Along with news of ESPN-1050’s Monday move to 98.7 FM came speculation about the station eventually resting Yankees radio rights from incumbent WCBS-AM. This also put major focus on the broadcast future of Ma and Pa Pinstripe, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.
Allow us to clarify their futures. They ain’t going nowhere. They will be back in the booth for the 2013 season no matter who owns the Yankees’ radio rights, including ESPN.
Despite all the criticism of the voices, Sterling in particular, well-placed Yankees sources, following in the mold of team patriarch George Steinbrenner, consider Sterling and Waldman part of the Yankee family.
The Yankees see the constant criticism of Sterling — its been harsh early in the season and not without merit — and are not concerned. In their eyes, he’s still one of their most popular broadcasters.
“At the end of the day,” said one Yankee source, “people listen to the games because they want to listen to the Yankees. Media guys rip John. (The Yankee hierarchy) don’t care. You don’t love him, but they know their fans do.”
The source indicated in any radio rights deal they sign, the Yankees will make sure they have control of who the broadcasters are.
“They will have the approval,” the source said. “They are loyal to John and Suzyn.”
It’s also presented as almost a forgone conclusion that since ESPN-1050 will soon be blasting from a powerful FM stick, the Yankees will be hot to trot their radio rights right over to the World Wide Leader.
Allow us to clarify that situation, as well. According to Yankee sources, the new powerful signal which ESPN leased for 12 years at a cost just over $100 million, is nice, but it’s not a big deal in terms of where the Bombers radio rights land.
Cash, Green, Moo-La-Dee is what matters.
The sources said the Yankees “have a very good relationship” with WCBS-AM, the current rights holder “and a sense of loyalty” as well. “They will more than likely exercise the option to stay with the station through 2013,” the Yankees source said.
If that’s the case, both the Met (their contract with WFAN expires after the 2013 season) and Yankee radio rights will be on the market after the 2013 season.
Having a powerful signal may make ESPN a player for Yankee radio rights after 2013, but it must be accompanied with some big-time moolah. If the offers are equal, or
How much above that $13 million ceiling ESPN is willing to go will determine if it will become the Yankee radio home.
NOW OR NEVER
On Monday, ESPN-1050 boss David Roberts will take the two Dixie Cups and piece of string, the symbol of the stations’ weak signal, and flush them down the toilet.
Now his crew has a powerful signal, 98.7 FM, to blast sportstalk from. With this power comes responsibilities.
There can be no more excuses. Over the years, many of the station’s talent — some who no longer work there — would say 1050’s weak signal was holding them back. Stuff like: “If we had a bigger stick we could beat FAN in the ratings.”
It was hard arguing with that assessment. But now the playing field is level. And you can bet Roberts, and the Faculty at Bristol Clown Community College, are looking for some tangible ratings results, the kind of numbers that will break FAN’s stanglehold on the market.
Management has put its talkies on some fast horses. Now it’s up to them to win the race. If they falter, we don’t see management being all that patient. Evidence was provided by two subtle moves the suits made prior to Monday’s 98.7 FM launch.
Stephen A. Smith was moved into the 1 p.m.-3 p.m. slot. This may not wind up being his permanent home. Look at SAS as an insurance policy. If the powerhouse signal doesn’t drive ratings for “The Michael Kay Show” it would be absolutely no surprise if Smith is added to the cast of that program to stir things up.
And does anyone think Patrick McEnroe was hired to just work in weekend wasteland? Look for him to be shifted around during the week if ratings don’t rise.
Michael Kay returned to his reporting roots Tuesday night on YES (Yankees-Rangers) providing an interesting moment.
In fact it may have been an unprecedented moment on Al Yankzeera. The subject was the scouting report on highly touted Japanese rookie pitcher Yu Darvish, breaking down his tendencies.
Kay quoted an “anonymous Yankee” player telling him the scouting report he got on Darvish wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Kay said the player told him the report said Darvish would “fall behind hitters quickly,” which the player said is not the case.
Now this is the kind of stuff you don’t get on any local broadcasts — an anonymous player throwing a scout under the Y Train. Good digging by Kay.
Keep it up.
Sterling drives me crazy with the homerun calls, but I am certainly happy to hear that the Yankees will retain the rights to pick the broadcasters!
"Without the Lord, I cannot do it." Mariano Rivera - 9/22/13