Chris "Mad Dog" on his SiriusXM Radio show Photo credit: SiriusXM

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is firing back after he was torched for dumping on the fanfare surrounding Shohei Ohtani vs. Mike Trout in the World Baseball Classic.

The 2023 World Baseball Classic had a storybook ending. Shohei Ohtani vs Mike Trout with a championship on the line was epic. Even WBC detractors recognized how special it was to watch arguably the two best baseball players in the world, who are MLB teammates, face off against each other in the final at-bat of the WBC.

Russo, however, a baseball historian and die-hard fan of the sport, wasn’t impressed. Not only was he not impressed, he went on ESPN’s First Take the morning after and brutalized the moment, claiming the WBC finale between Japan and the USA was a dreadful game and Ohtani vs Trout was a terrible at-bat.

“The game was awful!” Russo ranted on First Take. “That game was a bad game, I was bored stiff! It was two outs, nobody on. It wasn’t like the bases were loaded, it wasn’t like he was the winning run at the plate, it wasn’t like he fouled off any pitches! He didn’t keep the at-bat alive by fouling off tough pitches! He swung and missed! They’re making this at-bat out to be the greatest at-bat in the history of Major League Baseball! It’s March 21st! Can we take it easy?!”

Baseball fans were expectedly outraged over the hot take, which is fine. Completely downplaying a storybook moment was a take that welcomed debate and criticism. But demanding to have him fired, or angrily suggesting he should receive physical harm, is excessive. And Russo fired back on his SiriusXM Radio show.

“The idea that you can’t disagree with the recent guy who thinks he knows everything about baseball, the analytical guy who goes with data, the former player or the current player who wants to chime in, that if you have a difference of opinion, that you should be taken off the air, taken out back and shot, ‘What a joke, this is a pathetic take,’ that is absolutely absurd,” Russo said.

“If you have a baseball opinion and I think it’s a bad opinion, I am not gonna scream and yell that you should be taken off the air, your job should be taken. How about if someone writes a story in The Athletic and that person, he or she doesn’t know her ass or his ass from an elbow, I’m not gonna sit there and say they should be fired just because I might disagree with the premise of the story. It’s ridiculous.”

Russo may have had a bad take, but it’s not a fireable offense. He didn’t say anything offensive or belligerent. He garnered attention with a polarizing sports take, one that he actually believes. Russo’s employers, ESPN, MLB Network and SiriusXM, should relish that.

Sports media would be completely baron of hosts if we removed every personality who gave a bad take on a podcast, radio or TV.  So unless your idea of entertainment is listening to someone read the Baseball Almanac on a loop, fans have to accept that sports hosts are going to have bad takes and live to see another day behind the mic.

[Mad Dog Unleashed via Jimmy Traina]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to