The Danger Zone: From Mad Dog to Big Buck

By Nick Morgasen

Editor’s Note: Tom Albano here. Like Nick Fodera’s newest Yankees column, here’s another new edition to Cheap Seats Sports. This is Nick Morgasen, another fellow podcaster, and his new column called The Danger Zone, where he’ll give his hot takes on anything in sports.

The way we consume sports media has changed over the last couple of years. We no longer have to just watch games on TV or radio. Now, we can watch or consume games with social media and other devices. All this new technology is great, but the new technology has brought out red-hot opinions from sports analysts on TV and radio.

Two big-time stories that everybody brings attention to are 1. Boomer Esiason blasting Mike and the Mad Dog for comments they made on WFAN. 2. With Peyton Manning turning down Fox it looks like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are reportedly going to call the new Thursday Night Football package.

There is a lot to break down here, and depending on what hot takes you agree or disagree with, you might find this interesting. Or you might be reading this because you are a sports media nerd like I am.

Boomer Esiason vs. Mike and the Mad Dog

If you have been following the news, WFAN recently went through a lot of station changes as they made some changes to their morning show and their afternoon drive Show. For mornings, they replaced Craig Carton with Gregg Giannotti, and for the afternoon drive, they replaced Mike Francesa (egotistical blowhard) with Maggie Gray, Bart Scott and Chris Carlin. Now that I gave you context for this situation, let’s get to the story.

Everybody who has listened to sports talk radio knows there is one famous duo that really thrived on sports talk radio and let it to 24/7 sports talk radio stations around the country. This duo would be none other than Mike and the Mad Dog (Mike Francesa and Chris Russo). They were, and still are, one of the most iconic sports talk radio duos of all time and they made it happen in the biggest market in the world — New York.

We all know Mike and Chris had their moments, but together they had this unique chemistry that just worked. We all know about the big break up they had ( Russo left for Sirius XM, and eventually for TV on MLB Network, and Mike stayed at WFAN). Long story short, Francesa recently left WFAN and we are still waiting to hear what his next venture is going to be.

He has still been making media appearances and recently he went on Russo’s show, High Heat on MLB Network to do a full hour to discuss the annual over/under they do for all 30 MLB teams for the year. Is it just me, or do Mike and Chris want to get back together and do a show again?

There have been many rumors and speculations that they have been discussing it, but nothing has come of it. Putting that aside, towards the end of the hour, “Mad Dog” decided to stir up some controversy when he started to make comments about WFAN, and he and Mike started to joke about it.

Russo said, “I’ll tell you right now, though, there’ll be nobody on WFAN before you know it. I guarantee it.” I don’t understand why Russo is opening his mouth about WFAN still…he left in 2008. I feel he talks about WFAN a lot because he misses being on in the New York spotlight. Could it possibly be frustration or anger for how his situation ended with WFAN in 2008? Nobody really knows except for Russo.

So after Russo made that comment, Francesa laughed and said “Oh Geez.” Russo responded, “I shouldn’t have said it. Forgive me.” Francesa said, “Who’s leaving? Benigno?” and Russo finally responded with “Boomer. Then they’ve got nobody on.” In today’s world of media, controversy is what sells and gets many eyes and ears to tune in. These personalities are trying to keep themselves in the spotlight and trending on social media. I do think Mike and Chris were way out of line talking about the company they used to work for, and airing out dirty laundry, so to speak.

Like I said before, today’s platform of media is different and everything you say is posted to social media so quotes and video clips of this conversation showed up instantly on social media and sports media websites. Eventually, these comments made its way over to WFAN and surfaced on their morning show Boomer and Gio, where Boomer did not hold back. What I found interesting was that when Boomer and Gio were talking about this, they had WFAN Program Director Mark Chernoff in the studio while they were discussing it. Boomer was quoted as saying, “The Only time those idiots make news is when they talk about what’s happening here.”

Boomer

I happen to agree with Boomer; Mike and Chris always have major opinions about WFAN when they should be worrying about their own jobs. Mike should worry about what his next project is, which he was supposed to announce April 1, rather than taking shots at his former employer. Chris does really good work for Sirius XM and MLB Network, but for some reason, he can’t stop blabbering away about WFAN.

I honestly think having a fiery competition between Mike and Chris and WFAN will lead to some great controversy and some amazing headlines. But Mike and Chris do need to take it down a notch and give the new shows some time to breathe. Once they have been on for a while, then you can make a proper judgment on them. Mark Chernoff is one of the best program directors in the history of radio, and he will find a way to turn this fire into amazing content for air.

Mike and Chris will always be sour about WFAN forever and that is why they will always take shots at all the different shows. What I will never understand is, what was Russo’s reason for bring up WFAN in this conversation and how does it relate to anything on High Heat?

Peyton Manning Turns Down FOX TNF

For the last few years, Thursday Night Football (TNF) has been giving many different issues to the NFL and causing a re-evaluation for how they handle the production for it. Starting this season, FOX will be handling the production for TNF When they were in the running for the deal, they started calling around to figure out who they were going to put in the booth to call the games. You would think they would have had this all prepared if and when they got the deal right?

San Francisco 49ers v Indianapolis Colts

Both FOX and ESPN decided to pursue former QB Peyton Manning, with some rumored speculations that the companies were willing to pay him $10 million a year to be a color commentator. First, he rejected ESPN (surprise, surprise!!!) and everybody thought FOX was in the clear for his services. Instead, Manning decided to turn down FOX, also leaving them in an awkward spot where there 3 and 4 hitters both sneezed and pulled their backs out, and like Sammy Sosa, need to go on the Disabled List.

In light of this mess, it is now being reported we are going to get more Buck and Aikman as they will now be calling TNF. You can’t see my reaction right now but, I’m jumping for joy so hard that it’s killing me…

https://giphy.com/embed/3o7aD4kZn5k0SEvPmo

via GIPHY

 

Is this FOX in true desperation mode to get viewers to watch TNF or did the NFL get involved, like it did with NBC and not allowing Mike Tirico to fill in for Al Michaels so he could have a day off? One game a week with Buck/Aikman is enough, but two?!? There is only so much I can take of Buck yelling, “TROYYYYYY!!!!!!”

Buck and Aikman

Why can’t they just take the No.2 Fox commentating team of Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis for TNF? Stop this madness, and the NFL should stay out of those decisions because FOX is paying the $3.3 billion to the No Fun League, so they should have the right to put who they want there. The NFL should be happy they get as much money as they do because people desperately want their product. Even if its absolute garbage, it still does better then most anything else.

Let’s get two WWE-style matches going. We can Have Mike Francesa & Chris “Mad Dog” Russo vs. WFAN, and Joe Buck & Troy Aikman vs. the World.

Hope everybody enjoyed this introductory column and if there is a hot take you count on it ending up in The Danger Zone.

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This is This is SportsCenter

By Thomas Albano

Author’s Note: I know I haven’t been quiet for some time, but I’ve been working on other projects. But, I’ll save my plugs for the end. Let’s just get into the article

So, there’s been a lot going on in this world recently. So, let’s talk about something else — commercials. Commercials that are a guaranteed laugh in the sports world — the This is SportsCenter commercials.

Just some background info — the This is SportsCenter commercial series started in 1994, and advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy is responsible for writing the series. It’s a “mockumentary” of sorts that talk about life at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, and a bunch of athletes and noteworthy ESPN personnel appear.

Now, let me take you through some of my favorites.


Here’s one of the earliest, if not the first, This is SportsCenter ad. Roger Clemens and Cam Neely appear to be having a hard time trying to find where SportsCenter is.


Here’s one of the earliest I remember — an ad from around 2000, a time where Tiger Woods was at the top of his game (and, well, what he’s not today)


Here’s what is probably my favorite of these commercials, however. John Clayton is, well, the man. And it’s hard not to laugh when you see him act like he is here. This commercial is just about universally loved. I also recently learned Clayton got let go about a couple of months ago, which saddens me. But I’m glad he’s getting work on radio still, and as a Seattle Seahawks commentator.


Arnold Palmer is another G.O.A.T. Even watching him make his Arnold Palmer tea is amazing. RIP.


The good ol’ Manning family, and of course it’s Peyton and Eli who are the ones messing around. Why? Because does poor Cooper even matter?


What? Stone Cold studying. What? Takes a chair to the back. What? Better than having a 5-Hour Energy. What? WWE legend. What?


Now this is just a great tribute.


Maybe it’s because I like the Rangers. Maybe it’s because I liked Lundqvist from the time I first got hooked on the Rangers. And maybe it’s because I loved The Muppets as a young child. But it’s a huge win in my book for this commercial to exist.

I can go on and on about these commercials and show more. But, honestly, have a fun search on YouTube for these.

And credit needs to be given to the folks at ESPN and Wieden+Kennedy. Even if some may say not every commercial hits a home run, this series’ reputation in the land of TV is certainly Hall of Fame worthy.

So for my loyal readers, I know I’ve been away. I’ve been putting my focus onto The Unspoken Podcast — which is now on iTunes. So, please, go to its YouTube channel and iTunes page and hit the subscribe button for both. I’m also starting a wrestling/boxing/MMA podcast soon. So, stay tuned for that! And hopefully my next post here will come sooner!