Paul O'Neill Yankees
Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports

Will Yankees great Paul O’Neill be back in the YES Network broadcast booth, both figuratively and literally, in 2023?

It remains to be seen, according to The Post’s Andrew Marchand. He reports:

[T]he belief is if Paul O’Neill is back, he will need to be in the booth. O’Neill, whose contract is up, awkwardly did games from his basement as YES has workplace rules for unvaccinated employees. There is real hope a resolution can be reached to get him back at games. The broadcasts were stilted and delayed with O’Neill not on site with the rest of the crew.

This remains a strange saga for many reasons. But YES’ consistent “We’re trying to find the guy who did this” energy may be the oddest aspect.

Who knows why O’Neill refuses to get vaccinated. He has refused to discuss his reasoning. But the only thing preventing him from calling games at the ballpark is YES. The network established the mandate for in-person work, not MLB or City Hall. And then the network decided to grant him a special dispensation to Zoom in from his Ohio home, even though it meant an inferior product. And a stupid one, too. The fact they made Michael Kay “turn” to O’Neill at the start of games was embarrassing.

If YES wants O’Neill working on site and he won’t get vaccinated, the network has two choices: Scrap the mandate or dump O’Neill. It’s pretty simple. He’s a good analyst. He is not irreplaceable. There are plenty of vaccinated former Yankees who can take his place.

Our stance remains unchanged: If O’Neill does not want to get vaccinated, that is his business. But YES should either have a mandate or not have one. And it is undeniable the broadcasts were hindered by his remote status last season. After all the justified hand-wringing about remote road broadcasts in 2021 — when Audacy/WFAN and YES were too cheap to travel — it is unacceptable to willingly operate at a deficit when there are other options. And when viewers increasingly need to take out second mortgages to be able to watch YES in the first place.

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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

 

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.