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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.”

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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.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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