Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Here it is: My notorious review of Chris Russo's book
OK, by popular demand, I am posting the infamous book review of June 16, 2006, for which Chris Russo never will forgive me. Click below to read it.
First, though, here is a transcript of Tony Kornheiser talking about the potential breakup of "Mike and the Mad Dog" on "Pardon the Interruption" Tuesday:
"There has been media speculation that the long-time New York sports radio stars are splitting up, but Chris Russo came on the air yesterday with Francesa off this week and denied those rumors. I have no idea where this is going. But as someone who has done sports radio, I've always thought that Mike Francesa and Chris Russo are the best who have ever done it."
Said Michael Wilbon: "What a crushing blow to the culture that would be."
Kornheiser: "I like them, I think they're good."Here's the review, which was headlined 'Mad Dog's Book Bites':
By page 9, you get a sense of the level of wit in Chris Russo's new book, "The Mad Dog Hall of Fame."
"His nickname was Mr. Clutch," Russo writes of Jerry West, "and it wasn't because he hated automatic transmissions."
It is not until page 106, though, that the larger lesson is driven home. The subject is Casey Stengel, but it might as well be the author himself:
"Stengel was smarter than he looked. A lot of that babbling idiot stuff was just an act."
"Smart" is an understatement for an amiable, somewhat goofy, fellow who has parlayed a local sports talk show into a national brand.
How else to explain Russo's pre-Father's Day promotional coup yesterday? He capped a frenzied week of flogging by sitting down with Matt Lauer on "Today." Say it ain't so, Katie Couric.
Lauer proposed the book as a late gift idea for Dad, which sprung SportsWatch into action. Warning: Dad deserves better than this.
The first hint of trouble is the lone blurb on the jacket, a forum usually reserved for glowing reviews of the book itself or of the author's other work. It is attributed to Bob Costas and reads:
"Opining about sports in a spirited fashion is Chris Russo's specialty."
True enough, as factual, noncommittal statements go. Much like, "Opining about politics in a spirited fashion is Ann Coulter's specialty."
Or, "Opining about wascally wabbits in a spirited fashion is Elmer Fudd's specialty."
Trouble is, Russo's often entertaining on-air opining does not translate well to the printed page, a place suited to more depth and insight than is radio hot air.
A trivial example that illustrates a sloppy style, including several factual errors: On radio, you can say the Yankees outscored the Pirates by "a billion runs" in the 1960 World Series; in a book, exact numbers are customary.
Russo and co-author Allen St. John offer Top Ten rankings in various historical categories, such as best baseball players, sports moments and sports venues.
You could argue with the lists, but why bother? Any fan with an Internet connection could have done the necessary research for items full of stale, mostly unattributed anecdotes.
Did you know Joe Montana once calmed jittery teammates in a Super Bowl huddle by pointing to John Candy in the stands!
The book could appeal to young fans for whom the oft-told stories might seem fresh. But their dads will realize something is amiss when Russo details the route by which he takes visiting friends to see Yankee Stadium:
"Up the FDR Drive, to the Deegan, down to the GW, and down the West Side Highway."
So for $23.95, you can be both bored and lost.