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All eyes on Mike Francesa, CBS

Mike Francesa at his home in Manhasset on

Mike Francesa at his home in Manhasset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. Credit: Chris Ware

Mike Francesa has made it clear he is not a fan of Fox's frequent pre-emptions of his TV simulcast, so when he said Tuesday he had been threatened with a lawsuit if he persisted, most listeners assumed the threat had come from Fox.

But the story turned out to be juicier than that, because he in fact was referring to CBS Radio, which owns WFAN and is his employer -- and which has significant revenue at stake in the Fox deal.

It was not the first time Francesa has taken on the company. Most memorably, he and former partner Chris Russo ripped CBS for its handling of Don Imus' departure in 2007.

Still, this sort of public spat is unusual, and suggests a relationship that bears watching. (Francesa is under contract through early 2018.)

The back-and-forth Tuesday between him and the company -- which denied it had threatened a lawsuit -- was the latest sign of tension.

Another came in December, when he said he "would not consider the CBS Sports Network an alternative at any time," for his simulcast, unlike his WFAN morning-show counterparts, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.

"There is absolutely zero chance I would go there because I don't think it fits the program."

CBS was not pleased. Stay tuned.

 

Pedro makes his TV pitch

Every network, including Turner itself, always is on the lookout for a breakout studio analyst star on the order of TNT's Charles Barkley. But there is only one Sir Charles.

Still, Turner hopes it has unearthed a baseball equivalent in Pedro Martinez, who will work his second postseason and who appears to have the goods to become a TV standout.

"He's a natural, a no-brainer," said Craig Barry, Turner's senior VP of production. "He's got what it takes. I think his ceiling is huge. He brings an honesty and a sensibility about not taking himself so seriously, not to mention having an innate expertise in baseball, specifically around pitching."

OK, so Barry is biased. But he also is right.

"I do like it, I enjoy it, especially with the group of people they've put together," Martinez said. "It's a lot more work than I thought . . . I just try to see my perspective and then I relay it to you guys honestly."

What makes Martinez's quotability more impressive is he is doing it in his second language.

"He's animated and he is passionate and in whatever language he's speaking, it comes across," Barry said. "He's a guy you want to listen to. He's just that likeable."

 

Coughlin, Ryan are Snoopy's teammates Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan have overlapped as New York's pro football coaches for six seasons now, the longest such stretch since Bill Parcells and Joe Walton in the 1980s.

But other than Snoopy Bowls and one huge regular-season game in 2011, we rarely see them interact.

Until now! The two will make a joint appearance beginning next Sunday in a commercial for MetLife, marking the first time the company has leveraged its relationships with the teams that play in the stadium it sponsors in such a way.

The spot was recorded the day after the Snoopy Bowl in August, but because of conflicting schedules, the coaches did their parts separately and were made to look as if they were sitting next to one another through the magic of video.

Coughlin is not the acting natural Ryan is -- remember, Rex had a cameo in Adam Sandler's "That's My Boy" in 2012 -- but the Giants coach was intrigued by the chance for his grandchildren to see him talk to Charlie Brown.

He just has to hope the Giants start winning and he does not end up with rocks in his Halloween bag come late October.

 

Darling sees reason for hope

The long grind of another losing Mets season is not always fun for the men who bring you the games on television, even if unlike you, they are being paid to watch.

But as he winds down his ninth year in the SNY booth -- eight of which have concluded without the Mets in the playoffs -- analyst Ron Darling said this lost season has been easier to take than most.

"This is one of the more enjoyable years I've had doing Mets games in a long time," he said.

Why? "[Juan] Lagares, watching him play every day has been a joy. [Zack] Wheeler, going from the beginning of the season and turning it around . . . [Jacob] deGrom's season, of course, has just been historical . . . [Jeurys] Familia, [Jenrry] Mejia, [Vic] Black. It's been fun."

Darling has been calling playoff games for Turner since 2007; he hopes someday to call a Mets game deep into October.

"I had my time; the '86 team is talked about ad nauseam," he said. "I'm a broadcaster now. I want to broadcast a championship team . . . I want that for David Wright someday, where maybe he will have another shot at playing in the postseason."

New York Sports