1. Let me be clear and open right off the bat. I’ve worked with SI.com colleague Maggie Gray for many years and we are friends. I’ve also never seen anyone work harder or be more deserving of this opportunity. I’m also friends with Chris Carlin. So if you don’t think I’m objective when analyzing WFAN’s decision to have those two along with former NFL player, Bart Scott replace the irreplaceable Mike Francesa, I understand. The official announcement that Carlin, Gray and Scott would replace Mike Francesa on New York’s WFAN from 2-6:30 beginning Jan. 2 was made this morning.
Speaking strictly from a business standpoint, however, I understand what WFAN is doing and it makes sense. Allow me to explain.
Unless WFAN pulled off a miracle and brought back Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Francesa listeners were not going to be happy with ANY hire the station made to take over his spot. You’re trying to replace a guy who was on afternoon drive for 30 years. THIRTY! A guy who became a radio legend, cult figure and Internet star. Or as he would say, stah. A guy who is nicknamed The Sports Pope, for goodness sake.
It would be foolish to just plug in someone similar — although there is no one similar to Francesa — or someone who would try to do the same show. It would also be a monumental mistake to try and replicate the Mike and the Mad Dog show. Going in a completely different direction — three-person team, diverse team, younger team — was the smart way for WFAN to go. Many listeners will bail on the station simply because The Pope is gone. That's just a fact. WFAN management knows that. The station needs to attract people who didn’t listen to Mike’s show. How do you do that? Appeal to a different audience. That’s why a completely revamped show makes sense. You can quibble with who you'd want as the cast, but going with a three people who are completely different is a sound business strategy.
Personally, I’m not interested in hearing ex-athletes do sports-talk radio. I don’t think they can be objective and I’m not really interested in their opinions on sports they didn’t play. That’s just my own personal thing. But WFAN has had success with one former athlete — Boomer Esiason — so it’s not shocking they’d try to strike magic twice. Carlin has hosted radio and television shows for years. He knows what he’s doing and he has a strong personality. Maggie knows sports as well as anyone I’ve ever worked with. I know many Francesa fans will not be open to trying something new and that’s fine. But this move isn’t about those listeners, in my opinion. As Francesa would say, da bottom line is, it’s a new era at WFAN.
2. Good heated moment between ESPN's Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams, who had totally different opinions on what should happen to three UCLA players who got in trouble for shoplifting in China.
3. Speaking of the UCLA incident, the President of the United States is a Simpson's character.
4. It's still real to him, dammit! Hornets center Dwight Howard attended SmackDown Live last night and throughly enjoyed the show.
5. We need more NHL players to follow in P.K. Subban's footsteps and wear cowboy hats during warmups.
6. If you like Larry David, you will love the outtakes of him reading mean tweets about Jimmy Kimmel.
7. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY:
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BONUS ITEM: Joel Embiid, who has had plenty to say about the Ball family, gets his chance to dunk on Lonzo tonight with the Sixers visiting the Lakers. Should be fun.