Mike Francesa is ending his legendary WFAN career after 30 years.
1. No more "back afta this." No more, "here's da Mink Man." No more "get lawst." Once 6:30 p.m. ET hits today, Mike Francesa's iconic voice will no longer be heard on WFAN in New York after a stellar 30-year run. As I wrote earlier this year, I had stopped listening to Francesa about a year and a half ago after being a daily listener for 28 1/2 years. I would literally listen for five hours a day and then early in 2016, because of life circumstances and not enjoying the show like I used to, my listening went down to about 10 minutes a day. Of course, I still caught up with all of the highlight and lowlights that made the various sports websites. Despite weening myself of Mike's show, today is still a monumental day in New York and a hard one personally.
Without making this about me, I'll just say that I interned at WFAN a LONG time ago and Mike and the Mad Dog were probably the No. 1 reason I wanted to have a career in sports. Back when I created Hot Clicks on SI.com and wrote that column for seven years, I did my best to take two staples from their show -- don't BS your audience and be authentic. That was the beauty of Mike and the Mad Dog. There were no phony rants, no saying stuff you don't believe to get a reaction, no "hot takes." Whether you agreed or disagreed with what they said, they were always real.
At the risk of sounding like an old man, it's hard to explain the impact Mike and the Mad Dog had on New York sports fans in the pre-Internet, pre-Twitter era. THEY were the authority on New York sports. Mike and the Mad was the show you HAD TO listen to when something big happened in New York. Mike and the Mad Dog was the show that got all the big interviews. But here's the thing that elevated the Mike and the Mad Dog show to another level: Their best moments were when they did segments that had nothing to do with sports. Whether it was movies or music or just any regular day-to-day life issue, it was the non-sports stuff that drew you into the show more than anything.
Nine years ago, Russo left the program and Mike carried on solo. During the time, that little thing known as the Internet was exploding and Twitter was coming along. This changed everything. Since Mike's show was simulcast on television, all of the quirks and staples of the show -- handwaving callers, guzzling the diet cokes and going on rants -- became Web fodder. (I still to this day believe there is no greater Twitter account than @MikeFrancesaNY.) There is no national radio figure that gets as much attention as Mike, a local radio host. And in New York, Francesa is a living legend.
No matter how you feel about the man nicknamed The Sports Pope, you can't do anything but respect the longevity, the results and the popularity. And from day one on the FAN, he always did it his way.
Serby's Post colleague, the-never-happy Phil Mushnick, had a slightly different take on Mike's departure.
Also, this week's Off The Board podcast is a tribute show to Mike.
3. This next sentence and story is 100% real: Macaulay Culkin appeared at a wrestling show last night, interfered in a match, did a splash off the top rope and took in cheers from the crowd as they chanted, "HOME ALONE, HOME ALONE."
4. If you're a Traina Thoughts reader, you know that I think very highly of the NFL Network's Good Morning Football and I'm big fans of Peter Schrager and Kyle Brandt, who came on my podcast a couple of months ago. So maybe I'm not 100% objective here, but, in my opinion, former Panthers and Steelers running back, DeAngelo Williams, thoroughly embarrassed himself when he went on the show yesterday and basically told the hosts that they weren't equipped to analyze this Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game because they never played football -- even though Kyle did play at Princeton. One, Williams' argument is flat-out stupid and two, why go on a show if you're going to be so disrespectful? Anyway, like I said, I'm not objective, so watch and judge for yourself.
5. Between not eating strawberries, hawking $100 pajamas and now this, I worry about Tom Brady sometimes.
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“The tree that never had to fight For sun and sky and air and light, But stood out in the open plain And always got its share of rain, Never became a forest king But lived and died a scrubby thing. The man who never had to toil To gain and farm his patch of soil, Who never had to win his share Of sun and sky and light and air, Never became a manly man But lived and died as he began. Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow. Where thickest lies the forest growth, We find the patriarchs of both. And they hold counsel with the stars Whose broken branches show the scars Of many winds and much of strife. This is the common law of life.” - Douglas Malloch
6. Yesterday's Traina Thoughts featured a superb Jim Ross dub video in which a little boy tried to save his sister while she was involved in a wrestling match. Even Stone Cold Steve Austin enjoyed it.
One of my hard-working Twitter followers went into the YouTube hole to find the original video where Jim Ross made his call: "IT'S AUSTIN, STONE COLD, STONE COLD, FOR GOD'S SAKE, STONE COLD IS BACK!" Here it is.
7. RANDOM MIKE FRANCESA VIDEO OF THE DAY: This will always be my favorite Mike and the Mad Dog video.
Traina Thoughts is the best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts right here. And check out Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board."
BONUS ITEM: NFL picks for Week 15: Patriots -3 at Steelers, 49ers -1.5 vs. Titans, Chargers PK at Chiefs.