On Thursday, while making his second retirement announcement in three years, Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa listed many of the same reasons for quitting WFAN that he did the first time around in December 2017, like wanting to spend more time with his family.

Absent from his list was a key (perhaps the most important) reason:

Entercom, owners of WFAN, were not going to pay him the kind of money they were shelling out since he returned in May 2018, after only five months on the shelf. From his Think Tank in Philadelphia, Entercom boss David Field wound up paying Francesa about $1.6-$1.7 million per year, which also included the company’s purchase of the Pope’s failed app.

If Francesa could have continued collecting that kind of coin while doing an hour WFAN show (which also was accessible on Francesa’s Radio.com app) from the comfort of his home studio he would have.

There is nothing in his history providing evidence Francesa, even while under fire for mailing it in, would have walked away leaving that kind of money on the table.

But with the radio industry economy in the toilet, even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, there is no way Entercom, or any other outlet, was going to continue over-paying Francesa for his past accomplishments.

Field made a mistake bringing Francesa back in the first place. He didn’t really know Francesa or the destructiveness of his megalomaniac personality. Field and his crew panicked. Entercom was not satisfied with the ratings generated by WFAN’s new afternoon-drive team (Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray, Bart Scott), and believed Francesa could do better. He didn’t, eventually losing to ESPN-98.7’s “The Michael Kay Show” in the afternoon-drive ratings race.

Worst still, Field & Co. didn’t know Francesa would continue being a cancer in the clubhouse, so to speak. Even in the ground-breaking times, when he worked with Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo, Francesa was a disruptive force, an I-Me-My, kind of guy. It only got worse when he went solo.

Instead of magnanimously embracing his fellow Gasbags upon his return from “retirement” and trying to steady shaky morale, Francesa ripped into his former producer Carlin, who was eventually fired (he landed at ESPN-98.7). Francesa used his show to blast morning-drive co-host Gregg Giannotti, saying he is short on talent. Even before his first “retirement,” the Pope aimed insults at Craig Carton and Norman Julius Esiason, creating more turmoil.

So, was Entercom exec Chris Oliviero, who now runs WFAN, serious, or holding his nose, when he said: “He [Francesa] has earned the right to make this very personal decision and will always have our respect and appreciation.”

No matter Oliviero’s saccharine spin, it’s clear that with the exception of WFAN’s morning show, tornado-like winds of change will, by the end of this year, whip through WFAN. Francesa is the first to be blown out the door.

Without him around, WFAN can stop living in the past and finally go looking for its future.

Seamheads can’t continue hyping how every game is crucial in this sprint of a 60-game season of COVID-19. Not with the postseason expanding from 10 to 16 teams.

The big winner here are TV outlets involved with baseball. If a team gets off slow, Regional Sports Networks, like YES and SNY, don’t have to worry about viewers bailing on the product. The eyeballs will hang in longer knowing a team with a mediocre record still can squeak into the postseason.

On the national side, ESPN and TBS will have more playoff advertising inventory to sell, with the Bristol Clown Community College Faculty holding exclusive rights to seven of the eight new postseason games.

Of course, the two networks will be shelling out additional dough to MLB for the right to air these added playoff games.

Considering the owners have agreed to offer players a $50 million bonus to agree to the added playoff games that TV money must be awfully big.

Maggie Gray’s back must be hurting.

That’s what can happen when you’ve been carrying Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez’s water for at least two weeks.

Maggie Mouth bought into the theories that the “glamour” generated by J-Rod, along with their international marketing reach, could not only be beneficial to the Mets, but appeal to Rob Manfred and the other owners.

Sorry, but this theory has all the substance of cotton candy. You take a bite and there’s really nothing there. When it comes to the end of the road, the owners of the Mets (the Wilpons do own the team, right?) should only be interested in the cash coming out of the highest bidder’s pocket.

Ownership should act in its own best interest. And fans would best be served by a new owner with deep pockets rather than the J-Rod group, that spends too much time trying to convince the media they have the dough to purchase the Mets.

Despite what should be a bizarre and condensed training camp, HBO’s “Hard Knocks” featuring the Chargers and Rams is still on.

While coverage of the training camps will be dictated by the coronavirus, sources said it will present a challenge producing unique storylines, ones never imagined, developing in both camps. With the rosters down from 90 to 80, it may be harder to find the usual undrafted rookie who comes on the scene to either make, or just miss, sticking with the team.

And without preseason games, “HK” will lose its traditional part of the reality show, where individual players featured in the program, can be tracked and miked on the field. Yet with the coronavirus currently raging in California, the 2020 edition of “HK” could turn out to be something more important; an historical document on how two NFL teams handled it.

Hilarious hearing VOS Gasbags rip Jamal Adams “for jumping to conclusions” about Woody Johnson’s alleged sexist/racist comments. Jumping to conclusions? That’s what sports talkies do every day! … ESPN-98.7’s Chris Canty talking out both sides of his mouth while discussing three Astros being hit by pitches thrown by Royals pitchers. “I’m not a fan of weaponizing the baseball,” Canty said. “But I have no problem with the Astros being hit by pitches all season long.” Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. … Anyone else have no doubt ESPN’s Fan Poll about sports returning was going to turn out positive? … On his Wednesday show, FAN’s Joe Benigno proclaimed: “There is far too much politics in sports, but I don’t want to get into it?” Why, because you are concerned you actually might bring an interesting topic to the table? … Anyone else think Pete Alonso wearing a microphone during games is not going to end well? … Advertisers are getting back into baseball on TV. SNY’s first few games are sold out and available inventory is selling fast.

* * *


For wearing a mask. In putting safety first, the Yankees outfielder is not just paying lip service to keeping himself and his teammates healthy. Frazier is not only setting a good example, but showing baseball can be played at the highest level while wearing a mask.


During their illustrious career, both fighters raked in millions and, for the most part, were widely admired by fight fans. Now they want to stage a cheesy 8-round PPV exhibition in attempt to grab some quick cash? Very lame. The only way to make this fiasco righteous is for Tyson and Jones to donate every dollar they make from the “fight” to charity.


What Rob Manfred said: “We look forward to a memorable postseason concluding a year like no other.”

What Rob Manfred meant to say: “We look forward to receiving millions in extra TV money we will get by expanding our postseason.”

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