When Mike Francesa was the king of New York Sports Radio, his rants were something to behold. The Sports Pope doesn’t necessarily have his fastball anymore, but he still brings the heat when needed.
No, you aren’t going to listen to Francesa on his Bet Rivers Podcast have a meltdown about the Mets dropping a series to the Rockies, even though that is an all-time rant. But, he’s going to tell it like it is. And that’s exactly what he just did when he took aim at the New York Yankees, who entered Friday with a 60-61 record.
After going in on the state of the team on the latest episode of The Mike Francesa Podcast, Francesa mentioned that there was one other item that the Yankees ought to be ashamed of. The 69-year-old Francesa made a point to say that the Yankees, and more likely Major League Baseball, are hurting local fans in an attempt to get a more global reach. And he was having none of it
“Baseball is a constant companion. It’s there every day. It unfolds,” Francesa said. “It’s a great companion for someone who might be older, who might be infirmed, who might be housebound, who waits for those hours that they can just jump in and forget their problems and just jump into the team an hour before the game and an hour to 40 minutes after the game. And be there and have that to count on day in and day out for six months.
“Instead now, in an absolute reach to claw every dollar, look at what they’ve done to their audience and to their fanbase. And for some people it’s impactful. I’ve heard from people. I’ve had people stop me and say, ‘How did the Yankees do this?” I know they’re on YES now and if I have to pay a couple of bucks for YES now, OK. I can do that. And then they might be on ESPN or Fox or something like that and that’s free. ESPN’s not free, but it’s everywhere.
“But now, look at the Red Sox series. Apple+, then the YES, then the Prime. A lot of people can’t do that. A lot of people don’t even know how to do that. And a lot of people can’t afford that. And you would think they wouldn’t thumb their nose at their fanbase that way. At their very loyal fanbase that way. It’s just wrong. No one has a problem with a team making a buck, and we all know they sure figure out a lot of ways to make a buck. And even in this awful season, I’m not telling people not to go to the ballpark because that’s not right…But what also isn’t right is when you put them on Apple+ on Friday and YES on Saturday and Prime on Sunday. There’s a generation that doesn’t understand that. And there’s a lot of people that can’t afford that. It’s just wrong.”
Francesa used a couple of seconds of silence in between, which he’s notorious for doing, for a more dramatic effect. And it worked. His point comes across well and he’s absolutely right. Major League Baseball has made it harder for its fans to access games than ever before. That shouldn’t be an issue in 2023, but here we are.
Yankees fans like Francesa have known this for a few years now, and have been apt to complain about it any chance they get. Things reached a fever pitch during Aaron Judge’s quest to break the American League home run record last season when certain Yankees games were exclusively broadcast on Apple TV. The outcry eventually included stern rebukes from politicians despite the fact that it was free for anyone to watch the games.
Earlier in the season, the Yankees drove their fans and the sports media crazy with games on four different platforms in the span of the week. You had to sign up for each individual platform, and if you listen to Francesa’s rant, he mentions how difficult that would be for a different generation of fans who barely know how to use their remote.
While the number of streaming games that most MLB teams play in a given season is still extremely low, that’s beside Francesa’s point here. Whether you agree with him or not, he makes a strong argument about the greed of professional sports franchises.