1. Longtime sports talk radio host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo currently has three jobs. He hosts Mad Dog Unleashed from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays on SiriusXM. He appears on ESPN’s First Take every Wednesday. And he hosts a one-hour show, High Heat, every afternoon on the MLB Network. He’s been in sports media for more than 40 years and recently was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
So no matter how you feel about Russo, you can’t argue with his success. A big reason why he’s had the longevity and popularity is because he is not an act. What you get from him on the air is exactly how he is off the air.
So when he went on all his platforms this week and said he wasn’t into the Shohei Ohtani–Mike Trout faceoff in the WBC final and that he wasn’t into the tournament as a whole, the baseball community lost their minds.
Now, fans always lose their minds when they don’t agree with a take from a sports personality. That’s expected and part of the game.
What wasn’t expected, at least from my perspective, was that some former players would be so offended by Russo’s opinion that they’d call for his job. Players are comical. They all say they never pay attention to the media and don’t care what anyone in the media says, yet here they are they are saying a guy should be taken off the air because he didn’t like an exhibition game.
Memo to these players and the baseball fans who felt Russo’s opinion on Ohtani-Trout was blasphemous: It’s not Chris Russo’s job to grow the game of baseball. His job is to offer analysis. He's also allowed to not like the WBC.
Actually, the reality is, his job is to get ratings, clicks and attention, but you’re not allowed to say that part out loud.
For people to say the MLB Network should fire Russo because he didn’t like the WBC is so weak.
Russo spent 10 minutes fighting back against these critics on his Thursday SiriusXM show. He addressed the nonsense of people calling for his job and defended his love and knowledge of baseball. You can hear the full segment here. Below is a small sampling.
“The idea that you can’t disagree with the recent guy who thinks he knows everything about baseball, the analytic guy who goes with data, the former player or the current player who wants to chime in, that if you have a difference of opinion, that you should be taken off the air, taken out back and shot … that is absolutely absurd,” said Russo.
“If you have a baseball opinion and I think it’s a bad opinion, I am not gonna scream and yell that you should be taken off the air, your job should be taken. How about if someone writes a story in The Athletic and that person, he or she doesn't know her ass or his ass from an elbow, I’m not gonna sit there and say they should be fired just because I might disagree with the premise of the story. It’s ridiculous.”
The funniest thing about people calling for Russo to be taken off the air is that he just last month re-signed a new deal with ESPN to continue appearing on First Take.
2. Huge news for NFL fans and Al Michaels: The league is going to discuss implementing flex scheduling for Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime.
3. Cavaliers-Nets on Thursday night had one of the most frantic finishes you’ll ever see, and it was awesome.
4. Jason Kelce had the correct take during this debate with his brother, Travis.
5. The Mets have installed a new scoreboard at Citi Field, and it’s HUGE.
6. This week's episode of SI Media With Jimmy Traina features an interview with the NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt.
Brandt discusses his busy schedule, cohosting Good Morning Football and hosting Kyle Brandt’s Basement five days a week, in addition to taking on other projects. He also talks about interviewing Josh Allen every week, cast changes at GMFB, auditioning for ManningCast and why it’s O.K. to say no to sports media jobs.
Among other topics covered with Brandt: the Aaron Rodgers–New York marriage, the NFL adding a Black Friday game next season, Monday Night Football getting flex scheduling next season, Las Vegas brothels offering Jimmy Garoppolo free sex for life, Anthony Richardson's jumping ability, elevator etiquette, people who complain to you in stores and much more.
Following Brandt, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV joins Jimmy for their weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, Jimmy and Sal discuss the World Baseball Classic, the NCAA tournament, MLB’s awful AppleTV+ deal and more.
You can also watch the SI Media with Jimmy Traina on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: This is a monumental day for one of the best movies of the ’80s.