Decade In Review Recap

 Here’s a handy landing page for the recent Boston sports media decade in review series that wrapped up yesterday.

#10 Media Free Agency

#9 Curt Schilling Arrives, Joins SoSH, Starts Blogging

#8 Manny Ramirez Becomes The Easiest Target Ever

#7 A-Rod is Coming…Wait, No He’s Not…

#6 The Death of Will McDonough (and others)

#5 The Brady/Bledsoe Decision

#4 Plagiarism Scandals

#3 The Dominance of WEEI, the Decline of Newspapers

#2 Spygate

Top Sports Media Story of the Decade – Red Sox win 2004 World Series

Others worthy of mention:

Patriots win first Super Bowl in Franchise history –  February, 2002. (Despite Ron Borges picking the Rams to win 73-0)

The death of Ted Williams, and the surrounding media circus with the cryogenics lab.

Dan Shaughnessy’s role in Theo Epstein’s resignation in the fall of 2005. (Theocracy & Theo, Explained - by Scott’s Shots and More Theo from BSMW)

Part of this was covered in Spygate, and the Brady/Bledsoe entries, but the overall theme of Bill Belichick and the New England Media this decade is a story in itself.

The Dennis and Callahan METCO Gorilla incident/suspension.

Howard Bryant’s return to Boston, his time here with the Herald, and what he had to say upon his departure.

The New York Times Co/Boston Globe’s 17% ownership stake in the Red Sox. 

Shaughnessy labeling David Ortiz “A giant sack of you-know-what”  before he had ever played for the team.

What else will you remember about the Boston sports media this decade?

Farewell to 2009

Our top ten links of the morning as we get set to sail into 2010. (That’s Twenty Ten, not Two Thousand and Ten or Two Thousand Ten.)

Bruins deliver a thrashing - Kevin Paul Dupont with the game story on the Bruins 4-0 shutout of the Thrashers.

Bruins remain a Cup contender - Stephen Harris gives us seven reasons to be optimistic about the Bruins.

On golden ponds - Matt Pepin talks to a number of Bruins about their days playing hockey outdoors in their childhood.

Frozen, festive Fenway quite a sight - Despite not being much of a hockey guy, Chris Forsberg is impressed with what he sees at Fenway for the Winter Classic.

No KG, no shot at beating the red-hot Suns - A. Sherrod Blakely reports on the Celtics getting waxed in Phoenix last night without Kevin Garnett.

Some C’s New Year’s Resolutions - Jessica Camerato talks to the Celtics about their goals for the new year.

Maroney tries to hold on - Mike Reiss wonders if Laurence Maroney dropped his role as lead back with his fumble on the Patriots first drive last Sunday.

A Look Back: Legacy Of 2009 Patriots Is Still To Be Determined - Christopher Price looks at the 10 most important moments for the 2009 Patriots, and what they might be leading up to.

Mankins is taking guarded approach on contract - Some in media declared that Logan Mankins lobbed a grenade at the Patriots yesterday with his comments about his contract. I didn’t see it that way, and Adam Kilgore talks to the agent for Mankins, who says that the Patriots “properly value” Mankins, and says he knows the Patriots won’t let his client walk.

10 events that shaped the Red Sox’ decade of excellence - Mike Fine looks back at the most important decade in history for the Red Sox.

On Patriots Daily, check out Trading Places – Chatting With a Texans Blogger

Top Sports Media Story of the Decade – Red Sox win 2004 World Series

Spygate may have been a more shameful episode, but the top Boston sports media episode this decade was the Red Sox ending 86 years of futility and winning the 2004 World Series.

Why is it greater?

While Spygate was scandalous and shameful, it did not change the actual manner in which the New England Patriots were covered, not significantly, anyway. If anything, it’s been more of the same in the last two years, especially nationally, more speculation, more focus on the negative, more snide comments.

When the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, the very nature of how the club was covered by the media was changed forever. No longer could columnists and writers refer to some ridiculous curse hanging over the club. No longer could they revisit endlessly the past failures of the franchise and apply them to the current team. This didn’t apply just to the Boston media either, this impacted sports media nationwide.

Dan Shaughnessy lost an entire cottage industry because of this win. He was personally benefitting from the failure of the Red Sox. (Even after his employer became a part-owner of the franchise) Each time the Red Sox ended another season without a World Series victory, Shaughnessy got to publish an updated version of “The Curse of the Bambino.” That ended here. He tried one last time to cash in with “Reversing the Curse” but faced enormous competition as dozens of books on the 2004 Red Sox flooded the market.

Before 2004, the Red Sox were associated with failure, with late season collapses, with getting so close and still finding ways to lose. After the Red Sox roared back from an 0-3 deficit to their longtime nemesis, the New York Yankees in the ALCS, winning the series in Yankee Stadium and doing something no MLB team had ever done before, and then swept the St Louis Cardinals (to whom the Red Sox lost heartbreaking World Series in 1946 and 1967) in the World Series, past failures were left behind.

Before the Red Sox got over that hump, and won it all, the media warned fans of getting what they wished for. They said that things would never be the same if the Red Sox won the World Series.

Bob Lobel, the long time WBZ-TV sportscaster conducted a Boston.com chat in 2003. During the course of that chat, he said:

This is the ultimate dilemma. Of course fans want the Red Sox to win the World Series, but the dilemma is be careful what you wish for because you might get it. And if the Red Sox played the Cubs in the World Series, one of those two franchises will be permanently and forever altered. One of them will never be the same. So remember, while winning is the ultimate goal. If you’re a Sox fan or a Cubs fan, it carries a steep price tag. Life will never be the same. (10/9/2003)

I never quite understood what that “steep price tag” was. Lobel wasn’t the only one spouting this type of opinion. It continued even in the aftermath of the Red Sox World Series victory in 2004.

Chaz Scoggins has covered the Red Sox for The Lowell Sun since 1973, and has been the chief official scorer at Fenway Park since 1978. In December, 2004, following the Red Sox victory, he wrote in The Sun:  Sorry to spoil the party, folks, but the worst thing that could have happened to the Red Sox was to win the World Series.

The worst thing for the Red Sox? I really don’t think so. The Red Sox have gone on to become one of the model franchises in all of professional sports, and passed 500 consecutive sellouts of Fenway Park in June of 2009.

The worst thing for the fans? Many in the media believed that things would change for the fanbase once the Red Sox won it all. They theorized that Red Sox fans were more interested in “the chase” and being a part of the experience, and that once the goal was achieved, many of these fans would lose interest in following the Red Sox. That hasn’t happened. As the Red Sox won a second World Series of the decade in 2007, interest was just as fervent. The consecutive sellout streak speaks to the passion that Boston fans continue to have for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox World Series victory in 2004 was really in many ways, the worst thing for some members of the media, who relied on recycled clichés when talking about and covering the Red Sox. In fact, one of the biggest reasons for the very existence of this web site is because I was so sick of hearing about the curse, reading about the curse, and not being able to get away from all the silliness that came with it.

2004 forced these members of the media to come up with a new way of covering the Red Sox. Previously we couldn’t get through a national TV broadcast of the Red Sox without a Babe Ruth graphic being shown, and highlights of the 1986 World Series being forced upon us. We would read day after day, week after week about how the Red Sox were cursed because then-owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919. But as the late Jerry Gutlon chronicled in, It Was Never About The Babe, there was a lot more to the Red Sox failures.

With the 2004 World Series victory, the media was forced to come up with new angles and storylines around the Red Sox. After decades of revisiting the same incidents of failure over and over, the very nature of how the media covered the team had to change.

That makes this the most significant episode in the Boston sports media for this decade.  

New Year’s Eve Eve Top 10

Quite a bit going on yesterday with Jason Bay agreeing to terms with the Mets, and the Pro Bowl rosters being announced.

Bay was a nice player here, a professional guy who hit for power and drove in runs, but wasn’t the type of guy you build your lineup around. Despite his durability over the course of his career, there was also apparently something in his physical that prompted the Red Sox to move on. Speaking of moving on, I think most of us had moved on from Bay a couple of weeks ago, so all these columns and talk about Bay this morning are not nearly as interesting as the media seems to think it is.

As for the Pro Bowl selections…the NFL is trying their hardest to make the selections an “event.” They had a show dedicated to the Pro Bowl last night, where the selections were announced. The most notable part of that show however, was a rambling interview with Colts president Bill Polian, who took shots at his own fan base, intimating that they were too stupid to understand what was really important, and outlined what he felt was really important: he stated that he didn’t think 16-0 was of any significance, (“inconsequential” he called it) and that they had set two goals this season – the first was to get to 23 straight regular season wins, and the second was to get the most regular season wins this decade. No mention of the Super Bowl. (You can see a similar rant on the Colts web page.)

Anyway…on to the links.

They looked coordinated on offense - Albert Breer notes the improvement in play-calling for the Patriots on Sunday. (Of course, the picture with the column is actually of defensive coordinator Dean Pees.)

‘D’ is the key to Pats’ surge - Rich Garven looks at lineup changes on the other side of the ball that have made a difference for the Patriots.

They finally grasped The Patriot Way - Tom E Curran says that the team is finally coming together.

Patriots drop back to the pack - Karen Guregian isn’t optimistic about this team.

Cold, Hard Football Facts That Defined The Decade Of The Patriots - Kerry Byrne with 81(!) numbers that stand out for the Patriots in the last ten years.

Life Comes Full Circle for Jason Bay, Mets - Alex Speier looks back at how the Mets deemed Bay utterly expendable seven years ago.

Pioneers and Racism in Major League Baseball - Scott Coen with some thoughts after the passing of former baseball writer Lester Rodney.

Mental lapses are proving to be a real headache - Gary Washburn looks at the Celtics recent struggles.

Goal within reach? - Kevin Paul Dupont has Tim Thomas still dreaming of Olympic gold.

Rink can freeze out Mother Nature - Rich Thompson looks at how rain won’t deter plans for the Winter Classic.

#2 Spygate

Number Two?

Really?

Aren’t I the one who wrote Why Spygate Is The Most Disgraceful Episode In Recent Sports Media History as well as The Most Miserable 18-1 Season in History?

Yes. I’ll still say that Spygate was the most disgraceful Boston sports media episode this decade. But was it the most significant? No. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out that one.

Spygate. Ugh. I still shudder when I hear or see that word. The whole episode was more of a national media episode, that is, until the bastard child of Spygate appeared – Tomasegate. When John Tomase reported in the Boston Herald prior to Super Bowl XLII that the Patriots had taped the walkthrough of the St. Louis Rams prior to Super Bowl XXXVI a whole new explosion of screaming jackals on the airwaves and in print came out.

Even though the Tomase story was later retracted and the Herald forced to issue an apology to the Patriots, the damage was already done.

Let’s get this out of the way. Did the Patriots break the rules? Yes. Were they punished? Yes. Did the media go over-the-top in a manner unprecedented in this decade? Absolutely.

If you have the stomach for it, go ahead and re-read the first link above, on why Spygate was just so disgraceful. Looks at how the sensationalistic aspects of the case were emphasized over cold analysis. Look at the willingness to shoot before looking by the media, examine some of the obvious agendas by some of the biggest media outlets and names, as well as the real reason for the hatred aimed at the Patriots.

It still lingers to this day. Just this weekend, I was watching NFL Gameday Morning on the NFL Network, which features Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Warren Sapp and Michael Irvin. With the Pro Bowl announcements coming this week, they were listing out the top 10 players of the decade.  Tom Brady came out on top of the list, just ahead of Peyton Manning. When Brady’s name was mentioned, there was an audible groan on the set. They were  then reviewing Brady’s accomplishments, and Eisen, I believe, mentioned that Brady had the three Super Bowl titles. One of the rest of the crew, and I couldn’t tell which one, as the screen was showing the Brady graphic and not the panel, snidely said “Yeah, but how many were without asterisks?”

Spygate was media at its worst. The aftereffects are still lingering.

The Terrific Tuesday Ten

The sports articles you’ll need to read today:

Boston transforms from Loserville to Titletown - Gerry Callahan chronicle’s Boston’s transformation this decade.

Should Pats hit brakes or accelerator? - Mike Reiss says that Bill Belichick has done both in the past.

The Pats’ top 10 role players of the decade - Jonathan Comey compiles a list of good-not-great guys who never made it to Hawaii or into the national consciousness, but possess at least an AFC championship ring for their troubles.

Ron Borges’ Patriots Report Card - Straight “A’s” for Bill Belichick’s team? You betcha. (Be sure to also check out the Patriots Daily report card – Making The Grades by Jeremy Gottlieb.)

Lightning strikes down the Bruins - Joe Haggerty wraps the Bruins 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ice men cometh - Kevin Paul Dupont looks at how the Winter Classic came into being, and how it came to Fenway this year.

Celtics fall once again on their trip - Gary Washburn’s game story of a frustrating 103-99 loss to the Warriors.

Celtics Find Fools Gold Against Warriors - Paul Flannery with some things we can take away from the Celtics second consecutive loss.

Red Sox’ Casey Kotchman on Claus’ nice list - John Tomase tells us why the Red Sox might already have their 2010 everyday first baseman on the roster.

Mike Lowell May See Time at First Base During 2010 Season - Terry Francona’s mailbag on NESN.com answers a number of Red Sox related questions.

#3 The Dominance of WEEI, the Decline of Newspapers

Continuing my series on the top 10 Boston sports media storylines of the decade.

They’ve dominated the ratings book, shrugged off all challengers thus far, and used their bully pulpit to sneer at critics.

WEEI has enjoyed unprecedented success as a sports radio station in a sports-mad town. With the success of the local professional teams this decade, they’ve ridden high, and benefited from a fan base that can’t get enough of their teams.

They’ve been challenged three times by rival sports radio stations this decade, two of them were KO’d and the third just started up a few months ago. Both 1510theZone and ESPN850 made a lot of noise as they got started up, but neither really made any sort of impact in the ratings book. Ultimately, they were both doomed by poor signal and with few exceptions, lackluster programming. WBZ-FM has had the most initial success of any challenger, but having been on the air only a few months, they have to prove they can keep it going.

WEEI has a power few media outlets can boast. In many cases, they create and dictate the coverage and storylines, and should anyone challenge or criticize them they can simply rant on air about them, or yell over them and hang up should the hapless challenger actually dare to call them up.

It’s really about entertainment first, and sports second, this is evidenced by their ability to milk a single storyline for weeks at a time. Remember the time in June, 2005 that Edgar Renteria bunted for a base hit with two out in the bottom of the ninth? He was successful, and it set up David Ortiz to be able to get to the plate and knock in Mark Bellhorn from second base for the win, yet WEEI killed Renteria over it for weeks. (Kevin Millar even called up to defend Renteria – over two weeks later, and they were still talking about it. Ordway blamed the callers.)

More so in the early part of the decade, WEEI’s success also forced the sportswriters who appeared on their airwaves into tough decisions. If they were a guest of the show and had gotten some information that day, did they divulge it on the WEEI airwaves, or sit on it for their newspaper the next day? (The addition of blogs to newspaper websites around the middle of this decade took out some of those situations.) Were they more loyal to WEEI, hoping for additional appearances, or to their newspaper?

In 2008 WEEI extended their online presence by re-launching WEEI.com with a number of high-profile reporters, hiring some away from their newspapers, such as Rob Bradford and Alex Speier. Now they were competing directly with the newspapers for content and getting news stories themselves rather than mostly relying on the newspapers to get the information first.

The rise of WEEI this decade coincided with the decline of the newspaper industry, as news became more instantaneous rather than waiting for the morning paper. More and more stories were being broken on the air, and online, rather than in the newspaper. While the sports sections of newspapers here in New England were still devoured by sports fans, the nature of the content changed. Since most people had already seen the game, and listened to some analysis of it, there was more emphasis on opinion, and getting noticed amongst all the noise.

WEEI has the power to make and break sports media people in Boston. If you get on their airwaves, you’re going to benefit from the recognition that comes with that. Larry Johnson and Fred Smerlas are among those who have benefited greatly from their association with the station. 

This power, along with the dominance of all competition and their ability to shape discussion about sports in Boston makes WEEI’s  presence one of the top stories of Boston sports media this decade.

A (Nearly) Perfect Day For Boston Sports

There was a triple-header on tap for Boston sports fans yesterday, with the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics all in action, one after the other. From noon until midnight, it was a perfect day for Boston fans, as the Patriots and Bruins won, the Colts decided to not go for the undefeated season, and the Celtics looked ready to put away the Clippers (more on that later).

The Patriots looked strong in a 35-7 pasting of the Jacksonville Jaguars that wrapped up the AFC East for New England, and put them back into the playoffs, where they will host a wild card game in two weeks.

Adam Kilgore has the Patriots bouncing back from adversity uncommon in Foxborough to wrap up the division and get back to the postseason. Ian R. Rapoport has the Patriots using perhaps their most complete game of the season to wrap up the AFC East. Shalise Manza Young says that despite the AFC East title, there wasn’t exactly a celebratory mood permeating the bowels of Gillette Stadium. Tim Whelan Jr. has fun times returning to Gillette yesterday. Glen Farley says that it was business the way it used to be at Gillette yesterday. Jennifer Toland says that All’s Well in New England. At least for now. Mark Farinella says that the Patriots actually looked like a team deserving to be in the playoffs. Jeff Howe has the Patriots wrapping up the East and getting the dirty work out of the way. Tom E. Curran says that these Patriots might have a shot at being pretty good after all. David Pevear says that the season still doesn’t seem like much fun. Tom King has the Patriots reclaiming their throne atop the AFC East with a physical beating of the Jaguars.

Bob Ryan says that success is relative, as 11-5 couldn’t even get the Patriots to the playoffs last season, while 10 wins is enough to win the division this season. Ron Borges says that this team has reached its fullest potential – anything it does after this point should be viewed as a bonus. Bill Burt says that the Patriots were awesome yesterday, resembling the “December Destroyers of Patriots Past.” Jim Donaldson has Randy Moss and the Patriots finding redemption in the big win. Kirk Minihane looks at the reasons why we might be optimistic that the Patriots could be gearing up for another title run. Chris Warner on Patriots Daily has the Gut Check for this one.

Albert R. Breer asserts that it is time now to give the players who need a rest the week off against the Texans next Sunday. Karen Guregian has Tom Brady with a look of contentment rarely seen this season following the division-clinching win. Mike Reiss says that suddenly, the Patriots postseason chances look a lot brighter. Christopher Price jots down the ten things we learned from yesterday’s win, including the fact that Voltron is now fully reconnected. Danny Picard has the Patriots happy to be ruling the AFC East once again. King says that after a rough patch, Everyone’s smiling now for the Patriots.

Brendan Hall has Brandon Meriweather and the secondary making some big plays to spark the Patriots. Dan Ventura has James Sanders again making an impact alongside Meriweather. Andy Vogt looks at a dominant day for the defense. Rich Garven has the division title very satisfying for Leigh Bodden, who came over from the 0-16 Lions. Farinella has the Patriots starting safeties standing tall in this win.

Monique Walker has Wes Welker with 13 more catches yesterday, adding to his own team record for catches in a season. Welker currently sits at 122 catches, despite missing two games early in the season. Dan Duggan has another extraordinary performance just becoming the norm for Welker. Robert Lee has Welker continuing to defy the odds. Forsberg has more on the receptions record set by Welker yesterday. A Gatehouse news story says Welker should get a Gold Glove following his 13-13 performance. Farinella has 13 as a lucky number for Welker.

Steve Buckley has a fan with a Randy Moss mask and afro getting the attention of Moss, and the entire stadium. Gregory Lee Jr. has Moss enjoying himself during and following the win, in which Moss hauled in three TD passes from Tom Brady. Chris Forsberg has Moss winning the fans over with his performance. Tim Weisberg has Moss making amends for his lackluster performance in the Patriots previous home game. Steve Krause has Moss removing his mask of unhappiness following the win.

Dan Duggan has the offense not skipping a beat when Sammy Morris was inserted into the game. Reiss notes that the tight ends were featured prominently in the passing game after being ignored for much of the last few weeks. Brian MacPherson has the offensive line enjoying the renewed emphasis on the running game. Farinella says that the other members of the Patriots stable of running backs were ready to go after Maroney’s fumble. Michael Hurley says that there is reason for excitement after the peformance of the offense yesterday. Picard has Maroney stepping out and Morris taking over following the fumble.

Borges selects the Best and worst from yesterday. Ventura’s Play of the game was the Meriweather interception following a huge hit from James Sanders. In Hector Longo’s Two Minute Drill, he’s glad that Jerod Mayo finally decided to show up for a game this season. Robert Lee’s analysis is that It was all Patriots yesterday. Curran gives us his top five from yesterday.

Walker’s notebook has the backup running backs picking things up after Laurence Maroney dropped the ball on the opening drive. Rapoport’s notebook has the hard work by the defense paying off with big plays in yesterday’s game. Young’s Patriots journal has Fred Taylor getting the better of his old mates. Whelan’s notebook has more on Taylor facing his old team. Farley’s notebook has Maroney dropping the ball once again. Toland’s notebook has Moss getting some vindication yesterday. Weisberg’s notebook has more on Taylor facing the only franchise he had played for prior to this season. Krause’s notebook has Belichick saying that success is all relative. King’s notebook has Taylor returning just in time to face the Jaguars.

 Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa has Tim Thomas and the Bruins starting slow but finishing strong in their 2-1 win over the Panthers yesterday. Joe Haggerty has the Bruins waking up after a sleepy first period. Stephen Harris has the Bruins going to work over the second half of the game to get the win. Matt Kalman has a balanced attack paying dividends for the Bruins. Neil Keefe has Tim Thomas and the Bruins getting the job done. Graig Woodburn says that this was far from a classic for the Bruins.

Shinzawa’s notebook has Derek Morris returning after missing the previous three games. Harris’ notebook has Milan Lucic hoping, though not confident, that he’ll be on the ice for the winter classic at Fenway on Friday.

Celtics

The Celtics found themselves tied with the Clippers at 90, with 1.5 seconds remaining. Rajon Rondo was at the free throw line for two. He missed both. The Clippers grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 1 second remaining. Despite Mike Gorman’s warnings, the Celtics let Baron Davis get the ball, and he had exactly enough time to nail a turnaround jumper at the buzzer, giving the Clippers a 92-90 win over the Celtics, ruining the perfect day for Boston fans.

Gary Washburn has Rondo getting the better of Davis for much of the night, but Davis getting the last laugh. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics going from ecstasy to agony in a Hollywood minute with Davis’ shot. A. Sherrod Blakely says that this loss is not all on Rondo’s missed free throws, the entire club did not execute down the stretch. Jessica Camerato has a few other things to take away from this one. Chris Forsberg has Doc Rivers lamenting his team’s complete lack of mental focus down the stretch.

Tim Weisberg says that the last 10 years have seen it all from the Celtics.

Washburn’s notebook has the Celtics depth paying off right now. Bulpett’s notebook reports that Paul Pierce will not be joining the club on the road trip.

Misc

John Tomase has the Red Sox putting themselves in position to do things their way this offseason. He also says we need to blow up this “bridge talk” in 2010. In the greatest decade of Red Sox baseball, Jon Couture looks back at the 10 worst Red Sox of the last 10 years.

Mark Blaudschun has Boston College looking to build on this football season, and remain one of the better programs in the country. Eric Avidon has BC laying a foundation for the future this season. Steve Conroy says that BC has the pieces in place for an ACC title next year.

A Decade of Sports Media Change

I’m pleased to present this guest column from Roy Reiss.

There’s an old saying that nothing ever stays the same. Over the last 10 years the local sports media has undergone many, many changes that has dramatically affected the local media landscape in a myriad of ways. Let’s look closer at some of these developments, what’s happened, and what it means to the information hungry sports public in Greater Boston. .

Sports on local TV News programs.

Back at the turn of the century this was the way most fans got their latest news. Bob Lobel, Mike Lynch, and Gene Lavanchy were the envy of most young aspiring sports broadcasters. They would deliver the latest up to date scores, highlights and breaking news. Lobel, in particular, would be a power broker in the Boston sports community with sources developed over a 20 year career. As the decade moved along, these positions became less and less important as cable developed their own sports related shows with local highlights. You didn’t have to wait until 11 to get the highlights, you could watch 30 minutes of all sports highlights, scores, and interviews on NESN and in November 2009 Comcast threw their local sports program into the ring. Special shows were created to satisfy the sports crazed fan for late Sunday night over and above the regular news show. The truth is with the “new sports” media evolving, most of the highlights on news shows were “old news” by 11. And with the departure of Butch Stearns from Ch. 25 earlier this fall as well as the redesign of NECN news and sports in November, you might be seeing the start of a bold move by the other local affiliates to de-emphasize the sports portion of their local news programs. What used to be a dream job could become an endangered species.

The downhill trend of print journalism.

For a whole generation of sports fans, there was and is nothing like getting that morning Globe or Herald and devouring the sports sections. Box scores, game stories, strong opinions in columns would satisfy the appetite for this sports starved generation. Back in 2002 you couldn’t wait for the February 2nd edition to read everything about the Pats first Super Bowl title. Ditto for 2004 when the Sox finally won the World Series. Trouble is the newer generations of sports fans aren’t as dependent on the print media as that older generation since new technology and means of disseminating material has made sports a “real time” business. Game stories are much less relevant because now you may see highlights and have opportunities to discuss what happened almost immediately following the action. Insight and unique value added information has trumped details of how things happened and pushed game stories to the back burner. Late start times for maximum TV exposure further hinder the print media as they struggle to have 100% of their readership receive the latest news. Newspapers nationwide face some difficult decisions on how to cover their local teams in this new era given all the different media forums, the spiraling cost of travel, mixed in with the loss of circulation and advertising dollars. That along with the challenge to develop a multi level media platform (video, audio, print) remains giant obstacles for the print industry as they try to stay relevant in the changing world of sports coverage.

The continued growth and impact of sports talk radio. 24/7.

Entertain. Shape perceptions. Rush to judgment and paint a picture as quickly and decisively as possible. Never has sports talk radio been as powerful a resource as it is today. Hosts are entertainers who succeed or fail based on how many people listen to them. They need to get people engaged, tap into their emotions, develop controversy, and keep people tuned to their particular station. Talkers like Glenn Ordway are masterful at their craft. And latecomers to the talk radio field like Mike Felger epitomize the new wave of pot stirrers. As we reach the end of the 10 year run, these stations have become more important than the local TV stations sports segments, and one could argue they’ve even replaced the print columnists. They’ve become the power brokers in the sports community. If you need proof look at the number of sports talk stations in each major market. The common thought used to be Boston could only support one sports talk station, but with the emergence of WBZ FM, WEEI now has a very formidable opponent. Down the road there’s even speculation that ESPN will enter the sports radio battle in Boston. Who would have ever thought 3 sports stations could survive in this sports crazy region? Need any more proof of this powerful force and where it stands in sports coverage in Greater Boston.

The emergence of the multi faceted internet.

This is all 3 of the above rolled into one powerful platform. Real-time information. Analysis. Insight. Video or audio easily seen or heard. Plenty of print and entertaining data with no space requirements. Interactive capabilities like chats and mailbags to allow the fans to have a powerful voice. And who knows what else future technology will bring to this intriguing tv/radio/print triple threat combination. There’s growth potential that will be determined by how quickly technology develops, and thus the rush to be on board in this rapidly developing media. In the last 20 months, Boston has seen the emergence of competing local websites, WEEI.com, ESPNBoston.com, and CSNNE.com, join the battle for the local sports fans eyeballs. Throw in the Globe, Herald, NESN, plus the individual pro teams sites and you have a plethora of destinations to cull news from. There’s never been a better job market for aspiring journalists or sportscasters who seek employment in this ever changing media business. If history teaches us one thing, the only constant in this sports media business is that by December 2019 the landscape will be dramatically altered again!

Roy Reiss is a former Channel 7 sportscaster who started in radio working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting. He is also the father of Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com.

Week Log: Dreaming of a Partisan Christmas

This week is not the misery Michael Felger makes it out to be, but between bumper-to-bumper traffic, long lines at the register, and various ill-wills we hurl at each other in a Christmas panic exacerbated by last weekend’s snowout, one thing is alarming. Folks, when did Boston become a five-team sports town?

Parking lots with rear windows covered in ‘NY’ decals. Kids walking the mall with unbuttoned pinstriped jerseys hanging down below their too-low pantlines. Worst yet, my treasured sports retailers allowing Yankee merchandise to spill over from once-tolerable end caps to entire sections of store now. Yesterday, I looked on the wall of one prominent retailer to see five banners hanging – Pats, B’s, C’s, Sox, and – yes – Yankees.

Hopefully, a wave of partisan cleansing can wash over New England with the New Year and some new championship runs, but it’s not just the Sox. For starters, there are entirely too many Patriot haters in our midst, so let’s check in with their championship run first.

Patriots

Okay, baby steps en route to the Super Bowl, but a win is a . . . Well, let’s just say Pats Chowder isn’t exactly worried about how Coach Belichick will spend the 32nd pick of this year’s draft yet. Sunday was triply great for Patriots Gab – a road win, the re-emergence of Randy Moss, and a D that befuddled the Bills. The Trenches says the Pats’ serious pass rush against Buffalo was as effective as anything they’ve done this season. But Felger (he gets another shot since he’s going on vacation next week) says the secondary was inconsistent and, BTW, where is the second half offense? Tom E. Curren says the offense’s inability to close out an opponent makes for a confounding and maddening subplot to 2009. PatsFans says it’s a miracle the Pats have beaten the Bills 13 straight times.

Pats Pulpit offers one picture and a thousand words of praise for Laurence Maroney’s turnaround. The Rap Sheet has OL Dan Connolly, whose contract was extended yesterday, coming a long way. It Is What It Is says Connolly has given the Pats a lot of good snaps this season.

First And Ten From Foxborough thinks it a tall order to ask Tom Brady to repeat his performance the last time the Pats played Jacksonville during the 2007 playoffs. Extra Points now has Fred Taylor trying to back his way off Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio’s bulletin board.

NCAAF

BC Interruption spends Five Good Minutes with a left coaster as they preview this Saturday’s Emerald Bowl matchup between the Eagles and USC Trojans. Soaring To Glory thinks USC’s talent surplus will carry it past a non-BCS bowl letdown and the Eagles, although they’ve been wrong before. Eagle Insider has USC coach Pete Carroll guaranteeing his Trojans will play like it’s the national championship game. NE Patriots Draft runs down the top NFL prospects playing in this year’s Emerald Bowl.

Mark Herzlich’s winning battle against cancer is tops among BC Draft‘s ten best things to happen to the Eagles this year. It also tops Eagle In Atlanta‘s ten distinctly-BC events of the decade.

The UConn Huskies have a little more time before their next game as their PapaJohns.com Bowl date with South Carolina isn’t until the new year. Ramblings From The Runway has Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier impressed with the Huskies. JSilver’s UConn Blog has the Huskies winning the FWAA Courage Award for perseverance in the aftermath of Jasper Howard’s killing. And even though the 2009 season is more than a week away from concluding, UConn Football is looking ahead to 2010 and forecasting the biggest QB battle in school history.

B’s / C’s

Caveman Strong is see-sawing after a 1-1-1 road trip that leaves them realizing the B’s are not a Stanley Cup champion right now. The Black & Gold might be back on track after downing the Atlanta Thrashers last night at TD Garden for their second straight victory, but Joe Haggerty will tell you there were plenty of uncomfortable moments in this one. Bruins 2010 Draft Watch feels the yuletide spirit as the B’s gave their fans a Christmas win against the Thrashers while Phil Kessel gave Toronto fans bupkus.

Marc Savard’s first assist in nine games during the B’s win in Ottawa on Monday reminds I’m Just Sayin’ of the glory days of the Savard line that included Kessel. Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk would make Boston forget about Kessel, but James Murphy says it’s a little too early to put him in black and gold. Something’s Bruin asks Santa Chiarelli for a goal-scorer this Christmas. Naoko Funayama marvels at the clarity of Milan Lucic’s complexion this late into the hockey season.

After a bad loss to Philly on Friday the C’s got it back together on Tuesday night, downing the Pacers at TD Garden before heading out on a four-game road trip. Green Street says it was a half-hearted effort against Indiana and that won’t cut it in Orlando on Christmas Day. A. Sherrod Blakely says Tuesday’s win was the first in a line of games the C’s plan to play without KG, but Red’s Army is suspicious over Danny Ainge’s use of the word “structural” when referring to a bruise on KG’s thigh. In his new exclusive arrangement with Celtics Blog, Paul Pierce traces his roots with KG back to their AAU days.

Red Sox

We’re going to close with an abbreviated check on the Sox. Forget the Mike Lowell thumb injury says The Crowe’s Nest, who think Lowell is a better one-year fit at third than Adrian Beltre anyway. Utility Lou says that when it comes to Lowell, the damage has been done, but it’s not to his thumb.

And if Lowell can come boomeranging back to Boston, Surviving Grady wonders if Jason Bay is far behind. Extra Bases thinks that bringing back Bay can only be the precursor to another move. And Better Red Than Dead bemoans John Kruk offering John Henry a luxury tax-free bond in 2010.

That’s going to do it this Christmas Eve as a final shopping run awaits me. You can be sure there’ll be nothing with pinstripes under my tree tomorrow morning. From the gang here at BSMW, may your holidays be full regardless of whether or not your tree is, and we’ll see you back here one more time before the New Year. Follow me on Twitter for any last minute rescheduling.