Let's get this out of the way now so I can get on with my life and my Sunday newspaper column and try to recover the remaining shreds of my professional dignity . . .
Late Thursday afternoon, Mike Francesa responded on the air to some recent prodding from the WFAN morning team of Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason, who had poked fun at his suggestion that the Mets should consider trading Jose Reyes or David Wright.
I asked Mike on Wednesday whether this stuff bothered him, because several readers on my live chat had asked about it, and I didn't get much out of him.
The breaking point apparently was a bit Thursday morning in which Boomer and Carton jokingly asked Chris Carlin which other WFAN staffers would be joining Carlin over the next two weeks for guest slots and/or auditions opposite Francesa.
They listed pretty much the entire station staff as possibilities, which Mike took as a dig at his show.
I did not transcribe his entire on-air response, but he clearly was unamused.
"At least he's on SNY," Francesa said of Carlin. "These two have gone hat in hand trying to get their show on television and have failed . . . They’ve gone begging. They’re still begging. I've even tried to help them, throwing a little bit of a life raft. It’s not easy, though. It’s not an easy thing to sell. Without this show, they wouldn’t get fed."
Francesa said that he realized he might simply be being exploited to help promote the morning show, and said, "If the idea is they want to somehow drag me into one of these stupid radio wars . . . I’ve got better things to do here than worry about this. The only reason I brought this up today is I’ve had newspaper people call me and ask me to react to this utter nonsense."
After saying he would not be dragged into a verbal war, Mike said "there is a meanness" to Carton. He also said, "If I want to take care of him I could do it in five minutes. It wouldn’t even take me five minutes. He can’t kiss up enough when he’s around here. If he wants a war, bring it on, it won’t be a long one."
After a break, Francesa sarcastically said he only was kidding, while making it clear he certainly was not.
"I’m only kidding. It’s just meant to cross-promote," he said. "Soon they’ll get it together. Really, it’s meant in fun. Nothing to it. They get on me a little bit, I get on them. That’s all. All meant as cross-promotion. It’s a little radio hi-jinx. Don’t take it seriously. Really, they’ll get it together soon. I really love those guys. They do a great job. They’ll get it together. They’ll fix what they have to fix. It’s coming, it’s coming. I promise. Within a couple of years, it’ll all come together . . . They’ll get funny soon. I promise. It’s coming. They’ll pick it up. They’ve only been at it a short amount of time."
Friday morning, Carton said he and Mike had a heated conversation after Francesa's show to clear the air, and it seemed to only go so far in calming the situation.
Click below for some of what Carton and Boomer said in responding to Mike Friday morning.
No need to thank me for the free ad here, Mark Chernoff, Mike, Craig and Boomer. Just doing my job, such as it is.
And, yo, Mike, if you're going to bash them back this afternoon, please do it early. It's my birthday and I plan to turn off my radio early to celebrate.
Carton: "It wasn't disrespectful at all. We weren't taking a shot at anybody. We were just discussing how literally everybody in the building was going to get a shot to try out with Mike, so Mike can find the right guy or gal and move forward with the show . . . Unfortunately, Mike took that as some kind of insult and unleashed a vicious attack against me and Boomer both personally and professionally.
"Honestly, we're not looking forward to getting in some kind of all-out war, but it was made acutely aware to Mike that if that's what he wants, we're in. And we will indulge him in that if that's the direction he wants to go, and it will not be pretty for either side. We don't want it to happen, but if that's the way it's going to go, that's the way it's going to go."
Regarding the phone call between Carton and Francesa: "It was heated. I'm not going to lie to you. There were loud voices going back and forth. And as far as the five minute thing, and I said it to Mike: 'The clock's ticking. Go ahead.' I honestly think if Mike could do it again he would not say what he said yesterday. Mike is under an undue amount of pressure to keep the high ratings he's had with Chris obviously all those years. And clearly, he's a very important part of what we do at the FAN. He's been here a lot longer than me or you, right? We understand that kind of pressure. We were here Day One, and let's be honest, we had no on-air support, did not happen. And yet we battled through it and knock on wood we're having a great time and being successful, OK."
Carton and Boomer then disputed Francesa's assertion that the morning team had failed to attract a TV simulcast offer, which Boomer called "a flat-out lie." They said MSG made an offer to the show early in its history, but WFAN turned it down.
The morning hosts also disputed the notion that they have gone to TV entities looking for a simulcast deal.
Regarding the notion Carton kisses Mike's behind around the station, Carton said he has had only three conversations with Francesa since joining WFAN.
Carton said Francesa invited him onto the afternoon show Friday to do NFL picks with him in an effort to make peace. Then he reiterated the theory about Mike feeling the pressure, which could well cause Francesa to boil over yet again.
"I think he truly does want to make amends and break bread with us, and have an on-air relationship," Carton said.
"Why not? Why wouldn't you?" Boomer said.
More from Carton: "We'd like to be able to poke fun at Mike, and we'd like it if Mike pokes fun at us. We have thick skin and can go back and forth. But yesterday's attack was an uncalled-for, vicious, personal attack, which we're not going to tolerate. And I hope that Mike has come to his senses somewhat. If he wants a war, he's got it, 100 percent. We will indulge him in that starting today. I assume he doesn't want it. We're not looking forward to it, but we'll engage him in it if he wants it. And hopefully from this point on we can all just get along and do our own thing."
More: "We hope it doesn't happen again, but if it happens again there will not be any type of, 'Hey, let's all get along.' It will be very bad."
More: "Now the question is, should I go on the show this afternoon and do NFL picks with him?"
Boomer: "Absolutely not. Save your picks for this show."