Wednesday night’s game had that special feel that is typically reserved for playoff games, no-hit bids, and four hour affairs against Boston. Derek Jeter had notched two hits in his first 3 at bats, and came to the plate in the 7th inning with an opportunity to tie Lou Gehrig. He singled to right and tied the record, and the crowd erupted around him. In the 8th, the crowd roared as he batted with a chance to claim the record for himself, but worked a walk against the aptly named Grant Balfour. For those in the Stadium, it must have been an exceptionally thrilling moment. For those of us watching at home, it was a great experience that was slightly diminished by the incessant babbling of Michael Kay.
During both at-bats Kay assailed us with prepared statements, kitschy lines, and inane platitudes about the greatness of Derek Jeter. Once Jeter notched the tying hit, it became obvious that Kay had scripted his reaction, as he launched into a lengthy speech that drowned out the reaction of the crowd. There was nary a moment of silence from the booth during either at-bat, despite the fact that the crowd was excellent and could have done most of the relevant talking.
The mark of a great announcer is knowing when to let the ambient noise speak for the moment, rather than interfere by imposing their own narrative upon events. Michael Kay frequently fails in this regard, talking over the crowd when he should be describing the play and then letting the picture and the crowd speak for itself. With Jeter’s record breaking hit sure to come over the next few days, I have one request for Michael Kay: Please stop talking.