What do you think the chances are on having instant replay for home run balls only? Umpires can miss it sometimes — as I have seen — where a fan will reach over and get ball. The same would apply for foul pole homers. Instant replay would not be for anything else.
Pete Miller — Denver
I think there should be instant replay in the game because why get a call wrong when you can make sure it's right? Is it around the corner? No. But I think it will happen when there is a terrible blown call in a playoff game that decides a winner, thus making it bogus. Baseball is usually reactionary with this stuff and I think that's what it will take to incorporate replay into the game.
Mr. Kay's answer seems to indicate that such a blown call in a playoff game has never happened before. Jeffrey Maier's got a ball on his desk that says otherwise but that benefitted the Yankees so clearly wasn't bogus. All that's just a prelude to the piece de resistance of this mailbag, though.
Dear Mr. Kay,
I have long been an admirer of your commentary and the sense of humor you bring to the telecasts.
Having also listened to your radio program in the past, I recall that your initial take on the Randy Johnson trade to Arizona was far from favorable. You seemed to believe that because Johnson won 17 games with a 5.00 ERA, there was something magic about his ability to win. You seemed to think that his veteran ability to win games despite giving up oodles of runs was a talent no other pitcher could match. It seems from what we now know that a) Johnson wasn't exactly a clubhouse leader and his "veteran" presence certainly didn't do much to mentor other Yankees; and b) a young talented arm is more helpful to achieving playoff aspirations than having a grumpy, over-the-hill veteran soaking up innings.
You have certainly in recent weeks praised the Johnson trade, but in full candor to your listeners perhaps you should not give the impression that at the time of the trade you were gung ho in favor of it. In hindsight, the Yankees would have "won" the trade even if all they received was Russ Ohlendorf.
Anyway, keep up the good work.
Roger B. Calistro — New York, N.Y.
Dear Mr. Calistro,
I did not like the trade at first because I did not like giving up a 17-game winner. I also knew that he was not a leader or a favorite in the clubhouse, but the trade is now a good one because Johnson went down with a bad back. If he had not, the Yankees could have used those 17 wins and probably would not have gotten off to such a terrible start and might be in first place today. But in hindsight, and also learning afterward that he wanted no part of playing in New York, I think Brian Cashman pulled off a really good deal when he had absolutely no leverage.
Thankfully the internets retain information through the ages so we can dial back the machine and see just what Kay had to say after the Yankees made the trade. Fire Joe Morgan posted a transcript of Kay on his radio show after the deal, which he pilloried, and which provides crystal clear evidence to anyone still unconvinced that Kay knows nothing about baseball. He argues that Johnson winning 17 games with a five ERA is a credit to Johnson and not to the Yankees who supported him to the tune of seven and a half runs per game. Good pitchers, to Kay's opinion, pitch to their run support which means that getting pounded for a ton of runs and winning 8-7 is just as useful as winning 1-0 or 2-1. Kay says "I don't care that his ERA was five it was good enough to win 17 games," which is awfully convenient when you realize that when Johnson got 0 runs in the ALDS he still gave up five in less than six innings.
At least he's not claiming he didn't hate the trade at the time but his rationale really breaks down when he tries to say that if they had the Unit they could be in first place. Forget the injury, pitchers who post ERA's that leave them 34th of 39 qualified pitchers, Johnson's 2006 rank, don't win more games by having them in the lineup. They could use Kei Igawa and get those results, they did use Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo and Chase Wright and got those results. The trade was a good one then because it eliminated an overpaid, underperforming pitcher from the team and it's a good one now, regardless of the fact that Johnson got hurt.