Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim and Chris Russo on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

Stephen A. Smith knows a thing or two about playing up to his audience. But even he never made Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s mistake of wagering retirement.

After vowing to retire if the Arizona Diamondbacks advanced to the World Series, Russo went to work on Wednesday. For those wondering why he didn’t pay his bet, don’t worry, Russo plans on making it up to you by parading down a Manhattan city street in a Diamondbacks bikini on The Howard Stern Show.

And if that isn’t enough of a punishment, Stephen A. Smith made Russo into an intern on First Take. Russo reluctantly sat down on the set of First Take Wednesday morning and claimed his retirement promise was a “radio thing” and not meant for TV. While Smith argued that he can’t divide his career, Molly Qerim nonchalantly handed Russo her glasses to be cleaned.

“That’s right, absolutely,” Smith said. “Chores, chores. By the way, everybody, this is what we’re gonna do on behalf of the Diamondbacks, this show is going to be dedicated to the Diamondbacks shutting you up since you threatened to retire. So you can speak, but you know what you will be doing? You will be running errands throughout the show. If I want some hot chocolate, you’re gonna get me some hot chocolate. If I got some food that I want from my desk, I want you to go to my desk and get it.”

“Suck it up. Suck it up!” Smith scolded Russo. “You went too far! You went too far, Doggy! You went too far. Retire? Really? Really?”

So, for those rooting to see Russo retire, they’ll have to settle for watching him get coffee for Stephen A. Smith, and wearing a bikini for Howard Stern. Fair trade? No one really expected Russo to give up his own channel on SiriusXM, a multimillion-dollar gig, while his career is at peak relevance over a “throwaway line,” did they?

Russo might now owe the Diamondbacks his jobs, but Major League Baseball and the Diamondbacks also owe him a thank you. First Take opening the show with baseball is unheard of. Further, First Take opening the show with the Arizona Diamondbacks previously seemed impossible. Unfortunately for Russo, it took wagering his career to make it happen. But he did it.

This retirement bit captivated baseball and sports fans on social media Tuesday night, and it made the Diamondbacks more nationally discussed than they’ve been in recent years. Russo has to deal with the backlash of not paying his bet, but MLB and the Diamondbacks undoubtedly reaped the benefits of a “throwaway line” from his national radio show.

[First Take]

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