End of an era: Mike Francesa signs off

WFAN-Radio talent Mike Francesa Photo Credit:  John Filo/CBS  ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved Mike Francesa signed off today, ending a 30-year career as a sports talk host on WFAN Sports Radio in New York.

Francesca was a pioneer. Along with his former co-host Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, he set the standard for afternoon sports talk radio that is now a fixture in stations across America.

Russo’s departure for Sirius XM Radio in 2008 marked the end of the “Mike and the Mad Dog Show.” Francesa hosted “Mike’d Up”, his own show, for nine years. Both shows were ranked number one in the drive-time ratings.

Francesa could be tough on callers, and some called him a bully. Mike would call it arrogance. He was an opinionated host, all of which made for good listening.

Bottom line, Francesa generated interesting, entertaining radio in the New York market for 30 years.

Francesa had his detractors, most notably Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who referred to him as “pompous, boastful and hypocritical” and more, right up until Mike’s final day on the job.

On a personal note, there was rarely a day I didn’t tune in to listen, at least for a while and especially if there was a hot topic about New York sports and one of my teams. My son, who was just an infant when Francesa started his run, would agree with me completely.

I was never the type to call in and voice my own opinions. But if I were to phone in, it would be to take umbrage with a statement Francesa made a few weeks back about Willie Mays being surly and unapproachable. I met Mays once on a flight from San Francisco to New York, and he couldn’t have been nicer.

We’re gonna miss you Mike. Thanks for all the good radio, and best of luck in the future.

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Making a Hall of Fame case for Eli Manning

Here are 10 reasons why Elisha Nelson Manning IV is a Hall of Fame quarterback. eli

ALL-TIME PASSING LEADERS

1. Eli ranks eighth all time in touchdown passes with 334.

2. He stands seventh all-time with 50,625 passing yards

3. Eli is sixth all-time in pass completions with 4319.

CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE

4. Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP.  He joins a short list of Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady, all of whom won multiple MVP.  Manning led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins over the New England Patriots, including a stunning upset of Brady and the unbeaten Pats in 2007. .

DURABILITY

5. Eli started 210 straight games, second in NFL history and two behind his brother Peyton. Only Brett Favre with 297 made more consecutive starts than Eli. Since Eli started his first game in 2004, every other NFL team has started at least three QBs. The Cleveland Browns have started 24 in the same time span.

Manning’s streak, of course, was snapped last week when coach Ben McAdoo made the highly questionable decision to start journeyman Geno Smith. It cost McAdoo his job.

GIANT AMONG MEN

6. A four-time Pro Bowler, Manning holds virtually every Giants passing record, including TD passes, passing yards and completions as documented above.

THE CLUTCH GENE

7. Eli has engineered 30 fourth quarter comebacks, tied for seventh all-time with Drew Brees, Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Fran Tarkenton.

8. He’s tied for third all-time with four fourth quarter playoff comebacks with Roethlisberger, Bradshaw, John Elway and Russell Wilson.

9. Manning holds the NFL single season record for most TD passes in the fourth quarter with 15.

INTANGIBLES

10. Leadership, durability, character, class. Elis has it all. Earlier this year Manning was named co-winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, one of the league’s most prestigious honors. The coveted award honors NFL players for excellence on and off the field.


SportsLifer Boone connection goes way back

boone

The Sportslifer has several connections to Aaron Boone and family, dating back more than half century. The karma appears real as the Yankees announced their 35th manager.

For openers, I was in the house at Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS at Yankee Stadium when Aaron Boone homered in the 11th inning to beat the Red Sox 6-5 and send the Yankees to the World Series.

In September of that season, I saw Aaron belt a solo homer in a 15-5 victory over the Tigers.

Two years before, at Game 3 of the 2001 ALCS, I saw Aaron’s older brother, Bret, hit a two-run homer against Mark Wohlers (yep, the former Braves closer) to cap a seven-run sixth inning and lead the Mariners over the Yankees 14-3. The Mariners won a record 116 games that year, but the Yanks won the series in five games.

My Dad took me to my very first Yankee game in 1958 at the original Yankee Stadium. Ray Boone, Aaron’s grandfather, had a solo home run and later a three-run double that day against future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. The White Sox won 7-1.

Bob Boone, Ray’s son and Aaron and Bret’s father, was a catcher who enjoyed a 15-year MLB career.The only time I ever saw him play was in spring training in1981 when the Phillies played the Yankees in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

 

Yankee Managers through history


An open letter to Giants owner John Mara

Dear John,

Please allow me to introduce myself as a lifelong Giants fan. I saw my first game at Yankee Stadium in November of 1963, five days before President Kennedy’s assassination. And I’ve been rooting for the Giants ever since, in good times and bad.

I rejoiced in the four Super Bowl championships, each of which has a special meaning for me. I witnessed the on-field exploits of so many great Giants, from Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford and Sam Huff to Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Michael Strahan and so many others.

And I survived the bad times, including the “Goodbye Ali” days, the fumble and those long playoff droughts. Good and bad, I’ve been there every Sunday for more than 50 years.

All of which brings me to the benching of Eli Manning. To say this was handled poorly is a gross understatement. The release of Simms a quarter century ago pales in comparison.

Given, the Giants need to look at the other quarterbacks on the roster to plan for the future.

But there’s got to be a better way to inform a franchise icon and the best QB in Giants history that he’s heading to the bench. It makes it sound like Eli is the reason the team is 2-9 – not the porous offensive line, the lack of talent at wide receiver and the lackluster running game. Heck, not even Tom Brady could succeed with this bunch. Eli Manning is the least of your problems.

The optics are terrible. Even though his eyes were watering and his lips quivering, Eli took the news with class. Ben McAdoo, on the other hand, failed to understand the magnitude of this decision, and his demeanor while making the announcement was detached and unemotional.

Let’s place the blame squarely where it belongs. Besides being a terrible communicator, McAdoo can’t coach or put together a game plan. And Jerry Reese can’t evaluate talent, based on most of his recent draft picks, or build a winning team.

As an organization, the Giants blew this one big time. And the fan base, media and football world seem to be in near universal agreement that this could have been handled differently.

I’m sure the message will ring loud and clear during the final three games with boos, plenty of empty seats and lots of Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins fans in the stands.

Mr. Mara, it’s time to clean house. Ben & Jerry must go. There’s no other way.

Sincerely,

Rick Bause

Loyal Giants fan, SportsLifer blogger and Iona Prep Class of ‘69 grad