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The Break Up
2008-08-15 06:40
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Fat and Skinny works in comedy partnerships: Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Siskel and Ebert. The Yankees didn't get the memo when they hired Charlie Steiner to work with John Sterling--it was like Hardy and Hardy.

Mike and the Mad Dog have been the most successful fat and skinny radio duo in sports radio history and now, a few weeks shy of their 19th anniversary at WFAN, they are splitting up. Mike will stay at the FAN. Russo is reportedly going to Sirus.

Like them or not--I found them entertaining in measured doses--they were an institution in New York sports coverage and this is certainly the end of an era.

Here is one of the best Russo rants of them all:

 

The FAN won't be the same without the Angry Puppy.

Comments (71)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-08-15 07:00:17
1.   mehmattski
I will always remember Russo's rant in 2003 about how Glavine was "shot"... it lasted from my lunch break at 1 PM all the way until I was driving home at 4:30....

Glavine proceeded to go 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA over his next six starts, and despite being shot made it to 300 wins. Good call, Puppy Russo, Good call.

2008-08-15 07:06:14
2.   JohnnyC
I was hoping they'd both leave the NY market permanently.
2008-08-15 07:27:58
3.   Raf
They've been on the verge of splitting up for so long, I'll believe it when I see/hear it.

Anyway, even though I rarely listened to them, I do agree it's an end of an era. They did what they did quite well, or else they wouldn't have lasted as long as they did.

2008-08-15 07:35:04
4.   Bagel Boy
Gotta say Francesa is the ultimate douche bag here and I'm totally sympathetic to Dog. The former always come across like he was too good to be paired with Chris and he finally pushed him out. Francesa didn't even have the decency to allow Dog to have a last broadcast ("You only get a goodbye show when you retire. No company gives you a goodbye show unless you're no longer going to be a competitor. And we all know that Dog will work again."). What a complete and utter tool. Dog made Francesa worth listening to. Without Chris, Mike just becomes another pompous ass on the radio. Well done, after all the years of laughing at Sterling, he's become exactly like him.

Yeah, I'm fired up - fucking egos getting in the way of a truly great product.

2008-08-15 07:53:49
5.   JohnnyC
I have no sympathy for either one but especially for Russo. As self-satisfyingly boorish as Francesa has become, Russo was an incompetent poseur from the minute he came to NY and worked Mets pre-games at MCA. 19 years on FAN proved, in the end, that neither of them could be remotely called decent human beings much less competent sports commentators.
2008-08-15 07:56:02
6.   JL25and3
4 Maybe Russo got tired of being "And The Mad Dog" and wanted to be his own headliner; nothing wrong with that. Or, since his contract was up, maybe he just got a better offer somewhere else.

In any case, I doubt Francesa made the decision about whether or not Russo should get a farewell show. If I ran the station, I wouldn't have done it; why give that much free advertising to a guy who's jumping ship?

They'd better find someone else who can add a little life to Francesa. By himself, he's dull, emotionless except for a constant irritation with callers.

2008-08-15 08:03:32
7.   Jeb
I'm sure everyone knows this already, but Ty Kepner reported that Gerritt Cole has decided to go to UCLA instead of the Yankees. I'm irrationally irritated about that development in a lost season. Of course, if Cole turns into another Mark Prior I'll feel better (I know that's mean, but I'm really unhappy about this).

In the bigger scheme of things, this isn't a risk that wasn't weighed b/c the Yanks have been drafting signability issue guys for quite some time and this is going to happen from time to time. Also, we get a sandwich pick as a result.

2008-08-15 08:04:48
8.   williamnyy23
3 The station has confirmed it, so believe it.

While I really don't have much respect for either's sports knowledge (especially about baseball), I agree with Alex that they were entertaining in measured doses. I don't think either was very good without the other, but for some reason, their combined deficiencies could make for good radio, especially their ability to irritate each other. I didn't listen to Francessa or Russo much lately unless there was a story that might solicit a particularly strong reaction from either. Still, I think I'll have the urge to tune in Francessa's solo act even less, and don't think I'll even look for Russo on Sirius (although he likely will get a mega pay day, Russo is forever losing the influence and prestige of presiding over a popular NY talk show). It is kind of ironic, however, that in a year the Yankees will miss the playoffs, the town's most notorious Yankee hater won't be around to gloat about it.

2008-08-15 08:09:05
9.   Bagel Boy
5 True, but that's what made it good radio. If it was two boorish stiffs (which it certainly will be more now) it would have been boring. The "fan" perspective against the suit made it fun.

6 He doesn't have an offer. He was actively selling himself in the reports.

And who said he needed to jump ship? They could have set Dog up with show in a different slot. After 19 years, he deserved a final show. Francesa pulled the rug by signing the new deal while Dog was on vacation. End of story.

2008-08-15 08:12:26
10.   williamnyy23
7 I was dissapointed to see that as well, but the sandwich pick is not much worse than the pick they are losing. I still think Cole was worth the shot.
2008-08-15 08:15:01
11.   williamnyy23
9 Russo and Francessa were both full of themselves. I don't think anyone deserves sympathy, nor do I think the NY sports scene has lost anything significant. Like newspapers, Sportstalk radio has also diminished in relevance due to the proliferation of cable TV and the internet.
2008-08-15 08:17:27
12.   Bagel Boy
11 Sure, you tell me how you'd feel to work with a guy for 19 years then get a call on vacation and find out you're out of a job the same day your co-worker got a huge extension. Francesa is a true POS.
2008-08-15 08:18:44
13.   ChuckM
I think there's already been too much time devoted to them in this thread already. Russo's obnoxiousness knew no bounds, while he himself had little knowledge of sports.
2008-08-15 08:25:29
14.   JL25and3
12 The article makes it equally clear that Russo intended to get a new gig somewhere after this contract.
2008-08-15 08:31:07
15.   Bagel Boy
14 Maybe, maybe not. His contract ran through Oct 2009. He was taken off-guard when Neil Best first contacted him with the rumor in June whereas Francesa gave a short "No comment".

http://www.newsday.com/news/columnists/ny-spbest225737694jun22,0,6533007.column

This has been in the works for a few months now. They waited until the guy was on vacation to lower the hatchet. That makes Francesa a complete and utter POS. That's no surprise really.

2008-08-15 08:31:10
16.   JL25and3
7 , 10 It's not a sandwich pick - it's better than that. They'd get a compensation pick at the same slot plus one. They took Cole with the 23rd pick, so next year they'd get a pick at 24.

Which is good, but a year gone by without a first-round pick isn't. It sets things back a year, or slows them down, at least in terms of high-ceiling prospects.

2008-08-15 08:32:29
17.   JL25and3
15 "I think WFAN realized I was lukewarm about making a long-term commitment to them," Russo said. "They knew getting me to sign would be dicey. I guess they didn't want a lame duck working with Mike."

They pushed him before he jumped. Strictly business on both sides.

2008-08-15 08:32:45
18.   ChuckM
Russo likely will become the marquee sports talkie at Sirius XM Radio, the nation's only satellite radio provider. Sources said Russo has been offered a multiyear deal worth anywhere from $2.5 million to $3million per year.

"I don't have any signed agreement with anybody else, but I'm not stupid," Russo said in a telephone interview with the Daily News on Thursday night. "I know there is something I think I can get. I do have four little children to feed."

2008-08-15 08:33:47
19.   ChuckM
17 Plus they probably didn't want another Howard Stern scenario where he was playing out the contract and constantly talking up a competitor.
2008-08-15 08:37:38
20.   jalexei
Have to go with Senator Al Leiter (feuded with them quite a bit when he was with the Mets) who christened them "Fatso & Fruit Loop".

I'd pick a root canal over listening those twits for 5 minutes.

2008-08-15 08:38:41
21.   Start Spreading the News
18 It is so funny hearing Russo talk about feeding his kids with a $2.5 million contract.

He absolutely trashed Sprewell for wanting millions because "I got my family to feed."

2008-08-15 08:39:28
22.   Bagel Boy
Hey, at least I can take comfort in the fact that the fat POS will die first. He was a fucking handicapper before MMD.

17 Come on, man. That's rationalization after the fact. He had a long time to decide before his contract was up. Furthermore, he could have signed on for a short-term gig with MMD or in a separate slot. WFAN didn't push him. His tag team partner of 19 years did.

18 I'll believe it when I see it. Both XM and Sirius are hurting. It's not 2003 any more.

2008-08-15 08:41:52
23.   JohnnyC
16 But that's why the Yankees have been picking signability guys in later rounds and offering way over-slot bonuses. If the Cole thing is really dead, Yankees should definitely add some shekels to their bids for Dwyer and Monar.
2008-08-15 08:42:20
24.   Bagel Boy
19 BS. If he had another offer, he would have announced it by now. They fired him while he was on vacation. After 19 years.

You all are letting your Yankee fandom get in the way of seeing how pure fat (disgusting slobs, actually) cats treating someone like shit.

2008-08-15 08:43:32
25.   williamnyy23
12 This isn't a sudden turn of events. Newsday reported the impending break up back on June 22. It's been know for sometime that Russo was reticent to re-sign a new deal, and that either party might walk away as a result.
2008-08-15 08:43:53
26.   JohnnyC
21 Especially when you consider the antics of sports figures like Sprewell was helping to feed Dog's family as well.
2008-08-15 08:44:48
27.   williamnyy23
16 Good point...although, what happens if this year's draft is deeper? Then maybe the Yankees come out ahead?
2008-08-15 08:46:33
28.   williamnyy23
22 Man you are taking this hard. Are you really that upset? Wishing death upon Francessa seems a bit of an overreaction, even if you are Russo's biggest fan (or even his agent).
2008-08-15 08:46:57
29.   JohnnyC
24 I take it you're not a member of the Crack Anti-Russo Committee that's chaired by Francesa.
2008-08-15 08:47:37
30.   JL25and3
24 Fandom? No, I couldn't give a crap about that. I don't have any particular love for Francesa. I just can't figure out why you have this hatred for him and such sympathy for Russo. It sounds to me like strictly business maneuvering on all sides, and none of them are naifs.
2008-08-15 08:48:39
31.   pistolpete
I'm just glad he won't be on the air (where I can hear him, anyway) if the Yanks happen to miss the postseason this year. LOL...

22 I'm guessing he won't be hired by anyone until things settle down a bit with the recent merger. They're sure to be cleaning house soon, and I can't see them hiring any more on-air talent until that happens.

2008-08-15 08:51:02
32.   Start Spreading the News
M&MD are very good at analyzing football. They are mediocre at everything else. I get really frustrated listening to them talk about baseball.

They do very good interviews, especially with retired players. They have the pull to get some big names to pick up the phone and answer questions.

It is surprising that these radio stations allow these guys to be so unaware about how baseball is changing to a more statistically analyzed game. I know you get more ratings with Mike sneering at his callers than you do talk OPS in evaluating a trade, but still...

The most painful person right now to listen to on WFAN is Boomer Esaison. He knows so little about baseball and yet he is given hours to discuss it. Though at least he knows that he knows little, so he isn't condescending as Mike Francesa is.

2008-08-15 08:51:16
33.   Shaun P
Re: Cole, Mike A. at River Ave Blues says:

"I don't buy it, both Mike Moustakas and Josh Vitters pulled the same stuff last year."

Moustakas is, like Cole, a Scott Boras client. IIRC, last year, every outlet pegged the deal as not happening, but then Moustakas signed at the last minute.

I'm not too worried. Though JL, Cole was pick #28, so if he doesn't sign, the Yanks will get pick #29 next year (assuming everyone else in the 1st round signs). Given that the team may be out its 1st round pick, depending on who signs where, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

2008-08-15 08:51:34
34.   Bagel Boy
28 Not really. I just hate the fact that people are actually treated that way. It's one thing to be reticent about signing a new deal when the current one is up next year. It's quite another for you to get fired while you're on vacation, after 19 years, and no goodbye. Even worse when it's the fault of the guy you've been working next to for those 19 years.

Nah, but I'm diehard Yankee fan, so I'm supposed to "hate" anyone who doesn't like the team? I'll have Russo over to my house any time. Francesa, I hope he chokes on a donut on air.

2008-08-15 08:57:57
35.   JL25and3
32 Sabernetrics may make for more serious discussions, but it's lousy on-air entrertainment.
2008-08-15 08:58:42
36.   JL25and3
*entertainment. Or maybe entratienamiento. But definitly not entrertainment.
2008-08-15 09:04:22
37.   RZG
34 For someone who claims to not hate anyone why do you wish bodily harm on others?

Now I remember why I don't read the game threads, too much hatred for my tastes.

2008-08-15 09:14:50
38.   Alex Belth
Yeah, yikes with the venom. I guess it's apropos given this topic.

Hey, RZG, is it the negativity in the game threads that turns you off or the cursing? Would you be as turned off if there was no cursing, or would that not make a difference?

2008-08-15 09:15:27
39.   51cq24
34 why dont you save your outrage for things that actually matter? or maybe for things you actually know about rather than guesses and assumptions about what happened behind the scenes?
2008-08-15 09:21:45
40.   williamnyy23
32 Do you think they do a good job with football because you know less about it than baseball? Like we witnessed with Congress and the steroid issue, sometimes we assume people in "authority" are knowledgeable until we get hear them speak on topics about which we know a lot about.
2008-08-15 09:24:51
41.   williamnyy23
34 You are just being silly now. Russo was not fired...he and the station mutually agreed to terminate their contract. If Russo was being let go against his will, he could demand WFAN pay him his remaining salary. Instead it seems like a both parties drifted toward this as the right solution.

Why you think anyone here cares enough about Russo and Francessa to take sides is odd. Who cares that Francessa is a Yankee fan...I still dislike him more than Russo. That doesn't mean we all need to weep for the Mad Dog.

Are you sure you aren't related to the Mad Dog?

2008-08-15 09:26:50
42.   williamnyy23
35 Ironically, I would rarely listen to people talk about baseball so scientifically. It wouldn't be very entertaining, and likely would be hard to follow in the radio format. It is much more fun to hear two guys who know very little advance arguments that make little sense...all while getting angry at the other in the process.

No one really likes to listen to those with whom they agree anyway. Debate is a lot more fun.

2008-08-15 09:28:03
43.   JL25and3
33 You're right, 29, not 24.

Draft picks have become a very popular commodity among fans. But unless they become actual players, they're not worth so much. A year without a first-rounder - especially without a free-agent signing to show for it - isn't a good thing.

They might lose their first-round pick next year, but they're also likely to gain one or more. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me that much if they ended up with, say, two first-round picks, a third for Cole, and three sandwich picks.

That sounds great at first glance. The problem is, the picks aren't going to be great ones. The Yankees greatly increase the value of their picks by drafting high-ceiling players who drop because of signability or injury. But there's a limit to how many of those guys you're going to find in any one draft. I question how much one more at #29 will help them.

2008-08-15 09:29:26
44.   williamnyy23
43 Is it too late to tank the season, try to lose the final 42 games, and claim the #1 pick overall :)
2008-08-15 09:34:49
45.   JohnnyC
44 Then we'd guarantee picking Yonder Alonzo. Does ARod get a commission?
2008-08-15 09:38:49
46.   JL25and3
44 Nice thought - though I'm not even sure that would do it. The Nationals would have to play .500 ball the rest of the way.
2008-08-15 10:00:17
47.   Shaun P
44 We can do this!

Melky (CF) leads off, I-Rod/Molina (C) hits second, Abrue (RF) hits 3rd*, Cano (2B) hits fourth, Giambi (DH) hits 5th*, Sexson (1B) hits 6th, Betemit plays 3B and hits 7th, Christian (LF) hits 8th, and Chris Basak** plays SS and hits 9th.

*Can't make it too obvious, can we? Besides, those two are playing for new contracts.

**Obviously we need some phantom injuries to help things along. So, Derek Jeter is placed on the 60-day DL with a broken heart; Basak is added to the 40-man and called up to take his place.

Johnny Damon is placed on the 60-day DL due to lingering, uh, shoulder issues, yeah! Gardner is recalled in his place.

A-Rod is placed on the 60-day DL with a bruised ego; Cody Ransom takes his place.

Xavier Nady is placed on the 15-day DL with flu-like symptoms and Shelley Duncan is recalled from AAA.

OK, who wants to handle the pitching staff?

2008-08-15 10:22:03
48.   dianagramr
Mike knows college hoops and some NFL.
Chris knows .... ummm ... some NFL.

The only person I listen to on the FAN is Steve Somers.

2008-08-15 10:25:42
49.   JL25and3
47 Jeter will obviously go along with it. Anything to help the team, right?

I think you'd have to sign Mussina to a two-year extension right away. Otherwise he won't go along with it, and he might well spill the beans.

You also might have to release Pettitte. But there are grounds for that - did you realize that he used HGH? I'm shocked, shocked!

Then move Joba back to the bullpen, and the rest of the pitching should take care of itself.

2008-08-15 10:26:16
50.   JL25and3
48 Francesa also knows horse racing. Russo knows tennis.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-08-15 10:51:32
51.   Bagel Boy
37 I hate few. But that POS worked next to someone for 19 years then slammed the hatchet. He's a fat slob and he'll choke soon enough on his own vomit.

41 Right, they "mutually agreed" when they were going to fire his ass, while he was on vacation, pay him the rest of his salary, and make him sit without a job for the next 12 months. That would have done his career a lot of good.

It's not hard to read between the lines here. Those lines are:

1. Francesa just got a new contract.
2. They announced it while Chris was on vacation.
3. Chris's contract still had a year left.
4. The fat POS is explaining why there will be no farewell show.
5. Two months ago Russo was completely taken off guard by the rumor of a breakup while Francesa gave a tidy "No Comment".

It's obvious what happened, unless you decide to turn a blind eye. It might be "business" but it's a horrible way to treat someone after 19 years. /end rant

2008-08-15 10:59:01
52.   Bagel Boy
Yeah, and no relation to Russo. I just call it like I see - and this one is obvious. Too bad Chris seems too nice to actually do the same. Of course, it's hard to get a new gig when you publicly bad mouth the old one. That is, for all except Manny.
2008-08-15 11:07:08
53.   williamnyy23
51 52 I've decided that you must be joking because otherwise there is no seasonable reason for your comments.
2008-08-15 11:07:37
54.   williamnyy23
53 Make that sensible.
2008-08-15 11:12:05
55.   51cq24
51 listening to the show (chris called in for the first segment), it seems you are completely wrong. so i guess it's not so obvious after all. did you just get fired from your longterm job or something?
2008-08-15 11:28:21
56.   Biscuit Pants
51 You forgot, he was on vacation . . .
2008-08-15 11:29:18
57.   pistolpete
55 Perhaps it was an homage to one of Russo's uninformed, loosely-based on any actual facts, slobbering rants?

If so, brilliant! ;-)

2008-08-15 11:35:50
58.   Bagel Boy
55 Hilarious, so the fat slob decided to pick up the phone and that makes everything all good?

Did they answer:

1) When was the decision made to extend Francesa's contract?
2) Was there a simultaneous decision to end MMD?
3) When did Russo find out? Before or during his vacation?
4) Was Russo involved in simultaneous negotiations?
5) Was Russo given a chance to stay with WFAN through the end of his contract in an alternative slot?
6) Who's decision was it to forgo a goodbye show?

So Chris calls in, after a goodbye segment run by the POS, but a goodbye show was out of the question? I smell a lot of phoniness and you guys are very gullible for buying into the spin and staging.

Of course, Chris is going to say "Yeah, they were the best of times...blah, blah, blah." The fact is this has been planned for two months, if not more. And somehow the only one still standing, and without a contract in hand is Russo. I hope he lands on his feet, but after 19 years you'd expect better.

2008-08-15 11:36:43
59.   Bagel Boy
56 Funny!
2008-08-15 11:39:57
60.   Bagel Boy
I mean, are you fucking kidding me? The fat, disgusting cat sits pretty in his new perch and takes a call from his good bud, so that clears everything up?

Wow.

2008-08-15 11:42:00
61.   Bagel Boy
57 And Francesa is any better? When he was blowing Torre?

It was great radio, at its best, and nothing more. Still, that's no way to treat someone.

2008-08-15 11:48:17
62.   Bagel Boy
Yeah, and so he broke down and started crying during the telephone call. It sounds like he's come to grips with "his" decision, like it hadn't just happened or anything. Yup, he must have had all of 24 hours to make sense of things...
2008-08-15 11:50:52
63.   JL25and3
OK, this has gotten truly bizarre.
2008-08-15 11:53:16
64.   Raf
54 I dunno, I kinda like "seasonable reason"
2008-08-15 11:56:33
65.   Biscuit Pants
62 By the way can I have a poppy seed, not toasted, with a shmear?
2008-08-15 11:59:50
66.   Bagel Boy
65 Not toasted? Cause 51 and 55 just were!

[rimshot]

2008-08-15 12:00:59
67.   Bagel Boy
65 And could you hook a brother up with some wings and watermelon?
2008-08-15 12:02:03
68.   Biscuit Pants
67 Excuse me???
2008-08-15 12:02:52
69.   Bagel Boy
68 To go with a biscuit...
2008-08-15 12:54:31
70.   JohnBlacksox
Bagel Boy - Russo orchestrated this entire event. I've seen the vacation records at WFAN, and Russo applied for those days off AFTER Francesca had purchased a new Mont Blanc pen to sign his contract extension. Look it up yourself, it's all archived! And I have a copy of the dated receipt for the pen. Facts are facts.

Futhermore, I was at Saratoga when Francesca's horse came in dead last, and I saw Russo sneaking around the stalls earlier that morning with a vodka soaked carrot. I'm not saying that Francesca's horse looked drunk in that race, but he was weaving in the clubhouse turn, and at one point was running BACKWARDS down the backstretch. I suppose you'll say that is just a coincidence, or that it is Francesca's fault for having a boozing horse.

So before you make wild baseless accusations, consider those cold hard facts. Then I think you can draw your own conclusions.

Now, can we get back to the real purpose of this blog? I'm dying to analyze some ponderous and esoteric baseball literature.

2008-08-15 15:50:37
71.   RZG
38 The cursing bothers me a little when it's so excessive but I really stay away because of the common "Player X made an error so he must die and it's because of some unrelated physical traits".

Perhaps I'm not as emotional as others but if I were to enter a room at a party and heard this ranting it wouldn't make me interested enough to engage others in conversation, I'd be more inclined to leave.

That's what I do, I enjoy reading the postings here but don't have the inclination or time to read comments more than 100 because by then it's usually reached "Oh, Yeah? Yeah! And your mother" levels by then.

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