Top Boston Sports Media Stories of 2007

With 2007 winding down, it’s certainly been another huge sports year in Boston. Here’s a look (in really no particular order) of the top Boston sports media stories of the year. Note that these aren’t just “sports” stories (as the Red Sox World Series victory and Patriots quest for 16-0 would top that list) but media related or created items:

1) Gerry Callahan’s Throat

This story dominated talk for much of the spring and summer, as the WEEI morning co-host had become very hoarse and painful to listen to earlier this year. Callahan announced on April 24th that he was taking “a few weeks” off per Doctor’s orders to completely rest his voice. That few weeks turned into nearly five months, as Callahan did not return to the WEEI airwaves until September. In between that time Callahan actually had throat surgery, and there were many rumors as to the root cause of the problem. To top things off, Callahan and his morning partner John Dennis had contracts that were set to expire at the end of the summer. This resulted in a well-publicized lockout/holdout where Dennis was also off the air for the last weeks of August and the beginning of September, until a new deal was worked out. There were rumors that D&C were being courted by a VC group that was looking to purchase several stations from Nassau Broadcasting and turn them into a regional All-Sports Radio Network. WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, then apparently trumped that option by purchasing the Nassau stations themselves. Dennis and Callahan finally returned to the airwaves on September 10th – just in time for the first “Patriots Monday” of the regular season on WEEI.

2) Ron Borges is suspended by Globe for plagiarism and then “retires.”

In March, Borges appeared to be in top form, throwing a wet blanket on the Patriots signing of free-agent Adalius Thomas. A day earlier on MSNBC, Borges had placed Thomas at the top of his list of free agents that represented the “best value.” However, the same day as the Thomas article in the Globe, Borges also complied the NFL notes for the Sunday Globe, a piece which “contained verbatim passages” from a story previously written by Mike Sando of The News Tribune of Tacoma. The next day, the Globe announced that Borges had been suspended for two months for plagiarism. (Dan Kennedy speculated that Borges might quit over the scandal, a prediction that proved accurate.)

Borges served his suspension, and returned to the Globe on May 13th, with a article on Randy Moss – a ripjob which included this priceless quote from former Raiders Offensive Coordinator turned Bed and Breakfast operator Tom Walsh – “Randy Moss is a player whose skills are diminishing, and he’s in denial of those eroding skills.” That proved to be the last article that Borges wrote for the Globe, as that Friday evening, the paper announced cryptically that Borges had “retired” from the Globe.

Since that time, Borges has made a few radio appearances, proclaiming that he got “screwed” in this episode and hinting at pending legal action on his part. He continues his occasional work for Pro Football Weekly, has written articles for the Kansas City Chiefs official team website, and become an occasional blogger.

He’s not missed.

3) The death of Alan Greenberg.

A guy who is missed by many is the late Alan Greenberg. On the evening of March 6th, the New England sports media world was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of 55-year-old Hartford Courant Patriots beat writer Alan Greenberg. His passing touched many in the industry who were moved to write in to BSMW and express their thoughts about the man that Greenberg was. This resulted in an organic tribute to Greenberg on this site, a totally unexpected, and incredibly touching, event. In order, here are the entries that contained the tributes to Greenberg:

Entry One – March 7th Morning.
Entry Two – March 7th Afternoon.
Entry Three – March 7th Evening.
Entry Four – March 8th.
Entry Five – March 11th.

The tributes were acknowledged and much appreciated by Greenberg’s widow, Anne-Marie Greenberg, who expressed her thanks to all who had taken the time to write in about her husband. As a reminder, a trust fund has also been established for the Greenberg’s three children. You can contribute by using the following contact information:

Greenberg Children’s Trust
c/o Citizens Bank
450 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776

4) Comcast SportsNet takes over FSN New England

Back in February it was reported by Keith Reed in the Globe that Comcast Corp, which already owned 50% of Fox Sports New England, was about to purchase the remaining half of the network. That deal was consummated by the end of April.

Comcast certainly enjoyed good timing with this purchase, though it may not have seemed so in May, when the Celtics drew the worst possible position they could get in the NBA draft lottery. Celtics boss Danny Ainge turned lemons into lemonade with trades for All Stars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Paul Pierce, resulting a a rebirth of Boston Celtics basketball. By the time FSN New England was officially re-branded as Comcast SportsNet on October 1st, many Celtics-related programming additions had been announced, including full 30-minute pre and post game shows, a weekly Celtics magazine show, and the move of Greg Dickerson to full-time sideline reporter for Celtics games. Other changes could be made soon, as there has been talk of making CSN a full-time regional sports network with a sports news-gathering staff that would seem to be a challenge to NESN in the local market. There is also talk of CSN getting their own HD Channel on the Comcast HD tier sometime before the end of this Celtics season, which would see all Celtics games, home and away on the network broadcast in high definition.

5) Spygate

One of the ugliest times in recent Boston sports memory was the fallout after the opening day win over the New York Jets when former Bill Belichick protégé Eric Mangini blew the whistle on his former team and mentor and had a Patriots employee who had been videotaping the Jets sideline against league rules busted.

This led to two weeks of pure hell for Patriots fans, as you couldn’t turn around without some reference to the scandal, always with a “gate” at the end. Patriots reporters filled blog entries with quotes from around the league, where past (and future) opponents such as the Steelers, Colts, Chargers, Eagles and Jaguars took their shots at the Patriots and questioned the validity of their past wins and championships.

While in print locally things were relatively tame (no doubt because the writers knew they have to deal with the team on a daily basis), but when the news side of the media here ventures over to sports, it is always a trainwreck. News people who know nothing about football or the NFL were suddenly at Belichick press conferences, jumping up and demanding answers. It was much worse on the national level, where columnists, commentators and analysts denounced the Patriots as “cheaters” demanded a suspension for Belichick, and perhaps even an asterisk to be attached to their accomplishments. Forfeits were even mentioned as a possibility as were a suspension from postseason play for the franchise. Letters to the Editor in local papers lamented how they could no longer use the Patriots as role models for their children.

While the Patriots did indeed violate league rules as determined by the commissioner, the over-the-top coverage and bashing of an otherwise model franchise led to a new low point in sports media – remarkable considering some of the group about which we’re talking about.

Others worthy of mention:

The arrival and first games of Daisuke Matsuzaka in a Red Sox uniform.

Gary Thorne claims that Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in 2004 was “painted.”

Former Boston Globe baseball writer Larry Whiteside passes away and is later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Albert Breer leaves the Metro West Daily News to cover the Cowboys for The Dallas Morning News.

With the Celtics back in the spotlight, Boston Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan hires Marc J Spears to take over the Celtics beat, filling the staff position vacated by Ron Borges.

With the Red Sox down 3-1 in the ALCS, comments by Manny Ramirez are misrepresented by the media.

The Patriots ongoing quest for the perfect season, in among the “spygate” and “running up the score-gate” and what ever other “gate” media scandals.

Five years of BSMW!