For long-time listeners (and first-to-many-time callers) of WFAN, Mike Francesa's career has been a constant in an ever changing media landscape. An institution, Francesa wraps up 30 years on the airwaves with his final show today, beginning at 1:05 PM Eastern.
The Pope has had a lasting impression on many sports fans, and the staff of the T7L blog is no different. Below are just a few of our favorite moments of Francesa's lasting legacy:
Tim Fitzpatrick: Sports talk radio is notorious for forcing so-bad-it's-good theme songs into its programming, and Francesa's "Mike's On" is an all-timer. This dollar-store Kenny-Loggins rip-off decades after Kenny Loggins was relevant is so earnest in its excitement that you can't help but love it. Which is odd considering its a precursor to a 60-year-old curmudgeon yelling about local sports.
Any time this song comes on, I’m singing along like a damn rock star. The only thing better than the song itself are the tweaks made along the way. When WFAN lost the rights to “Mike’d Up” in 2012, the solution was, for whatever reason, not to re-record the song. Instead, a poorly-dubbed “‘s on” was pasted over the “‘d Up,” which created a horrific Frankenstein’s monster of a song that cracks me up every time I think about it. I’m going to miss this theme song almost as much as I miss that big lug of a sport personality.
Tim Reilly: It seemed like, more often than not, a central part of Francesa's show was bashing the New York Mets. I’m pretty sure it's his favorite hobby. However, I have to admit there were plenty of times I enjoyed those rants, knowing the clout his word carried would probably reach team management. And in the case of Mike Piazza, that’s exactly what happened.
My fondest memory of New York’s “numbah one” will be the joint effort between him and long-time partner Chris Russo in pushing Mets ownership, more specifically Nelson Doubleday, over the edge into doing whatever it took to acquire Piazza. The Mets had Todd Hundley and weren't interested when Piazza became available on the trade market, but the duo saw what Piazza's star power could do for a Mets team that needed one more piece to take that leap into postseason contention. The Mets, of course, did land Piazza, and even though they missed out on the 1998 Wild Card by one game, he helped get New York to the NLCS in 1999 and the World Series in 2000. We should all eternally grateful to Mike and the Mad Dog for that!
Brian Erni: One of my best friends has been my buddy since we were four. I was the best man in his wedding. I'm his daughter's godfather. He's the closest thing I've ever had to a brother. And for a good chunk of our friendship, what has bonded us together was Mike Francesa and Chris Russo.
Whether it was listening to Russo's classic 2003 San Francisco Giants diatribe and laughing hysterically at the desperation in Mad Dog's voice, or breaking out the clip of Mike claiming to be "gifted" with a snow blower every time the forecasts calls for more than a coating on the ground, Mike and Dog have been the backdrop to our friendship. A simple, "okay?" in an exaggerated Long Island accent is not only a way to make each other laugh in inappropriate situations, but a subtle nod to all the good times we've shared over the last three decades of friendship.
Because after all, that's what the ending of these eras in popular culture really do. They frame up your life in a very concrete way. Life gets crazy. You grow up and get married. Then you have kids and you don't remember the last time you went to the bathroom without someone pounding on the door to get in, no less spent a whole evening hanging out and showing each other stupid clips from WFAN. But as long as we can break out our Francesa impressions -- whether it's at our kids' birthday parties or christenings, or eventually, embarrass them with it at their weddings -- we'll always have that part of us. The part that thought having a lot to do that day was a full slate of wiffle ball with some Burger King for lunch, when time stood still, and we didn't have the answers to anything.
So as Mike rides off into the sunset today, I'll just give a nod and say thank you. And to Mark, I'll see you on Sunday, okay? Back afta dis...