BSMW Awards Recap – Sports Media Story/Scandal

The Red Sox and Blue Jays wrapped up their quick series at Fenway park last night. You can get the local coverage on the Red Sox Daily Links page.

Get the Toronto stories from the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail.

Today we’re looking at the top stories and scandals for 2005 in the Boston Sports Media.

1470 votes were cast in this category. 2005 was another wild and crazy year in the Boston sports media. One sports radio station folded, while another came on line. Both the Globe and Herald had staff reductions which impacted their sports departments. The local media outlets also went through their own “blog” craze, with many newspapers and even television stations adding blogs to their websites on a variety of topics.

Despite new competition in the market, WEEI continued to crush the competition in 2005. Their unprecedented ratings dominance coincided with the huge interest in the Red Sox and Patriots championship teams of recent years. WEEI did lose their longtime evening host, Ted Sarandis, who resigned from the station.

Here’s how the voting broke down:

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The launch of ESPN Boston got 454 votes for 31% of the vote. The station, which has as it’s flagship show “The Drive” hosted by Michael Felger, achieved a bit of success by registering in the ratings book almost right away. The ESPN backing of the station perhaps gives the station a bit of legitimacy in the eyes of viewers, as well as the football talk and knowledge of Felger and such guests as Mike Reiss. Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo have also been frequent guests on the program. Perhaps as a sign of continued future growth, the station recently replaced their original program director Doug Tribou with Len Weiner, who had led an ESPN radio station in Chicago to ratings success.

Reader Comments: I went with the Herald and Globe staff reductions. The newspaper industry is definitely in big trouble around here, especially with so many people hooked into the internet. I went with 890 starting up. The emergence of a true alternative to EEI is a godsend to sports fans in this market….1510 stops local programming: If a station that no one listens to stops local programming, does anything really change? At least they still have the Larry Lee Lewis Sports Comedy Hour.

Now, let’s look at the voting for the scandal of the year:

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John Dennis’ sneering, threatening, just plain creepy voicemail left for Ryen Russillo is the winner. The funny thing is, according to people who have worked with Dennis in the past, this sort of thing is a regular occurrence for the WEEI morning co-host.

Dennis’ voicemail got 468 votes out of 1468 total for 32%. The Red Sox media “cartel” – a phrase which was coined by former Herald columnist Howard Bryant – received 338 votes for 23% of the total vote. Bryant was roundly mocked by media members and outlets portrayed as being part of the “cartel” such as the Globe, NESN and WEEI. The premise of the cartel is that the Red Sox use media outlets which they have power over either through an ownership stake or through broadcast rights to disseminate information which is spun to their liking and advantage and to crush and humiliate the reputations of those who may end up on their bad side.

Reader Comments: I don't know what the long-term impact will be, but nothing was more fun than the incoherent, threatening voicemail John Dennis left on Ryen Russillo's answering machine….I couldn't care less about [John Dennis's] drunken tirade. Much more concerning is that 'BCN would take an intelligent and informative pre- and post- game Patriots show and turn it into "Big Show Lite"….I went with the "cartel" for the simple fact that all of the others will be largely forgotten in a few months (I had already forgotten about the Gee/sloe-eyed sabra issue). The effects of the (real or imagined) cartel will impact Sox coverage going forward for the foreseeable future.

Monday: Best/Worst Local Studio Analyst.

Cartel or No Cartel. That is the Question.

A little internecine warfare among the “cartel” this morning. While some have suggested that Vince McMahon might be behind this battle, Dan Shaughnessy comes out swinging today regarding the Red Sox relatively late postponement of Tuesday night’s game versus the Yankees. Dennis & Callahan picked up on the theme in their relatively aggressive interview with Sox President Larry Lucchino this morning.

The more significant issue brought to the fore by both Shaughnessy and D&C was the Page 1 advertisement for the Red Sox new travel services feature in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

From Shaughnessy

Speaking of no-win propositions, we've got a problem here at Daddy Globe. Those of you not living in caves know by now that the New York Times Co. owns us, and also owns 17 percent of the Red Sox. This conflict of interest taints everything we do on these pages and the Globe looks especially compromised on days like yesterday when we ran a Page 1 story entitled, ''Hit the road with the Sox and get . . ."Yesterday's journalistic wet kiss included a nifty graphic detailing exactly what Sox fans get if they purchase an official team VIP road trip package. The story contained no inside info that couldn't be gleaned by a fan with access to the Internet, but the timing was abysmal and the packaging worse. By any measurement, this was a Red Sox infomercial, a front-page story guaranteed to embolden those who believe the Globe is part of a Red Sox Cartel and certain to make life more difficult for Messrs. Snow, Edes, and all others who toil tirelessly to bring balanced coverage to our readers.

Notably, the Globe columnist uses the same metaphor (“wet kiss”) employed yesterday by blogging media critic Dan Kennedy with his quick take on the Globe feature. Boston Phoenix media critic Mark Jurkowitz also jumped into the fray. Kennedy follows up on the Shaughnessy angle today.

One loyal reader of the site made note of another phrase Shaughnessy chose to turn this morning.

Whatever happened to peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and Fenway Franks? You won't hear ''Kill the ump!" or ''Yankees suck!" in the EMC Club. It goes something more like, ''Pardon me, could you pass the Grey Poupon?"

With a quick search, the reader found the following from the Globe scribe:

Oct 3. 2003
Indeed, there was a decided dearth of acrimony. Saturday’s rowdiness yielded to “Could you pass the Grey Poupon?” as Sox fans remained under control and the ballplayers behaved professionally.

Aug 16, 2002
Civilization has come to Foxborough. Football games in New England used to mean “hide the women and children.” Now it’s “Praise the Pats and pass the Grey Poupon>.”

May 21, 1999
The bleachers last night had that old-timey, World Cup/hooligan atmosphere. So what will happen in the next ballyard? Will there be fights in the stands, or will Boston-New York rivals take on a “Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?” attitude when the games are played in a clean, spacious, modern facility?

January 12, 1998
And, given the friendliness between the teams (there are 49ers with connections to the Pack, and vice versa), there was a “Pardon-Me-Do-You-Have-Any-Grey-Poupon?” atmosphere.

April 20, 1997
How boring. No board-room bloodletting. No Draft Day Altamont. No Parcells playing Keith Moon and kicking down doors. This time it was just the polite Carroll turning to Kraft and saying, “Pardon me, could you pass the Grey Poupon?”

May 8, 1995
There he was again, failing to be a braggart or a jerk. Lemieux is far too calm and thoughtful for this role as Hub Hockey Bad Boy. Next thing you know, he’ll be asking us if we have any Grey Poupon. No wonder everybody hates this guy.

Nov 20, 1994
We had none of that here in Allston-by-the-Charles. We Are At The Grey Poupon Bowl, also known as Harvard-Yale, also known at ”The Game.”

Aug 14 1993
Before Darwin left in the seventh, we saw Rickey take a called third strike, ground to third and fly out to left. Darwin stared at Henderson for a long time after the fly ball in the fifth, but none of Darwin’s pitches came close to Rickey. Instead of chin music followed by a flurry of expletives, we got “Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?”

Ouch.

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Red Sox Beat Writer

The Red Sox and Blue Jays played the first game of a two game series at Fenway park last night. You can get the local coverage from newspapers and blogs on the Red Sox Daily Links page.

You can browse coverage from North of the border from the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail.

Today, we’re going to look at a group of very talented, hard working writers – the Red Sox beat writers for the various New England newspapers. This job can be a grind. Day in and day out you’re going to be around the clubhouse, traveling with the team, seeing them after terrific wins and demoralizing defeats, but your job remains the same. Report on the team, get reaction after the game, get scoops and break news ahead of your competitors.

On top of it all, you probably don’t take home a huge salary, either.

Here’s a look at the voting for the “best of”:

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1443 votes were cast in this category, and in something of a minor upset, a rookie – Chris Snow of the Boston Globe – came away with the award from the voters. Snow, a former intern with the paper, came over prior to the 2005 season after covering the Minnesota Wild of the NHL the previous year. He got 544 votes for 38% of the total. In his first year on the job, Snow proved himself to be capable of meeting the challenge of covering the most popular team in a sports crazy region on a daily basis for the area’s largest newspaper. He avoided the petty agendas and sniping that often goes along with covering the same team day after day. He showed that he was open to new ideas such as statistical analysis and formulas. All in all, it was an impressive debut season on the scene for the Melrose native and Syracuse graduate.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald came in second in the voting with 16%. Silverman is another solid performer, often splitting the beat duties with Jeff Horrigan. He got a number of scoops during the offseason and was one of the few reporters to be able to talk to Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez in recent years. Rob Bradford, who split the year between the Lowell Sun and the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune came in third, thanks to a spectacular offseason, after moving the Eagle Tribune, where he seemed to be breaking news and getting angles no one else was getting on a daily basis.

Reader Comments: Went with Silverman as I like his writing style. Snow and Horrigan both do good work here as well. No one meets worst status. I actually think the daily papers do a good to exceptional job with Red Sox news - I read a tidbit or two that is new and interesting pretty much every day in their notebooks.

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I’m actually very proud of the participants of this poll for how they voted in this, and other sections of the balloting.

I believe that all of the beat writers covering the Red Sox are very good. None of them would be deserving of a “worst” label, and the voters overwhelmingly felt the same way. 950 out of 1357 votes cast were for the “No one deserves this award” category, which I believe really shows the sincerity and seriousness with which voters approached this poll.

Interestingly, Snow, who won the best award above, was the leading vote getting among actual writers in this category, but the 81 votes and 6% he got were just a drop in the bucket compared to the total votes cast.

The Red Sox beat writers have a grinding, high pressure job, and all seem to being doing a good job in the eyes of the poll participants.

Reader Comments:

Love your poll, but I wish you'd have included the Brockton writers. Their baseball writer is a freaking boob who doesn't have a clue. I'd love to see how your readers feel about him...

Tomorrow: Sports Media Story/Scandal of 2005

BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Print Columnist

Starting today, I’m going to be away from the site for pretty much the rest of the month. I leave this morning for California to get ready for my wedding which is this Saturday. Then my wife and I will be headed to Australia for three weeks, and will not back back until the end of the month.

I’ve arranged for something to be posted on the site every weekday that I am gone. Most days will feature a recap from one of the categories in the BSMW poll voting which was conducted in the last two weeks of March. On Tuesdays I’ve prepared a series of columns to run regarding the past, present and future of BSMW.

If big news breaks I’ve given a couple of people access to the front page here so that they can post any relevant links. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve revamped the Red Sox and Patriots Daily Links page so that they include more news sites and blogs so that you’re going to find pretty complete coverage of those teams while I’m away.

Be sure to also check in at the New York Sports News page, especially when the Red Sox and Yankees are going head-to-head as they will several times this month. They were rained out last night, but there should still be article pertaining to the Red Sox in the New York papers.

I don’t anticipate checking my email while I’m gone, so just remember if you send me something, you’re probably not going to hear back from me until next month…

Thanks to everyone for your support, and I look forward to talking to you in the near future…

On most days this month, we’re going to be going over the results of the BSMW media poll, which was conducted during the last two weeks in March.

What’s interesting about this poll is that we had a sample size of over 1500 voters in some categories, and many of those voters were actually media members themselves. In addition, I’ve heard stories of media people I’ve never had contact with lobbying followers to go to the poll and vote for them in a specific category. It’s been an interesting process with equally interesting results.

Today we look at the results for the voting on the best and worst local columnist. First, the best:

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I’m not surprised that Bob Ryan won this category, though I am a bit surprised at his margin of victory and by how few votes many of the other candidates (especially Gerry Callahan – who I like as a columnist) received. Out of the 1454 votes cast in this category, Ryan came home with over half the total amount with 758.

While Ryan isn’t perfect (as shown in that column published the day of the NCAA Final Four) he consistently puts out columns that are thoughtful, passionate and smooth, regardless of the sport. He covers it all for the Globe, though curiously management at the paper promotes Dan Shaughnessy above him, and gives the latter the prime columns for big events which are put in the front section of the paper. That tells you all you need to know about the state of the Globe these days.

Another of Ryan’s Globe colleagues, Jackie MacMullan came in a distant second, with 191 votes for 13% of the vote. Her work is also almost always solid and readable. Tony Massarotti of the Herald…who just moved to the columnist role recently, came in third with 152 votes for 10% of the total – a solid showing for a guy who will be on the scene for decades to come.

Three people voted for Buddy Thomas as Best Columnist? Those have to be people either clicking in the wrong button, or blood relatives.

Reader Comments: I went with Jackie here; Bryant would have been considered but he’s gone. I'm not a big Bob Ryan fan…...You usually can't go wrong by reading a Bob Ryan column.

Now, onto the worst local columnist. We kept the candidates the same in all “Best” and “Worst” categories, to ensure that there was no appearance of bias in this poll.

Here are the results:

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687 out of 1439 people surveyed voted Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe as the worst local columnist. As noted above however, the Globe still considers Shaughnessy to be their “star” and the voice of the sports department. Shaughnessy’s columns have become so repetitive, agenda filled and factually inaccurate that there is a blog devoted to critiquing each of his columns, and as their tagline says “we read him so you don’t have to”. It’s to the point that Shaughnessy rarely surprises you any more. You know exactly what he’s going to say before you read the column. If it is a column to start a Red Sox/Yankees series, you know what he’s going to write, if it’s opening day, If the Patriots are about to open the playoffs, if it is Labor Day weekend, you know what he’s going to write about each and every time.

Yet they love him at the Globe, as quoted earlier this year in Boston Sports Review, Sports editor Joe Sullivan praised Shaughnessy by saying that “He is the bravest columnist I’ve ever seen and is not afraid to take a stand.”

Gerry Callahan finished second in this category, and I believe that is clearly the case because of his radio show and his politics instead of his writing. His columns are usually very good, and usually not at all like his radio personna.

Reader Comments: Shank runs away with it. Whatever you think of Callahan's politics and on-air persona, he's a good columnist…Whatever you think of the Shankmeister you have to admit he can turn a phrase every once in a while. If by "worst" you mean worst writing, may I direct your attention to one Steven Buckley….Shank has hackneyed phrases, a columnist has original thoughts; Shank has seasonal 'mail it in' columns, a columnist doesn't rehash the same topics; Shank is beholden to the Red Sox ownership, a columnist is independent; Shank has the curse, a columnist curses tools like Shank…. The USPS only makes money off Shank's mail-ins; in fact the most recent postage increase was due to the loss of the almost daily mail-in column of “The Curse”—hence, they needed to make more money off the rest of his mail-in columns….Has Buckley ever written anything memorable, besides shivving Nomar a few years back? Reading Buck's column is more of a time waster than playing Minesweeper….My 10-year-old still laughs when she recalls the deathless "If Tom Brady was a tree..." column, where Shank channeled his inner Barbara Walters. The sad part is that Shank would probably think that's a compliment ("She's famous... has a lot of money...")

Tomorrow: Best/Worst local baseball beat writer.

Rough Return for Damon

John Molori calls for disciplinary action against Gerry Callahan for spewing racist stereotypes against Latinos.

Quick links today as I’m packing my bags, getting things ready for the wedding and honeymoon…I leave very early tomorrow morning, and won’t be back until after Memorial Day. Don’t worry…there will be stuff posted here every weekday that I am gone. More on that in tomorrow’s post.

Jeff Jacobs, in a very good column, says you can hate the pinstripes, but you can never hate the idiot. I thought Shaughnessy would be the one at the Globe lecturing Boston fans for booing Johnny Damon last night. That task fell instead to Jackie MacMullan instead, who does the job with a grace that Dan couldn’t touch. Calling him the “ultimate contemporary baseball player”, Bill Reynolds looks at the reception and night for Damon. Joe Haggerty looks at Johnny again dominating Fenway, but in a new set of laundry.

Alex Speier notes that the return of Damon has made Coco Crisp’s absence felt that much more. Jon Couture says now that we got Damon’s return out of the way, the rivalry can return to baseball. Rob Bradford says only in Boston can we have the circus we had yesterday afternoon. Tony Massarotti looks at Alex Cora playing a key role last night.

Chris Snow’s notebook has Theo Epstein explaining the move to bring Doug Mirabelli back to Boston. Michael Silverman’s notebook tells us that Coco Crisp will have an x-ray on Friday to see how his finger is healing. Steven Krasner’s Inside the Game looks at David Ortiz burning the Yankees yet again. Sean McAdam’s notebook has more on the return of Mirabelli.

Get the coverage from all four major New York daily papers on the New York Sports News page.

Jerome Solomon looks at the Patriots top two picks coming to Gillette and meeting the media yesterday. John Tomase looks at first rounder Laurence Maroney, who brings explosiveness and big-play capability whenever he is on the field. Alan Greenberg also has a look at two of the newest Patriots. Albert Breer is confident that Maroney will make an impact next season and should put Corey Dillon on notice. Christopher Price says that Maroney already sounds like a veteran. Michael Parente says that Maroney is ready for the challenge of the NFL.

Jennifer Toland says that Chad Jackson is as fast with the playbook as he is on the field. Eric McHugh takes a look at the Patriots draft as they passed over defense in favor of offense and special teams. Solomon’s notebook has Doug Flutie pondering one more season. Lenny Megliola also reports on Flutie. Tomase’s notebook has Jackson looking forward to playing in the snow. Parente has more on Jackson dismissing the cold weather of New England as a potential problem. Allen Lessels has recently retired Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah staying connected to NH.

Chad Finn has thoughts on the Patriots draft and the recent play of the Red Sox.

Stephen Harris says that former Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick is in the running to be the new Bruins GM.

NESN has Red Sox/Yankees at 7:00. TNT has Bulls/Heat at 8:00 and Lakers/Suns at 10:30. OLN has Sabres/Flyers at 7:00.

More on Red Sox Radio Rights

Good article on Northeast Radio Watch regarding the Red Sox radio rights.

They believe that things could still go either way in the WEEI/WBOS duel for the rights to broadcast the Red Sox games starting next season. Here’s what they say:

We take a bit of pride hereabouts in being the last media outlet of any sort that still hasn't confidently declared that a Sox deal is "just about to be announced," or "all sealed up," or what have you. When it happens, we'll tell you, and in the meantime, here are a few reasons why we still believe (as of Sunday night, April 30, as we go to press with this week's column) that the deal could still tip either way.

The reasons as listed on the site are these: (Visit the site for more detail on each point)

For the Sox, it’s all about the money.

For the radio groups, it’s about the money, too – sort of.

WEEI may not need the Sox at all.

Greater Media has other issues to solve.

Two sports FMs in the Hub? (Some interesting speculation here)

Bad news for “ESPN Boston,” too.

All in all, a pretty solid look at the situation and the overall landscape of the sports radio market here in Boston.

Mirabelli is Back…

After Mike Adams called into Dennis & Callahan this morning to say that he had information that Doug Mirabelli was trying to arrange transportation from San Francisco to Boston today, Buster Olney of ESPN appeared with Dale & Holley to report that the Red Sox have traded Josh Bard, Cla Meredith, a player to be named later and cash to San Diego for Mirabelli.

He also said that the Yankees got involved in this trade, trying to prevent the Red Sox from getting Mirabelli back…

Patriots Go For Offense

Possibilities with the 21st pick:
1. Laurence Maroney, Minnesota–RB–Fresh legs, untapped potential … the perfect head-shaker pick by Belichick.”

Hector Longo, Eagle-Tribune, 4/28/06

I give Hector Longo a hard time on here for some of the things he writes in his columns and says while on the Radio with Mike Felger, but I can also give credit where it is due. Not too many people had the Patriots going with the running back Maroney with their first pick in this weekend’s draft.

There was coverage everywhere however, so Patriots fans had plenty of options to turn to for analysis of the picks as they happened. With two networks devoting pick-by-pick coverage, plus radio, newspapers and internet coverage, this NFL draft was the most accessible in league history.

Some notes of the local coverage. WEEI did a good job in the afternoon by trotting out several football writers to give their thoughts and picks from Foxboro as the draft was going on. Paul Perillo and Tom E Curran were among those who joined Jon Wallach during the draft. Those two have become the station’s “go-to” guys when it comes to the Patriots since Michael Felger left the station to take a shot at his own show on ESPN Boston.

The local writers were blogging through the draft, but once again, no one touched Mike Reiss. Fresh off his honeymoon, the prolific Globe blogger had end-to-end coverage of the draft, giving the picks as they were made, then following them up with more bio information, comments from Bill Belichick and then transcripts of conference calls. John Tomase of the Herald did some good work on Sunday, but mysteriously, the paper did not have him or anyone else blog on the first day of the draft. (Turns out Tomase was in a wedding over the weekend.) In contrast, the Pats Blog on the Projo only had entries on Saturday…those entries were scattered about, and included information from teams other than the Patriots. Patriots.com had a draft blog as well, and their entries were interesting, though a little unpredictable, the posts seemed to come at random, and could be about anything on the draft. Still, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart and Tom Casale did a pretty good job at making the blog interesting.

The NFL Network’s coverage was impressive for a first time effort. For a guy who is still an active NFL player, Corey Chavous of the Rams was very good at his draft knowledge and analysis. It was noted somewhere this weekend that if this guy puts this sort of effort into game preparation, then perhaps the Patriots should’ve looked at signing him. Former NFL player and Boston College alumni Mike Mayock was also very good with his performance over the weekend. Both guys showed a very good knowledge of not only the players available in the draft, but of the situations and needs of the teams across the league.

I turned to ESPN a few times over the weekend, but never stayed very long. An article from last week in the USA Today really turned me off to the production. However, ESPN had more firepower than the NFL Network when it came to personnel, as they could bring in many different faces to talk about the draft, and ESPN had the on-screen clock ticking down for each selection, something that the NFLN didn’t have.

Cold Hard Football Facts takes a look at the results of the experts mock drafts. Football Outsiders also has a lot of discussion on the selections over the weekend.

For the Patriots, yesterday’s picks were about depth and flexibility. Probably the most noteworthy pick was that of Memphis Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who will be given every chance to win the starting placekicker position in training camp. Jerome Solomon says Gostkowski is just happy to get the opportunity right now. John Tomase has more on Gostkowski, who comes in with some impressive credentials. Tom E Curran also looks at the kicker, who is looking forward to kicking game winners for the Patriots. Michael Parente says that Gostkowski understands the challenge that faces him here in New England. Jennifer Toland also has a look at the two sport athlete. Albert Breer says that the Patriots might’ve seen things in Gostkowski which led them to believe he was capable of replacing a legend.

Ron Borges looks at the draft picks of the AFC East and likes what the Jets and Patriots did, and doesn’t think so highly of the picks made by the Bills and Dolphins. Michael Felger also looks around the AFC East and is impressed with the Jets, who picked D