Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and Suzyn Waldman are two of the most important figures in WFAN history. Their induction into the Radio Hall of Fame this November is long overdue.
That they will enter radio immortality together is notable, according to New York Daily News columnist Bob Raissman. In a weekend column feting both, Raissman revisited a past brouhaha involving the two. Waldman confronted Russo in 2007 after he and former partner Mike Francesa mocked Waldman’s infamous on-air reaction to Roger Clemens’ shock return to the Yankees via a surprise appearance in George Steinbrenner’s stadium box (Raissman had reported this in the past).
Russo, and his partner Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa, who was inducted into Radio Hall of Fame in 2018, repeatedly replayed audio of Waldman celebrating the return of Clemens, adding their cutting commentary, goofing on her. Prior to a Subway Series game at Shea Stadium, Waldman sought out Russo near the radio booth and confronted him.
Russo told Waldman: “We were just having some fun (playing the Clemens audio).”
Waldman said she hoped he “had his two days of fun because you have ruined my life in the process.”
Dog followed Waldman and tried calming her down. Instead, she dropped two F-Bombs on Russo and punctuated her “remarks,” accusing Doggie of ”talking behind my back for 20 years.”
Waldman was unfairly maligned for her call. Was it a bit over the top? Yes. Way over the top, in fact. But remember: The Yankees were still the Yankees then. Hal Steinbrenner wasn’t pinching pennies and Joey Gallo wasn’t inexplicably being run out there every other day back then. The Boss still had his fastball and it was still the greatest show on Earth. A show Waldman and broadcast partner John Sterling were very much part of.
Waldman was reacting naturally to what was a wildly unnatural occurrence. Clemens taking the microphone during the seventh inning stretch in Steinbrenner’s box to address the Yankee Stadium crowd and announce his return? That was done to be A Big Deal. Waldman, who admittedly was close to Clemens and clearly slanted toward the Yankees, reacted as such.
Perhaps Waldman did not react in the same way a more cynical or even-keel person would in the same spot. But it was her way. The outcry and outrage against her was cruel and misogynistic, and never would have occurred had Sterling made the call instead. Russo (and Francesa and Craig Carton and Opie and Anthony and whoever else) were wrong in the way they behaved.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]