Mike and the Mad Dog defined drive time talk radio on WFAN in New York from 1989 to 2008. The strange duo were an overnight hit and went on to define sports talk radio for the next two decades. Take any talking head sports show, they all have some debt to pay to Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. In 2008 after Russo’s departure Mike took over the time slot as a solo act.
The Mike’s On program slowly morphed into a sort of strange performance art piece about a middle aged man with a massive ego breaking down local sports. While not nearly as memorable or historically important, Francesa has maintained dominance over his drivetime slot. The fact that he has been on the air pretty much every day since 1989 has created fans across multiple generations, a truly impressive feat no matter how you slice it. With Mike’s departure from WFAN quickly approaching, it’s time to really dig into the 10 years of Mike’s On.
#10 - Darrelle Revis hangs up on Mike
In 2011 Mike interviewed star cornerback Darrelle Revis during his first stint with our friends the New York Jets. About four minutes into the interview Mike begins to wax poetic about the days where a corner could really get down and dirty with the wideouts while shifting the conversation over to a controversial call from the previous weeks game against the Dolphins. Now, this is not nearly as cut and dry as Mike is making it seems, but based on some of the other soft contact plays that are called for pass interference these days I understand why Mike starts digging in. After three minutes of Mike offering up what he sees as playful banter (and Revis sees as a personal attack), a Jets PR man can be heard telling Revis to stop talking and hang up on Mike mid segment.
The action starts at the 4:25 mark.
“This is why no one wants to get interviewed by him!”
#9 - Mike Yells at Peter Schwartz
The New York Jets are truly the gift that keeps on giving. The 2010 Jets were actually a very competent football team, far and away the best since the Parcells 1998 team that lost in the conference finals. However, they of course find a way to be the same old Jets, by telling reporters that they are being forced by the union to play Braylon Edwards who had recently been cited for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. This is of course complete bull, but Jet beat reporter Peter Schwartz went on Mikes show to relay this information. Now, Mike was probably more upset at the content of the report rather than at Schwartz himself, but due to a combination of poor social skills and need to scream at least once during the 5 hour program, he proceeds to have a meltdown.
““Peter! Use your noogin, use your noodle here!”
#8 - Zach Wheeler’s “Breaking” News
Met pitcher Zach Wheeler had Tommy John surgery after throwing over 180 innings in the 2014 season. It was a huge blow for the young staff and forced him to miss the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He got injured once, had surgery and had to take two seasons off to rehab. Classic Met disfunction aside, it was a pretty cut and dry story. During a 2016 Mikes On show SNY found itself on the in studio television showing a rerun of a 2015 Mets year in review program. Instead of checking to see what in the hell he was actually watching, or doing any sort of fact checking in general Mike went ahead and broke the “news” that Wheeler has torn his UCL yet again. It took him a good few minutes for anyone to realize what was going on, but by then it was too late. A few awkward silences and yelling back and forth to the booth revealed that indeed it was not a new report. To add icing to the cake the very first call after the report debacle asks Mike if it was indeed a new or old report with Mike promptly hanging up on him.
“Get Eddy on dah phone and axe him”
#7 - Dennis in Dumont
Dennis revels in taking Mike on Who’s on First style thought experiments from time to time. Calling in a few days before the Bernie Williams retirement ceremony, he wonders why don’t they honor Graig Nettles and Willie Randolph the same night and kill two birds with one stone. I mean why not? Mike Vaccaro wrote about it in the Post and they were both great Yankees! It takes Mike a whole two and a half minutes to become flummoxed to the point of hanging up on him. Dennis, not satisfied with taking Mike on a ride over the summer proceeds to call back a few months later and ask about Marv Levy making a sideline appearance at the Jet game in Buffalo. Marv Levy, who is now in his 90s and had nothing at all to do with the 2015 Bills may or may not be at the game. Dennis can’t see anything from the sideline, can’t see anything from his seat but he does know that Levy is a gentleman.
“It was in the post! Mike Vaccaro wrote the article”
#6 - Inane Ramblings
The Shake Shack Breakdown
The Snow Blower
Mike vs iPhone
Mike is on the air 5 hours a day; this is a long time. Sometimes there is simply not anything of note going on in the world of New York sports and Mike is left to his own devices to fill the air time.
“There are artists and there are artists. I’m an artist. I’m a Picasso with the snowblowah”
#5 - John Idzik Press Conference Rant
The 2014 Jets season was an outright disaster on all fronts. The stupidity of hiring financial manager/football administrator John Idzik the year before was beginning to show in a big way as the team was 1-7 mid season. The draft was terrible, the QB was terrible, the defense was a disgrace and the offence worse. It became very clear that Woody Johnson hired cap specialist Idzik solely to save and manage money, not for being a brilliant football mind. During his now infamous mid season press conference Idzik was strangely calm and optimistic about the absolutely putrid football team he put together in the off season. Between sucking up to the owner, reassuring the press and fans that he has won before (as Mike correctly states, this is not true) and saying that it’s time to players “play like a Jet.” This presser was one of the all time low points in Jet history, and after this rant Mike spends the entire show taking mongo calls about awful the Jets are.
Play like a Jet! What does that mean? Commit a penalty, fumble the ball, or drop the ball, which one?!”
#4 - The Kids Watch Wrestling
Mike Francesa is in his 60s and somehow has three school aged children. That aside in 2016 Mike experienced what, in his eyes, was the granddaddy of all failures as a parent: his children wanted to watch Wrestlemania. Over the course of the next 7 minutes, let Mike take you on a journey through watching Wrestlemania as an old man. There is so much magic at work here, his calling Monzo to ask how to use his television to order a pay-per-view event, his utter confusion over the props and outfits and coming to the sad realization that this is indeed a very popular and profitable event.
“I pondered this long into the night: where did I go wrong?”
#3 - Mets 2012 Sweep Rant
Aside from the Johan no hitter, the 2012 Mets season was a largely forgettable mess (the same could be said for pretty much every Mets season from 2008-2014). Now in his second year, Terry Collins vowed to not be accepting of the putrid play on the field, hold players accountable and run a much tighter ship than the previous administration. Blaming Terry for the Mets woes is sometimes justifiable, he is not the worlds best manager, however the source of the Mets incompetence in this era boils down to the Wilpons money woes after it was revealed that the team was essentially beholden to investments in the Madoff ponzi scheme.
That aside, the Mets were coming off being swept at home in four games by the absolutely putrid Colorado Rockies who ended up finishing the season losing almost 100 games. The problem wasn’t really that the team was bad, but more that the postgame press conference had Terry saying that the Mets were playing competitive baseball. It was through a combination of bad breaks and being THIS CLOSE they got swept by the worst team in baseball (while also going 2 and 16 at home and not scoring more than two runs in a game for about a week straight) Mike was not having this and unleashed this now classic rant.
Thanks to the simulcast on FS1 we get to see Valdespin misjudge a routine fly ball about 6 times, Baxter make out up on a base hit in front of him and the Mets staff get slapped around by the Rockies minor league lineup.
#2 - Falls Asleep on Air
Far and away the most publicized moment of Mike Francesa’s solo career: the now infamous sleep incident. While interviewing Yankee beat reporter Sweeny Murti in September 2012, Francesa very clearly fades and passes out mid conversation, awakening with a deer in the headlights look towards the production staff behind the glass. This is the blessing and curse of the TV simulcast, aside from the fact that simply broadcasting a radio show makes little to no sense (but hey, that’s pretty much what ESPN’s talking head shows are). In the following days after the incident, Mike vehemently denied falling asleep on air, coming up with some long winded excuse about how his kids were sick or something. I think a lot of people’s issues with Mike stem from the fact that due to his enormous ego he will never admit he was wrong about anything. Mike constantly brags about how he has never had an agent or a manager, it’s all him baby! Well if he had anyone but yes men giving him advice, someone would have told him to put an end to this story but just owning up to it for once.
The fans proceeded to have some fun at Mikes expense.
Oh and he fell asleep on air again twice during a 2014 broadcast on FS1.
#1 - Andy Pettitte is a Starting Pitcher
This is it, the Citizen Kane of Mike takes. Alex from Bedminster calls in taking issue with Mike’s dislike of Joba Chamberlain in a starting role. Mike’s contention here is that Joba is not a starting pitcher and should not be judged against other starters in the Yankee rotation. Fortunately for us, Alex does not see it this way and proclaims that only about five or six pitchers in all of baseball have a better ERA than Joba (as of the call Joba’s ERA is almost 4.) This sets of a chain of events in which Alex asks Mike how Andy Pettitt’s ERA is. What follows is an absolute beatdown of Joba Chamberlain’s ineffectiveness as a starter. Mike’s whole thing is that Joba should really be in the bullpen, which is true, he was never all that great as a starter (and not that great in general if you ask me.) Again, we see here that Mike can never, ever be wrong, so instead of a level headed breakdown of the numbers he launches into a rant for the ages.
For New York sports fans this is as good as it gets, but the attempt to nationally market the Mike’s On show never made a whole lot of sense. Screaming about the Yankees 8th inning man-cum-starter in late May can’t be compelling television for the Minnesota market.
“Andy Pettitte. What the hell does Andy Pettitte have to do with this?!?”