Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot: The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dadby Mike Greenberg
Meet Mike Greenberg, the popular host of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, the highest-rated drive-time sports talk show on the dial. To his three-million-plus listeners, Greeny is the guy who’s equally as comfortable dissecting zone defenses as he is discussing cashmere sweaters. He’s been to Super Bowls and World Series, All-Star Games and… See more details below
Meet Mike Greenberg, the popular host of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, the highest-rated drive-time sports talk show on the dial. To his three-million-plus listeners, Greeny is the guy who’s equally as comfortable dissecting zone defenses as he is discussing cashmere sweaters. He’s been to Super Bowls and World Series, All-Star Games and Final Fours. He’s interviewed Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, and Wayne Gretzky. He gets paid to enthuse about sports, which means he’s the envy of most men in America.
This is the hilarious, sometimes touching, and endlessly entertaining debut of one of America’s fastest-rising sportscasters, a wry and revealing look at one man’s good-hearted but mistake-prone attempt to grow up before his children do. Marriage, fatherhood, manhood, fame, athletes, crazed aunts with gambling problems, the true significance of sports, the worst possible thing to say in a room full of pregnant women–no topic is beyond his reach. But don’t take our word on it, read what Greeny has to say about:
• Dating: “People who reminisce fondly about dating are blocking out all the disasters and focusing only on the few great nights. If that is all you choose to remember, fine. But be aware that no experience is without good moments. I’m sure during the sacking of Rome there were a few decent nights; maybe they put on a play.”
• Life on the road:
“Wife + television = no sleep.”
“No wife + no television = no sleep.”
“Wife + no television = sleep.”
“No wife + television = porn.”
• Keeping things in perspective: “Never assume you know more than the guy in the camouflage tux.”
• And, of course, marriage: “All of us are married to women who think we’re idiots.”
Whether he’s talking trash on the radio or talking dirty diapers over a fancy dinner, Greeny’s determined to reconcile two halves of a whole. So if your enthusiasm has ever been curbed, or you’re feeling remote without the remote, or you’re just wondering what exactly goes on in a guy’s brain, Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot will be a source of comfort and unadulterated laughter.
“Anyone in sports knows that Mike Greenberg is a talented sportscaster. Now many fans will see the many sides of Greeny. His humor and winning personality are apparent on every page of Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot. To me, he is always awesome, baby, with a capital A!”
“Not only did I laugh until I cried on several occasions, I wish this book could be given to all new wives on their wedding nights–it should be required reading for anyone married to a man who’d rather watch the game on a Saturday than accompany us to Bloomingdales.”
–Jane Green, author of The Other Woman
“Mike Greenberg is one of the smartest and funniest voices in sports. Sadly, this matters little to Mrs. Greenberg, or to his children. As this hilarious book proves, Greenberg knows fatherhood and sports and humor, not necessarily in that order.”
–Jeremy Schaap, ESPN anchor and author of Cinderella Man
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
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- 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Read an Excerpt
Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot
By Mike Greenberg
Random HouseMike Greenberg
All right reserved.
The First Trimester: Denial
I must confess, the very first thought that went through my mind was that Ricky Ricardo was full of shit. And that devastates me, because I love Ricky Ricardo. The man was wearing clothes in the fifties that would still be hip today, and he made smoking look so cool I started doing it. To my mind, he was the coolest character in the history of television.
What a shame he was so obviously full of shit.
I'll tell you how I know: Remember the episode where Lucy tells Ricky she's pregnant? She does it anonymously, making him figure it out in front of his audience at the Tropicana nightclub. Ricky sings "We're Having a Baby, My Baby and Me," trying to guess which guest is the lucky one. Do you remember how he strolls right past Lucy without the foggiest notion it might be she who is expecting? What are we to make of this? Was it the second Immaculate Conception? Had Ricky never traversed the space between those separated twin beds? Could it really have been that much of a surprise?
Now, this was the fifties, so I'm willing to cut them slack on sexual chemistry. I suppose in the time of Joseph McCarthy, network censors might have been squeamish if Lucy had said, "I should go off the Ortho-Cept this week. Last time it took me three months to get my period."
But did they really need to insult our intelligence?
Now, maybe it was better the way they did it. I certainly didn't need to hear Lucy tell Ricky she was ovulating, or tell Ethel she was three centimeters dilated and twenty percent effaced. I don't regret never seeing Lucille Ball in the stirrups, or bored out of her mind on bed rest because she was carrying too low and they didn't want to use a stitch in her cervix. Perhaps the world was a better place when we were spared all of that on television, but mustn't Ricky have had some inkling that Lucy might be knocked up?
The point of all this is that today, my wife told me we are going to have a baby. Unlike Ricky, I was not shocked by the news. Not after we went off the pill three months ago, visited three obstetricians and a pediatrician, pinpointed the optimal instant of ovulation, became unprecedentedly intimate with a thermometer, had sex when I didn't feel like it (a first), and spent hundreds of dollars on books--everything from prenatal diet tips to the benefits of communication with the fetus. Like everything else in my life, this transaction was carefully budgeted, programmed by a computer, dissected on a spreadsheet, discussed via e-mail, and scheduled in my BlackBerry long before any rabbit died. My wife didn't need to slip me an anonymous note, and there was no point in feigning surprise. This was a day that was only about the facts.
We're having a baby. My baby and me.
The first thing I have learned is that my role in all of this is negligible. My wife's obstetrician made that abundantly clear when I made the catastrophic mistake of attending an appointment. What I found is that my contribution to anything beyond insemination is purely optional. There was not a single question I asked to which the reply was not: It doesn't matter.
Should I exercise more?
Should I stop smoking?
Should I get more sleep?
Is there anything I should do about my diet?
It doesn't matter.
But the doctor did have a great deal to say to my wife and, frankly, the language she used was absurd. Am I really supposed to know what a uterus is? I mean, does everyone?
Apparently my wife thinks they do.
"How in the world can you not know what a uterus is?" she asked.
"Well," I said, "I don't have one."
"You don't have a satellite dish, either. But you know what that is."
"Do you know what rack-and-pinion steering is?" I asked.
"Well, you see," I said, "I don't make fun of you."
"I cannot believe you would compare rack-and-pinion steering to my uterus."
I realized there was no good end to this conversation.
"Well, does anyone want to tell me what a uterus is?" I asked.
Without blinking, the doctor pulled down a roll-up picture of a frontally nude woman with her abdominal cavity on display. And I immediately regretted not having pursued the rack-and-pinion line of questioning. By the time she finished, I needed a stiff drink.
That was how we began the horrifying process of insemination, which I must say bears absolutely no resemblance to actual sex. As Tom says to himself in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. . . . Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." I was stunned at how quickly sex started to seem like work when it became something my body was obliged to do.
Let's do it now, honey. Seinfeld starts in eight minutes.
I actually spoke those words. What has become of me?
Though, on the positive side, I will say this: There is something liberating about a sexual experience where the sole objective is to get it over with as quickly as possible. It alleviates all the pressure. And all she wants to do is get it done and then lie flat on her back with her feet in the air like a T-square, anyway. She's just as happy as you are if it's over in time for Seinfeld.
So eventually it happened. Three months of that and away we go. I would describe my wife's overriding emotion as relief; she has so many friends who've had trouble getting pregnant, she's behaving as though the hard part is behind us. Me, though, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a giant cliff and cannot see what is waiting for me once I go over. There isn't a hint of euphoria or delight or even joy. All I feel is a distant but heavy sense of dread. We'll see how that changes--if it does--as time goes on.
Dr. Gray has recommended that I keep this diary for the duration of the pregnancy. I pledge to be diligent in doing so, even though I have some doubt as to how much good will come of it. I figure, if nothing else, maybe it will make for interesting reading someday.
Note to self: At some point, make sure you write a letter to unborn child. A tad kitschy, perhaps, but an idea I find appealing. Perhaps I'll read it at the kid's wedding someday and everyone will cry at the majesty of it. Be sure to write it majestically.
Just back from a visit with Dr. Gray, who has the uncanny ability to be uplifting while she explains that I am doomed to forever be unhappy.
"What you must come to accept," she told me, "is that we all have priorities in life. Those priorities define who we are, and yours are about to change."
"But what if they don't change?" I asked. "I am the most self- centered person on earth. What if I remain that way even after the baby is born?"
"It does not happen that way, Michael," she said, "not for us who love our children and put them first."
That's the trouble. Sometimes you don't put the really important things first. I should know; I talk about sports for a living.
"Ah, yes," she said, "the games you enjoy so well."
"I do enjoy them, but it's more than that."
I thought about it for a minute. "I don't know."
"Think about it," she said. "If you can tell me why you love sports so much, it may give us the answers to other questions, too."
Well, I spent the rest of the day thinking about it.
I love the fact that my father, a man who grew up penniless during the Depression, refers to the Yankees' loss of a World Series game as the worst moment of his childhood. And I love that after making himself a successful lawyer and publishing a book, he dedicated it to his heroes, including Joe DiMaggio along with Clarence Darrow and William O. Douglas.
I love the fact that my mother, who grew up within walking distance of Yankee Stadium, is such a passionate sports fan herself that she must watch games alone because she finds conversation distracting. And I love that she would have left my father for Joe Namath in a heartbeat, and that he would have applauded her for it.
I love that my kid brother, who--like all kid brothers--always hated everything I liked, chose to root for the Miami Dolphins because they were the sworn enemy of my beloved New York Jets. And I love that, thirty years later, he flies to Miami every time the Dolphins have a big game.
I love that my wife, who grew up without sports playing any role in her life, now watches games with me and occasionally puts down her magazine. I love that she recognizes it is important enough at least to try.
I love the way I felt the first time I covered the Super Bowl. It was Pasadena, California, in January 1993. The Bills were playing the Cowboys and Garth Brooks sang the national anthem. I remember thinking about all the games I'd watched as a kid, and how if someone had told that kid he would someday get to cover the Super Bowl he would have said, "I am going to have the best life of anybody in the whole world." And then U.S. Navy jets flew overhead in formation just as the sun set over the mountains in the distance. That stadium was the loudest place I've ever been.
I love that Dave Wannstedt, then the coach of the Chicago Bears, once yelled at me over something I'd said on the radio, and I stumbled into the pressroom, humiliated, and a veteran writer pulled me aside and said, "Don't sweat it, kid. They never yell unless they know you're right."
I love the way Michael Jordan used to pump his fist when he made a big shot. I love the way Pete Rose ran to first base when he could have walked. I love that Lou Gehrig really believed he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
There are so many things to love about sports, so many moments and thrills. But, as I think about it, none of those really have anything to do with the question. Those are not the reasons I love sports. They are symptoms; the question is about the disease.
Upon further reflection, I have decided that what I really love most about sports is the impermanence. Sports are like war without all the dying. Imagine how intriguing war would be as a spectator sport if, when it was over, everyone shook hands and showered together. The strategy, the passion, the courage, the stakes; war is magnificent theater until you start counting bodies. That's where you lose me.
In sports, you never lose me. You plan your attack, prepare physically and emotionally, attempt to execute your game plan--often in hostile environments--and then it ends and you all have a beer together.
That is the beauty of sports. That is the reason I became a sportscaster in the first place, because of the impermanence.
You see, growing up I wanted to be a journalist--a real journalist. I wanted to cover politics and uncover corruption and ask the questions that topple the high and mighty. But all that changed when Andrew Donatelli drowned.
I never met Donatelli, but I'll never forget him. A high school senior in a small town where I was doing an internship at the local newspaper, the kid was headed to college on a football scholarship and was valedictorian of his high school class. He also had the prettiest girlfriend you could imagine and the saddest dog I ever saw. The night of his prom, Donatelli and a few buddies took their dates to a beach; some were drinking beer and others were allegedly smoking pot. Somehow that pretty girlfriend wound up in the water and Donatelli inexplicably drowned saving her. The next morning, the newspaper sent three of us on the story, one to the police station, one to the beach, and one--me--to the house to interview the parents.
I went. I stood on the porch. That was where I saw the dog. He came around the house from the backyard and stared at me. The dog was handsome but powerful looking, like a guard dog. I don't suppose there were many times a stranger could have stood on that porch without the dog barking, but this wasn't the day for that. He just watched me for a little while and then grew bored and flopped to the ground with his back to me. He didn't move after that, not in all the time I stood on that porch, which had to be an hour. I've never seen a dog so still. He wasn't asleep, either, just sad. Dogs may not understand everything, but they usually know when to be sad.
I couldn't ring the bell.
I had all my questions written in my yellow reporter's pad but I couldn't ask them; I knew it was my job but I just couldn't. I couldn't ask a woman I'd never met how it felt to go to Malcolm and Brothers Funeral Home on Worth Avenue at five in the morning with a football uniform and a navy blue Brooks Brothers suit because she couldn't decide which her son would have wanted to be buried in. I have all the respect in the world for people who ask that question, but I can't.
The experience really shook me up. It also made me wonder, for the first time, what I would do with my life. I had always wanted to be a journalist; now I would have to be something else. I told that to my adviser, in those words exactly.
"Have you ever thought about covering sports?" he said.
Funny that he barely knew me and still asked that.
So that is the story of how I became a sportscaster, and it is also the best way I can think of to explain why I love sports so much. There is nothing in the world better than investing everything into something that means absolutely nothing.
I often read about people whose lives are filled with tragedy, civil war, poverty, hunger, and I think how much better off the world would be if everyone could spend all that energy worrying about football. Maybe I'm onto something with that. Maybe the solution to all our problems can be found in irrelevance. Try it.
Excerpted from Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot by Mike Greenberg Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Mike Greenberg is co-host of Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio and an anchor on ESPN's SportsCenter. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Greenberg lives outside New York City with his wife and two children. This is his first book.
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