I have long ago copped to the fact that I listen to sportstalk radio even though it is the entertainment equivalent of eating high caloric food that tastes bad—and doing it on a continuing basis.
Most mornings, after I drop my son off at school, I drive to the health club where I work out to try to get in a swim. That’s not so easy these days since I’m usually in-between book promo interviews most of the day and night. My family pretty much hates me right now. (Swimming update for my Masters friends: I’m a LOT better than when I started back but still months away from even thinking about a meet. The good news is I MIGHT be able to finish a 100 fly off the blocks at this point but I can’t swear to it). I always turn on the radio and go back and forth between the two local sports talk shows available in the DC area in the morning.
I like The Sports Junkies. I like them personally and I’ve been on with them often, most recently on Monday to talk about, ‘Moment of Glory.’ If they’re talking sports, I listen to them. If they’re interviewing an actor I’ve never heard of—as they were this morning—or talking about their next trip to Atlantic City, I usually move on. Which leaves me with the morning guys who work for the four-letter network.
I’ve never met Mike Golic and get tired quickly of his, ‘when I played the game…’ act or the incredibly worn-out jokes about how much he likes to eat. In fact that’s pretty much what the show is: worn-out jokes between the two hosts (Mike Greenberg is a perfectly pleasant guy); a non-stop raft of commercials and drop-ins for nine million sponsors and interviews with big names (ESPN can get the big names as we all know) in which the toughest question is usually something like, ‘skip, are you concerned about having lost two in a row?’
This morning though, was a new low—and a new low for me because it took me a solid five minutes to decide this was a morning to listen to music. Greenberg and Golic were actually debating whether it was wrong for the Celtics Rasheed Wallace to wear a Philadelphia Flyers cap in public since he’s a Philly guy now playing in Boston.
I honestly don’t know if Greenberg was serious about thinking this was somehow wrong or if it was just an unbelievably slow news day. Maybe they had already dealt with Phil Jackson’s silly, ‘I may retire,’ talk or there just weren’t enough NFL mini-camps going on this week. Maybe there’s a 40-hour weekly limit on talking about LeBron. My theory is that he’s going to give up basketball to become Tiger Woods’ swing coach. Put that one on the internet and see how quickly someone reports it as fact.
Seriously folks, where is the line drawn between inane and insane these days? Last Friday I co-hosted a local show here in Washington with Steve Czaban, a very nice guy who is—by his own admission—a creation of the 21st century talk-show world. Czaban does not try to pass himself off as a journalist on any level—although the show he co-hosts is called, “The Sports Reporters,”—which is clearly an oxymoron—and he’ll pretty much take a swing at any topic if he thinks it will generate interest among listeners.
Maybe Greenberg thought Rasheed Wallace’s cap would interest listeners. All I can tell you is if Golic is the voice or reason in an argument you’re in trouble.
Anyway, during the show last Friday—my main purpose in being there was to flack, ‘Moment of Glory,’ if truth be told—I suggested we talk about the Nationals. They were on a pretty good roll and the question I wanted to address was how good they might become this summer when Stephen Strasburg arrives. Could they maintain the pace they were played at for the first five weeks and be a legitimate postseason contender?
Czaban wanted to talk more LeBron even though we had talked about him at length in the first hour. “The Nats are playing well, things are going well, there’s nothing to discuss,” he said. “Sportstalk radio is built on controversy, on things going wrong, on ripping people who are failing.”
You know what, he’s probably right. When I listen to WFAN nothing generates emotional phone calls like the Mets because the Mets are constantly screwing up. (I’m not even bringing up the Wilpons AGAIN passing on the chance to fire Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel in Atlanta last night. My God, are they waiting for Casey Stengel to become available?).
In Washington nothing generates interest like the Redskins—12 months a year—especially when they’re losing games in the fall. People want to vent and everyone has a solution for whatever is wrong with the team. Even when a team is winning, most fans want to talk about the next game or the next problem or even the next season. I think I’ve said this before but my most vivid memory from the night Maryland won the national championship in 2002 was that of Maryland fans behind me screaming at Chris Wilcox that he HAD to come back for his junior year. When Duke won the national championship this year, their fans chanted at Kyle Singler, “one more year!”
One national championship from the kid wasn’t worth, you know, 15 minutes of celebration?
That is the way of jock world though, no doubt. It is certainly the way of sportstalk radio and it isn’t going to change anytime soon. Here’s my answer to Greenberg’s question this morning: My guess is 99 percent of the fans in Boston could care less what Rasheed Wallace wears on his head as long as he helps the Celtics win. And if they don’t win, he can wear a cap with the logos of all four of Boston’s teams and no one will care about that either.
My God, let’s go to a break Mike. It’s been at least seven minutes since the last nine-minute break so it must be time. It is also time for me to get satellite radio. Not to mention a life.
John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases
To listen to 'The Bob and Tom Show' interview about 'Moment of Glory', please click the play button below: