Was Jonny Miller a bigger “Curse” Pusher than Shaughnessy?

If you didn’t read Bob Hohler’s column this morning – Really big news - I highly recommend that you do so.

The article looks at some of the media pressure that the Red Sox had to overcome en route to winning the 2004 World Series. It seems that much of that “media pressure” came from an unlikely source: WBZ’s Jonny Miller.

WBZ’s Jonny Miller greeted every new player in the Fens by asking him to declare whether the team’s chronic misfortune was born of some ghostly voodoo risen from Babe Ruth’s grave. His tape recorder whirring, Miller followed up by posing the same question every spring training to every player on the Sox roster: “Do you believe in the curse of the Bambino?’

Miller doesn’t refer to the curse any longer, as he is quoted in the article as ““They took away one of my lines,’’ Miller said of the ’04 Sox. “I can’t ask about the curse anymore.’’

The article notes that Jonathan Papelbon this season called Miller “the most negative person around.”

This seems to fit with some of the lines of questioning Miller has pursued, as chronicled by Hohler.

And when the Sox went on a 10-game winning streak to seize a four-game lead in the wild-card race in early September, it was Miller who stirred the ghosts.

“In the history of the wild card, no team has blown a four-game lead starting Sept. 1,’’ he informed Damon. “Are you confident you won’t be the first?’’

There are plenty of other examples in the article.

Hohler also notes that Miller is a prankster, though some of his stunts have been better than others:

Miller became as memorable in 2004 for his pluck as his perseverance. In February, five months after WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan compared a gorilla that escaped from the Franklin Park Zoo to a minority Metco student, Miller welcomed them to spring training by presenting them white pillowcases as if they were Klansmen.

And later:

In September of ’04, with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon filming “Fever Pitch’’ in Fenway’s box seats, Barrymore’s history of teen drug problems inspired Miller to raise a placard that asked, “When Will Drew Be Back In Rehab?’’

All in all, this was a nice “behind the scenes” look by Hohler at the type of coverage and questions that were around the Red Sox prior to the 2004 World Series Title.

  • Peter

    Miller was probably a bigger pusher, but Shank was the guy making all the money from it. Advantage: Shank.

  • Glenn

    Cerebral palsy or not, Jonny Miller sounds like a complete a-hole.

  • Tony

    Miller sounds like a prick. A prick who skates by b/c of his physical disability.

  • Fred West Lynn

    Clearly, there is a vast gulf between the (primarily print) media and the players. The shirts the players wear excoriating the media and their general reluctance to grant interviews bespeak that. It’s a continuing issue, and if the Globe was serious about examining it, that would be a worthwhile, and possibly healing, endeavor. But by ignoring the effect of the daily grousing snarkfests of its sports desk of bloody-handed self-promoters and trying to pin the blame on an elderly wiseass with cerebal palsy and little public visibility, the Globe just shames itself. Again.

    This is truly an in-depth investigation. Hohler talks with precisely zero players for this “Pentagon Papers of the Pennant,” including only a Johnny Damon quote pulled from the archives. He does interview Bob Lobel, so we understand thatr he’s taking the reader deep, deep inside the pysche of the players, and he has some rib-splitting anecdotes of sassy things and practical jokes that try to humanize the Man Who Turned the Team Against The Press.

    Odd that the Globe writers are quick to present themselves as the sacred link between the game and the fans, but when it comes time to look in the mirror … well, they’re complaining that no one in in London likes football or about their drink not being refilled on a company paid-for flight or looking to get on The Jim Rome Show from LA.

    Let’s face it — the people that the Globe promotes the most are the ones most directly complicit on the breakdown of communication between players in this town and their fans. Clowns like Shaughnessy think of themselves the way priests did in the Dark Ages — exhalted because they were the only conduit to God. Well, the gods have stopped talking to them, and the peasants are doing just fine, thank you.

  • Classless

    Miller wins with the Klansmen costumes to those 2 idiots.

  • james

    All i know is ‘Fever Pitch’ was so bad i hadda stop watching halfway through

  • T-man

    I have to agree with Tony. What a “jerk” Miller was/is. I wish there were more “inside stories” as to what miserable people some of these reporters are. Prior to this I’d cut Miller some slack when I’d hear some of the dumb questions he’d ask during interviews; but, now, I realize he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. As a reporter, he needs to start asking thoughtful, insightful questions rather than the standard pablum he offers up each and every day.

  • Tom

    Wow that story about the sign he held up for Drew Barrymore is bad. I have to agree with the early commenters who said he may have skated by because of his disability. If another reporter held up that sign, they would be ripped and deservedly so.

    The Klansmen costume idea was pretty good though.

    • Tony

      I have to agree.

      That Drew Barrymore thing goes way beyond classless. And, sadly, I do believe that a media member who was not handicapped: A) wouldn’t have tried such a thing; and B) wouldn’t have skated pretty much scot-free after doing so.

      I feel bad that the guy has CP, but really, some of this stuff attributed to him is beyond the pale.

  • Steve

    Reporters have varying styles and Miller is clearly from the Clif Keane school of reporting. That said, some fans feel the reporter is obligated to be on the team’s side that he is covering and not present any negative because players don’t like it and it may cause some doubts to creep into their minds. I couldn’t disagree more.

  • Brian

    Interesting article. While I agree that they do not need to be cheerleaders, I also think that they don’t need to go to the other extreme and solely focus on the negative (wherever they can find it). And then they wonder why the players won’t talk to them…..

    I never knew that Miller has CP (which sucks), but I do wonder if he gets a free pass as a result. Almost like the Seinfeld epsiode where Uncle Leo gets busted shoplifting and his weak attempt at an excuse was “I’m an old man, I’m confused!”

  • Big Jeff

    Miller serves no purpose other than to collect sound bites for the radio. Something a trained animal can do. The piece also says he doesn’t get paid, he just does it to be the jerk that he is.

    He’s not a reporter or a journalist. He’s a guy holding a microphone and letting someone talk into it. Papelbon seems to be right on target about who Miller really is.

    And he seems to be universally respected amongst the other members of the media, which is a sure sign that he should be universally loathed by everyone else.

  • Rick Mc

    Who the f*ck is Jonny Miller? If he is on WBZ Radio, nobody under the age of 60 listens to him. If he is on WBZ television doing sports, nobody watches him and his career is deader than the dodo.

    Local sports television sports guys need to be put down. They are more irrelevant than an issue of Pravda from November 1989.

  • Steve

    The article says Miller was born and raised in Newton. Therefore I assume he grew up a Red Sox fan, and because of that I tend to believe he still is a Sox fan. So I don’t know why he would want the team to lose. It doesn’t make sense. Miller just might be a cynic, which is probably too much for millionaires playing a kid’s game to stomach.

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