The months of rumors and denials finally came to end earlier this week as it was announced that Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, aka "Mike and the Mad Dog," were splitting up as a team and that Russo was leaving WFAN immediately.
I watched the first hour of the show yesterday on YES, and Francesa was on alone but was joined by Russo by phone after the first commercial break. Russo actually broke down at one point talking on the phone. I thought Francesa handled the time I watched with some grace, and deferred to Russo and his accomplishments. They both stressed that the breakup was not simply because of any rumored disputes between them, but also that Russo wanted some "new challenges."
But yesterday also showed why I've never been the biggest fan of Francesa or that program. He too often comes across as an arrogant blowhard who thinks he knows everything. He talked yesterday about how Mike and The Mad Dog was always "a must listen" and a colleague at the station said their split was "like when the Beatles broke up." Just a bit over the top.
Granted, they made history in the world of drive-time sports radio, and there were times I did tune in when something important was going on in the world of sports. But I took them in small doses, as too many times Russo came off wildly uninformed on some issues, and Francesa too much of a know-it-all. (Although I have to admit I found Russo's Yankee-hating rather funny at times.) However, when each was solo I found the show to be really lacking, as each could go off on wild tangents that I found even more annoying. The show was always better having both them there to keep each of them in check. (For me, they will always be "Fatso and Fruit Loops," the nickname that Don Imus hung on them many years ago. I wonder if many people remember that?)
Rumors have it that Russo's next stop is Sirius satellite radio, so for me he disappears. Francesa will be on for another week solo, then will go on vacation and will debut a new show after Labor Day. Whether the show will survive without Russo remains to be seen.