Tough Day for the Doggie; Patrick Out

For all his hard work, and double shifts for the post-Imus WFAN, the station threw “Mad Dog” a bone, sending him to the All-Star game this week. Doggie’s beloved Giants are hosting. As usual the WFAN brand lured in top notch guests, starting with Giants owner Peter McGowan off the top, right through A-Rod, Beltran, Wagner, and the recently controversial Jose Reyes.

Russo, typically a good interviewer, not afraid to ask the tough question, did a great job with McGowan, but totally dropped the ball with Reyes. The day started with a bang, questioning McGowan about Bonds, leading the Giant owner to admit he was disappointed Barry was missing the home run contest, felt he should be there, that Giant personnel did speak to him about participating, and even Willie Mays tried to convince his godson to no avail. Great quotes, chock full of news.

Then came the Reyes interview, a perfect example of poor preparation. Russo recapped the ballyhooed grounder Reyes loafed to first base on, leading to his benching on Friday night. Then Dog started asking about how it felt sitting out Saturday’s game as punishment. Only problem, Reyes played. After straightening out the problem, and apologizing to Reyes, who could only laugh at this point, Russo used the long flight to San Fran excuse for not knowing. Next, he let totally let Reyes off the hook about Wagner’s comments. Dog phrased the question in a manner that Reyes easily sidetracked; asking if he heard what Wagner said, Reyes replying no, end of discussion.

First off, long flight or not, Russo is paid, and paid well, to intelligently speak about New York sports. Was he in a time capsule, or the same flight that millions of Americans make all the time? Pick up any New York Sunday paper this past week, these stories are plastered all over the place. No excuses, Doggie, not on your “vacation” week. If you have time for Wimbledon, make time for the Mets and Yankees.

…After 18 years at ESPN, Dan Patrick is leaving the station in mid-August. Rumors first surfaced over a week ago, only intensifying as Patrick took an unplanned extended vacation through the entire Fourth of July week. Outside of Chris Berman, Patrick defines ESPN. He helped make Sportscenter a household name, and anchored ESPN Radio during its rise to prominence. All while remaining somewhat grounded, and thankfully, much less dramatic and commercialized, than the Chris Berman’s and Stu Scott’s of the world.

Sometimes longevity breeds complacency. Patrick made no announcement about his next destination, but I feel a change may help invigorate his journalism. The radio show has been less than exhilarating the past year or so, and covering the NBA Finals, well, was there really anything to cover this year. The rumor mill mentions Patrick stepping into Imus’ old role, replacing Bob Barker on the Price is Right, or heading to The Sporting News Radio to work with his brother. Switching to Westwood One, a direct ESPN Radio competitor, to replace Imus, going head to head with Mike and Mike, would provide great theater. For now, we wait for the next big announcement.

…Jones and Carlin, it has a nice ring to it. Vacations and scheduling quirks, allowed Chris Carlin and Kim Jones to slide into the mid-day shift at WFAN the past week. The combo, which paired up previously on a few special occasions, such as preceding Met-Yankee Sunday night games, is dripping with chemistry. The two both exhibit wit and engage in playful banter, while still focusing on sports. Jones and Carlin are well-rounded analysts, with extensive baseball and football backgrounds, providing solid insight and coverage, unless you want to talk hockey. I feel this duo is much stronger than Beningno and Roberts, plays to the audience better, and would register solid ratings. Will we get a chance to find out? Unlikely, given Jones Yankee responsibilities, and Carlin’s gigs covering Rutgers football, and the NY Giants. But, never say never, especially at the unstable, post-Imus FAN.

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