ESPN News Blunder

Apparently ESPN News was caught in a reporting blunder of major proportions this afternoon as they reported that Shaquille O’Neal would miss the rest of the season due to the knee injury he suffered last night. They cited a Miami Herald report as the source.

Apparently it was a hoax. A fake article was posted on a site made to look very much like the real newspaper website. The fake article started out:

It's tough to see a player go down with a season ending (and possibly career ending) injury. That's what Heat fans had to endure while watching a game against the Chicago Bulls. In the opening minutes of Tuesdays contest, Shaquille O'Neal went crashing to the floor and immediately grabbed his left knee.

The page has since been taken down and a retraction issued by ESPN News. The website imitated closely the path of the Herald webpage, the difference being the “dolem” in the domain URL.

The URL (Since broken) of the hoax:

The URL of a real Miami Herald story on Shaq’s injury.

Fox Sports quickly had a bit up on their website, calling the ESPN News report “a bit premature”

Dang that internet. How are people supposed to know what is real and what isn’t?

Pats hire two coaches

(from team release)
The New England Patriots hired two coaches today, appointing Joel Collier to the position of assistant secondary coach and naming Harold Nash the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Additionally, the Patriots released defensive back Earthwind Moreland, defensive lineman Buck Rasmussen, guard Wilbert Brown and tight end Zeron Flemister.

The Dale & Holley Show

It’s official now. On a 9:00 am conference call, Jason Wolfe, WEEI Director of Programming and Operations, announced that Michael Holley will be the new co-host of the 10-2 midday show alongside Dale Arnold. Effective March 1st. They have agreed on a multi-year contract. Holley said that he is: “Very happy to be joining WEEI and the Dale & Holley program” noting that he’s sure to give Dale top billing. “Not going to a show that needs a tremendous amount of help, the show was number one before I got here and hopefully I won’t mess it up too much. Going to be a great program, Dale is great at leading the ship. He never seems flustered on the air.”

Dale said that he had a great time working with Neumy, he was humbled and honored by the names that wanted to replace him. Michael was at the top of the list. Feel that the the station has “debunked a myth about sports radio” in this town, the myth that people only listen when they want to be miserable or complain. Since the championships, they’re getting “goofy golf” numbers.

Jason Wolfe: Holley was at the top of the list from the start. Brings great credibility, name recognition.

Dean Johnson (Boston Herald) asked Holley what about radio appeals to him: “I like Boston. When I went to Chicago briefly in 2001 as soon as I got there, I realized I didn’t want to write about talk about sports in that market. I love talking to the Boston fans. Out of all the mediums, newspaper, TV you don’t know who you’re talking to, on radio you can talk directly to people. Just love sitting around and talking about sports.”

He added that this is not a reclamation project here. He doesn’t want to take the show in a different direction. The show will just naturally be different because his personality is different from Neumy.

Dale said that “Jason has never tried to steer anyone in the direction they should do their show.” Michael brings a comfort level to his (Dale’s) type of conversation. Holley added that Dale doesn’t do the trumped up sports talk where each side takes a opinion and they make a show out of it. He doesn’t like that type of radio.

Background on Holley – he is 34 years old, grew up in Akron Ohio, (Same as Lebron James) started at the Akron Beacon Journal 1992. Moved to the Boston Globe in 1994, covered Celtics for 3 1/2 years. He started writing columns in 1998, left briefly for Chicago in 2001, returned back to the Globe, left again in 2004. His last column for them was covering Bruins/Canadiens game 7.

Arnold on show prep: A lot the night before, watching TV, then come in and go through the papers, go to Tries not to do the show between 9:00 and 10:00 in the morning, better when it’s spontaneous.

How important was it to add a person of color: Wolfe – not at all, just wanted the best person, it has nothing to do with it. Now that he’s here all it means is that the station continues its practice of hiring the best person. Never crossed his mind that he was a person of color.

On the naming of the show: Dale and Holley has a bit of an easier flow than Dale and Michael. The idea behind names of shows is to just make it easier to remember. (And for ratings people to put into their diaries)

Like to add a Dale and Holley element that’s unique to the show.

Bill Griffith asked a side question: Is there a new contract in place for Pete Sheppard? (pause) Wolfe: This is all about Michael Holley.

Onto the links:

The Celtics led for most of the night in Los Angeles, but faltered down the stretch and fell to the Lakers 104-95. Shira Springer has the game story of the loss, which pushed the Celtics back down to the .500 mark. Last night was the first time Gary Payton played against the Lakers since being traded to the Celtics last summer. Steve Bulpett has a piece on Payton’s thoughts on the return. Springer’s notebook looks at former Celtic Chris Mihm, who is fitting in quite well in LA. Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce expressing disappointment in Kobe Bryant for telling tales out of school.

Manny Ramirez is the topic of the day from Spring Training. (Sorry, it’s CVS Spring Training now) Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox slugger, who has found a comfort zone in Boston – something many thought impossible. Steven Krasner looks at Manny’s media session and some things he found out about his swing in the offseason. David Heuschkel looks at the Red Sox new Mr. Congeniality. Dan Shaughnessy also files a piece on the happy Ramirez. David Borges looks at the transformation of Manny from “Howard Hughes to Howard Stern”. Karen Guregian also has a piece on the “New” Ramirez. He was also a guest on Dennis & Callahan this morning, and was every bit his carefree, likable self.

Chris Snow has a look at the Red Sox first full squad workout of the spring, in front of a couple thousand fans. Jonathan Comey isn’t a big fan of how the Red Sox have conducted themselves since winning the World Series. Jackie MacMullan has a piece on the woman who handles the Fenway Park switchboard during games and some of the crazy calls she gets. John Tomase has a look at Red Sox prospect Brandon Moss, an outfielder who had a monster season in “A” ball last year. Karen Guregian looks at Bill Mueller, who is working to get back from knee surgery as soon as possible. Gordon Edes talks with former Red Sox team doctor Bill Morgan about the issue of steroids in baseball. Morgan says that there was no evidence of steroid use among Red Sox players during his time here. He realizes that Canseco was using while here, but didn’t see it. Howard Bryant (subscription only) has a column on the Yankees trying to forget about the Red Sox and focus on their own team and success. One note – Howard…what’s up with calling Gary Sheffield “one of the most outspoken and coolest cats” around? Snow’s notebook has Mueller ahead of schedule in his rehab. Horrigan’s notebook looks at the ongoing issue of the Rings. Krasner’s notebook has more on Mueller. Borges’ notebook has Mueller and Johnny Damon hoping to sign new deals with the Red Sox.

As expected, the Patriots slapped the franchise tag on Adam Vinatieri yesterday, the second time they have done it to the kicker in his career. New Globe Patriots beat writer Jerome Solomon reports on the move. Michael Felger also reports on the move and has a number of other Patriots notes. Tom E Curran has more, and gets into the contract status of Ty Law and Tom Brady a little bit as well.

FSN has Celtics/Nuggets at 9:00. ESPN has Providence/Seton Hall at 7:00 and Rockets/Spurs at 9:00. ESPN2 has Duke/Georgia Tech at 7:00 and Boston College/Villanova at 9:00.

Big Papi is in the house

I realize that my updates have been appearing later and later in the morning. I’m attempting to put more into them in the way of commentary and thoughts in addition to all of the links I can find. It’s a balance that I’m still striving to perfect here, so I appreciate your patience. I’m trying to make it worth your while.

Spring Training is upon us in full force, and one way to tell is the articles on the one or two players who have media sessions that day. Today the targets are David Ortiz and Johnny Damon. For Ortiz, (Who was also a guest of Dennis & Callahan this morning) arrival in camp after a winter of being lauded as the new Mr October is no doubt a relief. Dan Shaughnessy has a look at the new “Senor Octubre”. Jeff Horrigan also has a look at the slugger, who now finds himself having to handle sobbing teenage girls, thrilled at the chance to meet “Big Papi”. Steven Krasner looks at how postseason hero Ortiz has proclaimed that Curt Schilling is his own personal hero for his work in the postseason while “bleeding to death”. David Heuschkel examines the glow which surrounds Ortiz and the warmth he brings to the clubhouse and fans. David Borges writes that Ortiz hopes to even surpass the outstanding numbers he’s posted the last two seasons for the Red Sox. Most of these articles all contain the same quotes, it’s difficult to come up with original material when the players are meeting the media as a group. Each one does attempt to take a little different approach in the quotes they focus on and use, but for the most part, the pieces are all very similar.

The other player getting his day in the spotlight was Johnny Damon. Chris Snow has the most detailed look at the lead “idiot” in the Red Sox run to the championship. Snow has had a pretty good early run as the new Red Sox beat writer for the Globe. He had some controversy at his last job in Minnesota, but looks to be a solid addition to Joe Sullivan’s sports department, which is in the middle of a minor makeover. Karen Guregian also looks at the arrival of Damon, who said that he hopes to remain in Boston for the rest of his career. He is currently entering the last year of his contract. Steven Krasner says that Damon is still the same “idiot” we all have come to know and love. Heuschkel’s notebook has Damon stepping up to take his swings at A-Rod. Borges’ notebook also covers the arrival of Damon, who proclaimed that the offseason had fewer “drunken nights” as there were following the 2003 season.

Gordon Edes has an interesting article on Randy Johnson, where he has the Big Unit speaking about his relationship with Curt Schilling, the expectations upon him in New York, and also that he is happy for Boston that the Red Sox won the World Series. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that Pedro Martinez wouldn’t have been a good fit with these new Red Sox, and that camp is much quieter, pleasant and serene without he and Nomar. Karen Guregian has Trot Nixon tempering his “clown” comments about A-Rod ever so slightly. Steven Krasner catches up with some Red Sox fans enjoying the 80 degree weather in Florida while the rest of us were in the snowstorm. Krasner’s notebook has more on Nixon somewhat backing down on his A-Rod comments. Horrigan’s notebook has Tom Werner hoping that the World Series rings will be distributed at the home opener. Snow’s notebook has Werner talking briefly about the possibility of a new contract for Theo Epstein, whose deal runs through this season.

Howard Bryant (subscription only) has a look at Jason Giambi trying to play the “good guy” role now, to win back the support of the fans. By telling the truth about his use of steroids, Giambi may “possess an odd kind of honor” according to Bryant. What I find amusing is the contrast in the NY media’s treatment of Giambi and Gary Sheffield. Giambi took massive amounts of well deserved heat for his admission of using steroids. However he did not produce on the field last season. Gary Sheffield has also admitted the use of illegal substances, but had a great season at the plate last year. Giambi gets killed in the media, Sheffield escapes almost all criticism.

Murray Chass in the NY Times (free registration required – or use bugmenot) takes a look at the perception that the Red Sox players are taking shots at A-Rod and the Yankees on a daily basis. He says

Athletes have long accused reporters of creating stories, and, sadly, this is one of those instances. It has become one of the most distasteful instances I have witnessed in 45 years of covering baseball.

He out lines numerous cases where what the players themselves said was fairly innocuous, but was taken and promoted as a rip. A must-read.

Celtics hit the coast

Steve Bulpett outlines seven requirements for the Celtics to be successful in the second half of the season and even make some noise in the Eastern conference playoffs. Mike Fine looks at the Celtics mini-trip west this week. Shira Springer has Gary Payton taking things day-by-day this week as the trade deadline approaches on Thursday. Bulpett also has a piece on the waiting game for Payton.

Franchise tag for Adam?

Michael Felger reports that the Patriots could slap the franchise tag on Adam Vinatieri by today’s 4:00 PM deadline. Eric McHugh looks at some of the difficult decisions facing the Patriots in the approaching free agent period. Lenny Megliola talks with Doug Flutie, who is still under contract to the Chargers, but perhaps hoping for a better situation in the NFL somewhere.

NASCAR fans are out there

It’s easy to say that no one in New England is interested in NASCAR, the TV numbers say otherwise. Bill Griffith looks at the numbers for the Daytona 500, which drew an 8.6 in the Boston market. He looks at the highs and lows of the broadcast. I think it would be more accurate to say that Red Sox and Patriots fans (who make up most of WEEI’s listeners) are not in addition NASCAR fans. Many people who watch NASCAR do not listen to sports radio thus making their voice silent in the mainstream sports media. There are plenty of people in this region who are big fans of the sport. I’m not one of them, but my Dad and sister are. They watch the races each weekend, know all the drivers, watch the recap shows on SPEED network during the week, yet they don’t watch a single Red Sox or Patriots game. They’re not alone. Continuing the theme, Michael Vega looks at Jeff Gordon’s win on Sunday and Shawn Courchesne has a look at Gordon making an appearance at the ESPN studios in Bristol.

Miracle on ice, 25 years later

Steve Conroy and Jim Fennell relive the miracle on ice of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team, which is having its 25th anniversary this week. Joe Sullivan of the Union Leader reviews Wayne Coffey’s book “The boys of winter” which is about that gold medal winning squad. Jon Couture says that hockey is alive without the NHL.

Media & Tonight

The Boston Radio Watch website had a number of interesting items in its column from Friday. They mention the sale of Sporting News Radio getting held up, and have more on the rumors of a possible FM challenger to WEEI in the Boston market.

FSN has Celtics/Lakers at 10:30. (I think this will also be shown on NBA TV in HD) ESPN has Purdue/Indiana at 7:00 and Alabama/LSU at 9:00. ESPN2 has Texas/Texas Tech at 9:00.