New York sports talk radio hosts Mike Francesa and Michael Kay probably weren’t on each other’s Christmas Card lists this Holiday Season. They definitely aren’t after Wednesday when Kay went on a blistering rant about Francesa on his ESPN radio show which is simulcast on the YES Network in a spot formerly occupied by Francesa. Although this might not have the national appeal of Bill Simmons vs. Mike Golic, which happened on Thursday, there might be a little more vitriol — at least from Kay’s position.
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of what happened causing Kay to froth from the mouth about his rival. Fittingly, it starts with Alex Rodriguez and the news that broke Wednesday that he reportedly confessed to PED use. Last Novemeber A-Rod made a surprise in-studio appearance on Francesa’s show (then simulcast on YES) where he denied using anything when asked. Fast forward to Wednesday and callers brought up the interview with Francesa and suggest his chummy relationship with Rodriguez played a part in YES dropping his longtime simulcast in February.
Francesa, as is his wont, flatly denied this suggestion and said the decision stemmed from the Yankee higher ups wanting some “editorial control” of the YES show. Kay, who is the primary Yankees play-by-play voice on YES, caught wind of this and took it as a slight on his integrity. Kay, among other things, called Francesa a liar, poked fun at the Sports Pope’s penchant for falling asleep on air and said his ratings were better before finishing with this barb:
Whether the intended goal or not, the rant is a smart play by Kay, as his radio show continually trails Francesa’s in the radio ratings book. Going after your rival always draws attention, especially since Francesa’s listeners follow the show’s every moment across social media platforms. Kay taking aim at Francesa is probably one of the only ways he’s going to get any traction on a sports blog like this or various others across the web.
Of course Francesa’s fans quickly latching onto Kay’s rant and briefly made the #ThingsBetterThanKay the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
All publicity is good publicity, right?
Come Thursday a caller asked Francesa about Kay’s barbs, and the WFAN host claimed he hadn’t heard them. Francesa suggested any rival could “match” him in three (sic) things: resumés, longevity, ratings and paychecks. Then in classic Francesa fashion, he passive-aggressively bashed Kay without ever mentioning him by name.
Newsday‘ Neil Best did the yeoman’s work transcribing Francesa‘s retort:
"“They’ve never even been on the landscape as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never even seen them. I can’t even find them in the rear-view mirror. Never have in 20 years. Still can’t find them, so what am I worried about? Which part of my career is going badly? I’ve been on the same show 28 years. I was No. 1 in 1989 with Dog. I’m No. 1 today. Last time I looked it’s 2014. I’m still No. 1. I’ve got a long-term contract, beautiful family. I’ve got Mink here. What else would I want? Here’s the Mink Man.”"
Audio, since Mike’s simulcast was bumped by Europa League soccer today on Fox Sports 1 & 2, below: