Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-03-31

Worst Boston Sports Column Nominees

Last week, I asked for your help in coming up with some of the worst Boston sports columns of recent memory. 100 comments later, we’ve got quite a pool to choose from.

Here are some of the ones you mentioned:

Dan Shaughnessy from January 10th, 1999 – “As the Jets take off, let’s get on board - Foes have familiar faces” In this column, just two seasons removed from Bill Parcells leaving the Patriots, and a year after Parcells took Curtis Martin from New England with a “poison pill” contract, Shaughnessy tells Patriots fans they should root for the Jets in the playoffs.

Jackie MacMullan from September 26th, 2006 – Body betrays a mental slump - reading Tom Brady’s Body language.

Bob Halloran, date unknown. Unfortunately don’t have a link for this one, This one was actually on ESPN.com and this was in the height of the Brady/Bledsoe debate, and Halloran compared Brady to a sneeze guard at a buffet.

The infamous Ron Borges draft analysis of 2001…you know the one:

“On a day when they could have had impact players David Terrell or Koren Robinson..they took Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who had 1 sacks last season in the pass-happy SEC and is too tall to play tackle at 6-6 and too slow to play defensive end. This genius move was followed by trading out of a spot where they could have gotten the last decent receiver in Robert Ferguson and settled for tackle Matt Light, who will not help any time soon.”

Sadly, Borges can’t even blame Mike Sando for that one.

Jim Donaldson, May 6, 2005 – Ainge Code may be hard to decipher. Yikes.

Michael Muldoon (Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) Feb 5th, 2008 – Time for classless Belichick to eat some humble pie.

Dan Shaughnessy, June 10th, 2008: Smoke and mirrors - Red takes me through his looking glass

Ron Borges, January 20th, 2002 – Ruling Keeps It From Being A Just Win, Baby. Quotes from Ben Dreith about how bad Walt Coleman’s “tuck rule” call was.

Tony Massarotti -  March 16th, 2009 – The Bostonian’s guide to sports injuries

Bob Halloran – Coach is Not the Saint He was Portrayed to Be - “He took the feel-good story of the autistic high school basketball team manager, who came into the game and kept hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer, and decided to play contrarian by viciously ripping the coach.”

Kevin Mannix – Boston Herald, 09/05/04 – the “Consumer Fraud” article.

Will McDonough, Feb 16th, 1997 – “An Inside Look At Parcells-kraft Here’s How They Came To The Breaking Point In A Tumultuous Year.” The one that starts with “This is my story and I’m sticking to it because I lived it and know it is right.”

Shaughnessy pretends to be Curt Schilling: Famous guest blogs in - Given ‘invite,’ Schilling issues direct answers  March 25th, 2007.

Shaughnessy’s one-mile per day column, Jan 6th, 2003.

Tony Massarotti, June 2nd, 2006: Hey fake fans: Make like Damon and leave. Contrast that with his column last year about New England being “the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups.”

Shaughnessy, Oct 20, 2004: Now wait just a minute: Series still must be won. “The Curse isn’t over until I say it is, dammit!”

The sad thing, we’re still not even scratching the surface here.

(Yes, there have been plenty of GOOD sports columns too, we’ll discuss those in a future session here.)

So here are 20 nominees for the worst Boston sports column in recent memory:

Worst Boston Sports Column
Total Votes: 571 Started: March 31, 2009 Back to Vote Screen

Sox Prep For Opener

With opening day less than a week away, the Red Sox are making their final tuneups and adjustments in preparation.

Sean McAdam has David Ortiz determined to show that he can hit without Manny Ramirez behind him. Alex Speier has a feature on John Smoltz, starting his career over in a new place after 21 years with the Braves. Daniel Barbarisi has the Sox downplaying a rough spring by Jonathan Papelbon. Lenny Megliola says that the Red Sox have plenty of pitching plots to discuss.

John Tomase and Tony Massarotti have Daisuke Matsuzaka impressing with a quick, tidy and economical outing yesterday. Rob Bradford has the Sox happy that Dice-K returned from the WBC in one piece. Barbarisi says that Matsuzaka was a model of efficiency yesterday.

Steve Buckley says that Clay Buchholz is way to valuable to be trading away for help at another position (like catcher). Buckley thinks the Red Sox should remember the case of Bronson Arroyo. Barbarisi has Smoltz feeling strange to be on the other team against the Braves. Maureen Mullen looks at the decision looming on the fifth outfielder position. Joe Haggerty examines some roster battles still raging for the Sox.

Bob Ryan pitches for the ABCD “Field of Dreams.”

Tomase’s notebook has John Smoltz making the trip to Atlanta to see his old teammates and hang out with Tiger Woods. Massarotti’s notebook has Terry Francona planning on batting J.D. Drew fifth in his lineup. Barbarisi’s notebook has Rocco Baldelli getting into a groove.

Celtics

Gerry Callahan echoes Glenn Ordway’s four hour lecture from the Big Show yesterday – without Kevin Garnett the Celtics have no chance. I’m so glad we have these fearless commentators around to tell us the truth about these things. Mark Murphy has Danny Ainge saying that there isn’t reason to worry regarding KG, the team is just being cautious with him.

Jim Fenton looks at the hot shooting of Eddie House and Ray Allen this season. Marc J. Spears has House close to shooting himself into Celtics history. Scott Souza has Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore finally rounding into form for the Celtics. Mark Murphy also looks at the improvement from Moore in the last game.

Patriots

Ron Hobson has the Patriots kicking off the celebration of their 50th season and that of the AFL as well. As part of that, the team announced All Decade teams for the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s yesterday. Mark Farinella looks at 10 players making multiple All-Decade teams for the Patriots. Jim Donaldson says that picking all time Patriots squads is not easy task. Christopher Price goes the other way – naming the 10 worst first round picks for the Patriots.

Glen Farley says that we shouldn’t fit them for Super Bowl rings just yet, but the Patriots have improved this offseason. Karen Guregian has James Sanders happy to be back with the Patriots, especially after a nice conversation with Bill Belichick, who told him how much he enjoys having him on the team.

Mike Reiss has the Patriots bringing Missouri DE Ziggy Hood in for a look. Shalise Manza Young has a look at Vanderbilt’s D.J. Moore.

Bruins

John Powers has a feature on Milan Lucic, looking at “the rapid ascent of a 20-year-old wunderkind.” Stephen Harris has a slightly shorter look at Lucic. Mike Loftus says that strong play by David Krejci is a great sign for the Bruins.

Check back at noon for nominees for the worst Boston sports column in recent memory.

Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-03-30

Is “Rooting For The Story” The Only Way To Go?

It has been repeated since the days of “No Cheering in the Press Box” – sports reporters are not to stoop to the fans level and actually root for the team that they cover. Instead, they must remain above the fray, objective, rooting for the story. 

Michael Silverman repeated this belief in his Herald Sunday baseball notes column:

In discussing how the Red Sox clubhouse is not as interesting without Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez, Sliverman says:

If they are doing their job properly, the press corps always root for the best story, not the particular franchise or players they chronicle.

Do you believe this to be true? Or is a winning team the best story, in which case the causes of the reporter and the fan would be the same and it would be acceptable for the reporters to root for victory for the franchise they cover? 

What are your thoughts on Silverman’s statement? Is the press only doing its job properly if they are rooting for the best story? Is it entirely inappropriate for a member of the press to also be a fan of the team that he is covering?

Bill Reynolds Takes Us Back To ’78

I took the news of Bill Reynolds’ new book, ’78: The Boston Red Sox, A Historic Game, And A Divided City (New York: New American Library, 2009, 320 pages, $24.95), with a heavy dose of ambivalence. After all, this was one of the most exciting seasons ever played and it’s maintained a Greek tragedy hold over Red Sox Nation for 31 years, in much the same way that Rocky’s defeat kept us coming back for five sequels. And yet, the juxtaposition of these two particular digits, coupled with the portrait of Boston as a racial bastion during its forced busing era, sent a foreboding chill down my spine.

Sometimes, the past is better left right where it is.

Then to, from 30,000 feet Reynolds’ subject matter is seemingly close to other contemporary works. In our busy lives, and with so much content at our disposal, that’s a formidable barrier to ever creasing this book’s spine. I mean, you’ve got Richard Bradley recounting the 1978 American League East race, Michael Connelly’s analysis of the Boston busing riots’ effects on the city and the C’s, and Jonathan Mahler’s chronicle of the Yankees amid a turbulent Empire the summer before. It’s like looking out the cabin window and seeing three other planes in the sky when you never want to see one.

So why would you read this? Simply, those other stories were not told by Bill Reynolds and this one is. Reynolds can describe a Fenway Frank such that that spicy mustard will burn your sinuses as you read it. Nor did the urban unrest of the mid-seventies have the same effect on the Sox as it did on the C’s, or as Son of Sam had on the Yankees. For one thing, those other franchises still managed to win championships. Ouch!

Although there are no new facts introduced – not to spoil the ending, but Yaz still pops out to Nettles in this one, too – Reynolds skillfully explores the yin and yang relationship of busing and the Sox on the City of Boston, tracing each back to its sixties roots while grounding everything with new first-hand accounts from folks who lived it. You may already know what happens, but Reynolds now explores the causative factors and puts you in the hot seat as violence and pennant race vie for each day’s headlines, whether that seat is on a school bus being pelted with rocks en route to South Boston High, or in the bleachers at Fenway Park as Jerry Remy laces a one-out single to sun-baked right to represent the A.L. East-winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Reynolds masterfully uses a sequential account of the one-game playoff between the Red Sox and Yankees that would decide the American League East to pace his story’s advancement, while otherwise freeing himself for extemporaneous exploration of race, busing, and baseball in Boston . There’s an inherent risk of chronologic tedium in any book named after a year, but he sidesteps this by popping up and down a time continuum as his subjects dictate. Readers become modern-day Billy Pilgrims as we visit Carl Yastrzemski in his transforming 1967 campaign, then again in his alienated rookie season of 1961, before swinging back to Fenway Park in time to see him take Ron Guidry deep for a 1-0 lead to start the bottom of the second.

And, like Billy Pilgrim, we’ve seen our death a thousand times over the last 31 years, yet we’re inexplicably compelled toward it with each turn of the page. My hands were sweating as Yaz awaited a 1-0 offering from the struggling Goose Gossage in what would be the final at bat of this remarkable season, as if he somehow was not going to pop the next pitch up to Graig Nettles.

For me, a good book is one that entertains and educates, and ’78 does both. Not being a Bostonian, I was ignorant of the forces pitted against each other during this dark time in the Athens of America. Nor did I have an accurate recollection of the waning days of the 1978 season, or of how the one-game playoff unfolded, having tucked the episode away in the bottom drawer of a chest full of ill memories. But Reynolds made me relive it all, and for that I’m grateful.

Aside from an unscheduled tour of the Boston music scene of the sixties and seventies that I feared would cause me to miss the ninth inning, my only issue with this book is one of modest redundancy. Some similes are tested, whether you’re a fly ball away from the Boston Common, a jump shot away from the Boston Garden, or a popup away from Kenmore Square. But even in apparent weakness lies strength; his knowledge of the city and its history that is interwoven throughout his story give Reynolds additional tools to plant you in 1970s Boston.

I’m not sure the Nation could have handled Reynolds’ account before 2004, but after a couple of World Series titles we now have a safe word to escape the world into which he has so vividly dispatched us. If you can handle a day when winning wasn’t the norm, spend next weekend in ’78.

Big Baby Uses His Head in Celtics’ Victory

After taking an elbow to the head in the third quarter  that required 10 stitches, Big Baby Davis returned to the court and helped close out the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Garden last night. Big baby scored 15 points in the final quarter to end the night with 19 points and 10 rebounds (the joke is that with his 10 stitches, he got his first career triple-double last night), while Paul Pierce scored a game high 27.

Frank Dell’Apa has the Celtics, even without Kevin Garnett, proving to be too much for the Thunder. Mark Murphy notes that Eddie House was also a huge contributor in closing out the Thunder last night. Robert Lee has Davis and House giving the Celtics an offensive spark in the fourth quarter for the win. Scott Souza has a new big three leading the charge last night. Bill Doyle has Davis’ bump on the head getting him going last night. The Metro has the game at a glance.

Steve Bulpett has Eddie House sparking the Celtics to the victory last night. Gary Dzen has Mikki Moore starting to feel settled, as he chipped in with a double-double (12 pts, 11 rbs) of his own last night. Paul Flannery has Moore and Stephon Marbury settling into their roles with the Celtics. Souza has the Celtics playing some Perked up defense with Garnett out.

Paul Flannery says that the Ray Allen trade also worked out pretty well for the team that is now the Thunder. Tim Weisberg notes that the April schedule will actually benefit the Celtics. Jessica Camerato has the Celtics giving the Thunder a history lesson. Mike Fine has a look at the wounded Celtics, including Brian Scalabrine, who seems to be going a little stir-crazy sitting at home.

Dell’Apa’s notebook has Davis getting valuable experience starting during KG’s absence. Bulpett’s notebook has KG hoping to return for Friday’s game against the Hawks. Lee’s notebook has Leon Powe and Tony Allen also getting closer to a return. Doyle’s notebook has more on a possible KG return on Friday.

Bruins

The Bruins won their third straight game, this time a 4-3 win over the Flyers in Philly. Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins hanging on and flying high after the win. Stephen Harris has the Bruins getting things set up nicely for the playoffs with their strong play as of late. Joe Haggerty has the Bruins looking like a playoff team in the win.

Shinzawa’s notebook has the Bruins not planning on raiding the Providence roster while the P-Bruins are in the playoffs. Harris’ notebook has Milan Lucic throwing his weight around against the Flyers.

Red Sox

Tony Massarotti and John Tomase have a look at Jon Lester working on his changeup, which he hopes to feature more this season after having virtually ignored it the last few years. Maureen Mullen says that this spring has been a great learning experience for Clay Buchholz. Rob Bradford and Michael Felger debate the value of Buchholz.

Daniel Barbarisi has Jeff Bailey and Chris Carter competing for the final spot on the Red Sox roster. Dan Lamothe has more on the two players who are fighting for one spot.

Tomase’s notebook has Brad Wilkerson leaving the team after being informed he wouldn’t be on the opening day roster. The Globe notebook has Wilkerson weighing his options. Barbarisi’s notebook has more on Lester’s changeup.

NCAA

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and John Connolly have BU scoring with under 15 seconds left in regulation to defeat UNH and go to another Frozen Four. Allen Lessels has UNH coming up short once again. Mike Zhe also reports on the heartbreaking loss for the Wildcats.

Rich Thompson has BU goaltender Kiernan Millan coming of age at the perfect time. Monique Walker has time just running out for UNH yesterday.

Connolly’s notebook has Jason Lawrence joining the club of great players to wear #21 for the Terriers. The Globe notebook has more on Millan.

Jerry Spar recaps what has been a fairly slow NCAA basketball tournament. Mark Blaudschun says that the Garden was a feast for the eyes this weekend.

Steve Buckley has Villanova winning over the hearts of Boston fans during the regional finals at the Garden.

Patriots/Misc

Karen Guregian has Jason Taylor not giving any hints as to where he is leaning towards playing next season.

Chris Warner has a Q&A with Morgan State defensive lineman Lonnie Harvey for Patriots Daily.

Mark Farinella has a few ponderous thoughts.

Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-03-29

Matt Light Aids Founding of Dan Pires Scholarship

A nice story by Jonathan Comey in the New Bedford Standard Times this morning about New England Patriots tackle Matt Light helping to set up a scholarship fund in the name of Dan Pires, the S-T Football writer who passed away unexpectedly last June.

Twitter Updates for BSMW on 2009-03-28