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.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Angelo Cataldi Bans Andy Reid’s Voice From WIP Morning Show
“25% of the people who voted in our poll and said they admire and respect Reid more than Sirianni, you 25% have not been paying any attention for years.”
As Super Bowl LVII approaches, many storylines have emerged. One includes Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid facing off with the team he coached for 14 years, the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid is a beloved figure in NFL circles, but 94WIP morning host Angelo Cataldi couldn’t hold back his disdain for the coaching legend.
On Tuesday morning, Cataldi mentioned he couldn’t believe Reid was so highly regarded in NFL media circles. The longtime host said Reid was never truthful during interviews.
After playing clips that included Reid saying the Eagles “were a good team” and how the Chiefs “would need a good game plan” to grab a victory, Cataldi took issue with the generalities Reid spoke with. When asked what he expected from an NFL head coach, Cataldi compared Reid to current Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni.
“I was expecting something like Nick gives me every time,” Cataldi said. “I hate Reid ’cause he never won me the Super Bowl, I hate Reid that it took him six years to get there, it took Nick two, and I hate Reid because he never bothered to share a damn thing. If you’re out there, with 25% of the people who voted in our poll and said they admire and respect Reid more than Sirianni, you 25% have not been paying any attention for years.”
Cataldi — who admitted “I don’t like the man, and I’ve never liked the man” — said he received more than 300 emails about Reid, noting he didn’t realize he was “widely regarded as the all-time Andy Reid critic” in Philadelphia.
The 94WIP host added listeners will not hear the voice of the “phony, fraud” Reid any longer on his morning show.
“I do not control the other dayparts here. I don’t control the newsroom. I’m done playing anything said by Andy Reid. ‘Cause I learned over 14 years it’s a waste of time.”
Seth Payne: Ross Tucker is Stealing My Takes Without Attribution
“He is the manager that takes your ideas and then sends them up one level without any attribution whatsoever.”
Seth Payne cannot say he wasn’t warned. When Ross Tucker joined Payne and Pendergast on Sports Radio 610 in Houston earlier this week, the seven-year NFL veteran told Payne that his take was so good that he would be stealing it.
“You know what, Seth, that is a great point that I am going to use the rest of the week in all my media stuff,” Tucker said when Payne suggested that the Philadelphia Eagles “earned” an injury to the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterbacks by taking advantage of poor blocking schemes that included using tight ends to block NFL sack leader Hasson Reddick.
A listener named Burch tweeted evidence to Seth Payne of Ross Tucker following through on his promise.
“If the rest of you out there can be more like Burch and let us know when people are stealing our good takes, they can have our bad takes,” Payne’s morning show partner Sean Pendergast said on Tuesday morning.
The duo then played the audio, which they said appeared to come from an unidentified CBS show. In it, Tucker says that the Eagles “earned those injuries” and used tight ends being assigned to block Reddick as his justification for the take.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what kind of a boss Ross Tucker is, like what kind of a manager,” Payne said. “He is the manager that takes your ideas and then sends them up one level without any attribution whatsoever.”
Ross Tucker is no shortage of platforms to spread the take around. He is on multiple Audacy sports talk stations during the football season. He also makes regular appearances with Dan Patrick and SiriusXM as well as hosting his own podcast.
“This is what you get from these Princeton types,” Payne said of being ripped off. “This is how they get where they are in the world.”
Mully & Haugh: Mike Florio Had Perfect Response About NFL Games Being Fixed
There were questionable calls — both made and not — that played into the eventual outcome of the AFC Championship Game. Cynics have pointed to the officiating in the game’s final quarter as proof that NFL games are fixed. On 670 The Score, Mully & Haugh praised Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio for his response to those accusations.
“I always assume it’s incompetence and not corruption,” Florio said when asked about whether or not the league purposely got the matchup it desired. “The NFL does not rig its games. I will say that loudly, and I will say that clearly. Sometimes I will add ‘because I don’t think the NFL would be sufficiently competent to rig its games if it wanted to. That’s why I think they don’t even try.”
Florio then added that being lied to all the time doesn’t mean you’re being lied to all the time, adding that the NFL does need to be proactive against games being fixed, rigged, or altered after the expansion of legalized gambling.
Later in the program, Mulligan and Haugh returned to the discussion about whether or not a conspiracy was at play when Mulligan levied his praise for the Pro Football Talk founder.
“I thought Mike Florio handled that very well,” Mike Mulligan said. “They’re too incompetent to have a conspiracy. It’s true!”
When asked about whether the NFL would actually want to alter the outcome to pit the Chiefs against the Eagles, Haugh said it’s just not realistic.
“That’s a leap you can’t make. It’s not logical. It’s logical to think the referees stink and their incompetent,” David Haugh said. “They have proof of that. To me, it’s a bridge too far to say they wanted a certain team to win because it makes a better matchup or its better for the league. That, to me, makes no sense and is based on no fact at all.”