Mike Francesa And The End of Sports Radio As We Know It

Sports radio is stupid. It’s mindless. It’s the only place where brain-dead drips sound like ancient Greek scholars and where being a “die-hard” fan ascends you into some exclusive VIP room of heaven.

But, I love it. Or should I say I loved it.

Because it will change next week, when WFAN’s Mike Francesa calls it quits on December 15th after a 30-year career. No, the genre isn’t falling off a cliff. There will still be “Bhutto in Queens”, “Ox in Far Rockaway”, and idiots like them, and they will still find their way to a phone to tell another person their extra special sports insight, but the menu in which it is delivered on is 86ed forever.

The Sports Pope is not for everyone. He is a loud, egotistical, smart, insightful, big-city gasbag. But, let me tell you what I really think. Some love him. Some despise him. But, everyone has an opinion.

Sports opinions are nothing new.   For fans, they are the one constant in our lives. Whether you’re staring at your monitor at a job you hate and wondering where it all went wrong or you’re finally getting that bachelors degree after nine years, sports and their opinions are only a backslap or a beer away. Shit, I even remember at my friend’s funeral as we were about to be pallbearers someone saying, “This might seem inappropriate right now, but man how bad did Ivan Nova suck last night?” Personally, I thought it was VERY appropriate.

Throughout the high and lows of my life, the one constant since middle school has been the voice of Mike Francesa. I know some might be reading that and in their best Lloyd Christmas voice saying, “You are one pathetic loser”. Perhaps, but for five hours a day it was the truth.

Pomposity and arrogance isn’t given. It’s earned. Everyday, for 19 years with his former partner Chris “Mad Dog Russo”, Big Mike blanched a special dish of intelligent sports analysis and unrivaled egotism the sports world will never see again. He straddled the line of “woke” or “unwokeness” on social issues, while leaving the audience helpless as we thought he was about to dive into his own John Lennon “We’re more popular than Jesus” moment. He engaged his foes in verbal fisticuffs and drew a line in the sand where they no longer saw “eye to eye” even if the other person wasn’t even aware. He became impregnable with the opinions of moronic callers and dismissed their existence with the veracity of Henry VIII.

It all made for a ridiculous show where Francesa controlled the sports Pangaea landscape as if he were the sole member of the New World Order.

However, it wasn’t all roses. There were awful remote shows with dinosaur ex-players telling stories from four decades ago that lacked a punch line or defining point and most importantly: no one cared about. He dissected the new age breeding techniques of racing horses as if it were teenage girls devouring a new edition of a heartthrob packed Teen Dream magazine. Also let’s not forget the countless boring in studio authors who explained to the audience why they felt so compelled to write that 6th Lee Trevino biography the country was desperately yearning for.

But, the pros outweighed the cons. When sports news broke, I scrambled to get to my Walkman, car radio, or phone to turn on 660AM. In the isolated world of sportsdom, whenever there was a trade, suspension, or crushing loss, we tuned in to listen to every word as if he were Walter Cronkite addressing a nation about a fallen president.

Melodramatic? Maybe. But, have you gazed at the sports radio landscape after Mike hangs up the golden microphone?

The nostalgia and intricacy of the radio communication is now aflame with contrarion debate garbage void of naturalness. Did Francesa make up a “take” or two? I’m sure he did. He’s been doing this a long time, if you haven’t heard? But, day after day of fake opinions no one believes or athlete ass-kissing that makes the listeners lips chapped?  At least kiss their ass and THEN trash them like royalty does.

“Win the Day” Twitter has also infiltrated the airwaves in today’s day and age. “Oh, they lost by 35? But did you see that fire tweet at Meek Mill after the game?! Let’s talk about that for 45 minutes” And if you disagree that this is today’s talking point, get ready for the unoriginal Grandpa Simpson shakes fist at cloud meme. We laughed at Mike for not having Twitter, but his reluctance to give us his instant opinion made us crave for the real and polished opinion on “his time”.

End mini-rant.

But, the end of an era is near. In fact, it’s next week. Francesa is the last of a dying breed like a columnist who dares criticize the home team or a baseball manager who is actually ALLOWED to manage the teams. They are going away and they aren’t coming back. First time, long time will soon be just as relevant as “I want my MTV”.

But, whatever. Sports radio is stupid anyways. It’s mindless dribble that rots your brain and we all know it. Francesa was angry and all about himself anyways. He never let anyone talk. He knows “everyone”, has been to every game, and every big event. And he told us for 30 years all about it. Stupid sports radio.

Sigh…man I’m going to miss sports radio.

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