Radio Daze

OK – I live in New York (as I have long since disclosed), so I listen to my fair share of WFAN and Michael Kay on ESPN Radio.  I do this because despite Kay being the Yankees announcer I find him a reasonably decent talk show host, and Mike and the Mad Dog are usually entertaining (as long as the don’t talk about golf or figure skating or soccer).  Today I was tuning into Kay’s show and the two hot topics were (surprise!) Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez.  First I will give you a sense of Kay’s take on things, and then I would love to hear from some of our Yankees fans on what they think.  There were plenty of callers who echoed Kay’s position, and I would love to know what our readership believes.

Kay on Johnson (paraphrased as fairly as I can): Johnson had an MRI today which showed no damage.  Johnson’s problem is not health, but a lack of fierceness, not being "nasty" enough.  Johnson needs to work out his "problems" as soon as possible, or the Yankees are in deep trouble.

Kay on Rodriguez:  Steinbrenner is being stupid by calling out A-Rod. A-Rod will fold up if Steinbrenner continues to pick at the "A-Rod scab" (his words, exactly).  He "knows A-Rod", and "A-Rod really wants to be loved", and any criticism is a terrible idea.  On the other hand, Kay also doesn’t think A-Rod needs to fix anything, he’s not playing well but he’ll work it out.

A couple of thoughts from my end: As far as I know you don’t get an MRI if you aren’t feeling something wrong. I cannot locate any information that indicates that MRIs are taken with no pain or no discomfort.  Any orthopedists in our readership that can help me out on this?  Did Johnson tell the Yankees he was feeling fine, but the brass ordered an MRI due to their general distrust of a pitcher’s ability to self-diagnose (e.g. "I feel fine, coach", after throwing 187 pitches)?  Or is Johnson feeling pain and asked for it himself?

Regarding A-Rod: which is worse: having several hundred thousand team supporters calling you names or having your owner (who is paying you $25M+ per year) say he’s disappointed in you?  Which one is more likely to drive him back to his analyst?  Kay’s claims seem to indicate that A-Rod is really fragile.  Should we trust him?

5 comments… add one
  • Who knows, maybe with R.J. we’re witnessing that precipitous fall from greatness that many elite athletes, and their fans, must endure. How many pitchers not named Roger Clemens (freak of nature) and Greg Maddux (replicant?) could maintain such a high level of performance into their 40’s? Maybe the question isn’t “Why is Randy suddenly declining?” It’s “How the hell did he manage to be this good for this long?”

    MJL in L.A. May 10, 2006, 6:20 pm
  • I’m just going to repost a comment here from the previous thread, as it got lost in the run of discussion, and it seems apropos:
    On Baseball Musings, Dave Pinto suggests the problem with Randy is his right shoulder, injured early this year, which kept him from bringing his glove hand in to his chest and consequently left his shoulder flying open. If true, perhaps a stint on the DL is all that’s necessary for us to get the good Unit back. And Pavano appears ready to step in, so….
    [Now we know Randy’s been MRI’ed. Even if it didn’t show a tear, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some kind of soreness there, and that this is responsible for some minor hitch in his mechanics, as noted by Pinto, that’s causing big problems.]
    On Was Watching, Steve Lombardi charts A-Rod vs. the Sox and finds, lo-and-behold, that A-Rod actually hits the Sox pretty damn well–when not in Fenway. But that he has ALWAYS hit poorly in Fenway. And so it is not so much a “choke” issue when he plays against the Sox, as that Fenway is just not a good place for him to hit, period, for some physical reason.
    I’m not sure i’m actually buying Lombardi’s argument–though I don’t believe the “A-Rod chokes at Fenway” argument either. A-Rod’s various samples at Fenway are small enough that the dip in his performance there, and especially since he’s been a Yankee, may just be standard deviation. A-Rod’s streaky. It’s the nature of his swing. When he’s scuffling and then runs into a nemesis, it’s easy to say, “It’s the Nemesis!” Which is not to say he doesn’t press, exacerbating/prolonging the trough. But it’s hard to luck at the numbers and come to any definitive conclusion.

    YF May 10, 2006, 6:35 pm
  • I’m not worried about A-Rod. Ever since the Texas contract, he has been lightning-Rod regarding criticism and inspection. It seems that he has shouldered the scrutiny rather well. If those two errors had been on the road against any other team, there would have been a little bit of squawking, but that’s it. If his production is still off come late June, I might start to get concerned.
    Johnson is far more concerning to me. If he really has lost his ability to intimidate and opposing coaches are green-lighting .250 hitters 3-0, that’s trouble.

    attackgerbil May 10, 2006, 7:08 pm
  • I think, as I’ve said before, RJ’s problems are mental, and either he asked for the MRI becuase he’s convinced something’s physically wrong when it’s not, or the Yankee hierarchy just doesn’t trust him. Neither would surprise me.
    As for A-Rod – I think being booed by fans is different to being singled out by the owner. And we all know he’s a sensitive type. Too sensitive? Don’t be silly: he has the biggest contract in pro sports, plays for the most polarizing team in pro sports and plays in the most unforgiving sports town in the US (aside, perhaps, from Philly). All this, and he still had an MVP season last year. Give the man some credit.
    On another note, I’m always surprised by how blunt about the Yanks Kay is on ESPN. Surprised, that is, that YES execs don’t mind it and let him carry on. MSG fired Marv Albert for much less…

    Sam May 11, 2006, 9:27 am
  • Randy’s MRI doesn’t necessarily mean pain.
    While no one outside the professional sports arena would get an MRI without pain, the resources ($$$) and motivation are different for pro athletes.
    It really could be that Torre/Kerrigan/etc noticed a change in Johnson’s mechanics. This change could be a compensatory reaction to an altered range of motion due to a tightness or tear, or it could be because he subconsciously is altering his motion to avoid what would be pain. The body has tremendous mechanisms to avoid pain, some of which one’s mind isn’t even aware of.
    My guess as to what’s going to happen: a few more horrendous starts from the Unit before the Yanks put him on the DL without really knowing what’s wrong with him – just to give him some rest and hope whatever the problem is works itself out.

    Sean May 11, 2006, 10:10 am

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