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

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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


A Giant fall–from classy to clueless

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And so it all comes down to this. The New York Giants have decided to bench their franchise quarterback, Eli Manning, for Geno Smith.

Yes, that’s right, coach Ben McAdoo, in a desperate attempt to save his job, is benching Eli, a two-time Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Famer who has started 210 straight games, second most in NFL history. This despite the fact that general manager Jerry Reese has given Eli virtually nothing to work with – unless you consider a porous O-line, virtually no running game, and a receiver corps besieged by injury as offensive weapons.

There’s something to be said for continuity in showing up to work every Sunday. Since Manning started his first game in 2004, the Cleveland Browns have had 24 starting quarterbacks.

Eli Manning has always been a class act, the ultimate teammate, who refuses to throw players and coaches under the bus, no matter how dire the circumstances.

Manning even handled the demotion with class. Although clearly shaken, his lips quivering and his eyes wet, Eli said: “I don’t like it, but it’s part of football. You handle it and I’ll do my job.”

Benching a franchise icon

So now the best quarterback in the long and storied history of the New York Football Giants, an iconic player, a guy who holds nearly every Giants passing record, has been benched by a guy who can’t coach and a GM who can’t draft talent.

mcadoojpg-45ba2a208d7e0e81Remember it was Ernie Acorsi, not Jerry Reese, who engineered the trade with the San Diego Chargers to bring Eli to the Giants in 2004. That worked out pretty well, thank you Ernie.

In their misguided wisdom, the Giants brain trust has decided that Geno Smith gives them the best chance to win Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Geno Smith – are you kidding me? “We’re confident that we can put a plan together to put Geno in a position to be successful and go win a game,” said McAdoo.

Good luck with that decision. Geno Smith is not the future, he’s a stop-gap measure who couldn’t make it with the Jets. Heck, at this point in the lost season it makes much more sense to go with Davis Webb, the 22-year-old rookie and third round draft pick.

The Giants have mishandled QB transitions before. They released Phil Simms after the 1993 season despite the team reaching the playoffs and winning a wild card game.

Former Giants outraged

Many former Giants have expressed outrage against the Eli benching via Twitter, including Simms, Carl Banks, Justin Tuck Plaxico Burress and David Diehl, just to name a few.

“I don’t think Eli ever envisioned, until now, playing for somebody else,” said Eli’s father and former NFL QB Archie. “That’s the love he has for the Giants. It is kind of unique and stronger than most. It’s not just the game he loves to play. He loves to play for the Giants.”

Although Eli may very well have played his last game as a Giant, there are several teams out there who would value the services of a soon-to-be 37-year-old quarterback with a penchant for winning the big game. Jacksonville, with former Giants coach Tom Coughlin now the GM, would be a good fit. How about Denver, where Eli could ride to the rescue and win a Super Bowl much like brother Peyton did several years ago. Buffalo, Miami and Arizona are all possibilities.

Payback is a bitch or so they say, and McAdoo and Reese will get theirs soon enough. Front office and coaching incompetence has earned the Giants a top five draft pick in the 2018 draft, and perhaps hope with a quarterback of the future.

Too bad Ben & Jerry won’t be around for the rebuild.

 

Mike Francesa of WFAN blasts the Giants decision.


Big Blue blues: Once-proud Giants bottom out

Oct 6, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A fan of the New York Giants reacts during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2017 season, the New York Football Giants were being touted as the team to beat in the NFC East. Some of the experts went a step further, writing Big Blue a ticket to the Super Bowl. Yet last than halfway through the year, it’s all come tumbling down.

Forget about contending for a title. These Giants are an embarrassment, bottoming out with new lows in team history. Both head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese will take a fall in all likelihood. Players are already turning mutinous. A once-proud franchise has bottomed out.

The last time the Giants lost their first four home games and started a season 1-7 was 1980. That year the Giants finished 4-12, but help was on the way in the person of linebacker Lawrence Taylor, the second overall pick in the draft.

This Giants team, a two-point underdog to the winless 49ers on Sunday, is threatening to finish with the worst overall record in team history. In 1966, the Giants were 1-12-1 under coach Allie Sherman, a mere three years after losing the NFL championship game to the Bears.

Other bad finishes included 2-12 in 1974, 2-11-1 in 1973, 2-10-2 in 1964, 2-8-2 in 1947, and 3-11 in 1976, the team’s first year in Giants Stadium. The Giants were 3-12-1 in coach Bill Parcells’ first year (1983) and 4-12 in coach Jim Fassel’s final year (2003).

Victimized at home

Wait, it gets worse. Last week’s 51-17 loss to the Rams marked the most points the Giants surrendered in a home game since 1964.

On a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon nearly 53 years ago, the Cleveland Browns destroyed the Giants 52-20 at Yankee Stadium. Quarterback Frank Ryan tossed five touchdown passes for the Browns that day. Cleveland went on to win its last NFL championship a couple of weeks later, blanking the Baltimore Colts 27-0.

Back-up quarterback Gary Woods, replacing Y.A. Tittle, threw a pair of TDs to tight end Aaron Thomas for Big Blue in the fourth quarter to make the final score more respectable.

I remember listening to the game on radio that day while helping my father make lasagna. The NFL blacked out home games in 1964, which was probably a good thing – at least we didn’t have to watch.

The Giants record for most points given up in a home game took place in 1948 in a 63-35 loss to the Chicago Cardinals at the Polo Grounds. The Giants also lost 56-7 to the Bears in 1943, and 52-27 to the Rams in 1948, both at home.

Big Blue Bummers: 20 worst losses in Giants history


7 UP: Nothing beats a Game 7

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There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. Astros vs. Dodgers. One game. Winner take all.

Throughout baseball history, there have been 38 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903. Tonight marks the first World Series Game 7 ever at Dodger Stadium, and the first for the Dodgers since 1965, when they beat the Minnesota Twins on a three-hit shutout by Sandy Koufax (pictured above), his second complete game shutout in four days.

Houston is hoping to win its first World Series since the franchise began play as the Colt 45s in 1962. The Astros, then a National League entrant, were swept by the White Sox in their only previous World Series appearance in 2005.

Just last year, the Cubs snapped a 108-year drought when they beat the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in a memorable Game 7. So now baseball fans are blessed with a second straight World Series Game 7 for the first time since 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.

Walk-off wins

That was one of just six walk-off wins in Game 7 overall.

The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win. (Technically that was Game 8, since Game 2 wound up in a 6-6, 11-inning tie.)

Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.

Bill-Mazeroski-s-walk-off-home-run-pittsburgh-pirates-8859387-666-800In 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski, pictured at right. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run. Incredibly, not a single strikeout was registered in that contest,

In 1991, Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning as the Twins beat the Braves.

Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave the Florida Marlins a 3-2 win over the Indians — and the championship.

In 2001, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera  in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Cardinals are Game 7 leaders

The St. Louis Cardinals have won eight seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982 and 2011), a record. Overall the Cards are 8-3 in Game 7. The Yankees have also played in 11 World Series Game 7s, winning five, four against the Brooklyn Dodgers and one against the San Francisco Giants.

The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns. St. Louis Hall of Famer Bob Gibson started three seventh games in four seasons, beating the Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967 before losing to the Tigers in 1968.

The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) in Game 7s, and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).

Other Game 7 facts and figures that may interest only me:

  • A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 38.
  • Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
  • Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Milwaukee Braves.
  • All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
  • The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
  • The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series before last year, in 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game 7.
  • There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the longest gap in baseball history.
  • The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game 7s, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in the first World Series Game 7 in 1909.
  • The National League has won 23 of 38 World Series Game 7s; the American League 15.
  • Game on.

MORE GAME 7: New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro ranks World Series Game 7s.