In my world they were Mike and Mike before the ones in the morning ever hit the airwaves. When I arrived at Boston College in 1998, Mike Vega and Mike Shalin were the BC beat writers for the Globe and Herald, respectively.
It’s 9:00 on a Saturday morning and Mike Vega just arrived to cover the 9:15 football scrimmage. This is significant because Mike is so notoriously late that we have coined a term for it, “Vega Standard Time.” I give him credit for self-awareness because he has bought right into it. Mike’s been known to announce “let’s kick it off!” upon his arrival for a noon football game at 12:01. Right on time.
Mike Shalin is the comedic half of Mike-squared, to the extent that we actually seat him directly in front of us in the press box for the entertainment value. He’s known to quote a great line from classic comedies such as the Mary Tyler Moore Show – “I hate spunk” in his Lou Grant voice – but had come out with his own masterful lines as well. Once when BC scored a touchdown at Notre Dame, hushing what is notoriously a partisan press box contingent, “Shales” said “BC just took the press box out of the game.” Spunky.
It should come as no surprise, then, that combining Shalin Spunk with Vega Standard Time has produced some memorable moments. “When Mike dies,” Shales once said, “they’re going to refer to him as ‘the early Mike Vega’.”
One day Shales had stood patiently through another routine football practice in order to grab a few lines afterwards from then-coach Tom O’Brien. After TOB finished his media responsibilities, he had just reached the locker room door when Vega arrived and snagged him for a private interview. “I suffered through practice to get two sentences,” Shales quipped. “Now Tom’s over there telling Vega who shot JFK.”
Shalin’s favorite VST story involves former BC hoops standout Uka Agbai, who once suffered a mid-season disk injury that we scurried to explain shortly before tipoff of a game – without Mike Vega there. As he tells it, Shales was content to go with our press release version of events until he saw Vega, whose serendipitously late arrival resulted in an unplanned hallway encounter with our team physician. “So I’m writing from a press release,” Shales said. “Meanwhile Dr. English is going over the actual X-rays with Mike in the training room. I get scooped for being on time!”
Shales left the Herald a few years ago but still makes semi-regular appearances at our athletic events. He has a permanent press row seat in front of my staff. Vega is back on our beat after five years in which his shoes were filled by the ever-punctual Mark Blaudschun. The fact that Mike was on time for this morning’s football scrimmage leads me to believe he may have fallen back instead of springing ahead two Saturdays ago when we switched to daylight saving time. EDT is the new VST.
Mike and Mike in the morning may be more famous, but mine are definitely more entertaining. And good friends. And by the way, Mike – who did shoot JFK?