"NOMAD": MY NEW WEB SERIES DEBUTS
I'm not usually comfortable sitting still, so everyday provides a new opportunity for a mini adventure. Sometimes it's a unique place to eat, something I've never seen before, and occasionally it's just a good view. With that in mind I decided to create a weekly web series that will document some of these excursions, armed with nothing but my iPhone, a GoPro and an annoying selfie stick.
NYC is the perfect place for this project because every day has a different moment of weird and/or interesting. My first jaunt was to the place I started my career, Dutchess Stadium. The Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays Single-A Affiliate) gave me my initial internship at a time when I was plugging away on cable access. They have one of the best fan experiences in MiLB and some incredibly bizarre (and delicious) foods. Twenty years later, I took it all in.
We'll release a new episode every Tuesday, and all of them (including "shorts") will be linked at the "Nomad" tab in the header here. Bingo Bango.
Flashback 1997: Sitting Down with Mike Francesa
Mike and I had our documented dustup last summer when he famously took aim at my CBS Sports Minute that ran during his show. He bagged me for my Hulk Hogan take and using my initials, and as ridiculous as that sentence is, it's probably one of the things I'm most known for. I actually tracked him down that afternoon in the newsroom to clear the air, we had a laugh and he assured me this wasn't personal. He was just sick of all those damn Hulk Hogan-focused minutes (who could blame him?), since this was the day Hulk's racist video was made public. I discussed this episode in further detail with Al Dukes on his podcast. To me, this is the essence of Mike. Gruff on the exterior, but a warm guy underneath.
In 1997, as a high school senior, my communications class at Warwick (NY) Valley High had a second-semester project to create a TV show. Myself and three other classmates (my cousin Greg, one of my close friends Lee, and Steve) decided to develop a sports-interview themed show. We called it "Metro Sports North" because we would bring the stories of the NYC sports scene 50 miles northwest to our little hometown. Four ambitious teenages, Greg became the Athletic Director at neighboring Goshen (NY) High, Lee built a successful career in video and film production, Steve is still running an audio production company.
One of our hopes was to do a story on the famed Mike and the Mad Dog show, a vital part of the Big Apple's heartbeat. We sent letters (pre-email) and followed up with phone calls to station management, and they allowed us to come film the show and arranged for a few interviews with the hosts. Those decision-makers (Mark Chernoff and Eric Spitz) are my bosses today. Amazing.
This footage hasn't seen the light of day in 19 years. It aired once on our cable access station in Warwick, TKR-8. I had it on a VHS tape, but hadn't watched it since high school, and it was stored away in a box of all my old videos. Mike was very professional towards me, giving credence to my questions with thoughtful answers. As you can see, I was stiff and probably mind-numblingly nervous during the interview. But he calmed me at the top by insisting I not call him "Mr. Francesa," and taking time to answer every question.
After we wrapped up, I remember him saying softly, "Not bad." That clip made my dad the proudest. He still talks about it. I love the old cart players, VCR and tape decks in the old WFAN side studio. This is also solid evidence I've been a fashion victim since the womb. That oversized shirt, buttoned all the way to the top, complete with bizarre mullet/boyband bangs gives the whole thing a '90s look that just can't be topped. I showed Mike some of this footage before I published it. We shared a chuckle. Through the looking glass, into a different lifetime, which is actually not so different today. Just with a tabloid radio-battle thrown in for good measure.