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Two veteran sports radio souls go behind the glass to tell tales of sweet home Chicago

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Longtime Chicago sports radio producer Randy Merkin tells Nestor the currently empty story of The Windy City scene as all five teams struggle to meet the lofty expectations of first place in The Second City.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

cubs, lonnie, won, chicago, bears, nestor, great, year, talk, sports, team, white sox, places, fans, orioles, people, worked, star, randy, ownership

SPEAKERS

Nestor J. Aparicio, Randy Merkin

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

Welcome home we are wn St. am 1570, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive. We are positively into the summer months all star game week. The first place Baltimore Orioles got in love saying that I waited my whole life to say that we’ll be hosting the Yankees and then we’ll have a break and Luke is eating Max pizza in Wildwood New Jersey. Hope he runs into Flacco down there with the family. The man of the lottery puts on our Maryland crab cake tour, the Gold Rush sevens doublers will be gifted away at fade leaves this Friday, but then again into the future. And we’re doing the oyster tour in September. I’m so excited about all the stuff that we’re doing around here. Couldn’t go into Mako in August. But you know, this baseball thing is awesome in lots and lots of ways. It is sort of rejuvenated relationships. The documentary was released a couple of months ago and people come in and out of my life and I don’t do i They don’t allow me they discriminate against me and don’t allow me to have a press credentials. I don’t go in and out of Chicago and eat pizza with friends and then I lose friends along life’s journey. And then the Cubs come to town. And when it comes come to town, I harken back to my days in Northbrook, Illinois. One on One sports were more chance Cal and Matt and Hagin brought the nasty Nestor on and took away all my sound effects and all sorts of things as I got there, but we went from one on one sports to Sporting News Flash. And I met such cool people. It’s such a gift to me all these years later, we have this page on Facebook where we all get together maybe 4050 of us nerd it up and and I often say and I said this last week to some friends that came to my home and and real friends on the Fourth of July. I said I don’t just want to get together on funerals. I like you guys too much for that. I care about you guys too much. And we did have a we lost a producer, a friend of ours and sporting news radio guy who was very close with Lonnie Williams in recent weeks. So when I saw it at the Chicago Cubs were coming to town. And I couldn’t call Chet Coppock any longer who used to be one of my foils. Anytime we played the Cubs every fourth year, the White Sox twice a year. And I called Jim licky. And I can’t even do his acts like I can’t do the the Lickey thing is a whole different level of Saturday Night Live thing, but he declined to come on because he says he’s retired. And I said, but you have all of this wisdom. You can’t just take that and park it you have to share that wisdom. Jim Leakey so I’m calling you out of calling out all of our one on one sports friends, Randy Merkin I was never my producer but he did produce some of my shows. He was always with with Bruce and Bruce and Papa Joe and but a real Chicago guy who went on to produce things he wrote a beautiful book a couple of years ago about chasing down the stars to make the stars like me and Jay Marriott he looked good. Randy Mark and I you know, I reached out to you and you’re the one that said yes. You know, I still waiting to hear back from somebody Chicago goons out there. The Deep Dish eaters, but I love you, man. How are you? The last time I saw you there was a plague and you were to ESPN. And I have this beautiful picture you and me out on the street with a reflection of the Chicago theater on the glass. And you wrote a book and I feel like I don’t have you on enough because you’re one of those fountains of Midwestern wisdom of all things Chicago History and sports and it is so good to see you and and how was your cookie crumbling?

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Randy Merkin  03:47

Nestor the cookies are crumbling. Great. I appreciate you mentioning that. Boy, Jim, Lucky’s retired guy that that’s that’s unbelievable. Jim. Jim was is one of the my favorite people in this industry.

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:01

Everybody’s you know,

Randy Merkin  04:03

he got all he’s got pinned with he was with Mary Yachty. And when hosting a show with Jay Marriott, he is always kind of tough because you never know what kind of mood Jay is going to be in each day. And Jim just rolled with the punches. Man, I love that guy and his net. His son was one of our interns. Great family. But before we get started, say crazy story. So I play golf a lot. Okay, I just love it. It’s my one vice Nestor is I love golf. And I usually go to the single because none of my friends really play and I dislike going out. I don’t like waiting for people. So I’m playing golf and it’s right after the US Open where Rory blows it. And I’m talking to the guy I’m playing with and I’m like, you know, I actually covered the 98 US Open when paint store beat Phil Mickelson and everyone was going nuts because we didn’t want to stay the extra day back then the US Open was at whole playoff and I’m like he goes oh yeah, we know he goes you don’t mind me asking Who do you cover for so I worked for this The National Network actually had a Northbrook called One on One sports and he looked at me with a smile. He goes, Did you know Lonnie Williams? And I said, I did. I loved Lonnie, and he goes, he was one of my closest friends. And I’m like, tragic, and he was like, Absolutely. Did

Nestor J. Aparicio  05:17

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you figure this out on second hole? Right so early in the day all right, yeah. Yeah. And

Randy Merkin  05:23

you know, we talked I probably the conversation on Lonnie when two holes I knew found a bunch of information I didn’t know about him.

Nestor J. Aparicio  05:30

Yeah, I probably would have lost my issue on the third hole if I’d have found that out. You know,

Randy Merkin  05:35

I told him backstory of Lonnie and just you know, what kind of guy he was at the network and anyways, it was this crazy.

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Nestor J. Aparicio  05:42

He was a dog man. He was like Phil Garner he was like scrap iron. He was like getting stuff done. You know what I mean? He could lay down the button hit the sack flyer hit the three run home run for you know, I mean, that’s you Lonnie was

Randy Merkin  05:57

and you know, Nestor made me think because back in the day we used to do every winter during Christmas break we got the crew together you know I would just put an invite out we’d go towards

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:08

that Italian place up on that Papa Joe like right we went we went to

Randy Merkin  06:12

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a bunch of different places and we’ll just get whoever wanted to come I think the most we had was like 30 people showed up one time well let’s do it again this week. Here’s my here’s my idea it’s too late this summer to do it now. Calling the social maybe next summer we get we have a big to do all right. Where we we get a hotel you know do it like maybe a dinner and then a breakfast next morning or something like that? I

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:35

gotta pee quads and get pizza because that was lonnis place okay and Lonnie sent me there and no offense to Pizza John’s squires anywhere here and but my favorite pizza on Earth is P quads pizza in in Chicago and it’s because he sent me there long after we work together this is when he was a cop on Facebook. I was going in for like a Pearl Jam concert or something and he’s like sent me there so sausage we got to do it the right way beer the whole deal right? But I want I want to the whole crew kid together like you know people far you know Bobby camps in Arizona. I’ll drive through Cleveland and pick Bernards ass off right with me all Frederick’s who still lives

Randy Merkin  07:19

out here. Calderon lives out here. We’ll get into Hagin in town, the Williams that are out here. We could do it. We could

Nestor J. Aparicio  07:25

come in, um, in will sing karaoke. It’d be good. So Randy Merkin worked with me. And I just wanna say this about Lonnie, without getting weepy because I tend to do that and he’s cases. Lonnie produced but when I had all of these big stars on unlike anybody listening, I did a documentary in the winter. Please go watch it. My big thanks to curio I am a blunt person, but spent a little time with how I wound up at one on one sports in the station and nasty Nestor and free to purchase all the crap that’s going on in my life over 55 years. But I went back and you know, looked at that period of my life. And those couple of years in the newsletters, they sort of linked me to getting the job in Chicago and all the places we went and the people we met and pictures and all of that stuff. Lonnie was the one and I love Bernard and Cliff and Justin, all those guys. But Lonnie would always say, I’m putting that on tape for you. I’m grabbing that one for you. I’m grabbing that one for you. And he would send me these many discs full of interviews of me with Vin Scully and Bob Euchre. And Jesse Jackson and George Brad and like all in I mean, hundreds of Hall of Famers of all sports stuff that when the plague happened, and I was looking to really build out Baltimore positive and the repository of all the people I’ve talked to, and what are years of doing this, I found hall of famers and interviews that I’ve forgotten. And the two that got away. John Wooden and I shared the same birthday October 14, and he was my idol hero still is I mean, when I had Bill Walton on we talked about John Wooden Well, you know, like anybody that was connected to John Wooden, we talked about John Wooden and I had John Wooden was on the show one day on our birthday, our mutual birthday, we call him wish him happy birthday. He did 20 minutes with me, and we never had to tape so it’s missing. And then I had Sammy Hagar on and it was missing and I would always like ask him if you ever find that if you’re and Lonnie for the million interviews he gave me that I have this repository. He felt so awful about the John Wooden when evaporating somewhere and you could speak to how things evaporated. Randy You know, like it was quite an office. Yeah,

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Randy Merkin  09:40

it was and things things did disappear. But you know that that place Nestor Leigh, and you know, both of us have worked a long time in this industry. It was I mean, and I loved my time at ESPN and I but nothing like Sporting News one on one sports. I mean, we were always fun. During the good fight right early on, no one knew who the heck we were. And like I was always like pumping out our chest to try to let people know who we were and the product we produced. The people we worked with was second to none. I mean, it was just fantastic. Oh, because

Nestor J. Aparicio  10:14

every one of you ever I love every one of you. Well, one of you I don’t love but every other one of you. Well, you know, Randy Merkin is here. And he was one of the producers and your Chicago guy. I guess the reason I reached you not just to pay tribute, the Lonnie and the Papa Joe and you know, tell old stories just my reach to Chicago at that point in my life. I was looking to be rich and famous and get syndicated and be Stephen A and by the way, I found tapes of Stephen A sitting through an NBA Draft stuff in the 1999 in our studios. But like, I look back at it and I think about Chicago and flying in the Midway and flying into O’hare and come into that little studio up in Northbrook past the house where Ferris Bueller and home alone and all those those parts of that neighborhood, but Michael Jordan and the grandeur of that and the Cubs trying to win Harry Kerry was still alive, then the White Sox were sort of chasing things down at that point, like the Blackhawks were in disarray and watch them put the games on TV, something like 25 years, then you think about the cities and what they go through. I mean, the Orioles were a big deal when I signed. That’s what I mean like you Angelo’s 9096 97 They’re winning and how much cities change I mean, and how things change? And how like the cops come in here as sort of door Mattie all over Canada some sort of weird way. What is the status Chicago sports because when I think of places that burn for sports, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago was one of those places where it just to add a built in part of in the bear skit, and like all of that, and you mentioned the bears, but like really a built in part of the culture. It’s the language of Chicago sports. Yeah, I

Randy Merkin  12:07

mean, Nesta, things are about as bad as I’ve, you know, and I hate doing hyperbole because, you know, everyone always thinks today is you know, whatever happened today is the most important thing or the biggest upset, whatever. But I think right now, like, there’s no hope for any of these teams, maybe you know, the bears, I think, obviously, everyone who loves the bears right now because Caleb Williams, and they got Keenan Allen, you know, in their offense looks great. But I’ll wait and see and believe it when I see it, but the cubs are just bad right now. And there’s the problem with the Cubs, they just don’t have any legit stars on the team. And they’ve got some good yet guys that can come up. But they’re the same team. They were last year and they weren’t at three games last year. The Sox are obviously a complete disaster. They’re the worst team in baseball. They’re about to trade. They’re all star gear crochet. So like people are really good

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:00

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to us, hopefully. Yeah, I

Randy Merkin  13:02

mean, he’s, and the reason why they’re gonna trade him is they don’t think they’re gonna he’s got he’s got two years left on his deal, but they don’t think they’re gonna be even competitive. And for two years, so what’s the point of keeping them around? Because it’s amazing,

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:11

like a Cisco’s last year, right? Yeah. So yeah, I you know, look, man, we’re Baltimore. It’s funny, man, cuz you’re talking to how bad everything is Chicago. Dude. I’ve been on the air for 33 years now. I said Kenny Albert on two weeks ago, and it’s kind of how the whole thing was born back in 1991 when Camden Yards was built, and we’ve never ever since my childhood, right, had prosperity that really crossed the strings 2013 and 14 a little bit with the Flacco Aaron Buck show, Walter, but we got Lamar. And we’ve got last year, the best team in the American League right now. First place team Yankees, all star gunner Henderson, like all of that, like, this is as good as it gets in Baltimore as good as it could possibly get, honestly, with two teams here. And then there’s places like you and you know, other places like, you know, there’s this other Boston always wins. Boston always has one that’s good or whatever. It’s weird that Chicago is this bad at this point. And that, that it turns the thermometer down for all of it. Yeah.

Randy Merkin  14:15

And you know, and it’s almost like that some of the owners are forgetting that Chicago is a big city because, like the White Sox, the way they’re running things is kind of like a smaller market team. The cubs I mean, you know, listen, they spent some money, they spent a lot of money and DANSBY SWANSON has been terrible and they were never really in the show. Hey, sweepstakes, so you know and then the Blackhawks and the bulls we’ve you know, the bulls are just kind of a match. They’re not finally going through another rebuild. They’re treading everyone away. So it’s, it’s kind of depressing, like and, you know, it’s there’s really no I mean, the only thing people are holding on to is that Caleb Williams is going to be Patrick mahomes That that that’s what people are holding on to right now. Because the one thing I’ll say about Caleb Williams that Jay Cutler never did when he was came in and he everyone I thought he was gonna be the savior is Caleb Williams has embraced being the bears quarterback Jay Cutler always. I felt like if he had just embraced it might have had more success, but at least he would have people would have enjoyed him more. But everyone loves Caleb Williams. He’s at a bar after a Cubs game seeing the Packers suck. You know? He’s he’s already he’s already won over the fans. Now he’s got to do it on the field, obviously nice there. And you guys got a great quarterback in Baltimore. I think he’s one of one like, like, you know, Patrick mahomes is the best, right? He might go down to the best of all time. Lamar is just he’s crazy good. And I still don’t know how good he can be right? Like, I you know, like, I was shocked that the gameplan you guys had against the Chiefs last year in that championship game. I felt like he kind of felt the Chiefs kind of baited you guys and it just never came out of it. But I think Lamar Jackson is going to be still gonna be so good. He’s already wanting to MVPs but I still know the future of him. But I am the bear. Every Chicago sports fan right now Nestor has already given up on the Cubs has already given up on the Sox. No, the bulls are gonna stink. The Blackhawks got kind of retired. So a couple of years. Maybe there’ll be good but it’s all on the bears. If the bears are good, you know, this town is run by the bears Nesta so if the bears are funny,

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Nestor J. Aparicio  16:17

man the bears run Chicago lions the lions run Detroit of the Browns run Cleveland and they just awful right awful. Right? I mean, in the bills are all Buffalo has right? And they’ve been good. Last couple years, whatever. But like 30 years and no good. I mean, it’s like I often think if the Ravens never came here, and we just had Angelo’s, and it was just like that, you know, just awful with one sport all the time. And look, man, I’m getting into it with new ownership here, right? I mean, I’m moving into the next generation with Rubenstein, and what his intentions are, and I’m talking about it every day. I am brutally mistreated by both of these franchises for sport, quite frankly, not there are no questions for ownership ever. And haven’t been for a long, long time here. So everybody’s owned, right. I mean, everybody works for the team in one way or another and can’t speak out. So that’s the independence of doing it here. In places like Chicago, I don’t know that. They still sort of need media, they still sort of need branding, whether it’s north side, south side, whether it’s trying to get people downtown for an expensive hockey game or an expensive basketball game, and getting people moving around a place for traffic’s awful crimes all you know, like, we got all the same issues here. Like people don’t go downtown anymore. Well, when they do when Pearl Jam comes, or when the stones show up people that make their way to Soldier Field, you know, and then you guys have on top of it. We just gifted both of these ownership groups, $600 million of money and just said, Hey, we built them, fix them. Art did this one. And you know, Lucchino did the other one and Angela squatted in it. And with $29 million, that he turned into 1.8 billion in a generation, like it’s unbelievable. There’s no way to eff this up, there’s no way to screw it up. It just depreciate to the point. And then you have what you have going on in your town, which is that football stadium was a joke of a joke of a joke all my life, whether it was the Redskins playing in the fog bowl game with Buddy Ryan in the 80s in the end zones, or Andhra yards past the end, because it places built 1912. But it was Memorial and I get that she can’t play football, and then they build a rocket ship that landed on top of it with glass. And it was awful the day they built it. I mean, almost everything about it, dude, something’s gonna give there. And I don’t know that the bears are moving to San Antonio. But the people of Illinois are gonna pay for that. You know,

Randy Merkin  18:54

you think and right now, it’s a big debate because, you know, Kevin Warren, who’s the new president of the bears, like a year and a half when he came, he was the commissioner, the big 10 network. He he’s trying to pitch a new stadium in the city, but they have bought land where Arlington Park used to be a racetrack, and that was always the threat right, that

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:13

was gonna go there.

Randy Merkin  19:14

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I think it’s I think that’s what they’re gonna know.

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:16

I talked about that when I landed in Norfolk. 25. Literally, yeah, yeah.

Randy Merkin  19:20

So I think it’s gonna be ended up in Arlington. Was it you’ve been the Soldier Field, it’s a disaster getting in and out of it’s, it’s like, you

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:29

almost have to kind of okay, if the weather’s okay, and you have a hotel downtown. Alright. And that, you know, forget about but you get on the L. I mean, I’ve got into that. Listen. It’s just not it. It’s not It’s awful. I mean, you know, and it’s not, and they spent a lot of money after we built our place to like, knowing it wasn’t ever going to be good yesterday. here’s

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Randy Merkin  19:50

the here’s the bottom line. Here is that I’m on for the bears. They got to start winning. Right. I mean, like, it’s just it’s been it’s been bad. Like just I love Justin fields. I thought you know I keep kind of got to a raw deal here three offensive coordinators in three years we never really felt got the full potential of how good he could have been here you know and now in here I’ve what I’ve heard right you know, who knows what’s true what’s not true that he’s not doing great things yet in Pittsburgh? But we

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:18

appreciate here you know, I’ve already started hazing my Steelers friends fans, to quarterbacks had gotten on. Yeah,

Randy Merkin  20:26

exactly. But like, I mean, the bears have to have a good season this year. They have, you know, with all the hype, they’re on Hard Knocks this year. You know, what Hard Knocks is done with the Ravens. You know, it can either really help your franchise or it can even make it worse. The Jets were on Hard Knocks last year and what happened the first five plays Aaron Rodgers done for the year I’m not saying it’s gonna happen to Caleb Williams, but they’ve got to win 10 games this year. They’ve got to be 10 and seven and hunt for a playoff spot. They really do. They’re in a really tough division. The NFC North is loaded this year. Lions are really good they were in the NFC Championship game probably should have been the Niners the Packers Jordan love I think is really good. And the Vikings is the are the wildcard because we don’t know who’s going to start a quarterback JJ McCarthy you know won a national championship and everyone loves the guy but like the bears have to be good this year. They if the bears are like nest if the bears go six and 11 this year, I don’t know what’s gonna happen to the city because like everyone, all the hopes of this city is on Caleb Williams right arm, right.

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:28

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You know, I used to go down to the Southside of Chicago and I tell everybody go to cummiskey Get the low taste. Those are the corn that they sell up on the up on the concourse level. Go see the Louis Aparicio statue and and so I used to go by the gift shop there and see this jersey right. And and I always wanted this jersey was always like $400 and the gift shop. I found that a lot. It’s a size too big for me. And it’s like a legit, you know, it’s like a legit 69 throwback, you know? Aparicio like piece here. So I’m gonna wear this for the remainder here. Pick on the Cubs a little bit. Love that. The real thing I think about what the cops because I was there the year they won. I was at those Pearl Jam shows, right? I was eating peak Watts pizza like, because Lonnie sent me so I look a little silly. It does look a little big. But that’s cool. I’ll keep it on. Anyway, I started like, look, I look like I’m like David Byrne in the talking heads video, once in a lifetime, same as it ever was. So I think at the Cubs as being like trying hard, you know, like when I went to Chicago and lived and worked in Chicago at the turn of the century with you guys. I went to way more White Sox games, even though it was more inconvenient because it was further south. Lots more traffic, just terrible. But I liked it being kind of quiet and empty. And I live in an American League city. So like watching nationally baseball, the Cubs was always a pain in the ass. Then it just felt like a party, that it felt like a beach party. Then I went to some concerts there and I thought that was kind of fun, you know, seeing bands there and like all that Jimmy Buffett, whatever. And then they got good, right? And they like borrowed the Red Sox people and brought in Joe Maddon and I think Joe man is gonna be on the show later on. Dude, it feels like a lifetime ago in the way that maybe Joe Flacco does here and he was even further back with Joe Flacco. But the Cubs thing kind of came and went. And I guess my other example would be for the Orioles fans to appreciate the now like how good this current baseball team is here that it comes in. It goes really quickly when I look up and see Rizzo uh, you know, here and Schwarber there and these guys because this group that that the Orioles have is we talked about it every day Luke and I talked about, you know how crazy it is that they were this bad, brought in Elias Angelo’s did one good thing on the way out the door, he got a baseball genius in here and let him build this thing. But then it gets expensive. And even if you’re the cops and gamblings coming in, and you own the whole neighborhood and you can upcharge everybody on tickets and print money at Wrigley Field do all of those things. Even then, you have to still maybe not operate like a small market team. But the notions here that we’re going to have rutschman and Anderson locked up and this and that. And when five World Series, that’s where the fan base is expectation is. I realized when I see the Cubs or I see the Royals, who had the top of the world for a minute, and the Giants were more like they’d win and lose and win it. Like give me that give me being competitive as compared to what I’ve seen with the Cubs which I felt like at some point, they’d have enough money that they’d be more like the Dodgers and just sort of be in it all the time, you know, and have more money than the Cardinals would have. Right?

Randy Merkin  24:49

You know, I think they’re a window Nester when they won the World Series, they thought they’d get another one. They really did they had they still had the pitching. But you know They all those guys just I felt like they all came together one year had that almost a career seasons and the following year I think they were out of gas when they got to the Dodgers. The following year they beat the Nationals and then just ran out of gas again and then it was basically done. Their window was three years and it was over and listen, they know right here,

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:20

because we’re in the middle of here to here. You know what I mean? Like your guys

Randy Merkin  25:24

are really young, like really young. And you’ve got guys coming up like Jackson Holliday can’t even find a spot right now with you already. I know. He came up and he wasn’t any good, but like he’s gonna be great, right? He’s gonna be great. So like, you know, when the Cubs it was like a hard thing for them to do. They got rid of everyone after COVID Like Rizzo gone Brian gone by is gone. Schwarber that one hurts gone. Like all the first three I mentioned. They they did the right thing. They didn’t pay them. That was the right thing to do to get rid of all three of them. But oils

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Nestor J. Aparicio  25:57

went through this too. When their guys were gone. Like I remember they had five really good tires. Those guys Hosmer and was like, Okay, well, you know, the fans are gonna be this or that or whatever. And listen, they have been sucking at the small market teat here. This is Peter poor mouth and for 20 years, the massive deal going the other way and then never pay in the bill and like the Nationals exists now. So we have our own cubs White Sox thing here that never existed that back when I knew you, you know. Literally Yeah.

Randy Merkin  26:30

Yeah. I mean, the Nationals definitely are. I mean, they won a World Series in 2019. So I mean, the Nationals.

Nestor J. Aparicio  26:38

There’s another example how quickly that goes away. Harper’s in Philly, and Soto is gone, and we got a bag of baseballs and we’re 500 team and like, Strasburg

Randy Merkin  26:48

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sold his soul to win a World Series. I always thought that because like that’s the guy him and Mark Pryor, the two pitchers I always think of that if they were healthy would be hall of famers and Strasburg was just legit stud. Right? I mean, unbelievable. Maxie kind of dominant. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Great, great, great comparison. And then he just I mean, he’s he he pitched 50 innings after that World Series was over. I mean, it’s unbelievable what you know what happened to him, but you know, the Cubs and the White Sox are just like they’re they’re like, they’re not relevant. You know, right now because they’re so far out of the cubs are like five and a half out a wildcard spot. In Nestor. The worst part was in the offseason, the cub fans were puffing their chest out we took the Brewers manager, the guy who would take him to the playoffs for years like we’re like, yeah, suck it, you know, we got your manager we’re going we’re going to the show this year, we’re going to the we’re going to win a championship and and the brewers are really good they’re better without counsel and the cubs are what seven or eight games under 500 with correct counsel so like it’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  27:51

really benefited the Brewers move to the National League in that way right with a call that’s a real thing. Yeah. Oh yeah, way that the White Sox really wasn’t a thing No,

Randy Merkin  27:58

never and it’s definitely a hatred thing like the cup fans and brewers fans when Council gets booed

Nestor J. Aparicio  28:05

it kind of picks up packers bears it kind of piggies that a little bit. Yeah.

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Randy Merkin  28:09

Nothing’s packers bears though.

Nestor J. Aparicio  28:13

Pinned to that bar, you know, that’s, yeah,

Randy Merkin  28:15

it’s next level hate packers bears and the Packers. It stinks that the Packers have really just owned the bears. Over the last couple years, people thought oh, Aaron Rodgers, you know, remember that he famously after he ran in for a touchdown, he yelled to the fans, I own you. I own you, you know, and everyone’s like, Alright, he’s gone now. Jordan love will compete now. Still lost both games last year. So I don’t know. I don’t even know where to even like to look you know how you’re always like, oh, there there’s the there’s what I see the end of the road. You know, that’s going to help turn these things around. I don’t see it with the Cubs right now. I just think they’re just a middling team that doesn’t know what to do. Everyone’s like you know what, this is the next couple of weeks you’re gonna decide whether they sell or buy, you know, they have to they have to jump like six teams Nestor, to get back into the spot for wildcard spot. So, I mean, I don’t know what they’re going to do. They don’t have many guys. They can trade though. Maybe Cody Ballenger and the guy whose face do you got facing tonight, Jamison, Tyrone who has been really good for the Cubs, but outside of that they don’t have much to trade. So I mean, they’re there as I told you, they’re kind of in hell right now, because they don’t have many stars. And they overpaid for a shortstop who’s just not very good right now in Dansby Swanson. And they got him I think for two or three more years. So good luck. If you’re a Cub fan right now. There’s not much to look forward to.

Nestor J. Aparicio  29:34

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Yeah, Randy market is our guest. He was former executive producer at Sporting News Radio One on One sports in Chicago, Illinois. I’m wearing my White Sox Aparicio. 69 throwback here. Over my I’m a blunt person sharp for courtesy of our friends, secure your wellness and foreign daughter. So the Cubs and White Sox thing and the baseball thing when when I talk about the trading deadline and a couple of weeks it’s I We say Who can we fleece? There’s no fleecing going on though, right? I mean, you know what I mean? You can get crochet thank great. I mean, let’s start with, you know, cursed at or Couser and a mayo and you know that goes to the kind of names because so few teams are out of it. Um, so few teams have the artillery to deal with especially the Orioles. The Orioles are perceived as being fat and loaded and you can get a couple of real good players from them if you had the right artillery certainly and under control pitcher would be the part of this that we’ve been netting forever. We’ve been the team that bad players so awful nobody wanted or when nobody was even coming to get our players at the trading deadline most years. Because we were never that team, the rebuilding part of selling that to fans in a place like Chicago, and I guess I would think in the 25 years it’s been since I did one on one. Sporting News Radio was nasty nationwide. The Bulls were winning at that point or had won a whole bunch at that point Jordan was doing the back and forth thing and when to plan for the bullets and baseball and all that it happened at that point for him. But Blackhawks won a couple of times where even the White Sox won and even the cops won. So I do think there’s a point and look man the White Sox is a long time ago to cubs is around the corner. I even with the ravens, because they’re they’ve been competitive and had sort of this handing off of Flacco to Lamar they haven’t stunk except when Lamar has been hurt and you know, didn’t play in the playoffs and whatnot. But when you hit rock bottom and you can’t find your way out with the Orioles here, it was so hopeless because you knew the owner was bad. And I would say for the White Sox owner to be so bad when the when the when the bulls were so good. And it was the same ownership group. And then the Tribune Company, a news organization was the trip stirs as our former colleague used to say all the time, and then the words family, you’re worse and worse. And like, what when you think of these generational things, there has to be some level of confidence in ownership. The people running the baseball team, the business people to figure it out to have a little bit of patience. And I mean, the Blackhawks had a sec scandal in there. I mean, they had awful, awful stuff that happened there. Like there’s been some real journalism in and around these teams and things that have gone on with these teams in recent years as well. Yeah,

Randy Merkin  32:32

the Blackhawks scandal was horrific. And you know, I think Joe Quinn Vo is just in Scott it and Stan Bowman just reinstated but like that, that still has a stain on that franchise because was going on during I think the first championship and they kind of this kind of pushed aside because they wanted to win so badly. But I mean, you’re familiar

Nestor J. Aparicio  32:53

with that we have franchise through the push Ray Rice out onto the field. Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah.

Randy Merkin  32:58

Jerry Reinsdorf is an interesting one to me Nestor because, like fan everyone, you know, rips him all the time. You know, he’s bad owner band owner. Like it’s some level I kind of agree with that. But like, you know, I think the biggest thing recently he did that was bad is hiring Tony La Russa when no one you know, the general manager didn’t want him and Tony Lewis have to because he wanted to 20 years was fired in the early 80s. And he felt terrible about it all that time. So he was trying to right or wrong, right. It didn’t work. Tom Ricketts I mean, listen, he’s he’s paid he paid for darvish didn’t work out. He’s paying for DANSBY SWANSON a huge contract, it’s not working out. So people who say that Tom Ricketts doesn’t spend Shohei Otani was never coming to Chicago, right. I mean, he was going like I could have told you that last year starts here. The Dodgers if you notice there’s been anything in free agency, it was said that he was going to stay he wanted to stay in the west coast and the Dodgers. Were going to be the perfect fit for him. So I wasn’t upset that you know, people like oh, the cubs were never serious threats. The cubs knew they had no chance to get shohet time it just just wasn’t going to happen. But I

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Nestor J. Aparicio  34:03

was in Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson speaking on stage at Massey Hall in Toronto. And the buzz that night was that show a Otani was on a plane to Toronto, right like this, right? I mean, to Toronto media and sports media, like you know, and the baseball thing really does, you know, it picks up communities in that way and we’re in the midst of it and I’m trying to figure out what it means for the community are and how to maximize it because it is waiting, you know, even if you have cops money, it’s fleeting. You guys

Randy Merkin  34:38

took our bench coach and I think you got a great manager and Brandon Hyde he’s been he’s been great for the Orioles and he went through some some dark years there with the Orioles and he’s come out the other side and now you guys like are loaded every position. I’m jealous of that because that was the Cubs. You know 15 They They were weren’t ready yet, but they made it to. They got swept by the Mets in the in the national championship series and in the following year, they beat the Dodgers that eat Clayton Kershaw John’s the game six cow 100 comes out and then like, you’re like, boy, this feels great. I always Nestor, I always tell my friends during the bulls run, I would say, just enjoy this because you’ll never, ever, ever see this again. And we came close, not not to that not nearly that level. But when Derrick Rose was drafted number one, and you know, his first couple years were so electric and he was so so good. He was so explosive. And then you know, he stays in the game too late. And, you know, the the injury happens and he’s never been, he was never the same player. He’s gonna be the first. Nestor the first MVP that probably will not be an NBA Hall, a Hall of Famer, I don’t think he’s going to be Hall of Famer, he just doesn’t have the credentials. But like, you know, there’s been every city goes through tragedies, sports tragedies like that. Right. Derrick Rose is a sports tragedy in Chicago because he should have that team I think would have won a championship. I think he was that talented. But you know,

Nestor J. Aparicio  36:10

I will say that here if Lamar, if we all want a Super Bowl with Lamar, I mean, we will.

Randy Merkin  36:15

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I mean, I mean, that’s the crazy thing. What is Omar have to to postseason wins. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, right. I mean, like, and it’s just like, it’s crazy, because that team is so good. Your defense is so good. You took our guy, our linebacker and, and he’s, he’s great. And that’s the

Nestor J. Aparicio  36:34

fleece that was a fleecing. And that literally that’s the kind of policing we need in the baseball market, right? Yeah. mercs that’s what we need. Yeah, I

Randy Merkin  36:41

mean, Ro Quan was good here. And he was really talented. That one I don’t have a huge problem with because I knew like Ryan polls has always had like an idea of what he wanted to do right and he just didn’t feel like he the bears were ready to win and Ro Quan was right a win right so he it’s almost like he did him a favor send him the Baltimore Listen, like he said this team up to win for next couple years like you know as well as I know you’re a huge NFL fan and you’ve covered the league one time Keenan Allen can either be great or he can be injured right? So we might watch I don’t know which key now we’re gonna get but like, everyone thinks Nestor I don’t know what you think the bears are going to be. I think one of the best offense is in the NFL this year. And again, I’m holding I’m holding back they got swift from the Eagles. They’ve got three glute wide receivers, they got two good tight ends. The offensive line is a little better but like I’m telling you Nestor everything everything is on the bears. The bears have

Nestor J. Aparicio  37:39

just like they never get to coach right? They never get the quarterback right? And honestly, the McCaskey family did They’ve never gotten ownership right there. It’s never it’s never felt right they’ve never had the stadium right I mean, we’ve already talked about that. So like that was always the part where like the fan it’s like Cleveland the fans wanted and and Detroit the fans wanted the ownerships inept at some level in its ability to deliver it and I don’t mean here in the fans are being billionaires or anything like that. Just can’t get the right people. And that’s why when you get a mike Elias and there’s an ownership change here, you better figure out that Mike Elias is here in this because he can he can entertain other offers at some point. He can be a free agent too and take his program elsewhere in the way the Theo took his program and want to want a championship and Joe Maddon took his program and won a championship, you know, the program still behind in Tampa? 15 years later, they’re still doing a Jo man’s way kind of sort of, right. So and then he goes to Anaheim, and they you know, can’t can’t win with the two best players on Earth. Right? Yeah. It’s a team game, right? So

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Randy Merkin  38:52

they’ve never won with they’re gonna get to the playoffs with Trump’s fleet, three playoff games and his whole career. It’s unbelievable.

Nestor J. Aparicio  38:58

That’s me. Ernie Banks is we got clubs talk here this week, right. Ron Santo. Already Merkin. It was the producer at Sporting News Radio and one on one sports. 25 years ago, if you saw my documentary, if you want to go check it out, check it out. But there was a big period of my life where I was recruited and did national radio and 425 syndicated plays. So places I go where people remember it and places like Tucson and places like Portland, Maine, and places like Rochester, Minnesota and also Fresno, where we had a good time and and we had great, great people. Chet Copic was one of my favorite people. He couldn’t be here this week. So I can’t have chat. I have you mercs about that. So I need you to hold your book up. Tell everybody about your book. And because you only even did you forgotten more but like I start talking sports and you’d like go through quarterbacks and this and that draft picks in history like, Dude, you’re a great great, great radio guest and you’re a great Chicago historian for all things sports, you do cookies crumbling, but you also wrote a book about chasing down celebrities and athletes and working in the industry, right? That really is the backbone of what our industry was and what Lonnie Williams did. And anybody that ever put John Wooden on the radio with me or Charles Barkley, there was a guy like you behind the making it happen. Well, you

Randy Merkin  40:19

know, Nestor during COVID and I love I love what I did, you know, I got my start. My first radio job was in Platteville, Wisconsin then I got hired by rich Bong back in 1994, to come to one on one sports in Northbrook and I learned so many great things from the best, like Mark Genesco taught me so much about booking guests. Like I used to watch him and just be amazed. And you know what He taught? He told me one thing Nestor, which I still to this day, follow, and you and you do it. I know I see it because all the great people you have on. He said to me, Randy, I could have every phone number I want, but it’s all about the relationships, right? It’s all about the relationships you build with these people to trust you build up these people and, and I have always taken that with me. And it’s one thing I’ve always done. You can’t always call on someone just when you need them. Right? You call on him when something big happens for him. Perfect example to me is I built a really good relationship with with Charles Barkley. And it’s not just hey, I need you to come on. I probably bug him too many times to come on. But like when he won the Emmy. Right? I texted him. Congratulations. He responded. Thanks, bro. You know that type of stuff. All I can say that a bunch of bunch of people you see like Joe Buck. I know you have good relations. You have relations with Joe Buck. You text

Nestor J. Aparicio  41:40

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him. I saw him in Florida in March we Yeah. We chatted he was he had a smile on his face. He was there was no doubt and Joe,

Randy Merkin  41:47

that’s what this book is all about. It tells all the stories guest booking stories, like one of my favorite stories is George Steinbrenner, who, you know, probably the younger audience doesn’t know. But like the first time I booked him, I called them woke them up in a hotel. He was really upset with me. But he said basically, like you have the gumption to call me at 11 o’clock at night. To get me on the next day. He goes, call me in the office tomorrow. And I’ll do it and he did it. So the book is behind the glass stories of a sports radio producer and the website is behind the glass, the book.com and still order it on the second one is hopefully going to be out in the winter Nestor almost done, just cut more stories to write for that one. But I love it. The response I got was great. You know, just had a ton of fun doing it. And you know, that’s the you know, we’re lifers in the radio industry, man, I still love the love the chase of the big guests. The big story, you know, that’s what this media this medium has always afford us to do is to go after the big story and to get the big guest on to get the big reaction. ask the right question. Right. That’s the one thing Matt, you mentioned the hay game before. Like, that’s the one thing Matt and I have always like, we’re always looking at like, Okay, you have the guests done, but it’s not just putting the guest on right. It’s asking the right question listening, when you’re doing the interview to make sure that if Hey, that guy just what did he just say? Oh, I had another question. But I gotta follow up on that, because that’s crazy. Well, he just said there. And, you know, in this industry, you got to have thick skin, right? Because you know it, you’re gonna get yelled at, someone’s gonna come after you. You know, and as long as you’re doing your job the right way, ethically, I got no problem when people yell at me. It’s if I’m like, doing things shady, then I’m like, Man, that that’s bad. But like, if I’m working hard doing things the right way, and I overstep my bounds sometimes, hey, I called someone hotel I shouldn’t have called, or I bug someone I shouldn’t have bug, you know, I’ll take it. But, you know, treat me the right way. Because I’ve always treated people the right way. I’ve always respected people. They said, No, you know, whatever. They don’t wanna come on, it’s fine. But like that, that, to me is important as well. But like, we I learned from the best, like so many great people and I was a sponge when I was young, right? And this industry, I always tell young producers that when they ask for advice, and like, be a sponge, like, learn and take in stuff, I always had a notepad writing stuff down. And like make make a good interview. Great. Make a great interview memorable, right? And that’s why I always tried to do like, putting, you know everyone Nestor won the 1980 Olympics anniversary comes up every year, Michael Rosen ruzi on his phone blows up. And one year I said to I was working with wattle and Sylvia said, you know, let’s let’s make this next level. So Al Michaels was doing the Olympics. I forget where it was, was somewhere overseas. I found a hotel he was staying at Mike Rose Yonis bout to come on. I call on Michaels. Get him to come on with Mike Eruzione just let those two guys talk for 10 minutes about memories of that gold medal and, you know, beating the Russians. So, you know, I love it. I could talk about the industry forever. But this book allowed me to kind of share basically what Being a sports radio producer is really all about. Everyone just thinks it’s Oh, you call so and so got him on cool. No, it’s, you know, the chase is half the fight, right. And you note as well as I do, obviously,

Nestor J. Aparicio  45:10

Porter. So when I got out to you, I was just running the station from the beginning, and trying to train people that had no sense for it. You know what I mean? I don’t mean common sense. Sometimes that was the case. I mean, no soul for it, no instinct for it. And I could never teach the instinct to do this still can’t. Which is why I’m so proud of Luke Jones, as I you know, as my reporter, and so appalled that the Orioles don’t allow in the Venezuelan reporter or me or, you know, sort of and what the Ravens have done, it’s just become greasy dude. Like you said, shady, like, who is media who is in who has a podcast? I mean, really, it’s become a reality show for their team websites with heavily edited, homogenized, rehearsed in most cases, content. And, you know, I saw last week Biden, who I’m voting for, by the way, no matter, you know, just, I want to get that strike. But I can criticize him that, you know, a radio show said that they handed him the questions. And I’m thinking to myself, like I’ve been doing this 33 years. And as I get older, as as I get older, more people try to hand me the questions, and nothing pisses me off more from my reporters background. From the side, I took PR classes, I like PR, I have relationships, PR, but like, in 33 years, I’ve never had a gotcha question because I value relationships to your point, I would never bring anybody on the air and ask them some hanging question in that way. But as I said to the governor, the last time I had him on was I’m not here to kiss your ass. Like, you know, you’re you’re running for you’re running for an elected office, like, do your PR and your PR Chan. And when you’re here, I get to ask the questions, you can talk to them, answering them hang up on me walk away, bitching me afterwards, tell me you’re never coming back on again, which some people have for legitimate questions. But like I can’t be compromised. And, you know, in recent times, I mean, my most recent occasions, the new ownership who basically have tried to shake me down and get a press credential back, you know, like, and I’m not, I’m not really down with that, like, we had a more relationship based environment. 25 years ago, calling Charles Barkley are calling out Michaels are calling George Steinbrenner than we would ever have. And steep a shot. He’s in my phone, right, and Rubinstein’s handlers in my phone, they’re not coming on. And they’re not coming on because they’re not going to hand me the questions right. And the accountability in a town like Baltimore’s gone to manure mercs you know, we’re like, there is no, this gets $600 million each to fix their stadiums to bleed rich people for richer beers and charge a higher cover charge basically to come to the club. The country club that’s what they’re building that’s what they’re doing. And and yeah, meanwhile, the orals are as good as they get and they have the upper decks empty, they’re doing 65 bucks, give the ORS a lot of credit. They just hired a new Chief Business Officer. A lady named Carrie Gregg’s who worked in the soccer Ministry of works with the mariners gonna come here they’re gonna get an all star game here. So there’s a lot of business here that needs to be covered. But I find that journalism, even sports, radio, national sports, radio we’re I mean when I go through the litany of the guests we have you and I had to put it together again today unless it said ESPN or league sponsored you would never get anybody to pick up the phone these days. We couldn’t do what we did 25 years ago out in Northbrook Illinois because the agents the money the pretending that Aaron Rodgers is your your bro and you’re paying him a million dollars a week to come on the show. And he’s saying out landish unadulterated garbage anti scientific crazy bad chittery that and you gotta wear a beater t shirt and stand around and it’s WWE like today. Oh and the gambling side lame. Put that on. First thing that would have gotten me thrown out of the industry would have been me. Touting Hawking gambling, asking Ray Lewis how he felt this week to see how three points did for us and then give him my one 900 Number tips on the air on the side at Sporting News, right that would never would have been tolerated. It’s built into the industry now like so that the industry is changed dramatically dude, and you know what we do and what we’re limited in Getting George Steinbrenner on the air and him saying I’ll answer any question you have because I’m I’m in front of my brand you know the way Jerry Jones to some degree sort of old school and we won’t see that again Mr. Rubenstein will give out hats he’ll splash fans he’ll do these orchestrated television commercials and all that but I don’t expect him to answer real questions from real reporters because there aren’t many of them left dude

Randy Merkin  50:25

I hear you I hear you I can tell you in Chicago there are there’s a lot of great reporters there Yeah, like there’s I mean the bears beat it’s phenomenal the Cubs beat is phenomenal my brothers on the Sox beat he I can tell you that’s a great beat I don’t know the Hawks beat quite as well but I know they’ve got guys like Mark Lazarus who are great as well so like there’s still is like Chicago reporters hold hold you know them to the fire they I mean they do a great job covering the teams but there’s

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Nestor J. Aparicio  50:52

no breaking news here on the Orioles or Raven side that doesn’t come from Adam Schefter with assigning or like or the team website rolling out whatever the next thing they’re going to up charge and get you to sign up for something on Yeah,

Randy Merkin  51:07

yeah.

Nestor J. Aparicio  51:08

Yeah you know you’re probably right like if players only sit on the lounge now.

Randy Merkin  51:13

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Listen, things evolve unfortunately and you just kind of have to evolve with it. Like I you know, like the days of Sporting News Radio were crazy like they were just like the wild wild west for us right we just like Chris Brennan was the owner you know and just kind of let everyone do their thing would come down every once in a while and kind of you know talk shop with you but like he trusted everyone that he had good people running the place and we did

Nestor J. Aparicio  51:39

we did have good Pete’s father was around a lot legendary

Randy Merkin  51:42

yeah Terry Brennan the coach may rest in peace was around for a lot yeah good talking shop with him as well

Nestor J. Aparicio  51:50

that’s a chance cow I gotta throw this in case he watches this because he linked me and recently the the chance Cal line that I always remember that I recite is smoking while you got him which was a reference to say hey, it’s here and now do it now. And I think that in reference to his courage with his child and and with my wife’s illness I think about it in a deeper sense of hey, Mick Jagger is in town tonight go see him because you never know where Sammy Hagar is on tour go see him or times are good for the baseball team right now the Cubs fans so go Sega you know what I mean? Like smoke them all. You got them to me and I like gents cow if he ever wants to come on and talk shop and talk about it. You know all the things we talked about, but you know that that’s a life credo to enjoy, enjoy every sandwich as Warrens Yvonne once said mercs

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Randy Merkin  52:50

yep, yep. And Warren’s Yvonne was one of Letterman’s favorite people. He I think he loved them. But Jen scow, I was producing his show one time, the solo show and during the holidays, and I saw him come this is back when you booked guests by calling hotels, five straight breaks. He came in and booked like, I think he always like coral store Brett Farve Lou Holtz, Barry Alvarez. And I can remember when I was just looking at, like all star lineup, right? Yeah, every break. And he was just calling them up. And just like, you know, they’re all listed. Just call him up. And I finally I’m like, What are you doing? And he’s like, how about he was done. He said, How about that Randy? And I was like, I mean, it’s amazing. And he told me that like he had a relationship with Lou Holtz had a relationship with Farve, you know, didn’t have a relationship with courthouse door began that come on. I mean, it just was like, it was just an amazing thing to see. And I always said to myself, I’m going to do that I’m going to do like, I, I wanted to be the best at what I did, right? You know, I was 19, I was never gonna be a great athlete.

Nestor J. Aparicio  53:51

So I’m like, I’m gonna decent golfer, from what I am,

Randy Merkin  53:54

I am, I am a two holes in one and three days. Before celebrating that earlier this year. But like, I was, like, I’m gonna be the best guest Booker, that, you know, people might be as good as me. And there are like, Todd Fritz is phenomenal Dan Patrick show, but like, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be really good at my job. And like, people are gonna beat me some days. But most time I’m going to I’m going to win. So that’s what I’ve tried to do. And I’ve tried to anyone that will listen, I’ve spoken to classes I’ve loved you know, to share my wisdom that’s there. Because I think that’s important. Keep this industry going. There is some great young producers out there that I see. So hopefully, they keep doing what they’re doing. Because, listen, it’s still there’s still a lot of great content out there for sure. And I’m still on that belief. And that’s what I hold to.

Nestor J. Aparicio  54:38

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Well, that’s why I have guys like you on Randy Mertens here. He has written a book called your book up, man. Tell me about the book and tell me where to get the book.

Randy Merkin  54:46

Alright, so behind the glass, the book.com is the website. Some great James Brown. JB wrote the foreword for it. I appreciate JB doing that. Talk about salt of the earth guys. Great guy. Just tons of stories. I think there’s 90 stories in this book. Some great pictures, some great stories of people I’ve worked with. I’ve met Snoop Dogg. There’s three about Snoop Dogg in here and you know a bunch of Barkley stories bunch of stories with George Steinbrenner Ryan Sandberg my favorite baseball player of all time. So yeah, just some crazy stories that I went with and and yeah, you know, you’ll enjoy it’s it’s an easy read Nestor, you could do it in one night. I’m telling I’ve had people told me they read the whole book in one night and loved it. So it’s really cool when you’re just walking down the street, you’ve written a couple books, you know it when you’re walking down the street and someone looks at you and says, Hey, Mark, I loved that book. And you’re like, Wow, pretty cool that people actually, you know, associated me with something like that. So I was really proud to do it. And hopefully I can get the second one done soon. Well,

Nestor J. Aparicio  55:48

you could produce my radio show anytime Randy Merkin that you like Randy Merkin of Chicago Illinois. I got my White Sox jersey on even though the cubs are in the Yankees will be in it’s all star game we they should go back to were in the regular colors for the all star game instead of the Jama is that they were Get off my lawn is papa Joe. Bite me I gotta bite me in this segment. Now we’re living right? I am Nestor. We are wn St. am 1570, Towson Baltimore book and great guests around here talking baseball and summertime and sports for Baltimore positive stay with us.

Longtime Chicago sports radio producer Randy Merkin tells Nestor an empty story of The Windy City scene

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