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Yanks & Mets Uncomfortable With Mad Dog Radio?

By Mike Silva ~ March 2nd, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets, New York Yankees, Sports Media Commentary.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo likes to do an annual tour of spring training camps in March to help promote his radio program. In each visit he requests a conversation with both the GM and manager, as any program doing such a remote would.  However, Bob Raissman reports in today’s Daily News that both the Mets and Yankees aren’t exactly welcoming the former WFAN star and Mad Dog Radio.

Last year, Russo took Joe Girardi to task for declining to come on his show.  General Joe suggested that his agent wouldn’t let him appear on the station until negotiations for a monetary deal with MDR were struck. Russo, rightfully so may I add, called out Girardi, saying he should “show some guts” and that he “looked like an idiot.” I don’t see why Girardi wouldn’t do one “freebie” and would use the weak excuse that his agent wouldn’t allow it. Last I looked, Girardi’s agent works for him, not the other way around.

That incident has spilled over into this year, as Raissman states that it’s possible that neither Girardi nor Brian Cashman will appear on Russo’s show when it makes a stop in the Rays spring complex in Port Charlotte. Will Russo call Cashman to clear the air? “I probably will call him, but the Yankees were wrong that day. They did a terrible job — case closed,” Russo told Raissman. “I’m not going to back down from it, but I might try to clear the air with Cashman.”

Even more laughable is the suggestion that Mad Dog Radio will make Mets players in Port St. Lucie uneasy. The Mets could use as much publicity about their team as possible, but the specter of MDR’s morning show host Steve Phillips apparently is an issue. “They don’t know if players are going to exactly be running to the microphone to talk with him,” a source told Raissman. “It’s not exactly like there’s a bubbly relationship between (Fred and Jeff Wilpon) and Steve.”

The response by both local teams in this piece is weak. Let me clear through the nonsense and let you know what I think this is really about: WFAN and the YES Network.

Both organizations are known to be extremely territorial and sensitive when it comes to other media outlets covering their product. This, despite the fact there is nothing that MDR could do to impact one rating number or dollar of advertising.It’s petty radio games and fear of MDR doing a better job than the staple outlets.

In the case of YES, having an outsider objectively cover the Yankees is something that is foreign to that network. MDR, specifically Russo, will approach their analysis with brutal honesty.  They don’t have to answer to Hal Steinbrenner and the YES hierarchy. They don’t have to worry about any silly “brand building,” like YES. The difference between YES and MDR is one outlet is promoting a brand; the other is trying to do a radio show. One is a media outlet, the other exists to sell tickets and merchandise. To be fair, Russo is the founder of the “crack committee,” which was the fictitious group of fans he created that root against the Yankees. It annoys loyal fans of the pinstripers and I am sure some members of the organization. It was always fun radio in the 90s to see Russo try so hard to justify the Yankees losing in October, only to see them pull out another World Series championship. It’s no different than some of the shtick we see with Mike Francesa- who is syndicated on YES- when it comes to Mets bashing.

The Mets response is even more laughable. “They don’t know if players are going to exactly be running to the microphone to talk with him,” a source told Raissman. “It’s not exactly like there’s a bubbly relationship between (Fred and Jeff Wilpon) and Steve.”

What does one have to do with the other?

Not one player on the current 40-man roster played for Steve Phillips. Do the Mets really want us to believe Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis or R.A. Dickey care about Phillips departure from the team? Do you think they care about his infidelity? Even more hysterical is they would refuse over the relationship between Phillips and the owners. I can assure you none of the players care about that stuff. If a PR member sets up an interview they go and do it. This is coming from ownership/PR department. For the record, I have heard Phillips speak very highly of Fred Wilpon on numerous occasions. I don’t understand ownerships issues, but again, this is probably more about WFAN than any personal animosity towards Phillips.

Russo admitted during a Super Bowl appearance on Boomer & Carton that V/P Sports Programming CBS Radio, V/P Programming CBS Radio New York, WFAN Operations Manager Mark Chernoff wouldn’t be happy with Boomer Esiason to appear on his show. Both B&C and Mike Francesa constantly take unprofessional punches about Sirius on the air. They view Sirius as a competitor and it bothers them that Russo would be invading their turf. The Mets have a 25+ year relationship with the station, so there is no doubt they would assist in making it challenging for Russo to do a quality show. Imagine if Russo’s remote turned out better than Mike Francesa? A  very real scenario if you have listened to both solo. It’s an embarrassing situation that Chernoff would likely want to avoid.

The FAN has been on the opposite end of petty radio games as ESPN does not allow its hosts to appear on the station. It’s a weak attempt to give 1050 WEPN a competitive advantage. We all know there isn’t a real competition between the FAN and ESPN Radio; unless Globetrotters/Generals is considered a competition. Funny, they hate when it’s done to them, but they do the same to MDR and Sirius.

This is sourced information from Raissman, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Neither team has publically stated any issues with Russo and MDR. Jason Zillo, the Yankees director of Public Relations, refused to elaborate on the team’s relationship with MDR. The Mets haven’t commented, yet, but this was the same organization that pulled the credential of Howard Megdal over his “reporting,” and later relented when the public turned against them

I can vouch for Russo’s statement that dealing with the Yankees is a “pain” and he shouldn’t waste his time trying to work with teams that are going to make it difficult to access interviews. There are 28 other teams in the league with good stories. The Yankees are a boring story and the Mets situation has become weary. I would much rather hear Russo talk to members of Tampa, Toronto, Miami and Detroit. In terms of interesting baseball stories, the Mets and Yankees are not going to be the nation’s first choice. MDR is not a local outlet, they are national so their focus is different.

Of course, the credibility of a network that has struggled since its inception in 2008 is at stake. The inability of Russo to connect with the two New York MLB franchises doesn’t help with the public’s perception of it. When you are in a constant battle for subscriptions, you can’t just ignore the biggest baseball market in the country; there is a limit, however, to how many hoops you jump through in this situation.

In the end, this is petty radio games that result in the fans losing out in the long run.

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3 Responses to Yanks & Mets Uncomfortable With Mad Dog Radio?

  1. Chuck Johnson

    “Of course, the credibility of a network…”

    Enough said.

  2. Stu B

    “Russo, rightfully so may I add, called out Girardi, saying he should “show some guts” and that he “looked like an idiot.””

    With all due respect, Russo often acts, looks, and sounds like an idiot - most recently with his remarks about Ryan Braun. He’s been that way for years, generally spewing without thinking.

  3. MJ

    If the SNY were smart, they’d not only embrace Russo, but approach him about simulcasting his afternoon show, similar to what YES does with Francessa. Now THAT would bring the station (and the Mets) more than a little bit of publicity and would jab a stick in the YES Network’s eye.

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