The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, August 18, 2008
Mike And The Mad Dog
Terrible job by WFAN not allowing departing host Chris Russo to do one last farewell show following his Thursday night departure from the station after more than 20 years.
I remember Russo back when he was on WMCA and Francesa back when he was subbing for Jim Lampley, and am one of the few who preferred the duo separately.
Early in his FAN career, Russo memorably went nuts when the Jets drafted Jeff Lageman in 1989. Francesa provided insightful sports analysis and a thorough knowledge of college and pro sports (with the exception of hockey). In FAN's early days, those qualities were a rarity.
Russo and Francesa guest-hosted for Pete Franklin in 1989 and also sparred on Imus In The Morning. Their debate about Don Mattingly vs. Will Clark was particularly entertaining and ultimately led to their pairing when Franklin was let go.
Nevertheless, while entertaining, I believe that their immediate success inflated their egos to the detriment of their show - at least for those of us who preferred serious sports talk.
During my tenure as a yeshiva boy/credentialed sports journalist, I regularly came across various members of the sports media. I'd often see Francesa in the Madison Square Garden press room, and saw him and Russo together at some Mets and Yankees games in the press box. I recall shyly schmoozing a bit with other FAN hosts like Steve Levy and Howie Rose, but Russo and Francesa had this aura of superiority about them, as if they were the kings. Perhaps that was just my perception. But they really were the kings - and they knew it.
While I wasn't always a big fan, I regularly listened to Mike and The Mad Dog from its inception in 1989 until October 1997, when I started working. Since then I've listened very occasionally.
So it's been a long time since I really listened to the show, and I won't really miss something that I haven't listened to in more than a decade.
My reaction instead is sort of nostalgic, for a time in my life before billable hours, for a time when I was a phone call away from free entrance to almost any game.
Mike And The Mad Dog was on for a very long time, and Russo has been with FAN for a little longer. New York sports talk won't be the same. Nor will WFAN, whose shameful refusal to do a farewell show was a small-minded and short-sighted dissing not only of Russo, but much worse, of their most loyal listeners.