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.
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts
“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.
“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.
“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”
Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC
“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”
Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.
“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”
Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.
Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”
FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.
USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.
The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.