Over the last week, there’s been a lot of handwringing about Friday’s Yankees-Red Sox game airing on Apple TV+. How dare the game where Aaron Judge possibly breaks the AL home run record be on a streaming service for free!
Apple and MLB, to their credit, have refused to budge on moving the game, thought a simulcast on YES for fans in the New York market remains a possibility, per the New York Post.
While YES officials are still holding out hope that MLB and Apple would be willing to allow YES to air the game in conjunction with Apple TV’s national stream, sources with knowledge of Apple and MLB’s thinking remained pessimistic.
YES, according to sources, is also amenable to just running Apple’s broadcast on its air to make it easier for Yankees fans to watch. This would allow Apple to maintain its exclusivity around the country.
Another possibility is that Kay could call the game on Apple TV+, which would be disappointing for scheduled play by play broadcaster Stephen Nelson. The Post’s piece is unclear about a possible role for Kay, saying “he would presumably make the Judge calls if he does the game.” So, would he helicopter in for four or five plate appearances, letting Nelson do the rest? Boy, that wouldn’t be a weird broadcast at all!
Kay called potentially taking the call away from Nelson “very uncomfortable.”
“The first I learned of this is from The Post’s website,” Kay told The Post. “At first blush, I would feel very uncomfortable taking the assignment away from someone else.”
But let’s be honest about all this: it’s not about Michael Kay being on the call. It’s about YES trying to flex on a less established MLB TV partner to air a game.
Thursday’s game is a national Fox exclusive, with Adam Amin and John Smoltz on the call. Sunday’s game is an ESPN Sunday night game, called by Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez, and David Cone (also a YES analyst). Kay and Alex Rodriguez will be doing the KayRodCast thing on ESPN2. There have been zero public complaints I’ve seen about those games not being on YES or Kay calling the play by play. Apple’s game, which is available for *free*, is more available nationally than if they game was airing on YES in the New York market, more available nationally than the Thursday Fox game (viewers in most of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and much of the deep south will get Braves-Phillies instead), and more available nationally than either ESPN broadcast (which you need a cable subscription to watch).
The ideal situation for YES is for Judge to not homer on Thursday, not homer during the Apple TV+ game on Friday, and then smash two during the Saturday game, the one game from this Red Sox series that YES will be airing. That way, they get to celebrate Judge breaking the Roger Maris AL home run record on their own network, and bask in the viewership from the game.