July is a tough month for sports talk radio. The veterans don’t report to NFL training camp until the end of the month, NBA free agency talk cools after the first week, and this month is the most sluggish and steaming month of the MLB schedule. It’s the only one of the three major American sports leagues in action. Teams play nearly every day, so while there is something to talk about for local radio shows, who wants to listen to four hours about a booted ball at second base, or in the case of the Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio with no Michael Kay, the worst hitter on the best team in MLB?
This time of year is when it takes art to put together an interesting sports talk radio program, and Don LaGreca had a Prince playing “Purple Rain” at Syracuse in 1985 moment. Earlier in the show, he dismissed the gripe that some New York Yankees fans have about Joey Gallo — currently batting .166 with an 82 OPS+, and an 88 OPS+ since the Yankees traded for him last season.
LaGreca’s argument is that the Yankees have by far the best record in MLB and can do something with him before the playoffs if he continues to struggle at the plate, but it’s not a significant issue. That wasn’t harsh enough for New York Mets fan Mike from Manalapan, N.J. He was adamant that Gallo is hurting the Yankees and that it is a massive problem. LaGreca passionately disagreed with the man and would go on a rant that should be required listening for any student hosting a college sports radio show who wants to pursue that career path (after a strong suggestion to stay away from sports talk radio as a profession.)
Ol’ Mike from Manalapan started the call by saying LaGreca and the show’s other co-host Peter Rosenberg — of Hot 97 fame — need Michael Kay back to save the show, which didn’t sit well with LaGreca, especially after Mike also called him a moron. He says flatly that Gallo is not hurting the Yankees and keeps asking Mike over and over to describe how Gallo is harming them. Mike grows more and more agitated that LaGreca is dismissing his point that a .166 hitter is harming the team, but LaGreca becomes furious. He actually exclaimed during the halfway point of this rant “I guarantee you on the souls of my children he will not be on this team in the postseason if he continues hitting the way he’s hitting!”
Over the top, most definitely. His children’s souls aren’t worth a July sports talk radio argument about the Yankees, but LaGreca was just getting warmed up. He went to the old trope of “You’re not answering my question,” because he disagreed with Mike who wouldn’t move off of his point. Then a cartoon train whistle should have gone off in LaGreca’s head when Mike said, “Why don’t you go ask Michael Kay, the guy carrying your career.”
LaGreca’s mouth opened up so wide that it looked like he wanted to swallow the microphone whole as he screamed out into the distance so loud that radio satellites might have picked it up in Minnesota, “Oh stop with your Michael Kay!” He then listed his bonafides into that microphone — how he’s called New York Rangers games and did pre- and post-game for the Jets.
I don’t know if his podcast is top 50 in every country on the planet, or if he is indeed a fabulous driver but I do agree that a lot of people would die to have that silver hair of his, it’s spectacular.
You would think that the perfect punctuation to the rant would be when he said, “That’s what Q*Bert was saying when I was tripping on mesk in ‘84.” Go to commercial right there, it gets no better, life doesn’t get much better than that. Then after a few moments of banter with Rosenberg, LaGreca spits into the microphone with the comedic timing of George Carlin, “I hate you.”
That is how you do it, people. Someone calls you a moron on a program you’re hosting, mouse in the house, go to work. Make every hyperbolic statement that enters your mind and take the argument eventually to “I’m a fabulous driver.” That’s how you make July baseball matter and keep people in their cars through the break in a time when a $10 a month fee eliminates commercials on most platforms. The way Prince just kept making that guitar sing higher and higher in Syracuse is the way LaGreca took that rant to a place of nirvana. A true masterpiece.
Also, Joey Gallo has a lifetime OPS+ of 112 and hit 38 home runs last season.