Thursday, September 14, 2006

Good Night & Good Luck


Jim Kaat is going to broadcasting his last game for the Yankees tonight. It's a rainy day here in NY, so I'm not even sure that the game is going to be played. I certainly hope that they get it in and that the YES network is able to give Jim the send off he deserves. He has served as a baseball analyst on Yankees telecast since 1995. In fact he arrived just as the Yankees were about to go on their amazing run of playoff and World Series appearances. I can't think of anyone I would rather have had take me through the last 11 years than Jim Kaat.

He was an all-star pitcher for the Twins and White sox during the sixties and seventies. He even had a short stint as a reliever for the Yankees in the early eighties. He won 283 games and a still record 16 gold gloves. He belongs in the baseball hall of fame and hopefully, one day, the veterans committee will fix that oversight of the baseball writers. I know that they induct announcers into the hall of fame as well and he should be there as a broadcaster as well. No one broke down the game as well as Jim Kaat did. He brought his amazing knowledge of pitching and game management to the broadcast booth and was able to convey that knowledge without talking down to his audience. He always made it seem as if he were nothing but a journeyman pitcher when the record clearly states something else. I've commented about Tim McCarver before and how he talks as if he were actually a hall of famer, when the only thing McCarver knows about hitting is that it's hard to do. Kaat talks about pitching and approaching hitters in such a way that it makes you feel more knowledgeable about the game from just having listened to him explain it.

With Jim Kaat in the booth, it always felt like you were having a conversation about baseball, instead of listening to a baseball analyst. His take on pitching strategy was always consistent. He was one of the few people on the YES network who would challenge the Yankees decisions. He would speak up about trades or management decisions. He defended Mel Stottlemyre against the wrath of George Steinbrenner during his contentious last two years with the team (always to deafening silence from the ultimate corporate man Michael Kay).

You always felt like you had a friend in the booth when Jim Kaat was behind the mike. Ken Singleton has much the same style and it always made for a more pleasant evening when they were together in the booth. I wish Jim well in his retirement. I'm sorry to see him go, but I'm happy that he will now get to spend the summer months with his wife enjoying his well earned time off. So as he signs off for the last time I would just like to say good night and good luck. And I can't thank him enough for making the game that I love much more enjoyable over the past 12 years. Thanks, Jim.

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