U.S. Open Fans Heckle Tiger Woods




11:13 PM EDT, June 20, 2009

Beer-sodden fans and rain combined for an ugly finish to a long day of golf yesterday, with Tiger Woods and other golfers subjected to drunken heckling as the action at Bethpage Black came to a close.

At 6:42 p.m., dozens of drunken spectators at Hole 10 taunted Woods as he prepared to start his third round in the rain.

“We’re on Long Island, baby, where men are men!” one fan yelled. “Put that umbrella down!”

The taunts were mixed with cheers from the majority of the crowd.

Woods did not respond to the people who were heckling him but tried to quiet the crowd with a “sshh” hand gesture, putting his finger to his lips, as golfers prepared to tee off on the adjacent 12th tee.

“Suck it up, you’ve got your own video game!” someone shouted at Woods.

Some fans, apparently disgusted by the hecklers’ behavior, walked away from the hole. Others told the vocal contingent to quiet down, which had no effect on the verbal abuse.

Minutes later, a group of fans greeted Fred Funk at the 10th hole by shouting his last name as an obscenity.

A little earlier, drunken fans at the seventh hole shouted at golfers, “This Bud’s for you!” On the ninth fairway, drunks called out “you suck” to players while spectators on the other side booed the hecklers.

Concession stands scattered across the course – including the one near the 10th hole – don’t start selling beer until 11 a.m., yet a line already had formed in front of the taps between the 16th and 17th holes well before that. But the late- morning scene was peaceful, giving little indication of what would happen later elsewhere on the course.

Many beer-drinkers Saturday at Bethpage Black were there simply to enjoy the scene.

John O’Shea, John McQue and Cronan Ryan sat on a hillside overlooking Hole 17, leaning back on their elbows and taking slow sips of Budweiser.

“We just had to rest a while to get some beer in us,” said O’Shea, 22, of Manhattan.

“We just needed to relax,” added McQue, 28, of Sunnyside.

– With staff writer Neil Best

Bank of America Throws Ten Million Dollar Super Bowl Party

T H I N K  P R O G R E S S


Just weeks ago, the federal government extended $20 billion to Bank of America to keep it afloat, bringing its total in federal bailout dollars received to $45 billion. ABC News reports, however, that the bank managed to scrounge up millions of dollars to be an NFL sponsor and for “a five day carnival-like” Super Bowl party just outside the stadium:

The event — known as the NFL Experience — was 850,000 square feet of sports games and interactive entertainment attractions for football fans and was blanketed in Bank of America logos and marketing calls to sign up for football-themed banking products. […]

The bank refused to tell ABC News how much it is spending as an NFL corporate sponsor, but insiders have put the figure at close to $10 million. The NFL Experience was on top of that and was inked last summer, according to the bank.

The NFL said it was a “multi-million dollar” event and that it was also spending money to put on the event. A Super Bowl insider said the tents alone cost over $800,000.

The Huffington Post notes that this is the latest in a series of bailed-out banks that continue to spend lavishly on sports sponsorships.

The Mad Dog Leaves Mike and Heads to Satellite Radio


After 19 years, Russo leaves “Mike and the Mad Dog”



8:31 AM EDT, August 15, 2008

“Mike and the Mad Dog,” a New York sports talk radio institution for nearly two decades, has been disconnected.

WFAN abruptly ended the 19-year-old show late yesterday afternoon when it announced to the media that co-host Chris Russo has left the station, leaving Mike Francesa to carry on without him.

Russo had hoped to do a farewell show, but WFAN opted to part ways immediately after releasing him from a contract that would have run through next spring.

The announcement was made after Francesa left the air yesterday, but he said he will answer all questions about it on today’s show.

The news did not come as a surprise; Newsday first reported June 22 that the show likely would end before Labor Day. But it still was an emotional moment for the longtime duo.

“It’s kind of a sad day,” Russo said last night. “It’s a very strange day in my life.”

Said Francesa: “I think it has to sink in. It’ll be very different when I finally get back in the fall.”

He will be on solo today as scheduled; Russo is on vacation.

The reasons for the breakup are multi-faceted, and somewhat murky.

Operations manager Mark Chernoff said all parties agreed “the show has kind of run its course.” But Russo said that was true only to a point.

He said he could have carried on but was motivated to explore other opportunities.

“Basically, I’m looking for a different challenge in my life,” Russo said. “I’m 48 years of age. This might be the last chance I’m going to get for a challenge if I want to take it.”

Russo swore on his children’s lives that he has no firm agreement or contract, but industry sources say he is likely to land at Sirius Satellite Radio for a lucrative deal worth up to $15 million over five years.

“I have four or five options,” he said. “Sirius would be one of them … Obviously, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to leave FAN unless I have something relatively secure.”

Because there will be no farewell show, their final joint appearance was an Aug. 5 remote at Giants camp in Albany. Other than that day, they had not spoken for weeks until Wednesday.

“I told him if I don’t re-sign [with WFAN], it has nothing to do with him and I,” Russo said.

Francesa said the two agreed to talk again when Russo cleans out his office next week.

The hosts’ relationship has been strained in recent months, and at least to some extent, they apparently were ready to move on from each other as well as the show.

“I think the relationship was part of this,” Francesa said, “but I think in the end this was probably more of a different vision about what the future may hold.”

At the same time the station announced that Russo was leaving, it announced a new contract for Francesa, whose deal was believed to be expiring around the end of the year.

Francesa said he will have control over the new-look show, which will unfold in the coming weeks. He will not have a co-host, but he will not sit alone for 5½ hours a day.

“I expect nothing less than to be successful, but I understand it’s a great challenge,” Francesa said. “It won’t be a co-hosting situation. It will be my show, but I want to have personalities and other opinions and other voices.”

Francesa and Russo were the undisputed stars of WFAN after Don Imus was fired last year. Chernoff tried his best to keep them together.

He sat them down in May and again in July before the All-Star Game, the latter time “to see if things were OK. I thought they were, but obviously, there were things that made it tough.”

He said he is confident that Francesa can succeed without Russo.

“Mike’s a strong personality who brings an awful lot to the table,” Chernoff said.

Said Russo: “I’m going to miss the station, the heartbeat, the day-in-and-day-out buzz of New York sports.”

Said Francesa: “I would expect as we get distance from it, we’ll be very proud of what we built and accomplished. But I do also look forward to this [new show].”

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