ESPN Proudly Presents Alex Rodriquez

America has suffered through a lot the past six years: a sickening virus that swept through the nation, then the COVID pandemic, Putin leading Russia into a potential world war, and problems with the global economy.

As if all that weren’t enough, ESPN has managed to add to that depressing list with their new Sunday Night Baseball presentation, “KayRod Cast”. Billed as “a special alternate presentation for select Sunday Night Baseball games on ESPN2”, the program is co-hosted by sportscaster Michael Kay and former MLB player Alex Rodriguez.

I do agree with one thing from the ESPN promo– the program is “special”. In the same way that a botched root canal by a non-licensed dentist is “special”, or the incessant scratching of a zombie’s fingernails on a blackboard is “special”.

It’s difficult to know where to begin in reviewing KayRod Cast, in part because it apparently has three or four different titles: I’ve seen “KayRod Cast”, “Kay-Rod Cast”, “Kay Rod Broadcast” and “KayRod Manningcast”.

Maybe ESPN did that because a moving target is harder to hit. But no matter how many titles they give it, all have the exact same thing in common: they smell like a factory of bovine excretion.

So here’s the Kay-Roddy set-up: as the Sunday Night Baseball game fills the TV screen, up in one corner is an stark picture-within-a-picture of the two baseball broadcasters, Mr. Kay and Mr. Rod. They appear to be sitting on extremely uncomfortable chairs while occasionally fidgeting and chatting about the game and about Major League Baseball in general.

Their Sunday Night Baseball broadcast conversations have a predictable arc: each comment from the two Kay-Rods begins with the reachable goal of being dull; then the discussion effortlessly cascades into previously undiscovered pits of banality; eventually falling into an endless abyss of cliched bovine excretion (oh my, there’s that phrase again!).

Don’t get me wrong—they’ve mastered the format and have proven they are more than capable of endlessly reproducing it. And I also should note the many moments of uncomfortable silence, while the two Rod-Kays are just sitting there watching the game wondering who should talk next.

Michael Kay is a longtime New York sports talk host, broadcaster, and all around deep-bass-voiced guy who has an attractive East Coast twang. He seems knowledgeable with a healthy sense of humor. And apparently right up until this moment he’s had a very successful career.

Alex Rodriguez, on the other hand, has to be the most insincere, cloying, synthetic human being in America’s national sports media. Is there anything he says that doesn’t reek of artificiality or calculated posturing?

Spoiler alert: “absolutely not”.

A little reminder of Rodriguez’s playing career. In 2009 it was revealed he was tested in 2003 by MLB for performance enhancing drugs, and tested positive for two different steroids. He eventually admitted to using performance enhancing drugs from 2001-2003, and then claimed that he had “stopped using” PEDs.

Baseball suspend Rodriguez for the entire 2014 season for continuing to use PEDs and trying to obstruct and cover up his violations. In 2015 he publicly apologized and promised “to behave in the future”.

So, cheating for years, then continuing to violate MLB rules and then continuing to lie about it. What a perfect ambassador for the game of baseball, and thumbs up (or some other digit) to ESPN for making the A Rod the face of their broadcasts.

I found it to be perfect symmetry when, in an early broadcast of “Sunday Night Baseball” Michael Kay and A Rod got into a phony argument about advanced analytics. Kay said that Rodriguez was not a fan of baseball analytics, that he was “old school” about stats, etc.

A Rod said that was not true, he actually likes analytics but then went on to throw advanced analytics into the dumpster (as the insincerity parade continues). What A Rod really likes is what disgraced former Cincinnati Red’s player Pete Rose said about what constitutes a “good year” for a hitter: “Batting .300, with 30 home runs, and 100 RBIs.”

A short note on those old school fallacies:
“Batting average” counts a single as the same as a home run and doesn’t count walks. No thinking fan today believes that batting average is an important stat.
“30 home runs” suggests that hitting home runs is important. So important that it created a lawless “Steroid Era” in baseball between the 1990s and late 2000s. Which Alex Rodriguez now admits he fully participated in.
“100 RBIs” is not about an individual player’s performance. Other than solo home runs, additional hitters have to get on base to create an RBI. The variance in defense from team to team determines which outs get turned into singles, which singles get turned in doubles, and so on. An RBI takes any number of players and situations to happen.

Alex Rodriguez quoting Pete Rose was too perfect. In 1989, Rose was “banned from baseball for life” for gambling on MLB games while the Manager of the Reds (and, yes, he bet for and against his Cincinnati Reds many times). Rose then lied about doing that for 15 years until 2004, when he finally admitted his lies but only because he had a book coming out. Oh, and in 1990 Rose was found guilty of filing false tax returns and did five months in a federal prison with a $50,000 fine.

It’s good to see Alex Rodriguez using his position on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball to quote other MLB cheaters (or actual lawbreakers and ex-convicts) and presenting them as baseball “experts”. Yet another thing that makes the “KayRod Cast” so very special.