When I was in college, I worked in the campus post office during the summer, doing mail forwarding and the campus mail runs. It was hot and the van was old and the air conditioner only blew hot air, but the radio worked. This was important because it meant that I got to spend many hours listening to WFAN, especially Mike and the Mad Dog. The guys in the post office knew that if a mail run took longer than it was supposed to, that something had probably happened in the sports world and that I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the radio off.
Like millions (literally) of other people, I was really, really upset when Chris Russo (Mad Dog) left the show in 2008. I remember vividly talking about it with my then girlfriend (now wife) as we drove up to her family’s lake house in Connecticut (the same town where we now own a home). It felt like a family member had passed away.
Grantland’s posting of this oral history of WFAN literally elicited a squeal of excitement from me. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with it. It felt incomplete. Mike (Francesca), in keeping with his long-standing feud with ESPN, declined to participate, so the lack of Francescian pearls of wisdom is definitely noticeable, but if you’re a WFAN fan, it’s totally worth the read.
As a companion piece, Grantland also re-posted a Bill Simmons running diary of a M&TMD telecast from 2006, with 2012 footnotes added in, which sent me into another round of squealing. It doesn’t disappoint.
One of the two pieces has a somewhat-hidden gem about the rumors of a possible Mike and the Mad Dog reunion (like, for good) once Chris Russo’s contract with Sirius is up in ‘13. Part of me feels like nothing would make me happier. Chris has disappeared into satellite radio land and I stopped listening to Mike when he became too cantankerous and stodgy with no Mad Dog to reign him in.
But there’s another side to consider. Mike and Chris are who taught me how to take in and dissect sports as an adult. As a child, my dad turned me onto sports, but he was out of my life once I was ready to take the next step—learning the history of each sport, understanding advanced techniques, grasping the business side of each game, branching out from just the four main pro sports and learning to appreciate the tennis majors, and the golf majors, and the triple crown, and so on, this was all absorbed through the radio from 1pm until 6:30pm, Monday through Friday.
Maybe, in allowing myself to be excited about the band getting back together, I’m allowing nostalgia to win. Looking back means you’re not focused on growing and moving forward, and I’ve operated for four years under the assumption that Mike and the Mad Dog were dead, properly eulogized, and buried.
That’s why the pieces I linked to are so important—they allow me (and the other fans) to get a taste of what it was that we loved so much. But to completely rehash the past means trying to out-best what is already considered to be the best, always a dangerous proposition.
And just because I know of no better way to finish this little piece:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanddddd, Good AfterNOON, EveryBODY!