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Saturday, May 03, 2014

TSL: Radio Legend Chris “Mad Dog” Russo Says Blacks Can’t Cut It In Sports Radio

Aaaaaand‬...that online Baseball-Referral encyclopedia site has too many stats for me Mikey!

Just days after Donald Sterling was exposed as a racist on secretly-recorded audio produced by TMZ , long-time NY talk radio legend and current Sirius XM host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo had what many are now calling his own “Donald Sterling/Al Campanis moment.”

...Now, Russo’s time to answer the “bigot bell” is swiftly approaching.

In a YouTube post provided by The Warrior Report, Howard Kinsel calls into Mad Dog’s show and poses a question to Russo about his failure to have African-American sports journalists as hosts. In a stunning admission, Russo proudly acknowledges that fact and blatantly says that there are no qualified blacks worthy or capable of coming on his show and enlightening his paid listeners. The caller and subsequent caller were both flabbergasted by Russo’s ignorance, pompousness and insistence on reiterating that blacks basically can’t cut the mustard in his business.

Take a listen to this clip and when you finish spitting up your 40oz and touching up on your Ebonics, get back with me.

...Russo exhibited a rotten radio culture, and the emphatic and agitated way that he dismissed the intelligence, talent and abilities of every black person in the world was sickening. He had the audacity to say that there aren’t a lot of black guys who know enough about sports to hold down a national radio show. Attitudes like Russo’s are why you can’t find many African-American males doing sports talk radio on a national scale. I personally know 10 guys off the top of the dome, including myself who could handle an opportunity like that quite effectively. According to Russo, pleasing the sponsors and fans because it “is” paid radio, and keeping the phone lines buzzing, is a task that is beyond the capacity of a black man. Actually, to be fair, he cleared that up by making himself look more obnoxious and rephrasing to include all ethnicities.

Kind of hypocritical as well on Russo’s part for several reasons. Before WFAN gave him his shot at the bright lights, he was a nobody, toiling on local radio in Florida. Somebody gave him a chance. He’s seemed to have forgotten that. Here’s a guy who looks as if he never played a sport in his life. A hard day of calisthenics for this guy would be lifting lattés. Yet he has made millions in his career by yelling into a microphone, mostly criticizing everyone from sports fans to players to management and saying some of the most insane things you have ever heard. In his years at WFAN, he was considered the antagonist and out of town hater in his historically successful two-decade career as co-host of the award-winning Mike and The Mad Dog sports radio show with Mike Francesa.

...Let’s be fair. Russo isn’t just a racist; it’s safe to say he’s an all-around creep at times. On July 9, 2009, during a ten minute rant, Russo reacting to his station being ranked outside the Top 100 stations on satellite radio, flipped on his entire staff, which included bringing on nighttime host Andy Gresh for an in-person tongue-lashing. Russo concluded his rant by firing his program director, Steve Torre. Torre was later rehired and it’s unknown if this rant was legitimate or a radio skit. Either way, it’s another example of the sick inner-workings of sports radio’s Rush Limbaugh.

There’s no place in journalism for twisted leaders and closet hood-rockers disguised as respected media personalities. That game Russo is kicking is washed up and played out.

Repoz Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:31 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: radio

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   1. TRBMB Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:45 AM (#4699458)
Have to hope hard this will mean this screaming idiot gets bounced from MLB Network and High Crap. Let him go running back to his best friend Francesca and the two of them can reunite as the two biggest clowns in radio history. Or better yet, both get retired and disappear.
   2. Blastin Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:59 AM (#4699460)
For reason, MLB Network gave him a TV show. He has a face for radio and a voice for the Fatty Arbuckle era.
   3. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:11 AM (#4699464)
Blacks may not have some of the idiocies to be, let's say, in sports radio.
   4. Matt Welch Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:14 AM (#4699466)
Russo is awful in every way, but I don't think this description is fair. He didn't say no black person was "qualified" to do radio -- in fact, in the end of this clip, in response to a second phone-caller, he makes this distinction very clear. He said, after first maintaining that very few people are able to do his job, period, that no qualified black person has applied for a job at his station/network/whatever, and that if there *had* been someone qualified, he'd be crazy not to hire him. So, instead of saying they lack necessities, he is saying that *most* people lack necessities, and that no one showing said necessities and having black skin had crossed his desk.

There are a thousand different better ways of saying this, including ways that include even a drop of humility and self-questioning, but we are talking about Mad Dog Russo here.
   5. Publius Publicola Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:17 AM (#4699467)
That headline was misleading. What MadDog said wasn't racist. All he said is that doing talk radio is a lot harder than it seems, which is true, and it's really hard to find people to do it who can move the viewer needle, which is also true, and that finding a black person who can do it is also very difficult, which is also true. If you notice, MadDog gets cut off at the end when he says it's hard to find anybody who can do it, never mind just blacks.

Now, I'm not a MadDog fan, far from it. I think he's a screaming idiot. But fair is fair.
   6. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:19 AM (#4699468)
The problem is that a talking anus is qualified to do the job. So it *seems* like he thinks there are no black people more qualified than a talking anus.
   7. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:20 AM (#4699469)
Blacks may not have some of the idiocies to be, let's say, in sports radio.

Yeah, saying that blacks aren't cut out for sports radio while whites are makes it sound like you're prejudiced against white people.
   8. JE (Jason) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:28 AM (#4699471)
Never mind that it takes forever for the author to get to the point, nowhere in the long article does he even bother to quote Russo's supposed racist comments. This is responsible journalism?

EDIT: And like Matt and Kevin, I don't enjoy saying anything that can be even remotely interpreted as defending that gasbag.
   9. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:59 AM (#4699491)
He has a face for radio and a voice for the Fatty Arbuckle era.


Also has a voice made for silent film.

There are a thousand different better ways of saying this, including ways that include even a drop of humility and self-questioning, but we are talking about Mad Dog Russo here.


Well, and there is the whole issue of the gatekeeping effects that come with not seeking out qualified minority (or female) applicants, but that's such a common and usually unintentional problem that pillorying someone as "Donald Sterling-esque" for it is insane.
   10. SandyRiver Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4699494)
So it *seems* like he thinks there are no black people more qualified AS a talking anus.


FTFY
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:11 AM (#4699504)
Did he make the distinction between "real brothers" and "cornball brothers" in the applicant pool?
   12. dejarouehg Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4699516)
FTA: "The mild-mannered Francesa and the loud, offensively entertaining and pugnacious Russo were the perfect opposites."

Clearly, given the author's assessment of Francesa, he is too stupid to be taken seriously. Also, Russo didn't go directly from Florida to FAN, he had a pitstop at WMCA (where Sterling hosted a sports-talk show in the early 70's).

On WMCA, Russo had about 7 callers who were mostly friends, including his former college roommate who is an old business partner of mine, who would keep the call-ins afloat.
   13. The District Attorney Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4699519)
Pretty sure Art Rust Jr. had a sports radio talk show for about a million years, and that WFAN has had some black hosts.

I find it a little hard to believe that Russo has never run across a qualified black candidate, but, who knows. Who even wants to get into radio, anyway.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4699520)
Francesa mild-mannered? that is rich.

"Attitudes like Russo’s are why you can’t find many African-American males doing sports talk radio on a national scale. I personally know 10 guys off the top of the dome, including myself who could handle an opportunity like that quite effectively."

as they say in court, "goes to motive, your honor."

finally, Russo was known as an avid and pretty good tennis player, and likely still is.

geesh, someone found a way to make Mad Dog a sympathetic figure?

the only interesting part is whether the author really believes what he wrote...
   15. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4699522)
This is a garbage article. As others have said, it pains me to support "Mad Dog" Russo...but this is an authentic slander, given what he ACTUALLY said.
   16. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: May 03, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4699543)
Yeah, the lack of actual quotes and everything else, this for all the world seems like a 'bad beat' to me. I take it the target is generally a nitwit (don't know him, but he's someone who accepts the moniker 'Mad Dog'), but nothing here sounds even remotely damning.
   17. dejarouehg Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4699555)
finally, Russo was known as an avid and pretty good tennis player, and likely still is.
He was just OK in the late 80s/early 90's and a nothing hoopster. Breen on the other hand had a pretty sweet jumper as did, surprisingly, Eddie Coleman. (We played them in charity games.)

Russo was a very decent guy.
   18. Spectral Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4699558)
I don't think the problem is one of race, I think it's one of wildly overestimating how difficult his job is. Maybe I'm wildly underestimating that though. In any case, he's not saying, "black people are bad at this!", he's saying, "this is pretty damned hard, not many people are good at it, and I haven't had an application from a black guy that I think is good at it".
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4699561)
Russo is awful in every way, but I don't think this description is fair. He didn't say no black person was "qualified" to do radio -- in fact, in the end of this clip, in response to a second phone-caller, he makes this distinction very clear. He said, after first maintaining that very few people are able to do his job, period, that no qualified black person has applied for a job at his station/network/whatever, and that if there *had* been someone qualified, he'd be crazy not to hire him. So, instead of saying they lack necessities, he is saying that *most* people lack necessities, and that no one showing said necessities and having black skin had crossed his desk.

There are a thousand different better ways of saying this, including ways that include even a drop of humility and self-questioning, but we are talking about Mad Dog Russo here.


I agree. Although the notion that of the X number of resumes he has seen or tapes he has heard none of them were from qualified black people seems a bit absurd. I guess it depends how many black candidates total he has seen resumes/tapes from. But let's remember what he does: he talks endlessly for hours while knowing very little of value about the subjects he's talking about. So his skill - and I will grant that there's a measure of skill in it - is really just talking, whether he knows anything about anything or not. It just seems dumb to suggest that all these white people who can do this are qualified, but it's so difficult to find black people who can do this.

Anyway, he is the victim of a hit piece here, but it's sort of karma because he has spent over 20 years doing hit jobs on players (accusing them of steroids use without evidence, accusing them of choking under pressure, etc etc etc). He shouldn't be accused of something he didn't do but it's not right when he does it to others either.
   20. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4699565)
This sort of BS article is why, when confronted with an ACTUAL despicable bigot whose prejudice has actual effects on people's lives, people think it's just the knee-jerk media crying wolf again.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4699580)
I don't think the problem is one of race, I think it's one of wildly overestimating how difficult his job is. Maybe I'm wildly underestimating that though. In any case, he's not saying, "black people are bad at this!", he's saying, "this is pretty damned hard, not many people are good at it, and I haven't had an application from a black guy that I think is good at it".

Forgetting the overblown racial angle here, I think that the idea that "anybody" can create a successful sports call-in show is crazy. The problem is that you can know more about sports than 99.999% of the population and still have such a stiff delivery that you wind up just talking to the hard core.

Good example of this: Phil Wood. Great guy, an encyclopedia of baseball and hockey knowledge, but though he's now got a good setup doing pre- and post-game analysis on MASN, he was never able to keep his call-in shows on WTEM, not even as a guest commentator. The ratings just weren't there, whereas the personality-driven shows like Russo's, Francesa's and Kornheiser's will always find an audience, even if when it comes to sports they're walking Encyclopedias of Ignorance. The problem may be more in the nature of the call-in audience, but when a station's existence is dependent on ratings, there's not much they can do about that.

   22. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4699584)
This sort of BS article is why, when confronted with an ACTUAL despicable bigot whose prejudice has actual effects on people's lives, people think it's just the knee-jerk media crying wolf again.

That's true, but you also can't discount the number of people who for their own ideological reasons take stupid articles like this and conflate them with arguments that are far more fact-based. Writers like Gamble are but one side of a two-headed coin.
   23. A Fatty Cow That Need Two Seats Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4699586)
Somehow I've had an mp3 clip of Russo going off on Mets fans in 2000 since then. Finally thought to upload it last year - Russo on the New York Mets fan
   24. Kurt Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4699589)
Forgetting the overblown racial angle here, I think that the idea that "anybody" can create a successful sports call-in show is crazy. The problem is that you can know more about sports than 99.999% of the population and still have such a stiff delivery that you wind up just talking to the hard core.


Completely agree with this. Hosting a talk show might not be that hard; anyone can sit in a chair and talk. Hosting a *successful* talk show is a different matter.
   25. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4699590)
This sort of BS article is why, when confronted with an ACTUAL despicable bigot whose prejudice has actual effects on people's lives, people think it's just the knee-jerk media crying wolf again.


It's really just a-hole fatigue, everyone knows Russo is a despicable moron, so the idea he's a bigot wouldn't be surprising news.

And the lack of supporting facts or a smoking gun on the tape is also a significant factor.
   26. Spectral Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4699591)
Forgetting the overblown racial angle here, I think that the idea that "anybody" can create a successful sports call-in show is crazy.

Sure, agreed. I'm not saying I can do it, in fact I'm pretty sure I couldn't. What I'm thinking is more along the lines of anyone that can host any talk show successfully could do a decent sports talk show, provided they put in a bare minimum of effort. I don't mean to say that it's necessarily an easy job, just that I don't think the skill set is all that rare.
   27. Morty Causa Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4699593)
Why, when someone says something we find offensive, we have always this immediate reaction to suppress? Let the idiots have their say. What is said, as a matter of substance, exists. Just address that.
   28. Morty Causa Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4699598)
I mean, what's the real problem. If it's the belief, then we should welcome that the view is out in the open. If it is the mere expression, then that's a very problematic stance, maybe worse than the opinion itself.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4699612)

"Russo was a very decent guy."

He indeed came across as rather self-effacing and pleasant in times I've seen him, in public and private. I've mentioned before, notorious curmudgeon Phil Mushnick of the NY Post was as pleasant a chap you'd ever find when I met him at a golf charity event. a raconteur, even....
   30. Publius Publicola Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4699614)
Gee, Andy, I really like kornheiser, especially when he's paired with Wilbon Maybe it's because they're DC-based but still, he's pretty good.
   31. eddieot Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4699615)
The article is poorly written, but Russo is an idiot. He was also at WFAN with Bill Daughtry for years. Daughtry is black, ten times the better commentator, and ten times as smart as Russo, meaning he doesn't appeal to the mouth-breathers who spend hours on sports talk radio. Russo is playing a character, as are Rush and Hannity, etc. He's a savvy radio guy and he has a point, but only if you acknowledge that sports talk radio appeals to the lowest denominator of sports fan.
   32.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4699616)
Agree with most of you. This was clearly someone trying to catch him in a "gotcha," and even if he deserves it , this is completely mischaracterizing what he was saying.

Having said that, my ears started to bleed 2 minutes in and I had to shut it off. I don't know how anyone willfully listens to these.
   33. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4699619)
"Legend"?

I find it a little hard to believe that Russo has never run across a qualified black candidate, but, who knows. Who even wants to get into radio, anyway.


Its New York, are there even any black people in NYC?

I think that the idea that "anybody" can create a successful sports call-in show is crazy. The problem is that you can know more about sports than 99.999% of the population and still have such a stiff delivery that you wind up just talking to the hard core.


Yea, there are a lot of really smart saber-friendly bloggers and writers who have podcasts that I just find unlistenable because they're boring or they have terrible deliveries, or the quality just isn't good. The only one I cared for was Rany and Joe.
   34. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4699623)
Good example of this: Phil Wood. Great guy, an encyclopedia of baseball and hockey knowledge, but though he's now got a good setup doing pre- and post-game analysis on MASN, he was never able to keep his call-in shows on WTEM, not even as a guest commentator.

Not sure it is fair to entirely blame Wood - WTEM has never had much interest in baseball, and I doubt they did much promotion or advertising. If Wood was on regularly, I think it escaped my notice, although the memory may have faded.

I don't care enough to RTFA, but the lack of any actual quotes seems damning, as do the descriptions in #s 4 & 5.
   35. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4699625)
Doing a full-length show worth listening to, day-in and day-out, isn't easy.
   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4699627)
Doing a full-length show worth listening to, day-in and day-out, isn't easy.


Sure, but I think we've gone overboard now in assigning difficulty to this. The callers drive the show. And as long as one can put a few sentences together it's not like there is a lack of subjects to speak about.

It's mainly: discuss the news flavors of the day; discuss how the local teams did; and take calls.

Hilariously, the more of a pompous jackassian blowhard one is, the better one seems to do.
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 03, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4699656)
Gee, Andy, I really like kornheiser, especially when he's paired with Wilbon Maybe it's because they're DC-based but still, he's pretty good.

Kornheiser's fine on PTI** because he blends well with Wilbon, but whenever I think of Kornheiser on the radio I think of the uncountable times I switched stations to avoid him blabbering on about American Idol or some ####### 60's rock music.

**I haven't seen PTI for a long time, and for all I know that show may not even be around anymore.

-----------------------------------------

Good example of this: Phil Wood. Great guy, an encyclopedia of baseball and hockey knowledge, but though he's now got a good setup doing pre- and post-game analysis on MASN, he was never able to keep his call-in shows on WTEM, not even as a guest commentator.

Not sure it is fair to entirely blame Wood - WTEM has never had much interest in baseball, and I doubt they did much promotion or advertising. If Wood was on regularly, I think it escaped my notice, although the memory may have faded.


Wood was one of the original hosts on WTEM and I don't think he made it past his first year. He then had a Saturday morning baseball show that lasted a bit longer in a dead time slot, and for a while John Thompson had him as a regular Wednesday guest analyst during the baseball season. You're right that WTEM both then and now is completely hostile to baseball, but Phil's more suited to what he's doing now than he is for a call-in show. He's just too low key a personality for that sort of a format.

------------------------------------------------------

Doing a full-length show worth listening to, day-in and day-out, isn't easy.


Sure, but I think we've gone overboard now in assigning difficulty to this. The callers drive the show. And as long as one can put a few sentences together it's not like there is a lack of subjects to speak about.

It's mainly: discuss the news flavors of the day; discuss how the local teams did; and take calls.

Hilariously, the more of a pompous jackassian blowhard one is, the better one seems to do.


But looking at what you just said objectively, wouldn't that suggest that to be a successful blowhard requires at least an unusual amount of jackassian talent? The sports media world is full of blowhards, but how many of them stay on top of the ratings?
   38. caprules Posted: May 03, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4699678)
but whenever I think of Kornheiser on the radio I think of the uncountable times I switched stations to avoid him blabbering on about American Idol or some ####### 60's rock music.


That's not an example of Kornheiser being ignorant. It shows that he and his producers knew that 3 entertaining hours of talking about sports every single week day is tough.
   39. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4699717)
I see no reason not to burn Russo first if we're going to get a witch hunt going.
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 03, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4699720)
but whenever I think of Kornheiser on the radio I think of the uncountable times I switched stations to avoid him blabbering on about American Idol or some ####### 60's rock music.

That's not an example of Kornheiser being ignorant. It shows that he and his producers knew that 3 entertaining hours of talking about sports every single week day is tough.


That's Kornheiser's line, but it says more about him and his perception of his listeners than anything else. First, it's a two hour show, not three, repeated in the evening. And second, John Thompson had a live show of similar length for years and didn't need to prove that he was current with American Idol to entertain his listeners. It's not impossible if you have a strong personality, a coherent philosophy of life, and you actually know something about the games. Mr. Tony has one of those three.
   41. Captain Supporter Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4699767)
The only racist here is Gamble. He clearly sees the world through race colored glasses, and is apparently not averse to slandering anyone who does not see it that way.

If anyone should go, he should.
   42. caprules Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4699773)
That's Kornheiser's line, but it says more about him and his perception of his listeners than anything else


You have listened to him uncountable times, so what does that say about you as a listener?

As far as his radio show only being 2 hours, I was referencing when I listened to him years ago, when he was on ESPN radio. I could have sworn it was a 3 hour show back then,
   43. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4699813)
That's Kornheiser's line, but it says more about him and his perception of his listeners than anything else

You have listened to him uncountable times, so what does that say about you as a listener?


That I was stuck in the car dial surfing too many times when the alternatives weren't much better. Another one of his pet moves used to be berating any caller who said "How ya doin'?" or "What's up?" He could spend half a minute trying to prove God Knows What just because some poor fish was trying to be polite. You don't have to listen to his tired schticks too many times to realize that the show was 90% about Mr. Tony and very little about anything else.

As far as his radio show only being 2 hours, I was referencing when I listened to him years ago, when he was on ESPN radio. I could have sworn it was a 3 hour show back then,

I could be wrong, but AFAICR even in his pre-syndication days he's always had a 2 hour format, if for no other reason than that he'd scream too loudly if he'd had to work more than that. But either way, 10 minutes of him at a clip was always more than enough. I'd honestly rather listen to the old Mike and the Mad Dog show, since at least their nominal topic of conversation was usually sports rather than moronic TV shows or the foibles of their teenaged daughters. I guess I'm just a hopeless snob.
   44. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: May 04, 2014 at 12:53 AM (#4699871)
OK, so Russo may not have actually said anything racist, but By Any Means Necessary is a perfectly valid premise for getting those Godawful commercials for High Heat pulled from the times I typically watch MLB Network.

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