Traina Thoughts: Mike Francesa's WFAN exit is not going well at all
The best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina.
1. First, the good news: ESPN's 30-for-30 on legendary New York radio hosts, Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, debuts tonight at 8 pm, ET. I was lucky enough to go to the premiere several weeks ago and I can tell you that anyone who has ever listened to Mike and the Mad Dog will love the documentary. It's very well done and is a fun look at how the duo became Big Apple icons.
Now the bad news: Francesa's exit from WFAN is becoming a painful thing to watch for long-time fans. The 63-year-old wraps up his time at the sports-talk station on Dec. 15. You'd think fans would want to soak up every last minute of a man they've listened to for almost 30 years. Instead, Francesa was beaten in the ratings for the month of June by the local ESPN radio affiliate in New York City. For people reading this who are not from New York, this is basically bigger than the Patriots coming back from a 28-3 deficit against the Falcons. ESPN NEVER beats WFAN. Ever. So for it to happen to the host that's been nicknamed, "Numbah One," thanks to his regular reminders that he is the ratings king, Francesa's loss is even more shocking. Now, Mike will spin this with ease, saying that he beat ESPN for the entire spring ratings book. But even losing one month to ESPN, when you only have half a year left on the airwaves, has to be an embarrassment for Francesa.
The thing with Mike, though, is that he would never admit he's embarrassed or that there's a bump in the road. He also never admits that he's wrong. Just this week, TMZ hounded Francesa and got him to admit that he once famously fell asleep on the air because his son was in the hospital the night before. The problem with that is the day after he fell asleep on the air, Francesa vehemently explained that he did not fall asleep on the air, he just closed his eyes.
I was a HUGE (or should I say, YUGE), Mike and the Mad Dog fan. The biggest. I even interned at WFAN a hundred years ago. When Russo left, I stuck with Francesa for the most part mainly because he was on TV and Dog was on Sirius and it was easier to listen to Mike. About a year ago, while wallowing away as an unemployed person, after about 25 years, I stopped listening to Francesa. The reasons were simple: His show became completely joyless, his inability to ever admit he was wrong got completely out of control and the mistruths became harder to take.
This is just armchair psychology, but, personally, I think getting covered by social media made Mike completely miserable and it came across on the air. Back when I did Hot Clicks, I would always cover stuff Mike said and did. Other blogs did the same. There were message boards and Twitter that did the same. Then mainstream sites like the New York Post and the Daily News jumped on board. For a local radio host to get this kind of coverage was unheard of. Coverage of Mike grew and grew on the world wide web. One Twitter feed, @SportsFunhouse, is basically dedicated to monitoring Francea's lies and hypocrisy.
This has made Mike on guard like never before, and, in my opinion, sucked all the joy and fun out of the show. Mike used to talk movies, pick on his crew in a lighthearted manner and tell funny stories, but that stuff hasn't existed on the show for a long time. The days of Mike mocking himself for having to change a flat tire are long gone.
But here's the crazy thing: Even though I stopped listening to Mike and couldn't take his personality anymore, it made me very sad yesterday when I saw that he had gotten beaten in the ratings. This is not how I want him to go out. He provided years and years of entertainment. He's one of the reasons I wanted to get a job in sports when I was a kid. I hope when he returns from is annual summer vacation in September, Mike enjoys his last three-and-a-half months on WFAN and lightens up and has fun with his departure. He owes that to himself and his fans.
2. Speaking of sad media stories, Fox Sports baseball reporter, Ken Rosenthal sent some very sad tweets yesterday about his status now that his company is only posting bad video on its website.
As I wait to find a new writing home (hopefully soon), I will post stories on my Facebook page. First story tonight. You guys be my editors.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 12, 2017
Thanks to everyone for their kind words. Please know I am one of the lucky ones, because of TV. My heart goes out to all those out of work.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 12, 2017
3. Gronk loves his pop stars. Tuesday, it was Britney Spears. Wednesday, it was Demi Lovato.
4. Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall went on Boston radio station, WEEI, this morning and things got very ugly.
5. Imagine what the profits would be if all those people didn't boycott the NFL because of Colin Kaepernick.
6. For all my fellow '80s people out there, Live Aid was held on this date, July 13, in 1985. The best performance of that memorable day came from Queen.
7. Vin Scully is 89 years old. EIGHTY-NINE! Let that sink in while you watch speak at last night's ESPYs.
8.RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: Sometimes in life, you just need a little Ric Flair. especially when he mentions, Bird, Magic and Kareem in a promo.