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Gregg Giannotti & Mad Dog Remember Baseball Bet Differently

Brandon Contes

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Baseball Bet

While many of Mike Francesa’s former producers generally categorize the sports radio icon as being financially generous to the people that work for him, WFAN’s Gregg Giannotti remembers Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo asking for a dollar to buy Wheat Thins. 

According to the now WFAN morning show co-host, Dog liked to bet on day baseball games during the summer. Near the end of Dog’s WFAN tenure, Gio remembers being asked if he wants to join a group (led by Russo) in a runs, hits and errors over/under bet. 

In 2008, Gio was only making $31,000 a year producing the station’s midday show with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, so he was reluctant to risk his money. It’s safe to say Mad Dog was more financially stable at the time, having already been one of sports radio’s most prominent voices for nearly two decades. 

Gio decided to go in for $50, but was quickly brushed off by his idol Chris Russo who demanded a minimum buy-in of $250. “Do you want to be in the family? Are you in or are you out?!” Gio remembers an animated Mad Dog asking him in the newsroom. Gio ultimately decided to risk the money, but found himself out $250 by the end of the day. Day two, same result, another $250 lost. Ultimately, Giannotti was down $1,100 after agreeing to participate in the runs, hits and errors wager with Russo and others in the WFAN newsroom. 

According to Gio, he showed up with an $1,100 check to pay his share of the debt, but, “was stopped by somebody who will remain nameless and said ‘you don’t owe that money anymore, it’s okay.’” Gio didn’t explain why he no longer owed $1,100 and what may have happened to the money Russo was supposed to be wagering. Dog never asked for the money and Gio ripped up the check.

Not long after, Russo split from Mike and the Mad Dog to join Sirius for a reported $15 million deal in Aug. 2008. After months of no one at WFAN hearing from Russo, Gio received an unexpected call in the newsroom. Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo following up and asking for the $1,100 that Gio was told he no longer owed. 

“You owe me $1,100 for the runs, hits and errors from a few months ago, anything you can give me,” Gio remembers hearing from Dog when he picked up the phone.   

But during his Wednesday afternoon show on SiriusXM Russo accepted no blame for the lost $1,100, claiming the now WFAN morning host joined the runs, hits and errors wagers willingly. Russo also noted years later he stumbled into Gio who said he just won a season over/under bet on the San Diego Padres. 

“Anybody who’s betting the San Diego Padres over/under in the season has got a gambling problem long before he met Christopher Russo,” Mad Dog said.

Interestingly enough in 2019, Russo told his High Heat audience on MLB Network to take the under on the San Diego Padres for the season. For what it’s worth, the Padres hit the under.

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Mike Florio: Giving Teams Too Many Prime-Time Games ‘Compromises the Integrity of the Game’

“At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Mike Florio
Courtesy: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports

Mike Florio spent time on his Pro Football Talk Live show talking about the NFL schedule which was released in full earlier this week. The focus of the discussion was on the New York Jets schedule, however the topic related to many of the top teams in football. With the league wanting to maximize revenue there are more stand-alone games, which Florio says have “an extra layer of stress and strain.”

The Jets will have six prime-time games over the team’s first 11 weeks of the season. This includes an opening week Monday Night Football road game on the other side of the country against the San Franciso 49ers, two Sunday Night Football games, a Thursday Night Football game, one other appearance on Monday Night Football and a trip to London to play the Vikings.

Florio believes it is unfair to have teams with this much travel and this many featured games. “See, this is a TV show,” he said. “This is where the pursuit of money, the pursuit of maximum ratings, laying the foundation for putting all of the TV contracts out to bid again after the 2029 season, it gets in the way of giving teams a fair shake.”

He later added, “The truth is, the broadcast partners are clamoring for Aaron Rodgers…so they loaded it up early before the Jets have the wheels come off…The problem is they’re kicking the wheels off by doing this. By having them hopscotch the country and play short weeks twice and all of these prime-time games. There’s an extra layer of stress and strain that goes into all of these stand-alone games and all of this travel early in the season.”

Rodgers is coming off missing an entire season due to an Achilles injury and will turn 41 in early December. “Let’s be realistic about it, you’re putting him in a position where this 40-year-old body is going to be strained beyond reasonable limits from all these games on short [rest],” Florio said. “…It’s dangerous to Aaron Rodgers and its disadvantageous to the Jets and it compromises the integrity of the game.

“You still have an obligation to balance things out. It can’t be ‘let’s have the best possible TV audiences, that can’t be the driving factor…It should be a fair balance for all teams…At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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Marv Albert Talks Retirement, Play-by-Play and OJ Simpson Chase with Dan Patrick

“I must say retirement has been great.”

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Marv Albert
Courtesy: PDA Speakers

Three years ago on Friday, legendary play-by-play announcer Marv Albert announced that he would be retiring from his role as the lead voice of the NBA on TNT. This concluded a 55-year broadcast career during which he called 13 NBA Finals matchups, eight Super Bowl championships, eight Stanley Cup Final series and countless other memorable games across a variety of professional sports. Albert is the former television play-by-play announcer for the New York Knicks and appeared on the Dan Patrick Show where he discussed his takeaways of the team. In fact, Albert divulged that he was at Madison Square Garden during the team’s first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Patrick wanted to know from Albert how he was enjoying retirement, a reality that he himself will be facing in three years. Last summer, Patrick announced that his final show would take place on Dec. 24, 2027 and inked a four-year contract extension with NBC Sports and iHeartMedia. Patrick’s show currently airs on FOX Sports Radio and can be live streamed through NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service. Albert has not been behind the microphone for approximately three years, but he is still keeping in tune with what is going on around the sports world.

“Life is good, Dan. How are you doing?,” Albert asked. “I must say retirement has been great. I do miss the preparation and the people I work with, and we do stay in touch, but I am Mr. Binge TV, and I do a lot of reading, work out, all those kind of things, but all is good. I’ve been enjoying the playoffs also.”

Earlier on Friday morning, PGA Tour professional golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested and charged with a felony and other counts after he allegedly injured a police officer. Scheffler was driving by the scene of a fatal crash and was charged with felony second-degree assault on a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers during traffic. Scheffler was released from jail in the morning and played the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Ky. Patrick mentioned the police chase involving O.J. Simpson that lasted for two hours following Simpson being charged with murdering his ex-wife and her friend.

Albert was in the midst of calling Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. He vividly remembers players going to the press table at Madison Square Garden, which had televisions, and trying to see the latest action going on during the car chase.

“Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC Sports, was sitting to our left in the stands, but he had an earpiece so he heard exactly what was going on, and he was kind of directing the activity also,” Albert recalled. “‘Send it back to Tom [Brokaw]; go over to Bob [Costas],’ all this stuff. ‘By the way, there’s Charles Smith with the jump shot.’ It really was the most unusual situation I have been in on the air.”

Patrick was curious to know what has changed in terms of play-by-play announcing since Albert has retired, to which he replied that things largely remained the same in basketball. In other sports though, Albert has observed that there is more talking than there was in the past, articulating that he watches a lot of baseball and has noticed it during the broadcasts. Patrick added that he enjoys the usage of silence within a call and believes it is a lost art with the ostensible need to consistently speak when they are describing something, a sentiment Albert agreed with and explained was more compatible with television broadcasts.

“There’s no question,” Albert said. “You can use the crowd – the crowd is very important, particularly at times like this during the playoffs where the crowds are at another level.”

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Gregg Giannotti: Emmanuel Berbari Needs to Do a Little Better Than ‘Gone, Goodbye’

“I just know as a listener, it’s not doing it for me.”

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Gregg Giannotti
Courtesy: Peter Ackerman, Asbury Park Press

The New York Yankees are entrenched in the upper pantheon of the Major League Baseball standings to begin the new season. The team has won eight of its last 10 games, including a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins and looks poised for a deep postseason run, but there have been hardships the organization has had to overcome to get there. Additionally, longtime Yankees radio play-by-play voice John Sterling retired from the broadcast booth in mid-April, ending an illustrious 36-year run calling the team’s games. Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti talked about one of Sterling’s replacements on Boomer & Gio.

Occupying the play-by-play announcing role throughout the regular season has been Justin Shackil and Emmanuel Berbari, both of whom have filled in for Sterling in the past when he had to miss games. Berbari worked alongside analyst Suzyn Waldman for the team’s series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, broadcast on the team’s flagship station, WFAN. Shortstop Anthony Volpe hit a leadoff home run to commence the final game of the series, and Berbari gave a home run call of ‘Gone, goodbye!’ on the air. WFAN host Gregg Giannotti, however, believes that there is room for improvement for the young announcer.

“I am fascinated by these guys that are now filling in for John Sterling, and John has retired, because you have to kind of thread a needle because you don’t want to be too over the top but you don’t want to be too boring, so how do you figure that out,” Giannotti said on Friday morning’s edition of Boomer & Gio on WFAN. “If I were giving Emmanuel Berbari advice, I would say we go to to just do a little bit better than ‘Gone, goodbye.’”

Giannotti ultimately compelled Berbari to try and find a middle ground between his ‘Gone, goodbye’ call and Sterling’s signature call for home runs by Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Co-host Boomer Esiason asked Giannotti to give Berbari an example of what he would be satisfied with, to which he replied that he was not a play-by-play announcer.

“As a consumer, as a listener, I don’t know,” Giannotti said. “I’m not the one who has to think about it. I just know as a listener, it’s not doing it for me.”

Esiason proceeded to remind Giannotti of the time that they called a New Jersey Devils game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He wanted to know if Giannotti had thought about his call if the Devils scored a goal, off which he stated that he had not. Anchor Jerry Recco, who also works as a play-by-play announcer, explained that he perceives it to be a different situation when calling a baseball game.

“Yeah, you do think about it,” Recco said. “I’ve never really done baseball, but there are different home runs as well though. You’ve got the little line drives that you don’t know are going to get out and you kind of react to it. You’ve got the Judge one the other night that was a moonshot.”

From there, Esiason added that if he were calling the games, it would be difficult for him to manufacture excitement in a mid-May matchup that the Yankees are expected to win. In fact over the last five years, the Yankees have a 19-8 regular-season record against the Twins and have also defeated them during the postseason.

“John figured out a way to do it for a million years – 162 games,” Giannotti replied.

“Yankees-Marlins on a Tuesday night, he was fired up,” Recco added.

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