Press-Box Confidential: Fights, Splits, and a Profoundly Sad Michael Kay

Photo: FilmMagic

When WFAN officially announced, last night, that Chris Russo would be leaving the network after nearly nineteen years partnered with Mike Francesa, it marked the end of a classic example of a show greater than the sum of its parts. By themselves, as they were for much of the summer already, Russo and Francesca proved unspectacular and sometimes borderline irritating. (We know, Mad Dog, you don’t like the Mets or the Yankees, but perhaps try to tone down your glee when they lose, just a bit.) But together they were as influential as they come in the sports-talk world and established enough that even absurd moments (this video, for example, or any time they’d kill a half-hour guessing the TV ratings of games) were oddly captivating.

To be sure, neither of them will be able to get away with something like that on his own solo show. Presumably, Francesa will spend five and a half hours a day berating listeners who don’t agree with him that Bronson Arroyo is the solution to the Yankees’ problems, while Russo will mostly just read Bruce Springsteen set lists and attempt to pronounce the word “kiosk.” Mike and the Mad Dog may not be leaving us — Francesa will stay in the afternoon-drive slot on the FAN, and Russo will likely go to satellite radio — but “Mike and the Mad Dog” will be missed. What, like we’re gonna listen to Colin Cowherd now, or something?

It’s a Good Thing That Favre Thing Happened: A Newsday staffer confirmed for us this week that the paper values Brett Favre more than the Pope. Well, by five pages worth, anyway: The Long Island tab devoted seventeen pages to the new Jets quarterback on his first day. The Pope? Only twelve. Must be the hat. We can’t imagine what Newsday would be doing if Favre hadn’t come to town; they’re the only metro paper without a single staffer in Beijing.

Thanks Goodness for Beat Reporters: Not that you were wondering, but Carlos Delgado was eating some grapes in the clubhouse on Wednesday, and John Maine was reading a newspaper. This wasn't a tangent on a longer post, by the way; this was pretty much it. Yay, unlimited Internet space!

Joel Sherman Said Knock You Out: In this great Big Lead interview with John Heyman, the Sports Illustrated writer is asked what the best dugout fight he's ever seen is (be it coach-on-player, journalist-on-coach, etc.), and Heyman responds with a fantastic anecdote about Sherman pummeling a photographer — at spring training, no less — as they jockeyed for position. If Around the Horn could promise just one actual journalist fistfight a month — and this fistfight ended with Jay Mariotti on the floor, his mascara streaking down his cheeks — we'd TiVo it every day.

Michael Kay Is in a Bad Place Right Now: As Neil “Not in Beijing” Best mentioned this week, Michael Kay appears to be having a difficult time handling this whole Yankees-not-being-in-the-playoffs thing. Robinson Cano didn't run hard on a hit to center that the center fielder bobbled, perhaps costing him a chance at second base, and Kay lost his mind. This just a day after John Sterling spent much of the weekend in Anaheim repeating, over and over and over, like a mantra, the fact that they couldn't drive in a runner from third with fewer than two outs. Again. And again. Not that they weren't both right — they were — but there was a legitimate sadness in their voices. Maybe they’ll pull a Suzyn Waldman and start crying. That’s one way to promise better ratings in the last month. —Joe DeLessio and Will Leitch