The Jungle is the nickname for the successful Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio. The program features the host’s “takes,” that is, his opinions on the hot topics in sports and whatever else might be on his mind, such as the terrible car he drove in his younger days.
Rome’s devoted fans are known as the clones. They are sometimes allowed to call the show with their own takes. Rome’s mantra for his callers is “have a take, don’t suck.” Their goal is to “get racked,” meaning to be considered for the Huge Call of the Day, awarded at the end of the program. The clones “run smack,” insulting each other in creative ways. If they go over the line, they are “run.” Their call is ended abruptly, with much ridicule from Rome and the clones.
The best of the best are invited to compete in the Smackoff, an annual competition featuring three hours of the previous year’s best callers. The calls consist mostly of insults of the other callers, with the occasional sports take mixed in. In the early days of the Jungle, it was considered bad form to write content out in advance and read it, but over the years, clearly scripted calls have worked their way into the Smackoff, along with pre-recorded sound effects and even walk up music, like you hear for batters at the ballpark. While some of the new content is quite innovative, many Jungle traditionalists are not amused.
That leads us to Leff from Laguna Beach. Leff nearly won the Smackoff two years ago when he rented a helicopter and made his Smackoff call from above the Los Angeles studio where Rome hosts the show. Last year, he won the event by actually walking into the studio and finishing his call live, while wearing a game-worn Richie Incognito jersey. How does one top that? By gathering together the participants of a 1996 Sports Illustrated article and photo shoot about the Rome show and having them walk into the studio. That gimmick won Leff a second straight Smackoff and the five thousand bucks that goes with it.
Where does the Smackoff go from here? No place good, I’m afraid. “Dear Jim, I hope Ted Williams’ frozen head is well guarded. Otherwise, Leff will steal it and drop it on your desk from the Space Shuttle next year for a threepeat. War when the Jungle was the Jungle. I’m out.”