Fox25′s Sports Sunday had Ron Nikoleski in studio and Butch Stearns in Florida. Highlights of the day were followed by Levan Reid’s segment looking at the Red Sox trying to keep it fun…their acquisitions show it, guys like Millar and Giambi are good additions to the clubhouse, to loosen it up, make it fun. Trying to make it more of a team concept, as opposed to “Manny being Manny”. Nomar talked about some of the news guys being great, and that it’s going to be a lot of fun having them around. Millar shown several times talking about chemistry and having fun. Reid hopes the new mix equals wins. Jeff Horrigan was up next, Stearns first asked him right away about Todd Walker’s defense. Horrigan says you can’t tell much from drills, but he looks pretty good, but that its going to be tougher on Nomar who’s had different second basemen every year. Nomar seems to be different this year, after that first tough day with Shaughnessy he’s been very accommodating to everyone. Pedro is different too, he’s confident and healthy this year. Manny doesn’t have responsibility to talk to the media, as long as he’s accountable to his teammates. Who will have the biggest impact of the newcomers, Stearns listed everyone but Walker, and Horrigan picked Walker and maybe Chad Fox. Mendoza wants the opportunity to close, to be a Rivera, but he’ll take whatever role the manager wants to use him in. Lou Merloni might be pushed by Damian Jackson for a spot on the roster, especially if they take 12 pitchers.
After the break, Hillenbrand was the topic, he wants to stay here. Stearns feels he’s the starting third baseman opening day, but if he struggles with the bat, Mueller might take his spot. Derek Lowe looks good this year. The show closed with scenes from the week in spring training. Mike Timlin saying “I’m not very good…you guys might want to strangle Theo” was a highlight. Pedro whiffing on the golf course was also a source of amusement.
Red Sox this week goes up against Sports Sunday and this week they had a player roundtable with Todd Walker, Jeremy Giambi and Lou Merloni. It also had Mike Barnicle pressing Larry Lucchino on the issue of race raised by the Gordon Edes article earlier in the week.
WHDH’s Sports Xtra had Gene Lavanchy in Florida once again, looking ahead the Red Sox season. They went through the probable starters…outfield is set…Manny, Damon, Nixon. Nomar set at short, Walker at second, third and first are up in the air. Hillenbrand is the incumbent, with Mueller ready to step in. First is filled with Millar, Ortiz and Giambi. There have been no major controversies, which Lavanchy says is odd for the Red Sox. They wore their home white uniforms today for pictures and practice as well Nomar talked about all the work they do, the drills, the things they can spend time on. They then looked at the signing of Robert Person and he’s looking forward to getting back out there, he’s “hungry” and has “a lot of unfinished business” to attend to this year. Highlights from the Bruins tie with the Islanders tonight was up next. The Celtics were also mentioned and a look at Mark Blount and having him back on the team. O’Brien hopes that Blount is here as long as he is the coach. A look ahead to Yao Ming’s visit tomorrow was followed by a Tyson fight recap.
Tony Massarotti and Don Orsillo were in next to talk Red Sox. They talked about how quiet it is so far. Tony says everytime you say that something happens. Orsillo contrasted that with the Yankees camp chaos. But he also said that someone will happen. Then they went onto Manny not talking to the media. They don’t think it is a big deal, Tony thinks if the guy produces, gets along with his teammates and coaching staff it’s fine. Tony said the relationship with the media isn’t nasty with Manny. Orsillo says Manny doesn’t say a whole lot when he talks anyway. Lavanchy says that in a dispute between the media and a player, the fans are going to side with the player, 99% of the time. They talked a little about the media in Boston being unique, and how Tony thinks that has to do with the inferiority complex in the area. He talked some more about the ownership setting up media meetings and how Tony addressed the team as to what the media expects from the players. Orsillo mentioned guys who were accessible like David Cone in the past, Derek Lowe now, and the crew of “dirt dogs” should all be fun too. Massarotti mentioned that Urbina never talked to the media last year and no one minded. Lavanchy brought up that during the Jimy Williams era people complained that there wasn’t a set lineup, what will happen this year? They went through some of the players, Ortiz is pretty mobile for a big guy…Hillenbrand, where is his head at, will he also be in the first base mix? Tony brought up again about the guys they brought in being used to being role players in the past. Orsillo said they’re younger guys, not like Lansing and Bichette. Tony says is should be a very good clubhouse. They talked some about Wakefield being moved into the # 2 slot behind Pedro to make a change up between Pedro and Lowe. They think it’s interesting, but the order doesn’t really matter, but it’s good variety going from hard stuff to the knuckleball to the sinker to the lefty to the junkballer.
The last segment was a look at Wakefield and the knuckleball. Wakefield explains how he holds the ball, he developed it in the minors when he was an infielder who couldn’t hit. They saw him throwing it in the outfield and made him a pitcher. Lavanchy tried to catch him..in full baseball gear, and dropped a number of them. Wakefield says it’s fun to throw the knuckleball especially when it is working. He likes the looks he gets from the hitters who can’t believe how it moves. On the flip side is when it is not moving, it goes over the green monster pretty quickly. Lavanchy can’t believe how fast the ball actually comes in. Much faster than it appears on television.
Sports Final was on late because of the Grammy’s and Bob Lobel started off right away making fun of the fact that Theo Epstein and his band weren’t mentioned in the Awards. The big topic tonight was the media. Are they too tough? Ted Williams thought they didn’t like him…have things changed? Massarotti’s speech to the team was mentioned and they’re looking for accessibility and accountability. Shaughnessy says there is so many of the media, and the growth of talk radio makes the spotlight very bright. Dan Roche brought up the story Tuesday by Shaughnessy and went through the whole story. Massarotti says the media gets very personal here, and we take ourselves way too seriously and are too self important. It shouldn’t be about the media. Their poll showed 75% saying that the Boston media is fair, 20% unfair, 4% despicable. Shaughnessy, Neumeier, and Buckley were on to talk about the events of the week. They went through the stories, and the back and forth between the papers. Neumeier says this is just a product of the ages, and that everything is all about opinion right now. CNN, Fox, MSNBC etc on news it’s all back and forth, same now in sports. Shaughnessy talked about how he got to Nomar a day early…he was talking to Merloni and Nomar came back and they started talking about Ted Williams and so forth, and Nomar was answering Dan’s questions. That turned into the column for the next day. Earlier that day Nomar had told reporters that he wasn’t speaking to them until the next day, and then Shaughnessy goes in and interviews him. Buckley wants to be clear…he was wrong last year that time in September, he said doesn’t want this to be another “Shaughnessy-Kraft thing” that goes on for 3 or 4 years or another Bledsoe/Brady, he wanted to make it clear that he wanted to fix things with Nomar, at that point Shaughnessy tried to jump in, Buckley wouldn’t let him…he went on to say it’s been horrible the last 3-4 days, he’s been beat up badly everywhere, and probably deserves it. Shaughnessy says he thinks Nomar was using him to get a message out…Buckley says Nomar doesn’t swear in interviews, so he doesn’t think that Nomar wanted those things put into the paper. Buckley tells Shaughnessy he doesn’t think he was fair to him this week. Neumeier tried to mediate between the two of them, who are clearly tiffed at each other. Is all of this all about just selling papers? Buckley talked about all his variety of columns he’s done lately… high school, beanpot, that stuff isn’t going to sell a huge amount of papers, or generate talk on radio, they’re small items of local interest.
Gordon Edes joined the show next from Florida. He was asked about his column about the lack of African-Americans on the Red Sox…was he trying to be inflammatory. Edes is astonished that his column was taken as controversial. He was in no way trying to say they were trying exclude minorities, especially since they have so many Latin stars. He just thought it worthy of note that it seems that African-Americans as a whole are not playing baseball as much. With the Red Sox history of backwardness in race relations and the fact that there will no African-Americans in the starting lineup opening day, he thought it very worthy of note. He says it must’ve been a slow day on radio or at the Boston Herald if this became a hot topic. Neumeier says that most people including himself didn’t get Gordon’s point right away. Edes argued that he had quotes from Theo Epstein in his column acknowledging the lack of numbers, but also asserting that their hiring practices are whitout color. ….took a shot a Buckley reciting his resume and again stressed the article was not meant to be inflammatory. Lobel brought up Buckley’s rebuttal column. Edes thinks it’s interesting that the neither the Globe nor his name appeared in Buckley’s “rebuttal”. Was it really a rebuttal? Buckley and Edes talked over each other for a while….couldn’t hear too much. Buckley emphasized again how impressed he is that the Red Sox are color blind these days and that Gordon’s piece was better served as a tidbit in a Sunday’s notes column….it doesn’t deserve a whole column. Shaughnessy interjected that people are going to hate this show…”It’s us talking about us”…a new low in sports television. Buckley says that Shaughnessy shouldn’t have been on the show then. He surely knew what it was going to be about. Buckley says this is bringing the heads of the 5 families coming together to find common ground. Gordon hopes they can spend the rest of the spring talking baseball and not being so self absorbed.
Lobel joked about bringing their lousiest show ever into Overtime. Neumeier joked that what is more interesting…bullpen by committee or this? They then said they threw Shaughnessy off the show and have brought in Sean McAdam…Lobel mentioned Bruce Allen and other self styled critics. McAdam talked about the glut of shows, radio shows and how many print guys appear on TV/Radio shows appear here as opposed to other towns. Neumeier didn’t think that one sports radio station could survive in this town, but there is such an incredible appetite for all of this stuff and things take on a life that they don’t deserve. They talked for a bit about how much there is out there for competition and news. Does the rivalry between the Globe and Herald, WEEI & WWZN factor into all of this stuff? Does Buckley taking on the Edes and Globe make for good reporting? The #2 paper taking on the #1…David vs Goliath. Lobel talked about the meshing of all the media. Neumeier said in the old days, they always went after rival sports casts and that isn’t so much different than how it is now. There are just more forums to do so. McAdam said that it is a thinly veiled secret that most media guys are thin skinned and can’t take criticism well. Lobel ended the show saying it is going to take him a few weeks to get over this program.