Three Quick Boston Sports Related Book Reviews

Books have been piling up on the BSMW desk as of late, and I thought I would take a few moments to quickly review three books on Boston sports that I have recently received.

The Best Boston Sports Arguments – The 100 most controversial, debatable questions for die-hard Boston fans.


By Jim Caple and Steve Buckley
Sourcebooks, Inc
293 pages

This book isn’t heavy lifting. It’s a light read and meant to be that way. It is predictable at times, and at other times you get the contrarian view forced on you. While there were plenty of times that I was rolling my eyes during the book, there were just as many “I totally forgot about that!” moments as well.

A few examples of the 100 arguments:

  • Should Tony Conigliaro’s No. 25 Be Retired? (Guess the answer on that one.)
  • If You Could Go To Any Game In Boston History, Which Should You Choose?
  • Why “The Curse” Is The Biggest Joke in the History of the Universe
  • What Was the Greatest Football Play in Boston History?
  • Who’s Had a Better Career, Ben Affleck or Lou Merloni?

You’ve probably read a lot of the material before, as Buckley has done columns on many of the topics in the book, or has told a story on WEEI about them. In fact, a lot of the “arguments” probably originate with the radio station, and I think that I’m not off base in characterizing the book as WEEI in print.

Decide for yourselves if that is a compliment or condemnation.

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Fred Cusick – Voice of the Bruins

By Fred Cusick
Sports Publishing, L.L.C.
214 pages

Fred Cusick always struck me a true gentleman. His book does nothing to tarnish that image. While I was more of a casual hockey fan growing up, the legendary Boston Bruins announcer with his trademark “Scooore!!!” always stood out to me, and hearing that call on nightly sportscasts was always a treat.

The book isn’t really an autobiography, it’s more Cusick’s memoirs from his life and career. Going through the memories made me appreciate what a real treasure this man is, and how he perhaps doesn’t get the proper appreciation for his contributions to Boston sports. He understandably spends quite a bit of time on the Bruins, especially on Bobby Orr and the Bruins of the 1970’s, but Cusick’s contributions to the region go well beyond hockey.

If you watched the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played, one of the special features of the DVD is Cusick in 1963 doing the only known on camera interview with Francis Ouimet – winner of the 1913 U.S. Open! Cusick and Ouimet walk the Brookline course and Ouimet points out locations of shots and moments from that legendary 1913 tournament. A transcript of that interview is included in the book.

There is a good segment about doing analysis on the first-ever Boston Patriots game, as well as some stories from the early days of the franchise. There are boxing stories, baseball stories (he did a Sunday night show on channel 4 with Dick Stuart in the 1960’s, and also served as the Fenway Park PA announcer for two years) tennis, and even wrestling. He also talks about calling Lowell Lock Monsters’ games for five years after retiring from the Bruins, finishing his play-by-play career at the age of 83.

Fred Cusick has an incredible number of memories of Boston sports, and it’s good to have them down in this book.

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A Fan’s View of the Super Bowl

By James E. Britton
iUniverse, Inc
145 pages

James E. Britton is a lifelong Patriots fan who went to his first game at Schaefer Stadium as an 11-year-old in 1973. He now lives in central New Hampshire, and he and his wife Jane travel two and a half hours each way to and from Gillette Stadium for every home game.

The book recounts their adventures in getting tickets and attending Super Bowl 39 in Jacksonville for the Patriots/Eagles championship game. James and Jane end up heading to Florida with their friend Steve to take in the event, but they only have two tickets. From arranging transportation, hassling with motel operators, to the food they ate that week, it’s all detailed here.

When I say detailed, I mean detailed. The book chronicles almost every minute of the time in Jacksonville, and the beginning of the book has a lengthy segment on the first preseason game of the year with the Eagles. Britton leaves nothing out in the journey, and the result is as complete a picture as you can get of the events without being there yourself.

Curse Microsoft!

Had my post this morning almost done and a wonderful BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) wiped out the entire entry.

I questioned Michael Felger and Gerry Callahan for criticizing the bottom guys on the Patriots roster while still wanting the team to shell out big money for guys at the top of the roster.

Hector Longo grades out the entire Patriots roster. Alan Greenberg and Shalise Manza Young look at who might be gone and who might be back on the Patriots for next season. Mike Reiss says linebacker is an area that needs an influx of youth and talent for next season.

John Tomase looks at the offense and what needs tweaking on that side of the ball. Albert Breer has more on how the Patriots can help themselves this offseason. Eric McHugh says the Patriots have a bright future but do need some tweaking. Christopher Price takes a final look back at 2006 before looking ahead to next season.

Bob Hohler has a look at Charlie Weis’ malpractice suit for his nearly-fatal gastric bypass in 2002.

Mark Farinella hopes Bill Parcells remains retired this time.

Michael Vega, Jeff Goodman and Lenny Megliola report on Boston College knocking off Florida State on a buzzer beater from Sean Marshall.

Jon Couture notes that the Red Sox don’t have a closer yet, and that’s ok for now.

Shira Springer looks at a small lineup for the Celtics proving to be their best option as of late. Steve Bulpett notes that even though the Celtics are losing games in bunches, the fans are still coming out. Bulpett’s notebook has Wally Szczerbiak and Brian Scalabrine trying to get back into the flow of things.

TV listings and more later…

Oh No, Mr Bill!

I think we might have our theme to fill the slow time on the sports radio airwaves between now and when pitchers and catchers report next month.

Discuss Bill Belichick’s manners.

They might mix in a little Super Bowl talk, or if the Red Sox make a move or the Celtics pull off a major trade that might fill a day or so, but I think we’re going to see a lot of talk about Belichick over the next few weeks. Just shoot me now.

Today we had John Dennis (he of the profanity-riddled, threatening voicemails) lecturing the Patriots coach on decorum. We had Dale Arnold disapproving of the coach with Michael Holley trying to defend him, and then we had The Big Show crew defending the coach.

I actually think the Pro Bowl might get some coverage around here as the media tries to see how Belichick deals with the numerous San Diego Chargers on the AFC roster.

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The AFC and NFC championship games were big winners for CBS and FOX respectively.

From CBS:

CBS Sports’ coverage of the AFC Championship Game featuring the New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Jan. 21 (6:45-10:30 PM, ET), earned an average overnight household rating/share of 28.1/40, up +14% from a 24.6/44, in 2006 for (Pittsburgh-Denver; 3:15-6:15 PM, ET), and up +4% from 2005’s 27.0/38 (New England-Pittsburgh; 6:30-9:45 PM, ET).

From FOX:

FOX Sports concluded its 2006-2007 NFL campaign yesterday (1/21/07) with a bang, posting a 25.1/45 rating/share and an average audience of 43.2 million viewers as the Bears defeated the Saints in the NFC Championship Game, according to fast national figures released this afternoon by Nielsen Media Research.

– With an average audience of 43.2 million viewers, Sunday’s Saints/Bears contest ranks as the most-watched NFC Championship Game in ten years (since 46.3 million tuned in for Panthers vs. Packers in 1997). Nielsen Media Research estimates that just under 75 million people tuned in for at least part of yesterday’s game.

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Bill Simmons laments the Patriots loss in the AFC title game.

Mike Reiss has a season-ending mailbag on Boston.com.

Michael Felger held a chat at the Boston Herald website today. See if you can make heads or tails of it.

Cold Hard Football Facts continues to cheerfully eat crow over Peyton Manning’s performance.

Michael Gee explains the formula to figure out what to expect from Bill Belichick or any NFL coach on any given day.

Neil Best has Boomer Esiason talking about Belichick’s behavior on Sunday.

Peter King weighs in on Bill Parcells’ decision to call it a career.

Bob Raissman says that a return to television is likely in the future for Parcells.

Boston doesn’t have the monopoly on egomaniacal sportswriters. If Pat Burrell is no Joe DiMaggio, then Bill Conlin is certainly no Grantland Rice.

Richard Sandomir notes that Shannon Sharpe is a showman on the air and off.

Dan Caesar examines whether FOX is going to continue Joe Buck in his dual roles of pregame host and top play-by-play man for the future.

John Donovan looks at how MLB’s deal with DirecTV could leave a majority of fans without access to the Extra Innings package.
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ESPN is going all-out with their NASCAR coverage for the upcoming season.

ESPN and ESPN on ABC’s coverage of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series will be the most technologically advanced programming in the history of televised motorsports, according to Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, remote production.

“ESPN’s presentation of NASCAR will be state of the art at every level of production,” said Drake. ”We have built a production plan that will provide a truly exceptional presentation to our viewers.”

Every ESPN broadcast will be done entirely in High Definition. Other enhancements include HD in-car cameras, grass cam, wall cam, crew cams, pit overhead cams, blimps and multiple robotic cameras at various points around the tracks.

NASCAR Busch Series on ESPN2 will also be carried in HD, and will use the Sportvision technology, which is a series of on-screen pointers with specific information on different cars in real time.

For its NASCAR Countdown studio shows that will precede all NASCAR race telecasts, ESPN will originate from the most technologically-advanced traveling studio ever used in sports television. The studio, which weighs nearly 78,000 pounds and will travel to 26 NASCAR tracks this season, will allow ESPN to bring the look and feel of its Bristol, Conn.,-based studio shows such as SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown to the tracks.

The mobile pit studio will be outfitted with state-of-the-art LED lighting, three robotic HD cameras and a dramatic, contoured, video display fronting the anchor desk. Situated near the pits at every track, the studio will be elevated 14 feet while in use and 30 foot glass windows will give viewers a look at the cars, grandstands and pageantry prior to the race start.

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Tonight

7:00pm, NESN – Florida St @ Boston College
7:00pm, ESPN – Indiana @ Illinois
8:00pm, Versus – NHL Young Stars Game and SuperSkills challenge
9:00pm, NESN – Virginia Tech @ Miami
9:00pm, ESPN – Alabama @ Auburn
10:00pm, Versus – San Diego St @ UNLV