Michael Rapaport joined my boss Jason McIntyre’s Fox Sports Radio show on Saturday. Jason asked him about his beefs with Bill Simmons and Dan Le Batard, and Rapaport kinda ignored the questioning about the former but answered about the latter.
“Le Batard is a phony. Le Batard is a company man,” Rapaport said. “He’s probably right now cleaning John Skipper’s house and giving his car a detail … The whole thing with him is that he questioned whether Magic Johnson is qualified to run the Lakers and my response was that your father is totally unqualified to be on a TV show every day. You put him there. You have no stake in the game.” “To me Dan Le Batard is the old regime,” he continued. “At a time it seemed like he was edgy. He’s a joke. Aside from his fan base in Miami — he laughs at his own jokes. He’s just a company man that fakes it off like he’s some sort of rabble-rouser. He’s John Skipper’s lapdog.”
After wondering why Le Batard wasn’t suspended for saying he (Rapaport) “wants to be black,” Rapaport concluded, “He’s a joke, and his father has no business being on TV, because as far as I’m concerned what his father does every day is a Cuban minstrel show. He’s a one-trick pony and I think it’s disrespectful across the board.”
It’s not really any secret that Le Batard has a close relationship with ESPN President John Skipper — and Le Batard has defended him through recent tumultuous events; I’ve written that Skipper is presiding over a network in identity crisis — but my opinion is that Rapaport is dead wrong about Papi.
Whomever is Le Batard’s cohost on the show — since Bomani Jones left the program for an upcoming show with Pablo Torre, guest hosts have included Sarah Spain, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Israel Gutierrez, Jay Williams, and more — the dialogue is to set up for Papi’s kicker. I get that it’s not for everybody but I think he’s really funny and there are a lot of people who feel the same way.
It would be one thing if the show flopped in the ratings, but Highly Questionable consistently gets more viewers than its general sports talk lead-in, SportsNation, and also usually beats ESPN’s sport-specific daily afternoon programming. Here were the viewerships of ESPN’s Monday through Thursday last week (numbers via Showbuzz Daily):
As a constant observer of ESPN, I do not think it’s more probable than not that ESPN could get better numbers with other programming in HQ’s spot.
I don’t think Le Batard’s staff was totally blameless in the spat they had with Rapaport a few months ago, but Rapaport is wrong about the merits of Papi as a television performer.