Just one month. That is how long we have left until the Tony Paige reign of terror on WFAN wraps up. I need to continue celebrating the end of his awful radio show, and also explain how terrible his program really is to those who don’t spend their overnights listening.
For years Tony has joked about how fans are “on the ledge” when they panic about a team. He talks about how the ledge is full when things don’t go well. This is pretty much deep analysis by his standards. Tony also likes to say that he will make fans think by coming up with a topic. Usually this happens if he feels like nobody will call and there is an extra need for him to urge the hardcore overnight listening audience to participate. It reeks of desperation and incompetence.
Joe Benigno never came up with some corny topic and begged listeners to chime in on a specific survey question just because the previous evening was a slow sports night. Paige has even said that when both baseball teams win there are usually not many callers complaining, so he prefers when at least one team loses. He gets excited when neither one wins. Even though he’ll try to claim that he roots for both teams. I recall a number of times that prove otherwise. He wanted the Mets to lose ten straight after firing Willie Randolph, and didn’t want a Mets win when Vargas pitched. Sounds like one loyal fan.
Aaron Heilman left the Mets following a 3-8 season in 2008. Tony often stated that he would win 23 games in his first season with a new team. One assumes that there was some sarcasm or at least exaggeration, but Paige seemed somewhat serious. I think Tony honestly believed that Heilman would do well. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would have congratulated himself and repeatedly reminded us of his prediction if it was anywhere close to happening. I remember this well because Tony constantly said it. Not just daily. Paige usually would repeat himself after about 5-10 minutes. This became a crutch for him. That’s how the show would usually go. Lots of repeating. If there occasionally were callers, they usually brought very little to the table.
I was very tempted to call and say that I was quite sure about Heilman not going on to win 23 games in 2009. I’m pretty sure that Tony would not have accepted a bet. Heilman went 4-4 in 2009. He won a total of 13 games in his three seasons after leaving the Mets. I wonder if we could have made a bet about Heilman getting 23 more victories before his career ended. Tony would have lost either way.
One great example of a regular caller to Tony is Terry from Amenia. Paige mistakenly calls him Terry from Armenia. The guy lives in New York. Dutchess County. Not Eurasia. This has gone on for many years, and really sums up the host. Nobody corrects Tony. They have had ridiculous conversations. Terry listens to baseball on the radio, and apparently other sports as well. One time Terry spoke about listening to the Patriots winning a Super Bowl with field goals in a blizzard. Tony “corrected” him by saying that it was the AFC Championship game. Also not true. I think we can all talk about fond memories of the many classic Super Bowls that were played in horrible snowstorms. Obviously I’m being facetious.
Tony and Terry have also discussed the 1985 World Series. An obvious wrong call was made. Terry, who again apparently was not watching or hasn’t seen the replay in recent years, talked about how today they would catch the mistake but back then there were not many cameras or the quality has improved. This didn’t happen when all screens were black and white with no replay. It was known within seconds that a terrible call had been made. However, plays were not reviewed or challenged back then. The umpire simply made a really bad call. Terry makes terrible calls to Tony almost every week. That’s the irony. He just doesn’t understand what happened in the World Series and NFL playoffs. Also, he doesn’t realize that his contributions are comical. Terry keeps begging Tony to stay. Maybe Terry at least knows that somebody like JJ would catch his mistakes and call him out.
Another overnight regular is Stewart from Brooklyn. He called back recently after Tony hung up on him. Stewart changed his name, but the voice is pretty recognizable. Not many people address Tony as sir, so that was another telltale. Of course he got right back in with no callers on the line. If you couldn’t figure out that Stewart was on again, he praised the caller who was just on. I don’t ever remember another caller talking about how great Stewart’s call was. It could only be Stewart.
A caller asked Tony if he was going to Fanfest last month. Paige was apparently not planning on it. Tony didn’t seem to be aware of the event, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that nobody associated with WFAN invited him. Eventually Tony decided to show up. Even if management hadn’t asked him.
Tony took score predictions before NFL games and wrote them down. I can remember my boss criticizing this. Actually, I thought it was okay. A great show would have some other highlights, but at least Tony was being fan friendly. More importantly, he documented what people predicted. Callers predict scores. This happens a lot. I remember somebody called in the afternoon and spoke about how the Stars were a good NHL team that had a chance in the postseason.
He called back after they had playoff success, but of course his call had been forgotten. Not by me. I just wasn’t hosting. So, taking predictions and then giving proper credit after the fact isn’t an awful idea in my opinion. Naturally, Tony screwed this up. He forgot his pad one day and wrote scores somewhere else. People called in the following week to brag about their predictions. Paige did not have them. In fact, Tony told callers that they had not given their picks to him. He accused at least one person of being mistaken, and said the call must have been to another host.
It reminded me of a scene from Friends. Phoebe wrote about Chandler and Monica. However, she used fake names. Phoebe wrote down their conversations. Marsha and Chester were not on the same page. She knew there would be a problem. The two thought their meeting was supposed to take place at different times. This was basically me watching Tony and callers from a distance. I saw it coming.
Going over these great moments makes me feel like Gorilla Monsoon roasting Bobby Heenan on his Prime Time Wrestling anniversary. I’ll enjoy these final weeks. You really can’t get this type of entertainment anywhere else.