Tuesday Ramblin’

With no games for the locals last night, and a couple of appointments this morning, I’m falling back on delivering a few random thoughts, news items and observations from recent days.

I’ve had three separate sources, all very solid, tell me of a New England sportswriter recently fired for plagiarism. The sports editor of the newspaper in question referred me to the HR department, which has not responded to multiple attempts for a confirmation. The material in question was apparently taken from one or more NFL draft publications and used without attribution in NFL draft previews focused on the Patriots.

Neither side in the NFL labor battle is doing themselves any favors. The best hope for a 2011 season at this point seems to rest in the courts forcing the league to conduct business while an antitrust lawsuit moves forward. As each day goes by, I sense the anger (not “panic” as some reporters have termed it) of fans growing as neither side but particularly the owners, seem motivated to come to an agreement.

I heard a radio host this week make the suggestion that Patriots fans aren’t excited for this week’s draft in part because they know Bill Belichick will likely move around in the draft, and that the team probably won’t make both first-round selections. That’s ridiculous. Is it that, or is it because of the aforementioned labor unrest? While some might feel frustrated at the Patriots inclination towards moving around in the draft to maximize the value of their selections and stockpile future picks, the recent results have been solid.

I’ll fully cop to being a casual Bruins fan at best. But the adage that playoff hockey is a different animal than the regular season is 100% true. The last three Bruins games have been compelling, and impossible to turn away from. Jack Edwards takes heat from some corners for his outlandish scripted calls, but I enjoy his enthusiasm during the games. Tim Thomas might be the most underappreciated athlete in this town. The guy is an incredible story, and to emerge as he has late in his career to win a Vezina trophy and seemingly a lock for a second, he’s without a doubt one of the best at his position in the sport. Despite of that, his unorthodox style and uneven playoff record have caused some to downplay his success. However, his performance in game five at the Garden, especially in the overtime periods, is one I will not forget anytime soon. I’m rooting for him to be successful as much as I am the Bruins.

I’m enjoying how the goalposts are being moved for the Celtics and their playoff success. Prior to this first round series, I heard a lot of talk in the media about how the Knicks were the “most dangerous lower seed” in the playoffs, and how they would push the Celtics to six or seven games and tired them out while the Bulls and Heat breezed through their first round series and rested up for the second round. Now, after the Celtics executed a four-game sweep of the Knicks, talk is about how the first two games were too close, and that they gave up a run in the second half of game four, and how the Knicks were just a bad team. Certainly, the injuries to Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks must be noted, but I feel the Celtics would’ve still prevailed in four even with those two on the floor for New York. Now, the Celtics have at least a full week of rest and practice on tap before beginning the second round. While many still want to pick at the Celtics and find negatives, I’m feeling pretty good about their chances going forward.

There was a mild media uproar in some corners over the fact that Bill Belichick did not schedule a session with the local media prior to the draft. Instead, the Patriots had Nick Caserio hold a session, which from all accounts was a success in terms of information and interest. Yet, there was still some rumbling over Belichick not being available. In the last week however, the head coach made time for personal sessions with Tom E. Curran, (CSNNE) Ian Rapoport, (Boston Herald) Shalise Manza Young (Boston Globe) and Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston).  So while he may not have had a full group media session (which are mostly useless anyway) Belichick did provide access to himself for reporters who made the effort to contact him directly.

I enjoyed Peter Abraham’s feature on Jason Varitek this morning (Catcher was receptive) but it felt like it belonged more on the society pages than the sports section.

Do Dennis and Callahan have any clue how insecure their rants about ratings and media reporters last week made them seem? I doubt it.

Speaking of sports radio, I still have not settled on a preferred rotation between WEEI and 98.5. I suspect I’m not alone. In the mornings, I’m generally swapping between the two stations hoping to hear a good guest. If the hosts are just bantering between themselves, I’m inclined to click away. Mid-day’s I’ve been on Mut and Merloni quite a bit more than Gresh and Zo. I really don’t have anything against the latter, their show is good at times, especially if they have someone like Sean McAdam on the show. The bombastic, reactionary style sometimes turns me off though. The WEEI offering is still developing, but getting better. I find it ironic that in Scott Zolak and Lou Merloni, you’ve got two former local professional athletes, both backups, who were close friends to the star of the team in their era (Drew Bledsoe, Nomar Garciaparra) and who were popular among the fans, and turned that popularity into a media gig.

Both are also naturally much better at analyzing the sport they played than they are the other sports. I enjoy when either can bring their own experience as a professional athlete to bear on a certain current situation.  Zolak perplexes me at times. I think he’s very good as a football analyst. On Patriots All Access, his segments are very good. On the radio at times, he’s completely different and nonsensical. Merloni seems to have a better rounded knowledge of sports along with the advantage of having grown up around here, following these teams. Still, I find myself cringing at times when he attempts to talk about a subject you can clearly tell he isn’t up on. Those moments need to be eliminated.

In the afternoons, recently I’ve had days where I couldn’t listen to either show. Both at times seem intent on killing the winter sports team they held the broadcast rights to. Glenn Ordway still cannot get over the trade of his binky, Kendrick Perkins, and firmly believes it will lead to the Celtics doom. Felger loves to knock Tim Thomas (though he lets up a little bit today on CSNNE.com) and pound on the Bruins failures. However, I can handle that, because the hockey talk seems the most genuine of any topic they discuss on that program. They hate basketball, so the talk on that subject is limited, Patriots talk is absurd, usually sometime solely aimed at pissing people off, and the baseball talk is uneven, seemingly focused mostly on Josh Beckett. I swear, every time I turn them on and the Red Sox are the topic, they’re talking about Josh Beckett. On WEEI, Michael Holley is getting more comfortable, but the addition of Mike Adams has almost pushed me away from that show completely. I find myself, at least for the hockey playoffs, going to Felger and Mazz more than the Big Show as of late.

Anyone else think it was odd that with the Bruins and Celtics in the middle of playoff series, the Boston Globe decided to send Dan Shaughnessy out West with the Red Sox for an April road trip?

  • Craig

    Bruce, even if I disagree with certain points, these are my favorite posts you do. Rational, reasoned, intelligent takes. Stuff like this is why I keep on visiting every day.

  • 02062

    "Anyone else think it was odd that with the Bruins and Celtics in the middle of playoff series, the Boston Globe decided to send Dan Shaughnessy out West with the Red Sox for an April road trip?"

    Bruce, my brother and I were discussing this over the weekend. My thoughts were he lobbied for the trip just to go out west for a week with very litlle heavy lifting. My brother pointed out that Dan being Dan, probably wanted to be there in case the Red Sox kept losing on the road trip so he could tap dance on the grave.

    He still managed to rip nearly everyone on the team in his sunday pieces "effort" – except for Pedroia – Pedroia must have done something nice for Dan or one of Dan's offspring.

    • WP

      Shank has been taking the LAA trip for years…there must be a good restaurant or a (un)lucky lady out there that he can’t get enough of.

      • Bergerwitz

        Did he do anytime on Rome is Burning? He has spent upwards of a week as his sit-in opinion guest midway through the show? That must be paid gig for him if he does…

        • http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com Bruce Allen

          That was my guess, I didn't see any of the Rome shows last week, but I know Shaughnessy is a regular on that program.

  • Fred

    What I thought was odd was that the Globe sent CHB, Nickles, and Peter Abraham all out West. I thought the Globe was losing money?

  • Jack

    Merloni is pretty good, but Muttnansky is painfully amateurish. He's no more knowledgeable than the average fan. He has no legitimate credentials. And he's not a naturally talented comedian. His problem is that he's trying to be funny and he just can't pull it off. He's also trying to act like he's an old buddy or peer of Merloni. Let's be truthful…………this is the kind of geek that Merloni and his ilk would have stuffed into wall lockers. They would never be buddies.

    • kralldi

      jack, I agree that Mutt is no more knowledgeable than the avaerage fan, but in this case it might not be a bad thing. Other than having been part of the local sports media scene for dozens of years,: really what credentials do Dennis, Callahan, Ordway, Tanguay, Neumie et al have? other than having been able to see dozens of games from a press box seat, and meeting a lot of professional athletes, most of us have played, and followed these teams our entire lives. Most talk radio callers cede their dignity because they defer to the "celeb" factor of getting on the air. another example, i'm a trial lawyer, you might be amazed at how many people in trouble spend a ton of time telling me how to best defend them becaus ethey all have seen Matlock, LaLAW, Perry Mason etc. Merloni got his gig because he was/is a new voice on a tired station and had the good fortune to appear ata time their was a serious competitor appearing and he became part of a bidding war. He'll probably be fine, as will Mutt, but, as i'm sure you know, alot of thisbuddy stuff is the proverbial "happy talk" mindset.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    Actually, I don't think it was odd. Shaughnessy isn't the Globe's go-to guy for above-the-fold op/ed pieces about the Celtics (that's Bob Ryan) or Bruins (to the extent they'd do one, it would probably be KPD). He's their Sox guy. There's no real need for him to be around IF the Sox are a current story as well — and, as we all know, they are. Given the choice between not having their Sox guy on the scene when something significant happens with the Sox (and, given Oakland and the Angels' pitching strength, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that the Sox could have gotten swept in those five games if their bats went dead again) and not having Shaughnessy around to write a not-his-strength column about the Bruins (because any serious Celts talk they'd leave to Ryan), it does make sense to me that they'd pick the latter and send him out to Cali.

    • Steve

      Thought I read that his daughter works out in CA. He seems to make a lot of trips to West Coast within the last few years (even once to get reaction of Manny to Dodgers)….

  • Dan S

    No shots at Mr. Kraft…No references to cool 70's pop music…no Ted Williams stories…nothing about fanboys in their mother's basement…No snide genius references… You call this a rambling'? Amateur.

  • Winning

    I agree, what a tease. I also take your analysis of WEEI/TSH as I almost always listen to sports hub due to my dissatisfaction with WEEI over the last few months. I haven't been listening and am curious if its gotten any better. I think what WEEI needs to do is stop with so many changes so listeners can accurately form an opinion of the shows. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see Mutnansky go back to the weekend and find a better and more dominating host. Side note, Flynn and Johnston is a really entertaining weekend show and I wouldn't mind hearing them during the 10-2 slot over gresh and zo. Any thoughts bruce?

  • Scott

    Bruce–I tuned into WEEI today to hear Ordway discussing David Krecji's play this year–it's painful to hear any sportsradio host try to BS through a segment they have little knowledge of. I agree with your reviews of radio—if a show could consistently book good guests and have them appear very frequently, it would be much more interesting.

  • Jake

    It's not ironic that Zo and Merloni are hosts. Interesting or coincidental, but in no way ironic.

    • http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com Bruce Allen

      I apologize for the clumsy wording.

      • http://twitter.com/awesomeneil @awesomeneil

        Yeah, that'll teach you, Bruce. Now get back to producing all this free content for me to read at work. ;-)

        • Jake

          He is a writer. He should be held to the same standard of all other writers. His use of ironic was in no way correct, although it is widespread.

          More importantly, the misuse of the term 'ironic' threatens to ruin the accurate meaning of the term and ultimately to rid the word 'ironic' of any substantial meaning. People who grow up understanding the word 'ironic' to mean 'coincidental' will never appreciate its true meaning and the concept will be lost.

          Good writing uses words carefully through a subtle use of vocabulary. This method assures that arguments are more precise and that meaning will not be lost. When words or phrases are accepted to have multiple definitions. there is less precision and something is lost.

        • http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com Bruce Allen

          I think there is a compliment in there somewhere. No one has ever accused me of being a writer before.

          Thank you for the clarification.

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          Wait, does that mean Alanis Morissette has been using "ironic" incorrectly all these years? You should straighten her out, too.

        • http://twitter.com/awesomeneil @awesomeneil

          Good man, Jake. That's what this world needs. More people worried about children misusing the word 'ironic.' Frankly, I think the 'misuse' of single quotation marks is far more 'harmful' to the youth of 'today.'

  • Classless

    Merloni has zero knowledge of any other sport besides baseball. Know how you can tell? Just listen one day and I'm sure you'll hear him say something like this:

    "Yknow the Knicks are tough. They got a great coach in Diantoni. They got guys like Billups, Stoudemire, and Carmelo. They're gonna be a handful."

    What, exactly, did that analysis do for anyone?

  • Cblooz

    I am finding that WEEI is getting worse and worse as the weeks go by. D and C embarrassed themselves further last week by doing an ENTIRE segment on who would watch the Royal Wedding, what they should have asked is how many listeners were flipping over to 98.5 during that rant? I love the fact that the morning show on 98.5 is much better than I originally thought it would be, they are making EEI look tired and old and I love how all the shows refer without hesitation to EEI and their hosts by name rather than the foolishness that EEI still employs of not even admitting there is another station out there broadcasting sports talk.

    That being said the mid morning shows on both stations need some tweaking-probably the weakest part of both their schedules right now.

  • Doc Michaels

    Great "state of the Boston sports media union" article Bruce.

    Dale and Buckley's Sunday AM show is ten times more listenable than Mutt & Merloni…they should be flipped with one another. Once baseball season is over Merloni's insight will drop like a rock and Mutantsky has nothing to offer in the first place.

    The afternoon shows both stink. Felger is a juvenile idiot half of the time, he and Mazz are spastic and obnoxious when talking about anything other than hockey. The new Big Show is just awful, Mike Adams is hideous and Ordway still doesn't let Holley talk on his own most days. It was better when they had rotating co-hosts who injected some life in there…now that the formula has been broken up Ordway has been exposed as even more of a fraud than he seemed initially.

    I've been listening to more of Mike Francesa on WFAN most days than either show; as much as I love Boston sports, the better sports radio is not in Boston.

    • Eddie

      I think WEEI weakened two shows with their recent moves. Muttnansky must be related to someone. There is no other explanation for his hosting the mid-day show. He really seems like he belongs on a weekend show in a smaller market, certainly not Boston.
      Holley and Ordway is awkward and forced. At least now that Mikey is in there, the show doesn't turn into a discussion of race every day. A lot of the old co-hosts were terrible. I won't miss Larry Johnson, Butch Sterns, Fred Smerlas, or Steve Burton, but McAdam, Buckley, Curran, Maxwell, and a couple others were good. They did have Max on for a couple of hours last week. I hope they keep going with that.

      I never heard of T&R before the Sports Hub, but weren't they on the same station, doing the same show, when it was WBCN? Why are they now competing for D&C's audience? I listened to them a couple times when they first became the Sports Hub and I found them to be a show more like Opie and Anthony or Imus……………….definitely not a sports show. Has something changed?

  • Bill

    Agree almost 100% with your points. 2 quick points. Is it me, or does Zolak seem so much more insecure about his role as a back-up than Merloni? Was the purpose of the Blesdoe interview about the Patriot's HOF or to remind people Zolak played and was cool back then? So in order to make WEEI better you eliminate Dale and add more Mike Adams???

  • latetodinner

    I think I can answer my own question. It was reported that Robert Lee quite the Providence Journal under mysterious circumstances on April 22 http://wrnipoliticsblog.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/

    Looking through the Projo archive I cannot find his draft reviews online any more…the last blog entry I can find comes from January. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck…

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