Friday, August 15, 2008

That's a bad job, Mikey: Mike and the Mad Dog no more

Another day, another discussion of a famous sports-talk duo who won't be working together so much anymore -- or, in this case, at all. After the jump, I lament (but not really) the end of "Mike and the Mad Dog." (For those of you not from around these here parts, they're the most successful sports-talk radio team of all time.)

First, an excerpt from a story I wrote for the Sports section last year about my breaking the addiction to Mike and the Dog:
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing if you want to listen to "Mike and the Mad Dog."

There was a time where my life ticked along to the beat of their WFAN theme song. I nearly got fired from a summer office job because my boss kept catching me listening to Mike and Chris performing their daily inquisition of then Mets manager Jeff Torborg.

But the older I got and the more I attempted to learn about our local teams through resources other than Mike and Chris, the less I could stand listening to them. Because once you realize you know more about a particular subject than they do, they're unbearable.

Their on-screen personas are built on the shaky foundation that they are the all-seeing, all-knowing experts on all matters sports-related. They bully all but the most sycophantic callers, shouting down any attempt to disagree with them. When they do interviews, they don't so much ask questions as make thesis statements for the guests to agree with, as confirmation of Mike and Chris's astute powers of observation.


I tolerated and at times even enjoyed them when they were the only game in town to get a sports talk fix. But now there's satellite radio, and podcasts, and blogs and message boards and so many other venues for me to learn about, discuss and debate what's happening with the Yankees or Knicks that there's no earthly reason for me to endure their act. I'm no sports expert by any means, but when I make the mistake of tuning into their show for a few minutes while stuck in traffic these days, it feels like the only subjects they have a better command of are the '50s Yanks and the San Francisco Giants' middle relief corps.
And yet, my dislike of them as a team doesn't remotely equal how I feel about them whenever they work solo -- which they will be doing permanently, now that WFAN has severed ties with the Dog.

I feel uncomfortable comparing these two loudmouths to Lennon and McCartney, but in the world of sports-talk, they're essentially The Beatles, and their partnership was one where the whole was far, far greater than the sum of the parts. Just as John made Paul smarter and Paul made John more entertaining, Russo's clowning tempered Mike's arrogance and Mike's knowledge and connections tempered the Dog's more outrageous antics. Working apart, you have a rampaging, unwarranted ego and a cackling idiot whose only skill is agitating his listeners.

Again, I don't listen to them anymore together, and I sure as hell won't listen to either one apart, but for the people who are still fans, this is a lose-lose. Neither will ever be remotely as good on their own as they were as a duo.


Gangsta D said...

I don't know how anyone can listen to Mad Dog for more than 20 secs. His voice makes me want to break things. And I've never heard the radio show. i've only been exposed to his sound bites on the NFL Network's "Top 10" series.

Ted Kerwin said...

I think you put it properly that the act had worn thin. I stopped listening on anyday but the Monday after football sundays. Russo is awful on his own, Mike can be good at times but his arrogance can be boring.

The rumor started in June that the partnership was in trouble and Russo had obviously treated the other personalities on the station with disdain bordering on hatred, this day was coming.

Anonymous said...

Between this and the John Edwards deal, O&A sure picked the wrong week to go on vacation...

Hyde said...

Those two are a New York thing all the way, blowhards made famous by the same people who gave us Rudy Guiliani. Good riddance.

Karen said...

Phew. At the beginning, I thought this was going to be a paean to these guys.

I was a bartender at the Play-by-Play at MSG back in the early '90s, when Francesa did a live talk show from the bar. We all thought he was a total ass, but boy did the customers kiss up to him.

I had literally forgotten about him completely--the only sportscasters from the Garden we liked were Al Trautwig and Bruce Beck, who were genuinely lovely people, and I'm always happy to run across them from time to time--until the news broke this past week. I'd like to say I'll enjoy seeing Francesa sink and fall but in perfect honesty I'll stop thinking about him again as soon as I click "Publish Your Comment."