Chemistry, Pies, And The Idiocy Of Michael Kay

Chemistry is an issue that seems to stir up a lot of discord among sports fans, particularly those that are inclined to focus on statistics and objective data to reach conclusions about sports. Personally, I believe that as fans, it is very hard for us to make judgements on this kind of stuff, one way or another. If everybody who plays the game seems to think that closing takes a special skill and chemistry does matter to teams, who am I to dispute that when we are really talking about the psychology of the game? Meaning, if people in the game believe things that fly in the face of objective fact, I can argue with that and call them stupid all I want. But when talking about the psychology of the game and the clubhouse, I think that fans come to the debate with a distinct disadvantage of not being in the clubhouse and not having the relevant information. All we can do is look in from the outside, with our noses pressed against the glass, and try to guess at the psychological aspects of the game.

That being said, it seems clear, from the words of the players, that this year’s Yankee team has excellent chemistry. from Mark Feinsand:

Shaving cream pies. Loud music in the clubhouse. Championship wresting belts. The New York Yankees may not be quite the Idiots that resided in Boston five years ago, but they’ve certainly become a looser, more fun team to be around. Especially after winning seven straight.
Wednesday, the entire roster will assemble in the bowels of Yankee Stadium for a Kangaroo Court, a long-standing tradition in baseball that allows teammates to put each other on trial for a variety of reasons. Court will be in session at 3:15 p.m. sharp (late arrivals will be fined $100, no exceptions), with Judge Mariano Rivera presiding over the hearings.
CC Sabathia said he’s had a Kangaroo Court on every team he’s ever been on, but in my nine years covering the Yankees, I can’t remember hearing of one taking place. That’s not to say it hasn’t, but it certainly hasn’t been quite as public as this one, which was advertised by a sign hanging on the front door of the clubhouse.
Such is life for these Yankees, who have shed their businesslike image for that of an actual major-league team, complete with pranks, practical jokes and – dare we say it – camaraderie.

Of course, winning breeds good chemistry, but Pete Abraham said on multiple occasions prior to this streak that this was a closer knit group of Yankees than he had ever seen. This team is having fun and coming together. Which means someone has to complain about it. Enter Michael Kay.

I missed his show, but the accounts that I have been getting say that he was complaining about the pies that AJ Burnett has been throwing in the faces of the players notching walk-off hits. Apparently fun is not “The Yankee Way,” and the Yankees need to act “like they have been there before.” Let me begin by pointing out, as I have on many occasions, that this idea of respect and honor as “The Yankee Way” is a crock. The professional atmosphere has never been about class and always been about money. Prior to the advent of free agency, players signed with the Yankees counting on their playoff checks. In fact, some took lower initial offers, knowing that they would usually be bringing home a World Series share as well. The veterans, very protective of their bonuses, did not condone any behavior that would cost them their money. The focus on professionalism was always about the bottom line. The Yankee Way, if we must use the term, is about winning. Period.

In regard to Michael Kay’s no fun rule, is it really so bad to see the players coming together in celebration of a regular season win? For some sanity on the issue, I shockingly turn to Suzyn Waldman:

I’ve been either covering or broadcasting Yankees games for 23 years…and until this weekend, I’ve never seen a Yankees player get hit in the face with a whipped cream pie. Now, 4 of them in a few days…Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera , Alex Rodriguez and yesterday Johnny Damon. They are the brain child of AJ Burnett, who keeps his supply in the video room right off the Yankees dugout steps.

I think a few of the “core” players in that Yankees clubhouse were a little stunned when the first pie went into Brett Gardner’s face, but it was Mariano Rivera, an ultimate “core” player who told a dejected AJ Burnett yesterday, who was sitting in the clubhouse after being taken out of the game to “get out there….get that pie ready, man, you can’t change karma!”

To those of you who say “Act like you’ve been there before” or “That’s not the Yankee way!”….I say to you…, well, most of these guys have NOT been there before, and how’s that “Yankee Way” worked for the past 7 years? A little life is needed in there…if a pie in the face on a walkoff win is what does it…so what? Add to that the gold WWB (or WWF…whatever it is now) belt being passed around to the star of the day. It belongs to Johnny Damon and the belt was a gift from AJ Burnett’s two little sons…

Hey, if it is alright for Mariano Rivera, it is fine by me, and it should certainly be fine for Michael Kay. Sometimes I think people forget that this is a game. Over the weekend, the Yankees reminded some of us of the fact.

Break movie

0 thoughts on “Chemistry, Pies, And The Idiocy Of Michael Kay

  1. DaveinMD

    One of the may ways that Micheal Kay is an idiot. It pains me that our team has so many crappy announcers. The only good ones of the bunch are Singleton and Leiter. I really miss Bobby.

  2. Harry G

    “…that this idea of respect and honor as “The Yankee Way” is a crock. The professional atmosphere has never been about class and always been about money. Prior to the advent of free agency, players signed with the Yankees counting on their playoff checks. In fact, some took lower initial offers, knowing that they would usually be bringing home a World Series share as well. The veterans, very protective of their bonuses, did not condone any behavior that would cost them their money. The focus on professionalism was always about the bottom line. The Yankee Way, if we must use the term, is about winning. Period.”

    Couldn’t agree more. I like Kay, but I rarely waste time calling into talk-radio shows. I was the first caller yesterday when he raised this issue. I said that no matter what the situation is, people will never be happy. If the team is losing, it’s “This team has no heart, this team has no chemistry, they look flat,” blah. blah. blah.
    If they win, then people complain that having fun is not “The Yankee Way.”
    He retorted that he wasn’t sayin that they shouldn’t have fun, just that throwing pies isn’t the right way to go about it.
    He went on and on about “The Yankee Way” etc.
    He was taken aback though when the next caller pointed out that it was Mo who ordered AJ to get the pie.
    I wish i’d have pointed out what U wrote. I always thought “The Yankee Way” was a media created thing. heck, Kay admitted that the reason he criticizes the yankees for this is becasue he chastises Reyes when he does this shit.
    I say, “who freaking cares?!!!”
    Don’t bother me when Reyes dances, don’t bother me when AJ is hulring pies. Don’t bother me when Joba pumps his fist, and don’t care when Huff imitates him.
    The bottom line is winning. Yeah, Reggie and the rest of the Bronx Zoo, the Boss with his antics really represented the Yanks with class and dignity.
    bullshit. It’s about winning man. In the words of Al “Old-Ass/Crazy-Ass” Davis:
    JUST WIN BABY!!!!

  3. Leftylarry

    Getting rid of poor fielders like Giambi (I’ve seen Tex directly influence the outcome of at least 3 wins with his glove this season) and Abreu (these OF’s aren’t afraid of walls) and adding electrifying speed like Gardners, along with a good fielding catcher who can call a game like Cervelli makes the difference, not pies, they are the result, not the cause.
    I like Posada but he’s a terrible defensive catcher, who calls a lousy game.He’s supposedly cluth but he’s struck out with a curveball or slider in the dirt and hit into more rally killing double plays than any “GOOD” players is supposed too in his career.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Nitpicking on Jorge’s offense is silly. The guy is a great hitting catcher, and most good hitting catchers hit into plenty of DP’s. Also, I have seen no evidence on Jorge’s game calling being awful. Not one shred. This team won World Series with him behind the plate.
      Also, just because the team is better for other reasons does not mean chemistry is worthless.

  4. Leftylarry

    It’s a known fact that YAnkee pitchers over the years haven’t thought of Jorge as calling a good game or being good at framing strikes.
    From El Duque to Randy Johnson to some currently with the team.Jorge does NOT call a good game, never did.
    He can’t catch either, doesn’t block wild pitches and has a nice share of passed balls, heck he drops strikes very often.
    He throws well, is good on pop-ups, but doesn’t block the plate.
    His stats are good for a catcher hitting-wise, no doubt about it and he has improved late in career as a hitter but when Yankees have gone bad in the past in critical times, Jorge contributed with critical strike outs and double plays.
    His reputation of being a clutch hitter is exaggerated.JMHO.
    A curve in the dirt with 2 strikes on him in a critical situation and Jorge is waving at air and sitting down a high percentage of the time.
    Tell me Jeter is clutch in those situations and I’ll agree.

    • Moshe Mandel

      I wanted to respond to this in full, so check out the next post. There is zero evidence about the game calling stuff. “Known fact?” Because three or four very strong willed pitchers wanted to pitch to the backup makes him a bad catcher?
      In regard to clutch, Jorge’s numbers late and close are better than his overall numbers, and his numbers in high leverage spots are better than his numbers in medium leverage spots, which are better than in low leverage spots. His clutch numbers are actually excellent.

  5. Tom Gaffney

    I like Kay a lot, but I just don’t get his whole baseball can’t be fun schtick. He’s ridiculous about these kinds of subjects. It’s weird, because on his show and in the booth he shows a good sense of humor and seems to appreciate some good old fashioned goofy behavior. I guess we all have blinders on over some issues.

  6. I can’t believe he wants to
    a) make an issue of it, or
    b) be on that side of the issue.

    Does he think he needs to show himself unbiased by manufacturing something to criticize. And who the heck is he to decide what ‘The Yankee way’ is? I guess he never heard of Babe Ruth, Lefty ‘goofy’ Gomez. Graig Nettles, Mickey Mantle, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson, Ryne van Duren, Carl Mays, or about 100 other guys.

    • Tom Gaffney

      Joe Pepitone, David Wells, Johnny Damon,

  7. How could I have forgotten Cone’s drinking buddy, since it was in the booth with Kay that they mentioned their antics when they were teammates.
    Casey Stengel is another straight arrow.
    Did anyone mention Billy
    Martin?

  8. Months ago this was also brought up (on another blog), I wrote about how Joe D put it when a rookie came up. His 1st words to the rookie were (something like); “Son, don’t mess with my WS money”. In those days, most players had off-season jobs.

  9. JeffG

    I didn’t think Kay was going so strongly against the pie bit (at least not from the post-game broadcast – I don’t listen to the radio show). I think he said Cone called it in question.
    Just to ponder – do you think Jeter or Jorge should take pie in the face? Would Thurman Munson have?
    …I really love the guys that can have fun especially Swish & AJ but others you just don’t picture them that way.