New York Yankees announcer Michael Kay goes after Mike Francesa
Debby Wong | USA TODAY Sports

Michael Kay was mad. But not that mad. Or something like that.

The ESPN Radio New York afternoon host admits he was upset after morning show producer Ray Santiago made a jab about Kay getting pummeled by WFAN in the ratings battle. But that fiery on-air rant where Kay threatened to get Santiago fired? It was just a bit, folks. Because he would be a “moron” if he was serious. Which is what anyone who thought he was might be too.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie. Was I upset about the comment? Yup,” Kay said on-air Tuesday via Awful Announcing. “But it was performative, because I’m such a good performer on the air. But if people want to run with it – people on social media, ‘You’re the worst, what a low life,’ OK, whatever.”

Added co-host Don La Greca: “Anyone who believed the story that Michael did that on the air was real, are the same people that beat soap opera stars with handbags outside the studio thinking they are actually the character they play. … The fact that it was on the air tells you it’s all for goofs.”

No, it does not.

There is a place to ham up genuine emotion. An example that comes to mind: La Greca’s quality rant back in July. He got a caller who was a jerk, first about Yankees disaster Joey Gallo and then with taunts about La Greca’s career. La Greca then blew his lid to the point of embellishment. But it was obvious he was putting on an act when he started bragging about his hair and driving ability.

Kay did not fire back with any underlying humor like that. He just launched into a nasty diatribe where he suggested he might try to ruin Santiago’s livelihood. All because he had the audacity to make a joke at the expense of a man with more power and very thin skin. No one ever ruled out the possibility Kay’s rant was for show. But given the context, it sure felt like Kay’s rage could have been completely genuine. So spare us the whole “how could anyone think this was real?” schtick.

Kay has frequently criticized WFAN rivals Craig Carton and Mike Francesa for behaving in a less-than-kind manner. And he has whined about Carton and Evan Roberts getting away with risqué content he cannot. But this “performative” behavior is somehow still above the fray? It’s not. Kay cannot explain this one away. He was out of line as his show continues to spiral.

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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.