About three months ago, back when bars existed, I was spouting off at my local about something. Why I now love the idea of a London NFL franchise. Why Lee Trevino is underrated historically. Why Korean women dominate the LPGA but Korean men are non-existent on the men’s tour. (I think it’s about size and that’s why Sungjae Im is breaking through.) A friend of mine said, “You should have a sports radio show.”
I responded how I always respond.
“Find me the market where I can talk exclusively about football and golf and I’m in.” (I’ve narrowed these markets down to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and the greater Pinehurst, North Carolina metropolitan area.)
I then went into my routine refrain. I talked about Marc Silverman. Silvy of Waddle & Silvy.
Before a Long Time, There’s a First Time.
I remember when Waddle & Silvy started.
It was about two years after DBB did. I was working a desk job, as the Associate General Manager of the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway (a job I was TERRIBLE at), and I gave their show a shot because Tom Waddle was my favorite player growing up. To that point in my life I had only listened to one sports station (WFAN in NY) and truly only one show (Mike and the Mad Dog). But if I was going to do this blog thing seriously, I needed to know what was being discussed in Chicago. So why not listen to Waddle and this other guy?
I had never heard of Marc Silverman.
Then I heard him.
The first thing that stood out to me was the voice. It was like Malört pouring through my computer speakers. I didn’t feel like I was in Manhattan listening to a show in Chicago. I felt like I was in Chicago, sitting on my favorite bar stool at Pippin’s, listening to a guy from Skokie tell me why I was wrong about everything. The accent lent an authenticity to the opinion. It commanded attention.
The second thing, the more important thing, was the passion. And still to this day, I’m mesmerized by it. Cubs. Bulls. Blackhawks. Bears. The entire year, every season, every team. What always amazed me about Mike and the Dog was their ability to yell and scream about a decision made by the Mets manager in the fourth inning of a ballgame in May. It was obvious from that first listen that Silvy was the same. This wasn’t produced rage. It wasn’t performance. It was authentic passion. Silvy gave a shit.
And sports radio, good local sports radio, is all about giving a shit. The airwaves are littered with folks who take a third-person approach to sports, treating ballgames as comic fodder. They all think they’re Norm Macdonald. (They’re not.) They all wanna be Howard Stern. (Ain’t happening.) Those of us who truly love sports know what it means to give a shit.
Emotionally investing is hard. Emotionally investing in a public forum is even harder. It’s an art form. And Marc Silverman is a master.
That Thing He Did.
I have no idea what year.
I have no idea why I wasn’t at some job.
I was walking around, listening to Fiddler on the Roof, I’m sure, debating which bar stool to plop my ass down on for the afternoon.
I chose Spring Lounge. In those days, I chose Spring Lounge a lot.
DBB had a few hundred Twitter followers and we were sort of drifting out to sea. There were a ton of new blogs starting. Every media outlet now had a digital presence. I wasn’t sure there was value in the effort anymore. I was halfway through my third pint of Schaefer – yes they had Schaefer on tap and yes I drank it because it was $2 a pint – when my phone starting going wild.
15 new followers.
“What the fuck is going on?” I thought.
Then I got a text from a buddy in Chicago. “Dude, I think Silvy just mentioned you on the air.”
The Twitter feed that had labored for a few years suddenly doubled and tripled in a matter of minutes. Traffic on the site went through the roof. I don’t remember what I’d written that he mentioned. I don’t remember what it was he said exactly. But by mentioning “DaBearsBlog” he stamped the site’s existence as worthwhile.
I don’t think I’d ever communicated much with Marc before that time so I sent him a DM thanking him. He responded with a very simple, “I love your stuff.”
Since that time, I’ve communicated a ton with Silvy. I even asked his advice when we were considering expanding throughout the Chicago sports landscape. (He very wisely told me not to.) I’ll keep the private communications private. Helping out in a DM or email is wonderful. But doing it on the air, on the most popular sports radio show in the world’s greatest sports city, that was everything.
DBB is still here because of it.
There Will Be Normal Again.
I’m writing this today because Silvy revealed recently he’s sick. And when I heard that revelation I thought, “Why have I not publicly thanked this guy for what he did? What am I waiting for?”
Many times I’ve walked by the studio on State Street while he was on the air and debated saying hello. Sarah has even encouraged it a few times. I’ve always thought, “Nah, why bother him?” Hell, I’ve even thought, “What am I gonna say? Hi, I’m DaBearsBlog? How fucking lame is that?”
I can’t tell you how much I regret those decisions now.
There will be normal again for this world, even as we collectively go through this specific kind of awful. There will also be normal again for Silvy, even as he does the same. We will survive. We will persevere through adversity. And so will he.
And when things go back to normal, I’m coming to Chicago.
I’m walking over to State Street.
I’m standing in front of that glass.
I’ll pound on it, if necessary. Like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.
And I’m thanking him.
For his work.
For his passion.
And for thinking what I do around here has value. Marc Silverman has had a profound impact on my life. His support has meant the world to me. And I can’t wait to not shake his hand and say, “Thank you, Silvy.”
For now, this will have to do.