Aaron Judge is pulling off Derek Jeter-like embarrassment
Why would Aaron Judge and Michael Kay agree to star in such an ugly sell? Unless they’re teetering on homelessness, why would they do this to themselves?
As Derek Jeter wrapped it up as a Yankee, he allowed, if not insisted, his reputation and legacy as the dignified “Captain” take a beating as he went after every autograph, merchandise and “farewell dinner” dime he could stuff into his pockets.
His fans didn’t want to believe, but the scene grew too ugly, too greedy to ignore.
In 2014, his final season, Jeter and his memorabilia agent, Steiner Collectibles, among the roughly 300 Jeter items on Steiner’s menus, even sold Jeter “Game-Used Dirt” for 15 bucks a scoop, including sifting shipping and handling — some of which, perhaps, appeared on his $410 per “limited edition” game-worn sock, singular sock.
And Jeter, in for a penny, was in for many pounds. He was a superb player, but a lights and cameras four-flusher, not a good, regular people guy, as followers of his Marlins quickly learned.
The culmination of the Everything Must Go Jeter Liquidation Sale came on the afternoon of Sept. 22 — the 80-75 Yanks would play an important game that night — when Jeter was the paid attraction at a Steiner-run, two-hour luncheon inside a Manhattan theater.
Yep, before the launch angle came the lunch angle.
At that time Jeter’s biggest fans — or wealthiest, or any combination that also includes foolish — could buy two tickets to be Jeter’s in-and-out, keep-the-line-moving photo/autograph buddies for just $2,500.
The lowest entry fee was $150 a head for Jeter acolytes to watch a soft-toss Q&A from the balcony.
Quickly, that two-decade myth of Jeter as the shy, modest, classy team-first man — as opposed to a guarded, aloof, selfish one — began to vanish.
So unless Judge was starving to death, why would he choose to travel that same crass, cheesy path? And why would Kay, sensitive to begin with, choose to host such a similar cheese-encrusted pig roast?
This June 19 at the InterContinental Times Square hotel, the sports merchandise and licensing company Fanatics will put the fanatical to the test by charging $2,500 for a three-hour meet-and-greet with Judge, autograph and photograph restrictions apply.
That’s Aaron Judge, folks, who seemed the kind of young, modest, respectful sportsman who would be good to his fans — all teams’ fans — for free.
Fanatics, a for-profit company, Friday claimed via phone that there are 15 percent “discount packages” available, which may mean the Judge cash bash is not selling.
Regardless, Fanatics is offering a discount on what has no established value other than what it wishes it to be.
And if a few bucks from the rake are extracted for charity — as a matter of sincerity or a public relations defense mechanism — why not allow the donors the tax write-offs rather than the profiteers?
As for Kay, doesn’t he recall that horrible taste left in so many mouths Jeter left when he left, gone with the sacks of fans-supplied loot beyond his $270 million in Yankees’ salaries and many more millions in commercial endorsements?
And how many more conflicted interests does Kay need before his credibility is kaput? Jumping into the seedy, often corrupt autograph and “certificates of authenticity” memorabilia industry is something to assiduously avoid.
As YES’ lead Yankees’ voice, Kay is neither an unfettered nor unencumbered speaker of Yankees issues on YES or on his ESPN radio show. As an ESPN employee, he’s restricted from honest appraisals of ESPN’s content — tough for any honest sports host to do — but he regularly delivers on promoting anything and anyone ESPN.
We get it. He’s in a tight, tough spot. But how many masters are too many?
It’s excruciating to hear Kay, highly offended, speak highly defensive explanations and rationalizations of his conflicts, those that prevent him from being far less than candid and selectively forthcoming.
By now, Kay’s radio show long ago should have crushed Mike Francesa’s, head-to-head. But where Francesa relies on his unrestricted fabricated knowledge, Kay’s suffers from restraints by his restrictions.
Now he has signed on to be the paid co-host pal of Judge fans and fools for three hours in service to a demonstrably dubious industry in a big-ticket theme party.
Why take on more conflict, another burden?
Money? Sometimes it ain’t worth it.
Lots of questions chirping about in the brain
Questions seeking answers:
How is it that throughout CBS’ annual Masters coverage, thousands of birds chirped a steady chorus, yet throughout CBS’ PGA Championship last week from Bethpage Black, not a bird was heard?
Or were the birds pulling weekend overtime working for the LIRR?
Do Vince and Linda McMahon by now have form condolence cards to send to the families of their suddenly dead young WWE — and before that WWF — performers?
Does MLB have a hidden document that reads, “Rule 1: Sell our soul for TV money”? This holiday weekend’s Royals-Yankees, Saturday and Sunday, were scheduled day games, “As they should be,” writes reader Matt Sharkey .
Next weekend’s Red Sox-Yankee — including, of course, ESPN’s Sunday telecast — will all be night games.
Is this how big league baseball will now always be? Braves 5-4 over Giants in 13 innings Thursday: 18 hits, 31 strikeouts — Giant Mac Williamson K’d five times in five at-bats — 13 pitchers in a game that ran 4:21.
In other words, nothing out of the new ordinary?
Is Ohio State serious? Ex-football coach Urban Meyer and recruiter of criminals, first at Florida, in addition to signing to provide his expertise on Fox, was scheduled to teach a course at OSU, “Leadership and Character.”
Perhaps his first lecture will be on how he instilled character and leadership in one of his top recruits, Ezekiel Elliott. Or will he save that for Fox?
Why does Robinson Cano bother wearing spikes? Why not flip-flops, instead? Coming soon: Robinson Cano Flip-Flops Night.
If the Mets finish below .500, will the first to go be last-in Baseball Operations Advisor Jessica Mendoza?
Old ball game
Last Sunday the Yankees’ Gio Urshela fouled off a pitch that ricocheted, and hard, off the plate, then into his crotch. He went down and stayed there, in immediate, sustained distress.
As all men know, waiting for our breath to be restored is the first order of relief — and first clue we’re not going to die. All men except, perhaps, Michael Kay.
On YES, Kay asked Paul O’Neill, who’d just said that he’s familiar with the feeling, “What helps? Like it just has to wear off?”
“Just give it time,” said O’Neill.
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