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Mike and the Mad Dog in the Mets Booth: Bad Idea

Mike SteffanosWednesday, May 17, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


From the official press release on Mets.com:

WFAN's afternoon hosts Mike and the Mad Dog, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, respectively, for the first time in station history, will call the live play by play and provide color analysis when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, May 25 at 1:10 PM at Shea Stadium. ... Following the game, the tables will be turned on Mike and Chris as Wilpon, Howard and an assortment of celebrities and WFAN listeners will have their chance to call in to analyze and critique Mike and the Mad Dog's play-by-play commentary.

Additionally, the Mets and Mike and Chris will donate a total of $30,000 to benefit a local Queens-based charity or charities. To raise additional funds, WFAN and the Mets will auction off a premium VIP package for the May 25th game that includes a trip to the broadcast booth to meet Mike and Chris.

WFAN Operations Manager Mark Chernoff said, "For years Mike and Chris have dished it out as arguably the harshest critics in the sports business. Never before have they set themselves up for such criticism and there's no guarantee they'll excel on the other side of the microphone. But in the name of charity we will deliver some great radio."

"The Mets are thrilled to expand our longtime partnership with WFAN for this special broadcast," said Wilpon. "We think it will be fun for fans tuning in, as well as Mike and Chris, but more important, the broadcast provides an opportunity for the Mets and WFAN to team up for charity in our home borough of Queens."

It's hard to argue against something that will benefit charity, and I've made no pretense of the fact that I don't care for these two, so I'm not exactly an unbiased observer here. In fact, I had decided that I was not going to voice an opinion in this matter, but after thinking about it I have to say something.

First of all, I understand this thing from the Mets point of view. It's a ton of free publicity, and a way to get a lot of people that wouldn't normally tune into a Mets game to give a listen next Thursday. It's an afternoon game, which I assume generates the smallest listening audience under normal circumstances. And I'm sure those "local Queens-based charities" will be very happy.

So why do I have a problem with this event? The Mets have decided to turn over an entire radio broadcast to 2 unskilled announcers for a publicity stunt. Repeat: an entire broadcast. And it's a game against the Phillies, who are shaping up to be the biggest competition for the Mets in the division.

It's a unique bond of trust that fans form with their team's announcers, especially on the radio where you are completely dependent on Howie Rose and Tom McCarthy to bring you the game. For those that have no option but the radio for this important game, this is a large breach of trust on the part of publicity hungry Mets management. Could you ever picture the Yankees pulling this on their fans?

I don't harbor any sort of hatred towards MATMD. I just don't care for their act and the cynical way they constantly bait Mets fans. Their gloating performance from opening day last year, when Looper blew Pedro's first game as a Met, still sticks in the craw of many Mets fans. Yet again, the team has elected to turn an entire game over to them. This whole thing just makes me shake my head with wonder. Does the Mets hierarchy really get the Mets fan?

Not all Mets fans dislike MATMD, to be sure. "Yuan" left the following comment on an earlier post:

I know a lot of people, including you Mike, feel that that show is a joke (and rightfully so sometimes), but I've found myself enjoying their commentary over the years. They bash the Mets and treat them like the 2nd team in NY, but to me it's always been done in a funny and not spiteful way.

After the Mets hot start this year, Russo opened up one show trying to find (jokingly) ways to "throw cold water" on the parade, and it the rare sports radio moment that made me really laugh. I mean it was genuinely funny stuff. I think it can be just as enjoyable to hear people who don't like your team talk about them.

That's cool that Yuan gets a kick out of them, and I'm sure there are plenty of other Mets fans that feel the same way. But there are plenty that don't, and to my mind it was irresponsible of the team to go so far over the top and hand those 2 an entire game. What might have been a cute stunt that few would have objected to for 2 or 3 innings has been carried to an extreme that makes no sense. I'm not going to make a huge deal of it here, but I felt I had to voice my disappointment with this decision. I hope they make a ton of money for worthy charities, but I for one won't be listening next Thursday.

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Comments (13)

Agreed -- The Mets first priority should be the fans - particularly after all the years we have remained committed to them through atrocious seasons.

Mike, I agree with you 100%. One of the more enjoyable aspects of my forced relocation to Florida is that I no longer have to listen to those two anti-Met clowns anymore(despite my dislike for their show, I am a confirmed channel-surfer and would end up hearing them more often than I care to admit). This reeks of a cheap stunt that a single A minor league team would dream up, not something a division-leading team in New York City would even contemplate. For once, the term AMAZING really fits!

The more I think about it, the more it bugs me. Why a whole game? Cheap stunt was a perfect description, George. GH is right about messed up priorities. Jeez...

They are clowns. They overblown clowns. And they are hateful clowns. If Steve Somers or Joe Benigno or Chris Carlin or even Richard Neer (whom I intensely dislike) had come on after that Looper fiasco and laid out the problems with the Mets, had called out the Mets, had pronounced the Mets dead on arrival, fine. Wouldn't have been too happy but it would have been legitimate opinion supported by fact, albeit a small sample.

But what Blowhard and the Retard (sincere apologies for insensitivity there; they drive me to use language in which I normally don't dabble) did was laugh at the Mets. Laughed at Mets fans. This wasn't entertaining. This wasn't funny. This was the show that came on the flagship station after the flagship team blew a painful game, one we had, by definition, waited for all winter. It was spiteful. It was, "look at you, you thought you were going to be something, going to have something, but you don't and you aren't, we're awesome, you suck." It was pointless. They don't have to be homers. They don't even have to be empathetic. But you don't have to take such glee in stomping on a team that didn't deserve it. If these were the high and mighty Mets who had been talking up a storm? OK. These weren't. Their crime was optimism. Bad enough it was dashed on Opening Day in the ninth inning. But that post-game performance was inexcusable.

Their excuse that they were just tweaking the Mets fans at the station was as lame as they were. They're professionals. Their audience is out here, not in Astoria. And what kind of platform is it for this station to have, two bullies who spit on their largest group of listeners that particular afternoon, already distraught Mets fans? That's just bad, dumb broadcasting. And no, the fact that we're still dwelling on it 13 months later doesn't make it brilliant. People still talk about the Kennedy assassination, too.

I'm with commenter George. This is EXACTLY what a single-A minor league team does. It's what the Cyclones did last year with Benigno and his then-partner, the reprobate Sid Rosenberg. Hell, Russo sat in with Fran Healy and Rusty Staub in Candlestick in 1992. The abandonment of an entire game, one with major implications in the standings, to Schmuck One and Schmuck Two is ludicrous and unforgivable.

Per that idiot Russo, bad job, Mets. Very bad job.

Greg, that said it all. I loved it when Francesa accused the Mets fans of not having a sense of humor when the station started getting complaints from Mets fans after that performance.

BTW, I thought my Mom and I were the only 2 people that dislike the smooth Mr. Neer.

I don't know how Richard Neer maintains a slot on WFAN. He is as addle-minded as Chris Russo without the histrionics. That he comes off as calm lends an aura of maturity that does not reflect his comprehensive misunderstanding of baseball.

This conversation has never taken place as far as I know, but it definitely could:

CALLER: RIchard, I think the Mets are actually terrorists.
NEER: Well, that hasn't been brought up before, but you can see where a case could be made. They play near LaGuardia Airport and that has to be considered something of a red flag to the authorities. And they do have a lot of players who need to present documentation when they go to Toronto later this year. I'm not saying they are terrorists, but there aren't that many dots to connect if you wanted to see them that way. It's different with the Yankees...

Home Depot should sponsor his show. He's that big a tool.

Amen.

I guess the mets realized if you do not kiss the butts of those two they will tear the mets apart at every turn. They have lost all objectivity in thier shows and if your on their friends list they treat you well if not they will rip you apart with comments and statements that are more like National equirer stuff than real reporting.
This was nothing more than "We are Mike and the Mad Dog" and we can call an inning if we want to and to all you life long met fans..... tough. We are better than you.

What really bothers me the most about this is I believe they're calling the whole 9 innings.

I heard some garbage coming out of my MLB internet radio and found my way here. I don't care if these two gentlemen hate the Mets, hate America, or hate me, but I'm not paying to hear a Mets game that I can't understand. God knows how these jokers got jobs in radio, or maybe spitting venom is easier than calling a game, but I cannot understand what is going on from their disgusting speech. Thank god MLB internet radio lets me pick my feed, because after an inning with those creeps, I've switched to the lovely cadence of the Philadephia announcers.

Erik, none of us can quite figure out what the Mets were thinking. This whole thing is an embarassment.

Please people take a chill, this is supposed to be entertainment. Something you could laught at, they know that too. Yes I am not a Mets fan, but if Benigno and another Met loving sportscaster did 9 innings of a Yankee game I would definitely listen and get a good laugh at it. Who wants everyone to be on your teams side all the time...ITS BORING!!!...and if you're a real fan what really matters is if your team wins...so who cares whos calling the damn game....!!!! Lighten up Mets fans!!!

Veronica, it obviously didn't bother you, but a lot of us didn't like this for the reasons we outlined. I think we are real fans, whether you think we are or not.

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