The following article, Radio Host Viciously Mocked After His World Series Wager Came Back to Haunt Him, was first published on Flag And Cross.
So much for keeping one’s word. But perhaps some good may come of it.
Prior to Monday’s Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, flamboyant baseball talk-show host Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo promised to retire if the underdog Arizona Diamondbacks rallied from a 3-2 series deficit to defeat the favored Philadelphia Phillies and thereby advance to the World Series.
Arizona shockingly won both games in Philadelphia, but Russo did not retire as promised, and the host of MLB Network’s “High Heat” has taken heat for it.
Apparently, we still expect people to keep their promises. That almost sounds like a “moral law” or something. In any case, more on that in a bit.
Russo made this particular promise Monday on his Sirius XM radio show. No doubt he believed he had good reason for confidence. After all, Arizona entered the playoffs with only 84 regular-season victories, tied for 3rd-fewest in Major League Baseball history.
“If they win the next two days,” Russo said of the Diamondbacks, “if they win the next two games and win this series in seven games — if they win — I will retire on the spot.”
For good measure, Russo posted a clip of his promise to social media.
“I stand by my promise!” he tweeted.
— Chris Mad Dog Russo (@MadDogUnleashed) October 24, 2023
In Game 6 later that day, Arizona jumped on Philadelphia starting pitcher Aaron Nola for three runs in the second inning and cruised to a 5-1 win.
Thus, the tension mounted ahead of Tuesday’s winner-take-all Game 7.
First, when reminded of his personal stake in Game 7’s outcome, Russo actually modified his promise. On Tuesday’s “High Heat,” he explained that he meant to say he would step away from radio only.
“That’s radio. That’s not TV,” he said.
Mad Dog Russo clarified his comments from yesterday about retiring on the spot if the Arizona Diamondbacks defeat Philadelphia in the NLCS. Evidently, he meant a RADIO-ONLY retirement!
He will still permit himself to appear on High Heat and First Take on television. pic.twitter.com/LzXWZqKZb1
— Funhouse (@BackAftaThis) October 24, 2023
Either way, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo took Russo’s promise as motivation.
“I would love to see him quit if we won today. You know what I mean?” a smiling Lovullo said to laughs at a pregame press conference.
“It really excites me to know that we’re playing in Game 7, and we’re right on the verge of doing something that’s unbelievable, and we love proving naysayers wrong,” Lovullo later added.
Arizona sports anchor Cameron Cox posted a clip of Lovullo’s comments to social media platform X.
Want to run through a wall?
LISTEN TO THIS from Torey Lovullo….
“I would love to see him quit if we won today. You know what I mean? There’s… pic.twitter.com/z351f9NeLE
— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) October 24, 2023
Against all odds, Arizona won Game 7, 4-2, and advanced to the World Series beginning Friday against the Texas Rangers.
During the locker room celebration afterward, champagne-soaked Diamondbacks players chanted “Mad Dog! Mad Dog!”
Now the Dbacks are dancing on Mad Dog’s grave!
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 25, 2023
Alas, Russo showed up at work Wednesday on Sirius XM radio, which he said he would not do even in his modified promise.
“I have returned! I have returned!” he yelled, making a general spectacle of himself.
— Chris Mad Dog Russo (@MadDogUnleashed) October 25, 2023
“Very unsurprisingly,” according to Arizona Sports KMVP-FM, “he is not standing by his promise.”
In fact, Russo appeared on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM radio show to renegotiate his promise yet again. Here, Russo agreed to public humiliation and, more encouragingly, pledged to donate to Diamondbacks’ charities.
Whether he keeps that pledge will be anyone’s guess.
We might approach this story from one of three different angles.
First, there is the “disappointed” approach preferred by scolding scribes everywhere. Since I, too, have broken promises in my life, however, I will not venture down that self-righteous road.
Second, we might opt for a more lighthearted-yet-still-instructive lesson. In fact, we have one available. Oddly enough, it involves a comparison to an incident that occurred more than 30 years ago involving, coincidentally, the Philadelphia Phillies.
On June 8, 1989, the Pittsburgh Pirates raced out to a 10-0 first-inning lead over the host Phillies. At that point, Pirates’ broadcaster Jim Rooker promised to walk home to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia if the Phillies rallied to win.
Of course, Philadelphia did exactly that, winning 15-11, thanks in part to two home runs by infielder Steve Jeltz, who hitherto had hit only two home runs in his entire career. Strange things happen in baseball.
Logistics, of course, made it impossible for Rooker to walk home that night or the next day. He had a job to do. Baseball teams play nearly every day during the season.
Nonetheless, from Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 1989, after the season ended, Rooker kept his word. He made the 327-mile walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and raised approximately $100,000 for charity in the process.
“Think before you speak, even in baseball, and even when something seems, well, unthinkable,” Jason Foster of Sporting News wrote on the 30th anniversary of Rooker’s promise.
No doubt that advice rings true to Russo.
Finally, the flamboyant talk-show host’s (broken) promise reminds us of what some might call a “moral law.” In his 1952 book “Mere Christianity,” legendary Christian author C.S. Lewis called it “The Law of Human Nature.”
This is the thing we expect everyone to know — the law that transcends culture or nearly any kind of context.
In fact, not only did everyone expect Russo to keep his promise, but Russo himself knew that he ought to keep it. Otherwise, why modify the promise to radio only? Then, why “renegotiate” for humiliation and charity on Howard Stern’s show?
In other words, why not simply tell everyone that he would never dream of giving up his career over a moment of weakness and stupidity involving something as insignificant as a baseball game and then add that they can shove their expectation of kept promises?
Instead, Russo had excuses and alternatives — plain acknowledgments that the moral law exists and that he expects himself to follow it.
Lewis described this “Law of Human Nature” and the way we acknowledge it with our excuses.
“That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money — the one you have almost forgotten — came when you were very hard up,” Lewis wrote.
“And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done — well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be,” he added.
Thus, whether or not Russo keeps his promise, we know that he should. Moreover, we know that he knows he should. But we cannot judge him for not doing so. That is the beauty of Christianity.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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