I appreciate everyone's comments, feedback, kind words on yesterday's post that gave a diary-style breakdown of the 2010 Jim Rome Smack-Off and my perspective on where the show is now compared to where it was during the earlier part of this decade. If you missed it, you can easily go back and read it and I highly encourage reading the comments (and leaving comments, as well!). If I didn't work for a competitor, I'd advise Rome's people to read the comments, too. It's a few dozen people, but the sentiments on the homogenization of the show are shared by many.
As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I was asked on Twitter, in e-mail and in person by some of you which calls I thought were the best ever in the Smack-Off. So I thought this would be something good to share with everyone on here. It'll be a trip down memory lane for some of you, for newer Rome listeners you can hear what qualified as a great Smack-Off call back in the day. As an old-school Rome caller, listening to these calls made me feel like Charlie Daniels at the end of this Geico commercial....
....I mean, can't you just picture Iafrate handing the phone to Vic in NoCal and saying "That's how you do it, son...." (And yes, for you 1560 listeners, I totally ripped that analogy from WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross from his appearence on our show. All credit to JR! GOOD GAWD ALMIGHTY!!!)
With that in mind, here are twelve of the best ever -- twelve "Charlie Daniels" of The Jungle, if you will, each represented once in my 12 Most Memorable Smack-Off calls, complete with where they ranked that year and any necessary backstory. Call them the Dirty Dozen, call them the Old Guard, just don't call them a "clone." (They tend to take that the wrong way.)
TERRENCE IN SIERRA MADRE (Number 4 ranked call in 1997)
BACKSTORY: To this day, Terrence is still one of the greatest callers to never win the Smack-Off. Back in the day, he used to involve his brother as a prop in his calls. This one was a beauty, where he shoots his brother at the end and presumably kills him. Good times!
SCREAMING MIKE (Number 6 ranked call in 1997)
BACKSTORY: Honestly, I have no idea what the backstory of Screaming Mike is. He was only in one Smack-Off (1997) and to my knowledge, he never called again. I'm including it because (a) it's awesome, and (b) it was the first Smack-Off call I ever heard. I remember getting hooked on WWF as a kid flipping channels and seeing Captain Lou Albano screaming like a maniac about the Moondogs winning the tag team title. I mean, I was in hook, line and sinker on the WWF. Well, I guess that makes Screaming Mike my Jungle equivalent to Captain Lou Albano.
STEVE CARBONE (Number 1 ranked call in 1998)
BACKSTORY: Steve Carbone is best known for (a) working for Rome under the title "Phone Slap" in the late `90's and (b) being my arch-nemesis in the Smack-Off for many years. We've since buried the hatchet (not that the hatchet was ever really out to begin with) and someday I hope to share a Macho Man-Hulk Hogan Megapowers 1987 handshake with him. In this call, understand at this time Steve was a ridiculed employee of Rome -- ridiculed by, of all people, the clones. Well, Carbone comes in and lights up Rome's entire listener base (and some Jungle Legends) with this rant. Great call.
GINO IN SAN ANTONIO (Number 3 ranked call in 1998)
BACKSTORY: Gino is on the short list of "best callers to never win the Smack Off." Old-school Rome listeners remember Gino being referred to as obese by many people in calls and faxes (yes, faxed back then!). I met him at a 1997 Tour Stop and was disappointed to find out I was heavier than him. (Since then, I became heavier than many more people, and thankfully now, the list is shrinking....47 pounds, BITCHES!) Anyway, Gino needed to be on here.
BOSTON PHINN (unranked in 1998)
BACKSTORY: Maybe it's because 1998 was my first Smack-Off, maybe it's because I met the guy when he visited Houston, maybe I just like chowds, but I liked this call from Boston Phinn. Very creative, almost no sports, and production value at the end. I always thought this call deserved better.
KERWIN IN RIVERSIDE (Number 2 ranked call in 1999)
BACKSTORY: Kerwin was one of those late `90's callers that, if he had won the thing, would have been a true legend still to this day, because he'd have kept calling. But once he finished runner-up and then sixth in 2000, he disappeared, probably choosing to, you know, actually be a productive member of society instead of calling talk radio. That Kerwin never won and only finished top five once is a testament to the deep field back in the day.
DOC MIKE DITOLLA (Number 1 ranked call in 2000)
BACKSTORY: This is the last time Doc Mike won the event. Starts with a Sedale Threatt "sperm lawn sprinkler" blast and only gets better from there. Doc Mike is the Babe Ruth of the Jungle...only if Babe Ruth were much thinner and performed root canals.
SILK IN HUNTINGDON BEACH (Number 1 ranked call in 2001)
BACKSTORY: I can say without hyperbole that this upset was like Buster Douglas, Villanova 1985, and Boise State over OU all rolled into one times infinity. Silk is one of the legendary callers of all time, and an even better guy, but he was never someone who was a threat to win the Smack-Off. (To his credit, he just didn't take it nearly as seriously as the rest of us dorks did.) In this call, though, he responded to two years of calls and faxes implying that he was a jobless, penniless, surfer dude. Creative call and, true story, he had no idea he'd even won until I called him on his cell phone afterwards to congratulate him. He was biking to the beach to go surfing. One hundred percent truth.
JIM IN FALL RIVER (Number 8 ranked call in 2001)
BACKSTORY: If Boston Phinn is a chowd, he's more like Wellesley or Newton. Jim in Fall River? Well, he's more like....well, Fall River. Or New Bedford. Or Brockton. Actually, in this call he's more like someone from deep in uncivilized parts of the South, what with the donkey noise in the background. Yes, DONKEY NOISE. Just listen.
GREG IN VEGAS (Number 2 ranked call in 2003)
BACKSTORY: Greg is my choice for "best caller to never win the Smack-Off." If he had managed to steer clear of his caller-masochistic tendencies, 2003 would have meant the green jacket for him and only four titles for me. Greg's best Smack-Off effort ever (although I really, REALLY enjoyed his call last Friday).
IAFRATE (Number 1 ranked call in 2004)
BACKSTORY: Iafrate is my favorite caller of all-time. Always has been. For years he was the Susan Lucci of the show, with numerous runner-up finishes. In 2004, he finally etched his name in the annals of "Being a Really Good Caller to a Radio Show" history by breaking through, with a tribute to then-Rome board op, Brian "Whitey" Albers. The song is a satire of a song a listener named John Neems had made back in the `90's called "Michael's Dad," a horrific song about Michael Jordan's dad James.
JOE IN THE OC (Number3 ranked call in 2006)
BACKSTORY: Joe in the OC is a little newer than some of the names above, but he's been a fixture near the top of the Smack-Off the last several years. His go-to move is making fun of caller Rachel in Houston's (mythical?) bodily hair. It all started on this call.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
BONUS -- REALLY BAD SMACK-OFF CALLS