RSN.net Interview with BSMW

This interview was originally published on Nov 25th over on the RedSoxNation.net page.

RSN: What is the history behind Boston Sports Media Watch, and how has it evolved since April 2002?

BA: I started the site basically to practice writing about sports media. I wanted to do something different and didn’t know where to start. I had looked at guys like Bill Griffith and Jim Baker and felt that they had the best jobs in the world. They were getting paid to watch, listen to and read sports! They didn’t even have to go to the games most of the time; it was something they could do at home. I had no idea how to get into that, and started just writing my thoughts down on a blog and hoping that some day I’d have a little body of work to show a small newspaper or something. Somehow though, people started finding the site, and the traffic began to grow. I started incorporating daily links from the newspapers into the site, and it grew more. A lot of people had gotten used to reading Bill Simmons daily links on his old site and missed them when he moved to ESPN. I’ve been able to slowly add more features to the site, such as an occasional column here and there, then a message board, then a secondary media column (Scott’s Shots) and another (Media Blitz) and then started adding blogs for the local teams. Eventually I’d like to make the site a full time gig, but I think that’s still at least a few years away.

RSN: Reports have long-time Boston Globe sports media critic Bill Griffith stepping aside. With that happening, how will the Globe replace the coverage he provides?

BA: Too early to tell. Its possible Bill might still contribute a weekly freelance article to the paper. If not, they would likely not replace that coverage in a specific column but might instead incorporate some of that information into various team notebooks, blogs or into the main TV and Radio reports that the paper has. Bill does a great job at going behind the scenes and letting us know what happens on the set, or out in the production truck, that sort of thing. Those types of features likely won’t be replaced.

RSN: How would you compare your own coverage of the Boston sports media with that of the Globe, and of the Herald?

BA: Well, other than Griffith, there isn’t really much sports media coverage out there. I would say that I have the advantage in not being tied to an entity that I can’t criticize. It’s hard to write for a paper and have the freedom to say when one of your own is out of line or has done a poor job. Conversely, when praise is given to your own, there is the suspicion about whether it is really merited or not. I don’t have to worry about those things.

RSN: What was your role in breaking the Ken Powers story, and what did it mean for BSMW?

BA: An alert reader brought to my attention a story on an online news media site (The Editor & Publisher) which just made a brief mention of the situation. I brought that news to the local area by putting that link on BSMW. Then with the help of a couple friends of the site, we were able to use LexisNexis to pull up Powers’ recent articles and compare them with others out there. We could then get them on the site side by side, so that people could see the audacity of the plagiarism. For the site, it meant a huge bump in visits, as the site was mentioned on many other sites around the country and in newspapers such as the New York Times. A lot of the people who found the site at that time have remained loyal readers.

RSN: What is your opinion of the Boston Globe’s relationship with the Red Sox?

BA: It’s a no-win situation for them. They get a scoop, it was handed to them – at least that is the public perception. They write a positive article, they’re just serving as the PR branch of the Red Sox. Even if none of these things are true, the perception is still there. In the case of Dan Shaughnessy, you go further; he used Tom Werner to get his kid an internship at Werner’s production company in California. Then Shaughnessy writes the infamous article that Sunday that contained information that could have only been passed to him from within the immediate circle of Larry Lucchino. The red flags are raised. Shaughnessy’s credibility, already shaky, has basically become non-existent. The Globe’s relationship with the Globe is more of a detriment than a plus when it comes to their coverage of the team and the public’s perception.

RSN: In a very short time, at a young age, Chris Snow has developed an outstanding reputation covering the Red Sox. Has anyone in the local print media ever come so far, so fast?

BA: Sure. Michael Smith came in just a couple years ago as an intern, was hired when he finished school, and became the beat writer for the New England Patriots. He then quickly moved to ESPN.com to become a senior writer there, while still in his early 20’s. Chris has done a great job covering the Red Sox however, and was a welcome addition to a staff in need of some youth and fresh thinking.

RSN: Howard Bryant recently traded in his job at the Boston Herald for one at the Washington Post. What does his departure mean for the Herald, and what does it mean for the Boston market?

BA: Howard had a voice that needed to be heard in Boston. The city is now without an African-American columnist, but more importantly has lost a guy who brought thought, intelligence and perspective to his columns, qualities that are lacking among many of his colleagues. Bryant was also unusual in that he wasn’t a huge self-promoter. After he left, WEEI took many shots at him and suggested that they never wanted him on their airwaves. The truth was that Bryant wasn’t interested in making all sorts of extra media appearances and chose the ones he did take carefully. The fact that his book Juicing the Game was ignored by the radio station was ridiculous, as it was one of the top books on the subject out there, and his knowledge on the subject was never utilized by the shows, despite their spending countless hours on the topic. In addition the Herald is now down to two sports columnists, and unlikely to replace the slot. He will be missed.

RSN: What is the overall health of the Boston Herald, and save for free dailies like the Boston Metro, do you see Boston ever becoming a one-newspaper town?

BA: I sure hope not. But even if the city of Boston was down to one major newspaper, the advent of the internet has given readers and sports fans more choices for local coverage. Sports sections in the Providence Journal and Hartford Courant are geared towards the Boston fan. The area that would suffer the most would be the news side. Like I said, I hope it doesn’t happen. The Herald has been in full cost cutting mode this year, dropping veterans off its pages who had been there for decades. Their situation certainly bears watching.

RSN: Much like Chris Snow in the print media, Ryen Russillo has developed a good reputation for his work on sports radio. Despite that, he has remained unemployed since 1510 discontinued local programming. Where do you see him landing, and is WEEI a possibility?

BA: WEEI is a stretch, mostly because they don’t have any openings. It would be interesting to see if they would bring him in as a guest on the Big Show, or as a fill in on the weekends. A regular gig at the station isn’t likely to develop just yet. He made an appearance with Mike Felger on ESPN radio recently and is a semi-regular guest on FSN’s New England Sports Tonight. He might be looking to do more television work, though earlier on, his goal was to get into a sports franchise front office and eventually become a general manager. It’s probably a stretch, but maybe he’ll pursue that.

RSN: Do either 1510 or ESPN Radio have a future here, and what do they have to do to make inroads against WEEI and their market dominance?

BA: 1510, no. ESPN radio is basically here so they can tell sponsors that they have a “presence” in the Boston area market. No other sports radio station in Boston is going to compete with WEEI until they have a suitable signal. In my mind that is the number one factor – signal strength. You put up a sports radio station with a good signal and even mediocre talent; it’s going to take listeners from WEEI.

RSN: If either were to take measurable market share away from them, what would WEEI’s reaction likely be — more of the same, more sports content, or more entertainment?

BA: More of the same. They feel they invented the wheel over there. Based on their success using their formula, who can really blame them for feeling that way?

RSN: What was your opinion of WEEI pulling the plug on Ted Sarandis and “Ted Nation?”

BA: They didn’t technically pull the plug on the show, Sarandis resigned, but it was likely under duress. Jim Baker had printed a few months ago in the Nashua Telegraph that Sarandis was basically being pushed out at the station, his colleagues on the station mocked him openly on the airwaves and it pretty much became an unbearable working situation for Sarandis. Now, I wasn’t a big fan of his sometimes abrupt style and show, but he did bring on a lot of guests from the suburban papers, exposing them to a larger audience and attempted to lead a thoughtful and intelligent show – again something that is not looked kindly upon by the sports media powers that be in this city. My thoughts on the matter are basically that WEEI handled the entire situation in a classless manner and that Sarandis is likely much happier right now.

RSN: In your opinion, which is/was the better show: Dale and Neumie, or Dale and Holley?

BA: When Michael Holley was announced as the replacement for Bob Neumeier, I had high hopes for the program. I had openly advocated Holley for the job, and still feel he does a fairly decent job. However, I think he’s been a slight disappointment. He hasn’t brought as much “inside” information about the Patriots as I thought he might, and hasn’t been as knowledgeable on other topics as I thought he would be. Neumeier grew on me as time went by, and I appreciated his habit of looking at statistics and trying to get another viewpoint on a certain topic. Plus, the “voice of Bob Neumeier” is my all time favorite whiner line character. I guess I would say that the Dale & Neumie show was better, but the current Dale & Holley is still okay.

RSN: Have we seen the last of Eddie Andelman, and do you feel he should call it a career or remain a presence on Boston radio?

BA: I think we’ve seen the last of Eddie as a daily radio host. I could see him getting a weekly radio or TV slot somewhere, or doing more with the Phantom Gourmet. I think he’s had his run; it’s probably time for Eddie to hang it up and enjoy his retirement.

RSN: Someone who has been around nearly as long as Andelman is Bob Lobel. What is Lobel’s future at Channel 4, and how much luster has he lost in the past few years?

BA: Bob should be around for a little while longer. He’s working without a contract at CBS4 as far as I know, but I don’t expect him to go anywhere. His rep has taken a bit of a hit in recent years because of the incident with the girlfriend as well as the cartoonist who portrayed him as being drunk on the air. Those incidents have certainly taken some of the shine off of his luster, but he is a television icon around these parts, and will continue to be a presence in our living rooms for major sporting events.

RSN: Do you think NESN is happy with all of their on-air personalities, or do you see them looking to make a few upgrades?

BA: NESN, like any other station is always looking to make upgrades I think they’re reasonably happy with who they have at the present, but they will continue to add and switch studio analysts in and out and experiment with various hosts and guests. I don’t really know who they might add, but I could see Bob Neumeier taking a bigger role with the station, getting more involved in the Bruins and Red Sox telecasts.

RSN: Do you see Hazel Mae as being more, or less, popular than she was a year ago? Also, is she more likely a supernova or someone that will be a part of the Boston sports scene for years to come?

BA: Id say she’s more popular now, probably because she’s allowed us to see more of herself. That of course can be taken several different ways, and they’re probably all applicable. She’s gotten a little more comfortable with her role and expressing her personality, and has even looked to expand her exposure a little bit with call-ins to WEEI and making headlines outside of the NESN studios. For the long term -I really don’t know. She might be someone who could aspire to a more national level and what she’s doing now could just be a stepping stone to a bigger platform.

RSN: The popularity of blogs, and other websites that cover the local teams, has grown exponentially in recent years. How much impact are they having, and which among them do you consider the best locally?

BA: Blogs are huge right now, not just locally and not just involving sports. The blogging phenomenon is everywhere, and it has had an effect of almost all areas of life. There are news blogs, media blogs, political blogs, food blogs, sports blogs, entertainment blogs, personal blogs, blogs on blogs and on and on. They’ve caused quite a bit of consternation among main stream media who find themselves being second guessed and ridiculed in a very public forum. Of course, many media outlets themselves are starting blogs, and we’ve seen that in the local area as well, the local papers and TV stations are creating their own blogs on various topics. I’m not really sure if I consider them “real” blogs however. In my mind, a pure blog is one created by an individual or private group and not a huge media conglomerate. Of course, that’s just my own opinion.

The best local sports blogs out there? (Excluding my own blogs) Here’s my short list:

Chad Finn’s Touching All the Bases – Boston.com has been creating all sorts of blogs in conjunction with the Boston Globe, and the most talented blogger in the whole building doesn’t even get one of those. Finn works for the sports copy desk and maintains his own private blog which is a terrific mix of writing, insight and humor.

Celtics Blog – A great mix of news, links, commentary and opinion on the NBA’s greatest franchise.

Reiss’ Pieces– Ok, so I just got finished saying that corporate owned blogs weren’t “real.” This one is the exception. Reiss started this blog over at the MetroWest Daily News and brought it with him over to the Globe. It is simply the best media run blog I have ever seen. He updates it constantly with tidbits and information as soon as it happens, without having to wait for the next day’s paper. You also get a ton of information that doesn’t make it into the paper.

Firebrand of the American League – A great Red Sox blog. They update almost daily with more in depth entries than you see at a lot of blogs out there.

Ok, just one of my own, just because I don’t think there are many others out there on this team:

Bruins Power Play – These guys have had a difficult task this year with the awful play of the team, but they’ve also developed and used some statistical analysis that I haven’t seen used in hockey before.

RSN: What is John Molori’s relationship with BSMW, and who the heck is David Scott?

BA: John allows BSMW to post his weekly Media Blitz column on the site. Other than that, there is no formal association with the site, though we’ve tossed the idea around in the past about trying to do something together. As for David, some of his background can be found here:

RSN: Last one: Do you think you help keep the Boston sports media honest, or is that even possible?

BA: Honestly, the majority of them don’t need to be kept “honest.” Most of them are hardworking people who go out and do their jobs and don’t need to be “watched.” It’s the few that use their positions as a bully pulpit or to further their own agendas, or that consistently get their facts wrong that need to be called on it. When I get feedback from these very ones about how “unfair” I’m being to them, or that I have an “agenda” against them, then I know the site is having its desired effect.

Holiday Week

It’s going to be a bit of a scaled-back week here at BSMW, as I try to get a few things done, and also recharge a bit heading into the new year.

The Patriots scored a 31-21 win over the New York Jets last night on the Finale of ABC’s Monday Night Football. There is some concern however, over the health of Tedy Bruschi who left the game last night with a leg injury. Reports after the game varied a bit, Channel 5 reported it as a “very serious” injury, while on Fifth Quarter, Michael Felger said that Bruschi was laughing and without a wrap in the locker room after the game, while on the same station Steve Burton was trying to make things appear grim, and stir up controversy by questioning Bill Belichick’s use of Bruschi on a kick coverage team. On WEEI, Pete Sheppard and company reported that Bruschi was seen walking out of the stadium after the game with a slight limp, but no crutches, and carrying his own bags. On WBCN, Gary Tanguay’s crew picked up on Belichick saying that Bruschi’s leg “tightened up on him” to indicate that perhaps this wasn’t a extremely serious injury.

You can get the stories on the game from both the New England and New York point of view from the following links:

The Red Sox have lost out on free agent pitcher Kevin Millwood. No word on when the press conference will be scheduled to spin and discuss it….

Get your Red Sox links below:

Red Sox Daily Links Page

From the weekend, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out these two especially egregious examples of the Red Sox and Globe attempting some PR damage control in wake of Johnny Damon signing with the Yankees last week. The first is in an unsigned editorial that appeared on Saturday entitled Steinbrenner’s folly. The second, and much worse, is from a character named Sam Allis, and entitled Exit, Stage Left. He opens with a cheap shot that would make Dan Shaughnessy or Ron Borges jealous.

You can't call the departure of Johnny Damon for Yankee Stadium a case of brain drain because there isn't much brain to drain. Any doubts about that were put to rest with the removal of his tresses in a tony Manhattan hair salon, and we now see he closely resembles an early hominid of the Middle Paleolithic Era.

Are you kidding me? How in the world can the Globe publish this? A shot at Damon’s appearance is petty, and could be construed as just a step below racism. What are they going to say the next player who leaves the Red Sox looks like? Unbelievable.

Steve Bulpett reports on the Celtics dropping the first game of their West Coast road swing, 118-111 in Seattle, despite 43 points from Paul Pierce. Shira Springer has the story for the Globe. She also has a look at Delonte West, who appears ready to take his game to another level. You can get the view from Seattle on the game from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times. Bulpett’s notebook reports that Tony Allen won’t be rushing back into action, while Springer’s notebook looks at Kendrick Perkins earning his role as a starter.

Check more sports action from the West coast here:

  • Bay Area Sports Pages
  • BSMW SporTView 12.23.05

    The sports schedule for the weekend is below and to the right, and again, you can click on it, and it will pop into a separate window where you can print it out. I’ve included events from now through Monday, as I assume most people have Monday off from work.

    If you’re outside of Boston and looking for what NFL coverage you’re going to receive on Saturday, check the maps for the CBS Early Game, CBS Late Game and Fox Coverage.

    For the weekend, you can check in here and get links on the following pages:

    Earlier this week, SI handed out their 2005 Media Awards Bill Griffith and Jackie MacMullan both received mentions in the article.

    Susan Bickelhaupt in the Globe talks to Wendi Nix about her possible conflicts reporting sports and being married to Red Sox Co-GM Ben Cherington. Earlier this week, John Molori also had a conversation with Nix on the same topic.

    RedSoxNation.net has an interview with Ryen Russillo which was posted last night. Russillo talks about how he got into sports media and what the future holds for him.

    The Sports Law Blog has a report on U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, who made a statement before the House of Representatives honoring Steve Belichick for his positive contributions to sports.

    Dan Shaughnessy Watch reminds us why the site exists.

    Steve DeOssie gets some credit for his claim on SportsFinal last Sunday night claiming that Johnny Damon was offered and would accept a $53 million dollar deal from the Yankees. He had it at 5 years, but Damon himself said it was originally a 5 year offer and he took 4 so he could get to free agency again.

    Boston Sports TV Schedule for 12/23-12/26

    Mike and Mike

    Michael Holley and Michael Smith again formed a solid combination working together this week after Dale Arnold took a few days off. On Thursday they had a great show, with a one-two punch of guests that included former Patriots coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis. Both were great interviews, with a contrast being that Crennel was limited in the contact he can have with the Patriots and his friends there, while Weis talked about how great it is that he is not in competition with the Patriots and thus can root for them, talk to them, and visit them.

    C’mon, Guys

    It was the week of guest hosts on WEEI, and Friday morning saw the combination of Steve Buckley and Tom E Curran. It was one of the better morning show combos of the week. There was a moment however where I was disappointed that baseball guy Buckley didn’t step up and make a correction. A caller just prior to 9:00 AM made the claim that we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Red Sox tearing it all down, because John Henry went into Florida, where the Marlins had never won a World Series, won one there and then dismantled the team to save money, and that he was doing the same thing here. The hosts let the statement stand, even though it was Wayne Huizenga who did those things with the Marlins, not Henry. That should have been made clear and not allowed to stand as an unchallenged fact.

    What Was He Thinking?

    On Thursday came the tragic news that Tony Dungy’s 18 year old son had been found dead. At Bill Belichick’s press conference in the morning, Steve Burton asked Belichick for reaction on the news. Well, asked might be pushing it, Burton’s technique of questioning usually comes in the form of a statement. (That’s an issue for another time) In this case it was “Tony Dungy’s son died this morning.” Belichick then did the best he could to respond to it, expressing sympathy and saying their prayers would be with Dungy and his family.

    That query, as awkward as it was, was appropriate. Unpleasant or not, it gave the coach a chance to make a bit of statement from the organization in support of the Dungy family. That was something that Belichick was prepared for.

    Now we get to the stunning part. After Belichick answered, Burton followed up with another “statement”. He said that “they” said it was a suicide and then proceeded to state the rumored manner of death. Belichick really had no followup for that, how could he? He just added that obviously Burton knew more about it then he did and said it was tragic.

    A few things about this…first, at the time of the press conference, it had not yet been officially reported as a suicide. Yet Burton was here, in an official press conference bringing up the topic as fact and then giving totally unnecessary and unconfirmed details, which were speculative. What did he expect from Belichick?

    I’m certain that there was no malice on Burton’s part. He strikes me as a good guy. But the followup was incredibly thoughtless and comes across as Burton being eager to share that he knows something about the situation that the rest of the people in the room didn’t know. That exchange was excised out of the official transcript of the press conference from the Patriots but can be heard on the audio version which is still posted at Patriots.com.

    Ordway Knows Basketball

    In case you missed it, Glenn Ordway said that Ricky Davis “sucks”. Read the rebuttal on the BSMW Full Court Press page. It’s clear that Davis does not suck and doesn’t even in the last month where Ordway insists that he does, repeating that claim on Thursday. Don’t you dare question Ordway’s hoop knowledge, or you risk being mocked on the air in the afternoons…

    Bradford’s Move Working Out

    Last week we mentioned the job that Rob Bradford has done since moving to the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. This week, I asked Bradford how the move has gone, and what the biggest difference he has found in the job.

    "The biggest difference is the amount of time and energy I am able to devote to one focus (in this case, the Red Sox). True, between the group of Eagle-Tribune newspapers the circulation is bigger than where I came from. And I think The Trib might have a little higher profile in the Boston circles from the great work done by guys like John Tomase, Hector Longo, Mike Muldoon, Tim Bresnahan, and Bill Burt even before I arrived. But I really think that my job description has changed, and that is the impetus for any perceived change in production.

    "I've talked to Mike Reiss about this, since he was in a similar situation. A lot of times we might have a great idea in regards to a Boston-based story, but might not either have the time to execute it because of other responsibilities or would have to do so in addition to helping in the office/laying out the paper/covering locals. It's no knock on anybody, but is just the reality of the job we signed up for.

    "The Red Sox are obviously the biggest story on most days of the year around here, and I think credit should be given to the paper's management in embracing that. Now, if I don't hold up my end of the bargain and produce something other than what they can pick up on the wire than the plan won't work. And that brings up another challenge. It's hard not to get sucked into going head-to-head with the Boston papers on the everyday stuff, when a lot of times the real object for the suburban papers is to find the story readers won't find in the Herald or Globe. Sure, sometimes that may be a "scoop" for the big story of the day, but a lot of times it has to be dressing up a Wally the Green Monster outfit.

    "The guys are at The Lowell Sun are great, and I miss working with them. But to get a chance at making a dent in one of the nation's most intense beats has been pretty satisfying.

    Now I just have to find a way to manage my cell phone bill."

    Rumor of the Day

    Here’s a little tidbit from FoxSports.com in the middle of a piece from Ken Rosenthal:

    The Cubs and Orioles also have engaged in three-way discussions with the Red Sox in which Tejada would go to the Cubs and Ramirez to the Orioles, according to another source. The package the Sox would receive is unclear, but conceivably could include Prior, shortstop Ronny Cedeno and center fielder Corey Patterson.

    Sports Media Reporters from around the country:
    (Many of them seemed to take the week off…)

    Phil Mushnick, NY Post – Classic Case of Ill Will

    Jim Williams, DC Examiner – From TV to radio, sports options good for the holidays.

    Bob Raissman, NY Daily News – On MSG, Thomas is MIA.

    William Houston, Toronto Globe and Mail – TSN will take a close look at the feuding, Terrell Owens-like American players.

    Tom Hoffarth, LA Daily News – Bowling for dollars suits ESPN fine.

    Jay Posner, San Diego Union Tribune – ‘MNF’ just won’t be quite the same.

    Have a great weekend…