#8 Manny Ramirez Becomes The Easiest Target Ever

Like shooting fish in a barrel…

Twins v Red Sox

To borrow an antiquated phrase, that’s what ripping Manny Ramirez was like during most of this decade for the Boston sports media. Whenever things might be a little slow during the baseball season (or in Mike Adams’ case, any time of year, and even well after Manny left town) they could always call Manny lazy, or clueless or a clubhouse cancer, and immediately they had a polarizing topic that could be turned into days of heated, insulting discussion.

What helped embolden the media here was the fact that there was no danger that Manny would ever pull a Curt Schilling and call into their show and call them on their nonsense.

Manny was accused of many Crimes Against Baseball during his time here, including:

  • Not always running full speed to first base on a groundout.
  • Missing games because of questionable or non-existant injuries.
  • Not wishing to play in the All Star Game.
  • Potentially arriving late for Spring Training (Remember the car show?)
  • Boneheaded plays on the base paths.
  • Didn’t speak to the media on a regular basis.

During his last season in Boston, things escalated after an incident with Kevin Youkilis in the dugout during a game, and for “assaulting” the team’s elderly and feeble Traveling Secretary Jack McCormick.

Back in July 2006, I published a little 6-page ebook dealing with the subject of Manny and how he is treated by the media in Boston.

Manny Ramirez – Reality vs. Perception

Some things have certainly changed since then, but many of the arguments and statements I still stand by. I also believe the reasons I gave in that piece for why the media chose to rip Manny so frequently.  

Manny has certainly tarnished his own image following his 50-game suspension last season for testing positive for a banned substance. I can say that I am tremendously thankful that Manny didn’t get caught here, because the world might’ve ended right then and there.

But during his time in Boston, there were no allegations of drug use, and Manny put up historic, Hall of Fame numbers in helping the Red Sox to two World Series championships. Yet, he was villified more than any other player in newspaper columns by the likes of John Tomase and Dan Shaughnessy, and by sports radio hosts such as Gerry Callahan, John Dennis, Glenn Ordway and Mike Adams. For them, it was too easy, just start ripping the guy, and the calls would come. It was an instant, ready-made topic that could be brought up any time there might be a lull in the sports world.

Manny Ramirez may not have spoken to the media, but he sure made their lives a whole lot easier simply by just being Manny being Manny. That’s why the Manny Ramirez era is the eighth biggest episode in the Boston sports media during the last decade.

Patriots Season On The Line in Buffalo

The Patriots have put themselves into a position where each game from here on out is pretty much a must-win. They still control their own fate in terms of the postseason, but a loss to Buffalo on Sunday afternoon could change all that.

There isn’t a lot of confidence in the Patriots out there right now, Vic Carucci in his weekly WEEI Big Show appearance yesterday was indicating that he thinks the Bills will win this one big, as it could be their statement game of the season under interim coach Perry Fewell.

As I’ve been doing lately, I’m cutting through the noise and bringing you the best of the lot from this morning’s papers/websites.

Harvard man fits in NFL - Bob Ryan has a piece on former Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will lead the Bills offense against the Patriots on Sunday.

Pats still trying to find way on road - Mike Reiss and Tedy Bruschi preview the Bills/Patriots game.

Pats recall an eerie trip to the eastern end of (Lake) Erie - Glen Farley has the Patriots remembering a crazy trip to Buffalo to end the season last year.

How Boston became my town - Celtics captain Paul Pierce, blogging on Boston.com talks about his desire to play his entire career with the Celtics and always be associated with them.

Signs should point to All-Star nod - Gary Washburn has an informative Celtics notebook covering a number of topics.

Forward steps for Big Baby - Scott Souza reports on the progress of Glen Davis’ return from his thumb injury.

Quickly a major player - Chad Finn’s media column today has a look at the first year of the MLB Network.

Game on! - In Bill Boyle’s media column, he has a look at NBC’s preparations for the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on New Years Day.

No Fear: Why Lackey Was Made For Boston - Alex Speier tells us why the Red Sox newest ace is tailor-made for them.

Lowell-to-Texas deal hits snag over possible thumb injury - Joe McDonald reports that this trade now may only have a 50-50 chance of getting done.

Also see the Worry Wart – Game 14 at Bills by Chris Warner.

Week Log: The Ink Is Flowing At The Fens

It had been a slow first month of the free agent season for the Sox – including a non-event at the winter meetings in Indy – but the stove is heating up now with one trade in the works, another on everybody’s minds, and two big free agent signings formalized yesterday. The Sox make a nice warm place to start off this week.

Hot Stove / Red Sox

With all the chatter and controversy surrounding the week’s moves, Fire Brand Of The American League figures no one in New England likes Theo Epstein right about now even though there’s still much work to be done. I’m Just Sayin’, however, has the 2010 roster looking nearly complete with the signings of John Lackey and Mike Cameron. Red Sox Monster calls the signings Theo’s biggest shocker since his gorilla suit days. Nuggetpalooza serves up nuggets that put Lackey on the same platter as Johann Santana and tell you why Cameron should be taking on 3-0 counts.

Toeing The Rubber loves the way Theo signed Lackey right under the noses of the Boston media, who never had a whiff of this deal. The Crowe’s Nest says it’s no coincidence the Lackey signing went down on the same day as the three-way involving Roy Halladay. Sox Space News says Theo has awoken this winter to what could be his best signing ever. Tom Caron calls this the best starting rotation in baseball with Lackey. Joe Haggerty says that, with one stroke, Theo built the best rotation of his administration and obliterated last year’s bargain-basement missteps. However, Surviving Grady doesn’t like extending five years to Lackey, whom they call the J.D. of pitchers. Boston Dirt Dogs has Krista Lackey the Leigh Teixeira of baseball wives – and then some! Utility Lou thinks Lackey makes Josh Beckett disposable by next season’s trade deadline.

38 Pitches says that, even after the Lackey signing, Boston has the money to put either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in left. The Mighty Quinn Media Machine assumes the Cameron signing means a farewell to Bay and an end to Holliday speculation, but The Bottom Line suggests Cameron might have been brought in to replace Jacoby Ellsbury, who is presumably a chip in dealing for Adrian Gonzalez.

Sporting News MLB says Padres GM Jed Hoyer better get on the phone with Theo, because waiting longer to trade Gonzalez isn’t going to help him. ESPN Boston’s Boston Red Sox Blog says the Sox aren’t going to package Clay Buchholz and Ellsbury for Gonzalez, and Hoyer doesn’t want them anyway. Fenway West thinks it’s more likely that Nick Johnson will push Kevin Youkilis to third than Adrain Beltre keeping him at first.

Question: can the purchase of a single World Series title now characterize these as days of Yankee dominance? Subway Squawkers thinks so and calls out Theo as a penny-pincher in the process. However, Hit And Run With Dan Roche has no doubt the Sox put their money into the baseball product – when it’s justified. Eric Ortiz considers whether the Sox have enough on the field to now dethrone the Yankees. And after this week’s spend, John Chandler says the ball is in the Yankees’ court. Hey, do we really want to challenge the Empire to a shop-off?

Celtics

Simply the hottest product in the Boston market this Holiday Season, the C’s made it eight straight away from TD after concluding a 3-0 road trip in Memphis on Monday night. Celtics Central calls Monday an ensemble win with the C’s mixing multi-part harmonies and solos in all the right places. Green Street has the C’s noticeably better than the Grizzlies at point guard.

Neil Keefe has Rasheed Wallace and Eddie House having impactful Decembers. A. Sherrod Blakely says Danny Ainge is feeling no buyer’s remorse after signing Sheed this summer. ESPN Boston Celtics Blog considers Sheed for Sixth Man and Kendrick Perkins for Most Improved Player awards, respectively, but doesn’t see an MVP candidate coming out of this balanced attack.

Celtics Stuff Live equates the C’s lack of rebounding to a pimple on Natalie Portman’s face. Red’s Army has the C’s getting butchered on the boards.

And the fate of a young boy’s allegiance to his dad and the home town hang on every word as Lex Nihil Novi reads to his son. What’s it gonna be, boy: Bird or Magic? Green or yellow?

Patriots

And now for the not-so-hot. Despite their win against Carolina in Foxborough on Sunday, Patriots Gab says the Pats have forgotten how to play like a team. First And Ten From Foxborough says it still didn’t look like the old Pats. PatsFans calls the team that took the field in the first half of the Panthers game the most lifeless we’ve seen all season. The Boston Score was happy to see the Pats scrap complicated offensive schemes and get it together in the second half to pull out a two-cylinder win against Carolina.

Thanks For Playing says you can’t bench Randy Moss and you can’t give him tough love, so throw him a bone on the opening series and just hope for the best. Michael Felger will not be nominated president of the Randy Moss Fan Club anytime soon, but Pats Pulpit won’t even consider joining Felger’s fan club as they come to Moss’s defense, calling him classy and a leader.

It Is What It Is is trying to find a defensive lineman that can play this Sunday – or, for that matter, one who can even say whether he’ll play. Jeff Howe has Bill Belichick relating to the position Bills interim coach Perry Fewell finds himself in this Sunday. Extra Points is weirded out by the similarities between the 2009 Bills and the 1976 Detroit Lions, whose coaching staff included Belichick.

Bruins

We’ve hit another ebb in the ebb-and-flow of the 2009 Bruins, as they’ve dropped two straight winnable contests and head out on a three-game road trip this Friday. The second of those losses came in the third period against Philadelphia Monday night. Something’s Bruin tries to figure out what went down during that second Flyers intermission. The Bear Cave has it a frustrating loss for goalie Tim Thomas, his sixth this season after giving up two goals or less.

The Hockey Blog Adventure looks at some numbers at the 30-game milestone. Caveman Strong isn’t handing out much hardware to the B’s based on the first quarter of this season.

Without much wing support, Bruins Blog has Marc Savard’s dishes going to waste. Hey, the Savard line is due for a shakeup says ESPN Boston Bruins Blog, which notes that Byron Bitz is lethal at finding mesh – but only in vacant goals. Hub Hockey considers Dennis Wideman’s rightful defensive pairing on the ice.

Finally, Kathryn Tappen‘s worlds have collided this week as an outdoor hockey rink is being constructed and Norm Abrams comes to Fenway.

The Holidays are coming, and the next two Thursdays are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. I’ll be juggling things around to get in blog links over the next couple of weeks so look for advance notice on Twitter at @BobEks.

#9 Curt Schilling Arrives, Joins SoSH, Starts Blogging

Number nine on the list of the biggest episodes this decade in the Boston sports media is Curt Schilling’s arrival in Boston after the Red Sox acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Schilling immediately caused headlines when it was revealed that he had joined the Red Sox messageboard Sons of Sam Horn, even before the trade was official, and chatted with members there about Boston and the Red Sox, in order to get a feel for the city and fans.

Initially, the media thought this was a great story, until Schilling started bypassing them and going directly to the fans, answering questions on SoSH, holding chats, even starting game threads during the postseason.

The media didn’t like this. An angry Tony Massarotti declared that if Schilling was going to go directly to the unwashed masses that he and his media cronies weren’t going to help Schilling promote his charitable works – an incredibly insensitive and immature outburst from the columnist.

(Update: A message board discussion reminded me of some more details from that day – Massarotti was on the WEEI Big Show, and Ordway was saying how even if SoSH password protected the forums Schilling posted in, the media would still get to, and publish his words. Someone leaked the password to Ordway, who then read it on the air. Then the SoSH admins got smart and made Ordway’s home phone number the forum password, knowing Ordway wouldn’t dare read THAT on the air. That REALLY set Ordway off. Good times.

Now, Ordway and Schilling are chums. Such a shame.)

Schilling took things a step further in March of 2007 when he started his own blog, 38 Pitches. It gave him another platform to reach the fans directly with his thoughts and message. The media didn’t like this, either. Dan Shaughnessy in particular began taking regular shots at Schilling and his blog, and Schilling would respond. For a while it was a mano-a-mano war of typed words between the two of them. Posting entries with titles like Why the media sucks… and CHB plays the fool, again brought the blog a ton of attention, and made some in the media very uncomfortable.

Schilling initially launched the blog independently, and had it hosted on the WordPress VIP platform, joining some other huge names. Then, the curious decision was made to join the re-launched WEEI.com and make 38 Pitches a part of that. I didn’t understand it then, and don’t understand it now. He was big enough on his own – why did he need to hitch his wagon to WEEI?

In any event, the arrival of Curt Schilling shook things up for the Boston media in many ways, both on the field and off. His decision to buck the tradition media and use the internet as a way to get his own thoughts and messages out directly to the fans, bypassing the media altogether certainly shook things up for the media this decade.

Thursday’s Top Stories

Here again with the best of the best from a busy Thursday morning:

How John Lackey Ended Up With the Red Sox - Rob Bradford explains how Theo Epstein had to be convinced that the former Angels ace really wanted to play for the Red Sox.

Just the beginning - Michael Silverman says that the signings of Lackey and Mike Cameron are just the beginning for the Sox.

Epstein moved with ease - Gordon Edes explains how Theo Epstein adjusted smoothly when his plan A this offseason – signing Jason Bay or Matt Holliday fell through.

Here’s why the Patriots can win the Super Bowl - Kerry Byrne says that all is not yet lost for the 2009 Patriots.

Brady toughs it out - Mike Reiss looks at how all the attention on Randy Moss is overshadowing the toughness and leadership that Tom Brady has displayed.

Come later rounds, Pats would be wise to take Tebow - Yeah, Buddy Thomas. Hey sometimes we just need to be amused…

Celtics have plenty to smile about - Jim Fenton looks at six encouraging signs that the Celtics have displayed during their 11 game winning streak.

No Bull: Celtics road to 72 tough - Steve Bulpett talks to some ex-Bulls about how tough it would be for the Celtics to challenge Chicago’s 72 win season.

Coming to Bruins’ defense - Rich Thompson has the Bruins forced to summon reinforcements for their injury-riddled defense.

Bills Coach Perry Fewell In Midst of Interview of a Lifetime - Jeff Howe on NESN.com looks at the Bills interim coach and his extended audition to be the permanent head coach.

Also see Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily, as he goes around the league.

Check back later for number 9 on our list of Boston sports media stories of the decade….

What? Randy Moss DIDN’T lay down? Heretic!

Ian R. Rapoport on the Boston Herald Patriots blog The Rap Sheet, talks with Edge NFL Matchup executive producer Greg Cosell about how Randy Moss supposedly “shut it down” against the Panthers last Sunday.

Cosell in fact, seems a little indignant that those making that claim have obviously not seen the game film and studied what Moss actually did, and what the context of each play actually was.

In the blog post, Cosell and Rapoport look at three specific plays in which Moss was accused of not giving it a full effort. Rapoport promises more in a full article in tomorrow’s Herald.

And here I just thought it was my ignorance about the game of football when I re-watched the game, and couldn’t find the obvious “quit” plays. Instead I saw a guy still routinely drawing the double-team (and in the case of the Ben Watson sideline catch a triple team) and being the first one over to congratulate Watson on his TD and help him up.

Moss still had a bad game, and his frustration was evident, however, it’s refreshing to see a media person take the initiative to go and examine whether the noise from the national media mob was actually warranted or not.

Also see:

Hoge: Moss ‘played his tail off’ on Mike Reiss’ blog on ESPN Boston.

Piling on Moss too easy … and wrong - Mark Farinella.

By the way, this week has also see a resurgance of the old “I play when I want to play” Moss quote. Do you know the real origins of that quote?

#10 Media Free Agency

This is #10 in our list of top 10 Boston sports media stories this decade…

One thing that is lamented in the world of sports is that players hardly ever spend their entire careers with one team any more. Two teams is even fairly rare, it seems that players change uniforms via trade or free agency several times throughout the course of their careers.

It sort of used to be the same with sports writers and media people. They were identified with their employers. You knew that if you tuned into channel four, you’d see Bob Lobel doing sports, or if you opened The Boston Globe you’d read a Bob Ryan column.

This decade has seen high-profile sports media figures jump from outlet to outlet with increasing frequency. In some ways, this is a reflection of the job market as a whole. People hardly ever spend their entire careers with a single firm any more, usually trying out a number of jobs throughout the course of their working life.

People moved from job to job in the past, or course, usually from a local job to a national gig, such as Peter Gammons moving from the Globe to Sports Illustrated, and the Globe to ESPN, or Gerry Callahan going from the Herald to SI. The legendary Globe sports staff of the 1970′s almost all moved onto national gigs. But it was fairly rare for someone to move from one local outlet to another.

This decade, especially in the latter half, we’ve seen a lot of movement across local platforms.  As an example, Mike Reiss has gone from Patriots Football Weekly to the Metrowest Daily News to the Boston Globe to ESPNBoston. Sean McAdam has gone from the Providence Journal (A paper he was strongly identified with) to the Boston Herald, to Comcast SportsNet. Rob Bradford has gone from the Lowell Sun to the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune to the Boston Herald, to WEEI.com.

This decade also probably saw the zenith in sports media figures appearing on multiple outlets during the same day or week. I think we may actually see a bit of a decline in this going forward, if only because several of the employers now have multiple outlets of their own. ESPN set the example with this earlier this decade when they declared their “talent” pretty much off-limits to other non-ESPN outlets (the exception being if they’re promoting a book or charity). Locally, this could work this way – Comcast SportsNet has all sorts of local media guests on their Sports Tonight and SportsNet Central programs. If they wanted, they could now limit those slots to their own writers – Sean McAdam, Tom E Curran, A. Sherrod Blakely, Joe Haggerty and others – saving themselves having to pay an appearance fee to other media figures. NESN could do the same thing.

With the future of the newspaper industry still shaky, it’s possible we’ll see still more movement in the years to come. I’ve always seen a future with outlets like what CSN is building, with multiple outlets, and I think newspapers need to embrace the internet and its opportunities for audio, video and chat even more in order to survive, rather than attacking it with hostility as Rupert Murdoch seems determined to do. Until they figure out the right balance, you can expect more movement as writers continually look for a more secure position.

Reviewing the Decade – Top Boston Sports Media Episodes

I’m hoping to spend some time over the next couple of weeks reviewing the decade that was in the Boston sports media. These episodes aren’t neccesarily the biggest sports moments of the decade (though some are) but more about storylines that impacted the media, or times when the media completely blew something out of proportion.

The recent media blowups over Bill Belichick’s fourth-down decisions and about Randy Moss’ effort this past Sunday are just hiccups compared to some of the episodes we’ve seen this decade.

In addition to media swarms, we’ve seen mass movement of media types across platforms and employers, we’ve had promiment sports media members pass away this decade, and have seen a huge shift in the perspective from which local teams are covered.

Each weekdayhere on BSMW  until New Years Eve, we’ll be looking at some of the top storylines/episodes in the Boston sports media from 2000 through 2009.

Today’s will be posted in a little while.

Not Just Another Lackey Signing For Sox

Still under the weather this morning, so I’m bringing you another edition of the top 10 stories of the day – if they’re not here, you don’t need to read ‘em…

Red Sox Redesign: Deals for Lackey, Cameron Reshape Club for 2010 - Alex Speier looks at “one of the most dizzying and decisive offseason days in recent Red Sox memory.”

Lackey, Cameron on verge of joining Sox - Sean McAdam’s take on the impending signings.

Red Sox well armed - Mike Fine says that for the Red Sox to offer five years to anyone, they’ve got to be pretty sure about what they’re getting.

Bill Belichick throws Randy Moss a pass - Gerry Callahan has the Patriots coach defending his star receiver, but Callahan also notes that the Patriots need Moss’ best the rest of the way.

Belichick comes out swinging - Mike Reiss has Belichick responding to Panthers player comments about Moss.

Bruschi: Moss not a quitter - Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi says that he is proud to have had Randy Moss as a teammate, and says he never saw anything except hard work and dedication from him.

Still some fight in Philly’s Peter Laviolette - Mick Colageo has the Flyers coach coming back to Boston and leading his team to a 3-1 win over the Bruins last night.

Finishing a No. 1 priority - Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins “don’t score enough, often don’t create enough chances, and don’t make enough of the few good opportunities they generate.”

Ray Allen’s late 3 helps tune out Memphis - Steve Bulpett’s game story on the Celtics 110-105 win in Memphis last night, Boston 11th straight victory.

Experience has the final sway - Gary Washburn looks at how the Celtics experience was too much for the young Grizzlies.

Also check out Making The Grades – Week 14 vs Panthers by Jeremy Gottlieb over on Patriots Daily.

Patriots….win?

So did the Patriots win yesterday?

Yes.

Did they remain in first place in the AFC East?

Yes.

Did they show some good balance on offense, and make more than a few plays on defense in holding down the dynamic rushing combo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart?

Yes.

But all you’re going to hear this week is Randy Moss, Randy Moss, Randy Moss. I’m just preparing you.

Moss had a terrible afternoon, catching one pass for 16 yards, and losing it after a fumble. He also seemed to either pull off or lose track of the ball, resulting in a Tom Brady interception in the first half. His effort was questioned by media, and even by the opposing Carolina Panthers. This will continue either for the rest of the week, or until he has a big game. The eagerness to pile on the guy is pretty nauseating. Here’s a sample of your Moss columns today:

Fade pattern from Moss - Albert Breer, Globe.

Randy Moss a no-show in win - Ron Borges, Herald. Borges has his old Raiders pal Art Shell weigh in on Moss, calling him “easily daunted.” Overall though, not a bad piece from Borges.

Welker Shows Heart; Moss? No Pulse - Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant.

A dog day afternoon - Michael Felger, CSNNE.com

After awful showing, some question Moss’ desire - Shalise Manza Young, Projo.

It’s worse nationally, with the despicable Mike Freeman taking a victory lap on Twitter yesterday afternoon, and Michael Silver thinks that Moss is on his way out in New England. There’s plenty more out there if you’re eager to join this pile-on. Have fun, if that’s what you’re into.

Let’s get to the game, shall we?

Chris Warner says that this is the type of game that the Patriots should just be happy that they got the win. Mike Reiss has the spirited play of Wes Welker proving to be the difference in this one. Tom E. Curran says that the result of this game means nothing, this is still a team with too many problems. Mark Farinella has a missed 53-yard field goal attempt by the Panthers proving to be the spark the Patriots needed. Tim Weisberg says that yesterday was not the statement that the Patriots wanted to make.

Among the ten things Christopher Price learned yesterday was that we shouldn’t write off James Sanders and Shawn Springs just yet. Rich Garven has the Patriots proving to be just good enough yesterday. Bob Ryan says that we should be prepared to have all Patriots games be like this from here on out. Andy Vogt says that winning ugly is the best the Patriots could do yesterday.

Steve Buckley has Kevin Faulk sparking his teammates with his play yesterday. Robert Lee has Faulk stepping up to be a leader yesterday. Jonathan Comey and his Monday Morning Fullback are doing a blog-a-thon today.

Hector Longo has the Patriots riding their mighty mites to the win. Zuri Berry has Wes Welker’s teammates lauding his heart and talent. Karen Guregian has Welker challenging his teammates and then going out and setting the example on the field. Jim Donaldson has Welker producing on the field and inspiring his teammates. Farinella says that Welker’s got heart.

Dan Duggan says that this was an old-school performance from Tom Brady. Brian MacPherson has the Patriots still down, but not yet out. David Willis says that it wasn’t a masterpiece for the Patriots defense, but it was good enough. Chris Forsberg looks at the simplified defense. Farinella has Stephen Gostkowski continuing to move out from under Adam Vinatieri’s shadow. Duggan has Shawn Springs and James Sanders getting back into action for the Patriots.

 The Globe notebook has a shuffled secondary getting the job done. Vogt’s notebook has the Patriots defense presenting a new look yesterday.

I’m sick as a dog this morning, so I’m heading back to bed…enjoy your Monday.