Sims is a good interviewer, but Steve from Manhattan thought this was as good a time as any to paint the ceiling. The best thing to come out of the show was the prediction by Nyad that there would be no major upsets among the women the first week of the U.S. Open because there was too big a gap between the top players and the rest. Soon after, word came from Flushing Meadow that Linda Ferrando of Italy, ranked 82nd in the world, had upset No. 3 seed Monica Seles of Yugoslavia.
"The Fan," as the station is billed, justifies itself when important sports news breaks, such as Seles's loss and, later that day, some big last-minute acquisitions by the Mets. But on a slow news day WFAN is just one tower of babble. The station has taken to giving updates on the situation in the Middle East, but mixed in with the deluge of scores and sports chat, hard news sounds like an update of the Mideast regional.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday, WFAN goes live to Mickey Mantle's restaurant on New York's Central Park South for the Amazin', Bill Mazer. His main guest on Friday was Billy Taylor, a former running back for the Giants who did TV analysis for the Jets' preseason games. Taylor was very glib and clearly better than Mazer's guest the day before (Steve from Manhattan), but the only thing I remember about the show is Taylor describing his dessert.
From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., WFAN usually has the Mike and the Mad Dog Show, starring Mike Francesa and Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo, and, I must admit, I was really looking forward to hearing from Russo, who has developed almost a cult following in New York. But every Dog will have his day off, and Friday was Russo's. Francesa flew solo from Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, N.J., in anticipation of that night's Kickoff Classic between USC and Syracuse. He had a full complement of guests: University of Miami AD Sam Jankovich; John Hadley, an associate editor of The Sporting News; Robert Mulcahy, president and CEO of the Meadowlands complex; Tom Luicci of the Star-Ledger; former USC tailback and Heisman Trophy winner Charles White; and Syracuse football coach Dick MacPherson.
Francesa's conversation with MacPherson took place over the phone, which was funny because they were both in the stadium. I pictured the two of them talking into tin cans with a string between them.
During the show the news broke that the Mets had just acquired second baseman Tommy Herr from the Phillies, and Francesa scored an interview with Mets senior VP Al Harazin. John from Jersey—or was it Frank from Old Bethpage?—called to say, " Tommy Herr! I can't believe it! I'm pinchin' myself." I, too, was pinchin' myself, but only because I was beginning to nod off. And I was only halfway home. Time to make dinner.
And time for Mets Extra with Howie Rose, the pregame show for the Mets-Giants broadcast on WFAN. One guest was Mets manager Bud Harrelson. He said he was happy to have Herr and new catcher Charlie O'Brien, but he didn't sound as excited as, say, Frank from Jersey—or was it John from Old Bethpage?
The game itself was a real treat. Baseball plays so well on radio, and in young Gary Cohen and old Bob Murphy the Mets have two excellent announcers. Even better, the game was exciting, with the Mets winning in the ninth. After the game, Rose switched to a guy in Houston, who described, live, a ninth-inning finish in which the Astros beat the Pirates. That put the Mets within half a game of Pittsburgh.
The game and the trades flushed out the Mets fans. Bill from White Plains—or maybe it was John from the Bronx—called to say that what the Mets really needed before baseball's mid-night trade deadline, half an hour away, was Vince Coleman. Rose treated the suggestion seriously. "The trouble with that," he said, "is what do you do with Kevin McReynolds? If you put him in center to make room for Coleman, that means you have to sit down Daryl Boston, and he's playing way too well." I said out loud, "C'mon, Howie," and then I realized I was becoming one of them. I looked under my bed for a pod.
I began to get sleepy, very sleepy...and the next thing I knew, someone was reading me the box scores. "McGee, oh for four, one run, one RBI. Canseco, oh for four...." Get a life!