Just days after Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo told me he missed the discourse he had with his former partner of 19-years Mike Francesa, the dynamic duo reunited for a segment on Dog’s SiriusXM radio show.
The hour-long conversation wasn’t exactly a throwback to classic Mike and the Mad Dog shows of decades ago, as the two featured little debate and disagreement. It was instead a rapid-fire Q&A between Mike and the Mad Dog with Russo dishing out the questions on a wide-ranging array of topics.
Francesa opened the conversation after just having the worst day of his life, a two-and-a-half-hour surgery to repair an impacted wisdom tooth.
They discussed the COVID vaccine, which Francesa said he already received both shots, and Russo adding that he’s scheduled to get his first soon. The Last Dance, Fernando Tatis Jr., the NCAA Tournament, ovah/undahs, Jordan vs LeBron, Zach Wilson, the Super Bowl and plenty more would follow.
Russo asked Francesa how he would’ve fared hosting during the pandemic and the Sports Pope believes he would have ticked off his audience with too much political talk. Francesa added that he hated working Februarys during his solo tenure without Russo, and the last year would have featured an extended version of that. Although he was relegated to a greatly reduced evening timeslot, Francesa did do four-months of shows for WFAN during the pandemic, spending little time on politics.
After the reunion, Russo joined Spence Checketts on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City. The longtime Utah radio host is the son of former Knicks president Dave Checketts and grew up in the same town that Russo resides, New Canaan, CT.
Checketts quickly asked about his conversation with Francesa and Russo acknowledged he viewed it as an interview more than the two-way sports talk listeners are used to. The audience can hear Russo’s opinions everyday throughout the year, whereas Francesa has been mostly quiet in recent months, so he felt it was important to give his former partner the time and spotlight to talk.
Geared up from the interview, Russo even acknowledged to Checketts he would be interested in doing some part-time work with his former partner, or at least listening to the offer if legalities aligned. Today, Mike and the Mad Dog appear to be in a great place, both sounding as if they miss the other. Tomorrow? Who knows?
Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’
“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”
Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.
Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.
“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”
Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.
Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.
“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”
After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.
RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.
“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.
Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.
There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.
Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’
“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”
Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.
Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.
“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”
La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.
“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”
Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.
While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.
“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”
WFAN, WCBS Become New Flagship For Rutgers Football, Men’s Basketball
“The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.”
Rutgers University and Audacy have announced an agreement that will make WFAN and WCBS the flagship stations for the school’s football and men’s basketball teams.
The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.
“Rutgers athletics is on the rise under Greg Schiano and Steve Pikiell in the Big Ten, bringing excitement and anticipation to Tri-State area fans,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “WFAN and WCBS 880 will provide listeners with unmatched coverage of the Scarlet Knights and we are honored to add Rutgers to Audacy’s market-leading play-by-play portfolio.”
A 30-minute pregame and postgame show will air on WFAN for all Rutgers football games, while basketball games on WCBS will get a 15-minute pregame and postgame show.
Games will be able to be streamed locally on the Audacy app, and the company said both stations will promote the partnership on-air and digitally, in addition to on-campus events throughout the school year.