Bill Simmons spent five and a half hours co-hosting with Mike Francesa on WFAN on Monday, and the experiment was enjoyable, interesting, and an example of what kind of quality programming can be created when two high profile people come together to make something good. Mutual respect was given, informed opinions were offered, and a few behind the scenes stories were shared.
Newsday had an opportunity to chat with Simmons about the experience, as well as some of his pointed comments about ESPN, his new show on HBO, and the media industry as a whole.
When he was asked how he became a fan of “Mike and the Mad Dog”, he praised the program while taking a jab at Boston sports radio. Simmons said, “I was trapped in Boston with the worst sports radio ever and I always in my head knew there was something better. I didn’t realize it until I would come back for the summers or the holidays to see my mom and stepdad. I’d listen to them, and be like, ‘Who the hell are these guys?’ “They talked like my friends talked, and I’d never heard that on talk radio before.”
When Chris Russo left the show in 2008, Simmons had been considered as a possible option by Francesa. Although the two never formed a partnership, Simmons felt the relationship could have worked if it had been explored further.
“I think it would have been easy,” said Simmons. I have a good sense of when to step up and when to lay back and Mike, you know, he talks. With him, it’s great for me because I can pick my spots, set some picks, get some rebounds, and there’s a mutual respect, which you have to have. And he loves sports. You can’t script sports radio. You have to be able to ride with where it’s going and you have to have a deep reservoir of appreciation and memory for things. That’s one of the reasons he’s great. He remembers everything.”
Now involved with HBO, his own podcast, and a brand new website “The Ringer”, Simmons is focused on the future. But, at every turn he’s asked about ESPN and his prior relationship with the company.
“ESPN succeeds because of games and ‘SportsCenter’. HBO succeeds because of the people they pick to go into business with creatively. Both sides work. Everyone is trying to write them off and say they’re on the way down. I don’t know what the future is. I do think they need to start adapting to where things have gone. Their weird campaign against social media shows me they don’t see where things are going. At the same time they have great sports and great relationships with these leagues and get to show a ton of games and people are always going to want to see games and they’re always going to have that.”
He was asked about his sharp commentaries towards his former employer, and Simmons says it’s a matter of being truthful. “I’ve always tried to talk about them honestly,” he said. “People forget I was there for 14 years, and made a lot of friends and worked with a lot of people. It’s honestly like if an athlete got traded to another team. It’s not like he’s never going to talk to players on that team. It definitely took a while to adjust to, but they’re going to be fine and obviously I’m fine.”
Simmons is launching his new television show “Any Given Wednesday” on June 22nd. Although the program will have a sports slant, and play to Simmons’ strengths, he’s also excited about venturing into new areas of discussion.
“It’s sports, pop culture and tech. I think if it was just about sports that’d be a harder task once a week. Pop culture and tech gives you a chance to audible. I have so much support. Not a lot of people have a TV show. It’s the only medium that no matter how much changes, TV still matters. I think it’s a more fun place to make an impact. Even on the Internet we would have the best story ever on Grantland, and three hours later people would move on to the next story. You look at HBO’s Sunday night lineup and that 2 1/2 hours every night week after week they have everyone’s attention. You can’t do that on the Internet.”
Michael Irvin Tells Parkins & Spiegel How He Learned What Guacamole Was
“Irvin prefaced the story by saying that he has loved avocados since he was a kid.”
NFL Network analyst and First Take fighter Michael Irvin was the guest of Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel on Tuesday. 670 The Score’s afternoon hosts asked The Playmaker what his favorite fruit was. It led to a story from Irvin about a recruiting trip that ended in a Mexican restaurant.
Irvin prefaced the story by saying that he has loved avocados since he was a kid. His mother used to clean houses and one of her clients would often send her home with a few avocados. That is how he was first exposed to them.
Fast forward to Michael Irvin’s high school years when he was being recruited to play college football. He was taken to a Mexican restaurant where he saw guacamole.
Irvin told Parkins & Spiegel that he told the waiter “whatever you do, do not put that green, it looks like bird doo doo, on my plate. I can’t even take it. I can’t even stand looking at it.”
Later in the meal, he saw the same waiter walk by with avocado and he asked if he could have some. The waiter said that Michael Irvin had said earlier that he didn’t want it.
“I didn’t say that,” Irvin said. “I said I don’t want that bird doo doo.”
He says that is when one of the people he was dining with spoke up and said “Michael, the bird doo doo is avocado.”
“We asked you for you’re favorite fruit and you had a fruit story. That is why you are one of one,” Danny Parkins responded. “You are Michael Irvin and you are the best man.”
Bobby Valentine Tells Boomer & Gio Donald Trump Photo Sunk Him
“Valentine ran as an unaffiliated candidate and fell to Democratic State Rep. Caroline Simmons in the Stamford mayoral race.”
Former MLB manager and ESPN baseball analyst Bobby Valentine joined WFAN’s Boomer and Gio this week to discuss his mayoral campaign in Stamford, Connecticut.
Valentine ran as an unaffiliated candidate and fell to Democratic State Rep. Caroline Simmons in the race. He claims that a decades-old picture with him and former President Donald Trump sunk his chances.
“We had a photo taken together in 2000 for the World Series and so the last day of the campaign all around the neighborhoods, a picture of Donald and Bobby with the quote ‘only poor people and dumb people pay taxes,’” Valentine told Boomer and Gio about the photo that circulated around the town on Election Day.
“That really helped with the minority vote in my town,” Valentine said sarcastically.
It wasn’t all bad news for Valentine, who was enamored with the campaign-building process, among other things.
“Built it [the campaign] from scratch, which was a wonderful experience” Valentine explained. “Figuring out how to get volunteers together, and money together, and office, and headquarters together. We actually ran a six-month—perfectly clean—campaign. Not one negative word mentioned the entire time. Got 14,000 votes, more than any non-Democrat ever got in our city, and almost won that thing.
“I’m glad that I was the candidate, and I’m also glad that I’m not the mayor because it’s really a tough job. I got four years of my life back when the votes came in.”
Valentine worked at ESPN for a few years in the early part of the 2010s before re-entering the managing circuit with the Boston Red Sox. He famously managed the Mets to one of their two World Series appearances this century in 2000.
“It’s a little bit of the seven-year itch,” Valentine said when asked why he’s always looking for the next obstacle. “I did seven years in Texas; seven years in New York; seven years in Japan; seven months in Boston. Then I did seven years at Sacred Heart. So, yeah, it’s all about the sevens.”
Tony Rizzo To Baker Mayfield Critics: I Hope You’re Happy
“850 ESPN Cleveland host Tony Rizzo laid it all out on the table during The Really Big Show.”
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield hasn’t looked like much of a franchise star so far in 2021, and it has all the attention of sports radio in The Land.
850 ESPN Cleveland host Tony Rizzo laid it all out on the table during The Really Big Show.
“You happy?” Rizzo said to his co-host, Aaron Goldhammer. “Are you Baker [Mayfield] haters? Are you guys happy? Baker looks bad, and you wanna jump down his throat. I’M A BROWNS FAN! I’M A BROWNS FAN. IT’S LIKE YOU’RE ROOTING AGAINST OUR QUARTERBACK!”
Mayfield has struggled with shoulder and knee injuries throughout this season and ranks 25th out of 33 qualified quarterbacks in ESPN’s QBR metric (42.9 out of 100).
“You want him to fail,” Rizzo continued. “To prove what? You were right? Do you realize what happens if this kid isn’t the right guy? WE’RE GONNA SUCK, AGAIN. You don’t find quarterbacks. It took you 20 years to find a guy to win 11 games. Now you don’t think he can take you the rest of the way? Are you happy?”
The Browns went on the road this past weekend and the New England Patriots stomped them 45-7. The loss meant Cleveland still hasn’t won in Foxboro since 1992, when, ironically, now Patriots head coach Bill Belichick held the same role with Cleveland.
“I hope you’re all happy,” Rizzo declared. “I hope you’re happy; so you can draft some quarterback in the 30s and try and pray…Don’t you understand? If Baker fails it’s back to the drawing board for my franchise.
“We know that everything has to be right for Baker to win. Sobering stuff for me. This year has been sobering; however, he’s got a bad shoulder, he’s got a broken bone. Now he’s got a bum knee and bum foot. He’s getting beat up. Maybe he can’t play the position.”
Watch the full clip from ESPN Cleveland above.
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