I’ve been holding a lot of this back, so if this seems like nit picking, I’m sorry. These feelings on the Yankees’ behemoth of a regional sports network have been welling up inside me since the beginning of the season.
But, since I’m generally a nice guy, I’m gonna start with some positives. Generally, YES does a good job presenting the game. There are rarely picture quality issues and aside from the occasional close-up-that’s-too-long, the camera work is solid and acceptable. They may not try anything bold, but they keep it simple and there’s something to be said for that.
A good portion of this piece will be about the Yankee announcers, but to their credit, they’re generally pretty good. My girlfriend has the Extra Innings package so I’ve had a good deal of exposure to non-Yankee announcers and aside from Vin Scully, I don’t particularly like any of them. Most of them blatantly root for the teams they call games for and are just way over the top. Michael Kay may be annoying and John Flaherty may be boring, but at least they maintain a veneer of objectivity. Still, though, some changes need to be made.
Jack Curry was a wonderful addition to the YES Network and doesn’t get nearly enough air time. That he only does sideline reports (more on these later) and pre/post game is criminal. He’s got personality, he’s not awkward while talking, and he generally brings good information to the table. YES needs to do more to give him more exposure.
The same goes for the other desk-jockey of the YES family, Bob Lorenz. While he’s spent some time in the booth this season, thankfully, he needs to get even more time. He’s very personable and doesn’t seem obnoxious like Michael Kay. I’d love to see/hear more of Bob in the booth.
As for the current booth, I have a few complaints as well. Michael Kay is just annoying. I think everyone’s in agreement about this, right? He makes it very hard to like him, he asks dumb questions, makes dumb statements, and generally makes the game less enjoyable.
John Flaherty sucks the life out of the booth every time he’s in there. His voice is more monotonous than one of those wheels you had when you were a kid that went “The cow/sheep/horse/frog/etc. says…” when you spun the arrow. He repeats himself constantly (he wouldn’t be proud of this) and there’s nothing mind blowing about his analysis.
Paul O’Neill is okay. He’s somewhere in the middle of Kay and Flaherty. He’s not as annoying as Kay or as boring as Flaherty, but he’s just…bland.
Al Leiter and Ken Singleton are the only announcers I really like. Al is enthusiastic and adds good analysis. Singleton may be calm sounding up there, but he’s not boring. I also like the way he takes subtle digs at Kay every time the latter asks a stupid question. More of these, please (along with less Flaherty and Kay).
The sideline reports YES added this year, whether they’re with Kim Jones or Jack Curry, just annoy me. They totally break the flow of the game and only serve as a distraction. Every time they go to the reporter, I feel like I’m watching the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast during that one inning. You know, that one inning when the announcers completely ignore the game in front of them and talk about something completely unrelated. YES keeps the discussions a little more focused than ESPN, but the break in the action is certainly undesirable.
YES is like the Yankees: it’s one of the best in the business, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. The network definitely doesn’t need a major overhaul and there are definitely a lot of positives (seriously, who doesn’t love Yankees on Deck?), but changes could be made (I really don’t need to see the Reggie Jackson 3 HR game again, YES. How about some more minor league coverage?).