By Sam Belden
Fordham Rams past and present converged at Keating Hall on Monday afternoon. There, New York Yankees broadcaster and radio personality Michael Kay, FCRH ‘82, hosted a special edition of “The Michael Kay Show,” culminating with an hour-long back-and-forth billed as “The Great Sports Debate” between Kay and co-host Don LaGreca.
Moderated by Kay Show ensemble member Peter Rosenberg, the debate allowed Kay and LaGreca, a backup play-by-play man for the New York Rangers, to expound on a number of different topics from around the world of sports.
The show began with some alma mater pride, as Kay briefly reminisced about his time at Rose Hill and mocked LaGreca for attending Ramapo College in New Jersey. Kay is an alumnus of WFUV sports from back in the days when the station was entirely student-run, graduating in 1982 — with a 3.5 GPA, he later added.
As things got underway, the conversation centered around a variety of current events in New York sports. Topics ranged from the Giants’ recent win over the Philadelphia Eagles to the Jets’ struggles to the latest developments in the Mets’ offseason plans. Along the way, the hosts spoke to a number of notable callers, including Jets head coach Todd Bowles, former Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
After three hours of regular discussion, the debate began. Despite relatively frequent admonishments from Rosenberg, the lively crowd applauded, laughed and jeered for the duration of the broadcast, adding to the competitive atmosphere of the final installment.
On hand to select the winner of the debate were four judges: Rick DiPietro, Bill Daughtry and Chris Canty of ESPN’s “The Hahn & Humpty Show” and Drew Casey, FCRH ‘17, WFUV sports broadcaster and former managing editor of The Fordham Ram. Casey got a spot on the panel thanks to his position as sports manager at WFUV.
“Being up there with those guys was nerve-wracking, but it was cool,” said Casey. “The coolest part about it is that they were really relaxed. They recognized that we were all doing the same thing and having fun. They treated me no differently than they treated each other, which was really cool for the hour that we were on the show together.”
Casey asked Kay and LaGreca whether instant replay in sports had gone too far. Other questions ranged from the direct (Has the Carmelo Anthony signing been a successful one for the New York Knicks?) to the existential (Would you rather be a Hall of Famer without a championship or a rank-and-file player with a ring?).
The latter topic inspired a fair amount of mock rage from LaGreca, leading to one of the highlights of the debate. In response to Kay’s statement that he would rather be a champion than an all-time great without a ring, LaGreca came to the defense of Canty and DiPietro, turning red as he tried to curry their favor. Canty won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants back in 2012, but DiPietro, a former goaltender for the New York Islanders, has not won anything of note since a bronze medal at the 2003-04 World Cup of Hockey.
In the end, Kay was declared the winner. Canty supported LaGreca, while DiPietro, Daughtry and Casey cast their votes for Kay. Casey voted last.
“My vote would have either tied it or given Michael Kay the win,” he said. “I thought that Michael Kay deserved the win, being at Fordham, and a lot of what he said connected with me.”
Not everyone agreed with the judges, however. In a poll posted by the Michael Kay Show Twitter account, 61 percent of respondents thought that LaGreca came out on top. Given Kay’s Fordham roots, the discrepancy was not a surprise — it hearkens back to a remark he made early in the debate.
“You know you’re the enemy here, right, Don?”