WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Nationals radio play-by-play announcer Charlie Slowes cast himself into a media war of words with Sirius XM and MLB Network host Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo Tuesday afternoon.
Their exchange — made up of a series of direct and indirect shots — dates back to Slowes’ radio call of Jayson Werth’s game-winning catch to seal a 5-2 Nationals victory over the Mets last Friday.
To set the scene, it was the top of the 9th inning, and Mets Eric Young, Jr. and Juan Lagares were on first and second with two outs, when Daniel Murphy ripped a liner toward the top of the right field fence.
Werth, you may remember, reeled in the potential game-tying ball with a leap and a grab for the game’s final out.
Slowes, at the time, seemed uncertain whether Werth had in fact secured the ball in his glove.
“Soriano delivers, and a swing and a long drive to right field,” Slowes announced. “Werth going back, warning track, at the fence, he leaps … and … it’s gone … or did he catch it? He caught it! Werth has it! The game is over! A Curly W’s in the books! He reacted like, no reaction, but the pitchers in the bullpen jumped up and down and Werth pulls it back in.
“A game-saving catch at the fence, and a Curly W’s in the books. The Nationals have won the game by the score of 5-2. That one looked like it might get out of here. Werth, who stands pretty tall, needed all of that 6-foot-5-inch height, and reaches over the fence and pulls it back in. Bang! Zoom! A Curly W’s in the books. The Nationals on the field to celebrate. The final score: The Washington Nationals, 5, the New York Mets, 2.”
That could have been the end of it, but it wasn’t.
Three days later, as Slowes was set to appear on MLB Network’s ‘The Rundown,’ the Nationals play-by-play couldn’t help but overhear another MLB Network host, Russo, ripping him for his Werth-game-saving call on “High Heat,” the show preceding the broadcast he was about to join.
Now, in fairness to Russo, it’s not like he was intentionally targeting Slowes. He was targeting all the announcers, it would appear.
And in a strange twist of irony, in the specific segment, called, “Curtain Calls” — a collection of the “Best Calls of the Weekend” — each video clip is set up by Russo’s in-studio co-host, none other than former Nationals sideline reporter Kristina Akra.
“A Zero. A zero for Charlie,” Russo said. “Now, that’s the John Sterling school. Is it gone? Gone? It was a fly ball to right! Gone. That’s a zero for Charlie. I know he’s your pal. He’ll never call in again. That’s a zero. That’s a bad call.”
“Hey, you gotta get it right,” Akra placated Russo. “You gotta get it right. That’s our first of that kind where we thought it was out, but it wasn’t out.”
This portion of the segment can be found in the beginning of the video, courtesy of MLB Network.
The next day, Slowes elaborated during a hit with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.
“I’m standing there listening to myself getting hammered at the tail end of his show, and so I’m thinking ‘that’s great,’” Slowes explained. “He has no idea probably who I am, whether I’m the radio or the TV guy, whether I’m in a good broadcast location or nine stories high trying to see that play in the ninth inning at the end of the game.
“And I think everyone in the ballpark had a split decision as to whether Werth caught the ball or whether it went over the fence. And he kind of slumped as he caught it, which would be like the reaction of somebody who didn’t catch and it went over the wall – he didn’t show any motion, he didn’t show the ball, and I was right on the play, as opposed to maybe a split second behind, and thought for a split second it was gone. And so that was the call.
“So he does this show, and I guess they can’t fill an hour with his great content, and it’s five minutes less of his hysterical illiterate screaming – which is his thing, which is unlistenable for me – and now they’re simulcasting his show on XM Radio, which makes it even more painful, because that’s an hour less of [Mike] Ferrin and [Jim] Duquette. Can you believe that?
Anyway, I just think, that’s the way he’s gonna fill his show. And I thought, ‘You know, okay, he’s like anybody else.’ For one second, could he do what we do every day, and better still, if he was doing it, would anyone comprehend a single word of what he’s saying? I just thought, you know, that’s unnecessary. And a lot of the guys that he’s critiquing are waiting to go on and do reports on ‘The Rundown’ on the same network. It’s kind of like if I was waiting to go on “Lavar and Dukes” and you guys were trashing me on your show.
“So, really, there’s no thing between me and the Mad Dog, because he’s going to rip everybody, because that’s what he does, but maybe there was thing between me and him. Because it’s not just me; he’s going to do it all play-by-play guys. And nobody’s 100 percent perfect in what they’re doing all the time, but I think that’s kind of an unnecessary segment, from my view.”
Update: Wednesday, May 21 at 11:17 a.m.
Russo responded to Slowes’ response on his Sirius XM show later Tuesday afternoon, saying (via Dan Steinberg), “And listen, the audience doesn’t care, but if you want to start a little war, I’ll be very happy to start it. I’ll start any war you want.” Read Russo’s full 7-minute war rant here.