Will they or won’t they?
That was the question that made Mike and the Mad Dog tick on talk radio (and TV simulcast) for nearly 20 years.
Go off on each other? Surely, Christopher Russo, the Mad Dog, would scream and shout about one sports item of the afternoon or another and most likely at partner Mike Francesa, too. And Francesca would give it back with his surgically chosen bombs.
Ignore each other? There were times in the relationship when the air was so cold between them the audience knew it.
Get back together? Now that’s the vivid hope of their Big Apple followers as the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on this legendary sports radio talk show duo gets set to premiere Thursday.
I saw it last week, thanks to ESPN Syracuse’s party at the Redhouse in Armory Square. My bowling league teammate Steve won a pair of tickets. Knowing my devoted Big Apple sports roots, he rightly thought I’d be cued in to this sports team, too. I was born in Brooklyn. Grew up on Long Island. Told anybody who asked I wanted to be a sportswriter from the time I knew when other kids dreams of police and fire presidents. Spent my formative years in the newspaper biz in the sports department …
Plus, they were pushing the fact that there would be dinner supplied by Limp Lizard, our bowling team sponsor.
ESPN Syracuse radio drive time host Brent Axe welcomed us to the theater and explained what was to come with the documentary showing. Enjoy, he said. No filming.
One shot of the start of the piece …
The voices together are familiar. The ideas bounce back and forth. They indeed were a cornerstone of a format that lives still on my car radio today when I listen to Mike and Mike on ESPN when I drive to the library in the morning – soon to be split themselves – and Axe on my way home.
If you remembered mercurial Russo and stoic Francesa then, you’ll want to see the inner workings revisited by the smart documentary makers. These guys were more of a mess when it was bad than I even thought. But when it was right … That’s why the fans still cheer when they’re again side by side.