YES Management Made Yankees Broadcasters Look Like 'Subservient Jackasses'

Harold FriendChief Writer IApril 7, 2012

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 3: Commentators Michael Kay (left) and Ken Singleton during a pre-game show for the YES Network as the New York Yankees play against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 3, 2010 at the George M. Steinbrenner  Field in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

According to Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News, early in March, YES president Tracy Dolgin proudly announced that YES is "a homer network."

Dolgin explained that a "homer" is the antithesis of an objective announcer.

“When you’re watching a game (on YES),” Dolgin told Newsday (h/t New York Daily News), “I’m very proud to say we’re rooting for the home team on our air.”

If Dolgin had reflected just a little, he might have realized that if YES announcers always rooted for the home team, they would be pulling for the New York Yankees only one-half of the time. Of course, he meant, or at least he thought he meant that the Yankees are YES' home team.

In the past, most YES announcers were infuriated when they were instructed how to tailor their broadcasts. Raissman indicates that he doesn't know how they have reacted to Dolgin's statement.

Other baseball announcers are incensed by Dolgin's attempt to turn the YES announcers that respect the principles of good journalism into cheerleaders. A veteran broadcaster that asked for anonymity thought that the YES broadcasters were quite upset.

“How could they not be. The guy they work for doesn’t care about their reputations. He made them look like a bunch of subservient jackasses.”

Mel Allen was and always will be the "Voice of the Yankees." He was a tremendous Yankees fan, but he never allowed his feeling to color his work. If anything, it sometimes seemed as if his announcing favored the opposition.

I remember one game in 1959 when the Yankees were playing the Detroit Tigers on a Sunday. Maxwell had a propensity for hitting home runs on Sundays. That year, he hit 31 home runs and 12 of them were hit on a Sunday.

Maxwell came to the plate and Allen told me and the other listeners how dangerous Maxwell was on Sundays. Now, Allen was on the radio and unlike some future Yankees' announcers, he gave a real play-by-play, but not that time.

Without his usual "Turley gets the signal from the catcher, checks the runner on first and delivers," all Allen said was "And there it is."

I turned off the radio.

Red Barber and Frank Messer were probably the most objective, fair-minded of all the Yankees' announcers, and while Phil Rizzuto was a "homer," he was never offensive and always respected the opposition.

The YES network has some fine announcers that know baseball. Most have played for other teams. The YES web site calls them "personalities." 

Individuals such as David Cone, Paul O'Neill, Al Leiter, John Flaherty, Ken Singleton and Lou Piniella won't ever sell their credibility and, of greater importance, their integrity.

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