Here we thought freak shows, long before circus elephants, were deemed socially taboo, insensitive, cruel and, finally, obsolete. But with the return to WFAN of Mike Francesa — Step right up! See Jo-Jo, The Two-Faced Dog Boy! — they’re back.
As the late Dan Hicks sang, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”
Trying to make sense of it, all I can come up with is a slightly cleansed version of a crude expression. Begging your pardon in advance, Francesa’s return proves that both frauds and feces often float.
Or maybe he’s doing it for “Julio, my driver.” Say, what’s your driver’s name?
Some suspected he’s too deceitful to have been sent a retirement gift during his 18-month on and off-air Farewell Tour. I did. I never sent that bouquet of forget-me-nots.
Consider his self-important exit from WFAN, four months ago. First he said he was “retiring.” That was a lie. He soon began to boast of all the extraordinary offers he was considering, but wasn’t allowed to discuss or disclose, as per his FAN contract.
That, too, was a lie, as evidenced by his return to WFAN at what has been reported to be a pay cut.
And so, for 18 months, he publicly, shamelessly conned listeners while apparently trying to con and leverage his station.
So why is such a repugnant slug given the opportunity to return? Because it takes one person — the boss — to make that decision. So Francesa hopped over his longtime WFAN boss and apologist, Mark Chernoff, who was at the wheel when Francesa’s 9/11 tapes disappeared, and lobbied David Field, head of FAN’s new parent company, Entercom.
It’s no coincidence Francesa’s return comes when the Yankees are hot, thus Aaron Boone’s job is safe. Last year, after Joe Girardi’s dismissal, Francesa declared himself a candidate to become Yankees’ manager — provided, he warned, “the money’s right.”
He was serious! He’s that delusional, that self-bloated! His countless demonstrable lies — from being contacted by the Pentagon for his advice, to his brilliance as a gambling tout, to his proven fabrication of his sources in law enforcement — all have been a matter of unbridled conceit and lies in service to his transparent self-aggrandizement and delusional superiority.
And given that he has never, ever admitted to being wrong, perhaps that mirror, mirror on his wall no longer could take it.
Francesa’s nonsensical, narcissistic explanation that he took this gig only to defy those who said he shouldn’t is standard Francesa, designed to inflate himself while fooling only himself. He overplayed his hand, an 18-month bluff of the station and its audiences, then, desperate, he crawled back and then over Chernoff.
After allowing Francesa a bogus 18-month all-about-me goodbye party, will Chernoff now expunge it all from both the record and the recordings?
Sports radio’s reaction to Francesa’s return ran from the churlish to the childish (count me in on both!), but ex-partner and deep-thinker Chris Russo’s take on his SiriusXM show won best in show.
A non-recovering Neanderthal, Russo reasoned there’s “a lesson to be learned here.” That is: never retire with kids still in the house or you’ll have to help raise them. “That’s why,” he explained, “the Mrs. is there.”
As sophisticated as we’re supposed to be, Russo, Pete Franklin, Art Rust Jr., Craig Carton, John Sterling and Francesa all have succeeded in NYC sports radio despite their paucity of dignity, honesty, accountability, modesty, credibility, integrity and creativity.
In Francesa’s defense, the noble notion that it’s unfair his return means the loss of airtime, money and gigs for others is not his doing. He could’ve — should’ve — been told to get lost, and stay there.
Had those who replaced him succeeded or even improved as an afternoon drive trio — and four months in, they haven’t — Francesa would’ve remained a non-qualifier. But in Chris Carlin, Bart Scott and Maggie Gray, WFAN went for diversity; quality became an after-wish.
The toughest part of Francesa’s return now falls on call-screeners, those who once tried to prevent the dissenting knowledgeable from getting to Francesa before he could holler over them, then disconnect them, pretending to have left them speechless with his brilliant rebuttal.
Now that Francesa has made it clear to even the dimmest of his sycophants that he’s a career fraud, those screeners will be extra busy trying to protect Francesa — less from callers than from his transparent, dishonest, pathetic, sorry self.
See? It’s possible to go the distance
Once upon a Saturday: After the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 9-1, Saturday, Aaron Boone, on YES, piled praise on starter Jordan Montgomery.
“He was great,” the manager said, adding he gave the Yanks needed “length.” Montgomery was so good, gushed Boone, “We even considered sending him out for the seventh.”
That’s right, Montgomery had just pitched a six-inning masterpiece.
In that case, Boone and two dozen other managers would have been stuck to describe what went on at roughly the same time in Baltimore, where Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger threw a 107-pitch complete game shutout.
Complete games are still legal. And Clevinger was not rushed to the nearest Tommy John Institute.
Later, Saturday, the Athletics’ Sean Manaea further mystified modern, designated-inning managers by throwing a 108-pitch, two-walks no-hitter.
Despite modern methods and obligations, neither the A’s nor the Indians called in their designated closer — no matter who was the latest designee.
C’mon, Bryce, just try giving it your almost-all
This Weak In Baseball: Two weeks ago, SNY’s Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez praised the Nationals’ Bryce Harper as, “One of those guys who comes to play hard, every day.”
Stop. Harper’s a chronic bad-guess home-plate-poser, and so stylishly indifferent to running to first that he and teammate Jonathan Papelbon in 2015 brawled over it in their dugout.
That Sunday night against the Mets, Harper was out at first in the 10th inning when he didn’t run hard on a one-on grounder that led to a bad but inconsequential throw to first. ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza duly noted that. Alex Rodriguez said nothing. The Mets won by one in 12 innings.
This past Sunday night, after ESPN had predetermined Harper its marquee star within Nats-Dodgers, Harper failed to run out a two-out, runner-on-second grounder that led to a bad throw. In another one-run loss, Harper again was out when he should have been safe.
This time, Rodriguez didn’t play blind: “You don’t have to run 100 percent. Just give me a good effort, give me 85, 80 percent.”
Got that? Between 80 and 85 percent is now the superstar maximum effort. Ticket prices and cable TV fees soon will be similarly discounted.
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