guest on the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast to talk about the book among other topics. Being a host in a large sports market comes with a fair share of criticism and for Kay, it is not easy for him to handle it and at times, he wants to fight back, but knows he can’t.

“I am so incredibly thin-skinned. There are parts of me that when someone say something nasty about me in the newspaper that I think is unfair, my first inclination is to strike back at them. But, my bosses at both places go ‘that doesn’t help you. It’s not productive.’ I think it is.

“People that criticize people do not like to be criticized. My skin is so thin, it is translucent. If I mess up a call and you say wow, Michael messed up a call. Bring it, I deserve it. When you say stuff just the way I do stuff or something that rubs you the wrong way, it bothers me. I don’t understand the meanness of it.”

Kay went into detail with Deitsch about going off on the radio show five years ago about New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick for a criticism Mushnick had about him.

“I went off on the radio like a lunatic. About 21 minutes of lunacy by me. I go to a break and my phone rings and it’s [Mike] Lupica. He goes, you’re happy? I go, yeah. He goes, ok, he’s not going to let you up for 5 years. He goes, what you just did made you feel good for 20 minutes and now you are in his crosshairs for 5 years, so be ready.” 

Whenever Kay does play-by-play for a Yankees game or hosts the radio show, the key for him is honesty with the viewer or listener. He doesn’t think there is anybody more critical of the team they broadcast than he is and he credits the Yankees for allowing him to do that.

“The reason I can do it is that the Yankees never say a word because they realize the value of honesty. If you are going to tell people the food stinks, then they are going to believe you when they tell you the food is great. There are so many people around the country that are blowing smoke constantly and I guess that’s what the fanbase wants. I don’t think that would play in New York. I think honesty plays in New York.”

Kay also addressed his competition in afternoon drive. He said that he thought WFAN’s Carton and Roberts, who have overtaken the Michael Kay Show in the ratings have a bit of an advantage because of the content they can do that he cannot.

“I work for two Tiffany brands. I can’t really go low on ESPN. I can’t go low and be connected to the Yankees. Now, Michael Kay the person, if I wasn’t connected, I can go as low as anybody, believe me. But I’ve kind of got handcuffs on, and Craig and Evan, they don’t. … The early ratings would indicate (beating Carton and Roberts is) going to be very difficult to do. That’s a destination station, FAN. People think of sports talk, they think of FAN in New York.”

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Jay Williams Calls Listener, Forces Him To Pay Their $1000 Lakers Bet

“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”

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If you owe Jay Williams money, he is going to find you. Just ask Rob, a listener in Orlando who bet the ESPN Radio morning man that the Lakers would advance to the NBA Finals.

Last week, Rob called Keyshawn, JWill and Max and bet Williams $1000 the Lakers would eliminate the Denver Nuggets. Williams said if that happened, he would pay Rob $1500.

Obviously, that is not the way things played out. On Tuesday morning, Jay Williams called Rob demanding payment.

“He owes me my money,” he said. “So you know what we do? We got Detective Pat on the call today. Pat, let’s give this man a call. See if this guy picks up, trying to run away from giving me my money.”

The show’s associate producer Patrick Costello called the number Rob left last week. On the first attempt, the listener did not pick up. Williams vowed to keep up the pressure on social media and national radio and television until he got paid.

“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”

“You know, getting that money is a wrap, Jay,” Keyshawn Johnson said through laughter. “I told you that.”

The show made one more attempt to connect with Rob before having to turn things over to Greeny. This time, the Lakers fan picked up and acknowledged that he had to pay. He offered to make a donation in Williams’s name.

“I’ll send you my bank account here privately, and then I will send it to the charity of my choice,” Williams agreed.

Rob agreed to the arrangement. Williams asked him if he wanted to apologize for doubting the basketball analyst’s prediction of the Lakers’ demise.

“Apologize? I need the Lakers to apologize to me after that performance,” Rob said. “Because Jesus Christ, that was horrible. That was bad.”

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Stoney & Jansen on LeBron James Retirement Talk: ‘NBA Needs Offseason Stories’

“I think we pick and choose with him. I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”

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As the Los Angeles Lakers exited the court after being swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals on Monday night, a grim reality set in across the basketball world regarding the future of forward LeBron James. Widely regarded as one of the best players to ever suit up, James is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, a 19-time All Star selection, four-time MVP, and four-time NBA champion.

During his postgame media availability on Monday, he stated that he had to seriously think about his future, undoubtedly referencing retirement. James just completed his 20th season in the Association and continues to play at a high level, but is going to think about walking away from the game after falling short of the NBA Finals this year.

“He’s been a pretty good soldier for the game,” said Tom Milikan, morning show producer and assistant program director at 97.1 The Ticket. “There’s been some things I haven’t agreed with him [on] that he’s liked or tweeted or whatever. I think he’s had some ignorance, but I think that applies to every single athlete out there that’s great.”

Throughout his NBA career, James has been the subject of criticism. The ESPN special he participated in titled The Decision saw him reveal he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. He is also a frequent subject across the network’s programming, including on Get Up, First Take and NBA Today.

“I think we pick and choose with him,” Millikan said. “I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”

Show co-host Mike Stone read messages from the 97.1 The Ticket text line during the show, many of which criticized James for being a “flopping” player desperate for any semblance of attention since he will not be in the NBA Finals. One text suggested his revelation of weighing retirement was done intentionally, surmising that he has a film documentary crew around him and coming back stronger than ever would make for a great story.

“The league needs some offseason stories,” Millikan said. “From what I know, the free agency class is not all that great this year – and one of the big names is Kyrie Irving, and that’s toxic. It’s sort of like, ‘Hey, maybe they’re generating buzz or trying to do the whole Brady thing.’ So be it – I’ve seen it 15 times in my life.”

Stone recognized that athletes like James are genuinely once-in-a-generation type talents, and that his time in the NBA has been defined by more than what he has done on the court. James has also been an immense advocate for greater causes, including social issues, youth education and community affairs. Whenever he decides to call it a career though, fans should rest assured that James has truly given the game everything he has.

“I want to see the best that they have for as long as possible,” show co-host Jon Jansen said of star athletes. “If they end up playing too long, so be it. I don’t care. Then I know I’ve [seen] it all.”

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Danny Parkins: NFL Teams ‘Don’t Really Care About Your In-Stadium Experience’

“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it.”

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On Monday at the NFL Owners’ Meetings, flex scheduling for Amazon Prime Video’s presentation of Thursday Night Football was approved 24-8. Games can only be flexed between Weeks 13 and 17 with 28 days notice required. Additionally, a maximum of two games can be flexed per season, with the entire operation being on “a trial basis.”

“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it,” said Danny Parkins on 670 The Score as the news broke Monday. “[The] first rule already happened, and the Bears are one of the teams that either benefit or are victimized by the rule depending on your interpretation. You can play on multiple Thursdays this year. You can’t play multiple road Thursdays, but the Bears have two Thursday night games – in Washington and home against Carolina.”

In an effort to broadcast compelling action on a national stage, the National Football League did not give all of its 32 teams at least one game on national television this season. Conversely, the New York Jets, complete with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will be featured on national television for the maximum of six times, including two matchups on Thursday Night Football. The Jets, along with the Chicago Bears, dissented from voting in favor of flexible scheduling, but Parkins assumes it has nothing to do with the fans.

“My guess is [it is] because they already have two Thursday night games,” Parkins said. “Maybe they’re just altruistic and they care about fans and travel and all that, but I bet you that they said, ‘Well, we’re playing in Week 5 in Washington and Week 10 at home against Carolina. We don’t want to risk Bears-Browns or Bears-Falcons being flexed into Thursday Night Football later in the season and end up with three Thursday night games.’”

Many football fans and media professionals have pushed back on granting the property any type of flex scheduling because of the negative impact it has on injury prevention, something that is not as pronounced with other properties solely because of the day of the week. Sunday Night Football on NBC was previously the only property with flex scheduling ability, and Monday Night Football on ESPN is being granted that ability between Weeks 12 and 17 with at least 12 days notice.

“They don’t really care about your in-stadium experience – they don’t,” Parkins said of the league. “As long as you watch on TV, they’re thrilled because that’s where they make a huge, ungodly percentage of their money – more so than any of the other sports.”

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