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Mike Francesa and Michael Kay launch verbal attack on each other.

By Jimmy Traina
April 16, 2019

1. A huge sports-talk radio war broke out in New York City on Monday when numbers for the latest ratings book came out.

Before I get into that, let me just give you some quick background information in the interest of full disclosure.

The Mike and the Mad Dog show was a huge part of my childhood and I was a big Mike Francesa fan even after Chris Russo left and Mike was forced to go solo. In 2016, though, I stopped listening to Mike’s show. As I’ve written before, the show became completely joyless and Mike’s attitude toward the callers and refusal to ever acknowledge that he was wrong just made the show hard to listen to. Plus, I was unemployed at the time and I didn’t have to listen for work purposes. While I did not flip on WFAN during the afternoon, I still kept up with Mike via the @BackAftaThis Twitter account, which really picked up steam after Mike unretired and added a video stream of his show via his app.

As for Michael Kay, who calls Yankees games for the YES Network, I’ve never listened to his radio show, so I can’t make a judgment on whether it’s good or not. I’ve seen clips, obviously, on Twitter when someone from the show goes on a rant or if Kay is bashing Mike, but I've never put the show on my radio or streamed it. I did get some tweets from people last week saying that Kay was ripping me on his radio show because I asked if it was seedy that he’d interview Craig Carton. I didn’t hear what Kay said, but I was told he said I hated him. That is a really bizarre claim. The truth is, I’m not a fan of Kay’s work in the Yankees booth and, if you follow me on Twitter, you know I often listen to the radio call with the great John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Not being a fan of someone’s work does not equal hate. My hate is reserved for people like Donald Trump.

OK, now that we got all that out of the way, let’s get to what happened Monday. The ratings came out and Kay beat Francesa (asterisk here), 5.9 to 5.5, in the category of men, 25-54. However, Kay’s 5.9 rating represents his radio listeners and his streaming listeners. Francesa’s number just represents his radio listeners. When you add in Francesa’s streaming listeners, he beats Kay, 6.2 to 5.9. There are also other factors here because Kay’s show airs on the YES Network and Francesa has his $8.99 per month app that streams the show.

But in terms of radio/streaming, people can argue and fight and make all the claims they want, but even though facts are dying, they are very simple here:

Kay’s radio + streaming = 5.9
Francesa’s radio = 5.5

BUT...

Francesa’s radio + streaming = 6.2 while 
Kay's radio + streaming = 5.9

I don't know how anyone can say Kay beat Francesa when those are the numbers, but that's just me.

Apparently, the Kay show is not a fan of Francesa and WFAN adding in their streaming numbers because they actually celebrated a ratings victory yesterday with cake and champagne. Weird. Anyway, this led to both hosts ripping each other to shreds on the radio Monday, with each saying they had “pity” for the other.

Here’s Kay absolutely destroying Francesa, saying, among other things, “move aside because we kicked your ass.”

Here’s Francesa absolutely destroying Kay and ESPN, saying, among other things, "when you're ESPN and you get beat like a rented mule for 20 years, it's gotta hurt."

Other side notes on this whole thing: Props to Mike for refusing to interview Carton on his show.

However, this was NOT a good look for Francesa.

The real story here that nobody has tackled is why have Entercom (which owns WFAN), Francesa and WFAN not gotten the @BackAftaThis account shut down for copyright issues? That Twitter account is the root of a lot of Mike's problems. Of course, the flip side is that if that account goes away, Mike will get no attention on social media. So we have the classic case of "any publicity is good publicity." But is that really the case here? People on social media would be up in arms if that Twitter account got shut down. However, that account highlights Mike's various blunders and mistruths on a daily basis. That's quite a pickle that WFAN is in.

The bottom line, as Mike likes to say, with all this is that all this back-and-forth, name calling and verbal warfare is good for business and ratings and both men know that. 

Wait. Actually, the REAL bottom line is that Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s show on SiriusXM is the one you should be listening to every day from 3 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET because it’s entertaining from start to finish (except when Dog talks about 1950s baseball).

2. If you're a Game of Thrones fan, click this immediately because Chris Long did a hell of a job with his first column for SI.com.

Speaking of GoT, this was a great bit via Jimmy Kimmel Live.

3. Lou Williams scored 36 points to help the Clippers finish off the largest comeback in postseason history (31 points) as L.A. beat Golden State, 135-131, on Monday night. After the game, Williams did what we all do after a crazy game: eat and tweet.

4. LeBron James has finally responsed to Charles Barkley's multiple invites to Inside the NBA on TNT. Don't tease us, King. Make this happen.

5. The beauty of baseball is no matter how long you've watched, you still see things you've never seen before. Case in point: Monday night, Reds pitcher Luis Castillo should've had a base hit, but instead he was thrown out after not running to first base because he thought he hit the ball into the stands.

6. My colleague Dan Gartland covered this in today's Hot Clicks, but it's worth repeating: National treasure Kevin Harlan was on fire Monday night. The Sixers have a promo in which the crowd gets a free, delicious Frosty from Wendy's if an opposing players misses two free-throws in the fourth quarter. After Nets forward Treveon Graham missed his first free-throw last night, Harlan gave you a call that rivaled Al Michael's "Mircale on Ice" and Howard Cosell's "Down Goes Frazier."

7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: Bill Belichick turns 67 years old Tuesday. If you've never seen this video, you're welcome.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

IN CLOSING: Russell Wilson is, um, an interesting dude.

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