One of the first signs that the media is feeling stiff competition from the relatively new online website, “The Athletic,” surfaced last week in New York. Strong comments were made by Michael Kay, the Yankees’ TV play-by-play announcer, over the exclusive interview Joe Girardi gave to Ken Rosenthal, the Fox Sports on-field reporter who is also writing for “The Athletic.”
It was the first and, to our knowledge up to this point the only one-on-one interview given by Girardi since his contract to manage was not renewed by the Yankees.
Kay may have reason to be upset. He is not only the main TV voice on the Yankees games on YES and occasionally non-cable stations, but he has a radio show on ESPN-98.7 that is simulcast on YES.
According to Bob Raisman, the TV and radio critic of the New York Daily News, Kay recently claimed that Girardi “essentially flipped off the entire New York media that has been covering him since 1996.”
Instead of playing favorites, Raisman suggested that Girardi could have shown “ultimate equality” if he had held a held a press conference. That would apparently have drawn all who were interested in hearing from Joe.
But he could not have gone one-on-one with Kay if he wanted to. It turns out that he is contracted until the end of the year to give his radio interviews to WFAN, even though he no longer is employed by the Yankees.
Kay apparently had no such knowledge of the exclusivity until, as he explained on the air, he was informed by Girardi’s agent. He resented the fact the disclosure had to come from the agent. “Joe couldn’t call me and tell me that?” Kay went on.
Strangely, although Girardi could and perhaps should have been interviewed first on WFAN (probably by Mike Francesa) after being separated from the Yankees, he chose to express himself on “The Athletic.”
Meanwhile, the media in major cities are on notice that “The Athletic” will be a serious competitor.
According to The New York Times, a co-founder of the subscription website, Alex Mather, warned in a San Francisco interview that “We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing. . . . We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”
Ominous, frightening words, even in the powerful New York media. Just ask Michael Kay.