As you surely must have heard by now, Mike Francesa’s illustrious run at WFAN comes to an end this afternoon. His nearly two decade stretch with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo dominated the ratings and laid the foundation for the sports talk radio and even television landscape out there today, and went another decade atop the ratings charts as a solo act. It will be a very long time until another person has that type of impact and longevity in sports media.
Mike, obviously, is rough around the edges. He is apt to make grand proclamations of things that are definitely going to happen, and nevah said that! when they don’t. Even as he is certainly an egomaniac, though, he’s also endearing. There aren’t too many others, if anyone, you can say that about. Deep down, beneath his blusterous facade, he’s a teddy bear.
A funny, if mildly illustrative, example about this was brought up by a caller today who remembered that Francesa knowingly instructed him to keep his young son out of the sun at Yankee Stadium. The caller, Lawrence Taylor’s lawyer Arthur Aidala, ignored the Pope. His son got sun-sick, and vomited. Mike helped him get cleaned up:
Of course, there were haters and losers who don’t get the show and pooh-poohed Mike on his final day, but this week has been a glorious victory lap that was well-deserved. There was a cavalcade of prominent names in sports and sports media who paid tribute yesterday, and today has been a procession of callers who have thanked Francesa for touching their lives, entertaining them, and making them laugh.
The day is going to come, probably soon, where there is a gigantic story in New York sports, and Francesa isn’t there to give his take. Imagine, for example, if the Giants had benched Eli Manning, and he hadn’t been there to castigate Ben McAdoo and get him fired on behalf of the town. Whatever Francesa does next, beginning around April 2018, it won’t be quite the same as everyone gathering around the WFAN airwaves a few minutes before 1 o’clock in heavy anticipation of what he’ll say.
I don’t quite know how to end this, so I’ll conclude with the Mike and the Mad Dog jingle, which will make me smile until the day I die: