Steelers Own Brady, Patriots

Let’s just say that you know things didn’t go well yesterday when Mike Reiss is writing columns questioning whether Bill Belichick has lost his fastball.

From a media-watch perspective, the thing that annoyed me so much about yesterday was how for many, the pregame analysis seemed to end at “Brady plays well against Pittsburgh.” If there was further analysis, it seemed to be about Bill Belichick’s record coming off the bye week.

A few expressed concern over the Patriots ability to cover Mike Wallace. Turns out, that was among the least of their problems yesterday. The Patriots simply got dominated, and hardly anyone in the media seemed to see it coming.  (Mike Reiss does deserve credit in this area, as he picked the Steelers to win, and their ability to keep the Patriots defense on the field and to slow down the Patriots offense.)

But for most, especially nationally, and locally particularly on the radio, there was no sense that the Steelers could win this one. I expressed my annoyance at the Brady owns Pittsburgh storyline last week, but in hindsight, probably should’ve had more to say on the topic. It seemed pretty clear to me, from afar, that the Steelers were going be fired up for this one. Comments coming from their locker room from the likes of Ryan Clark seemed to confirm that. I didn’t see how the Patriots would stop a wide-open offense. I guess I should start making my gut instincts more public week-to-week, if only to get on the record, and have more of a leg to stand on when being critical of pregame analysis.

Let’s run down some links from this morning:

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Patriots secondary is now a primary concern – Christopher Price looks at what to take away from this game.

This road loss shows they can only go so far – Greg A Bedard says that this team has a fatal flaw – talent.

Downright offensive – Mark Farinella has the Patriots totally out-executed and outclassed yesterday.

Steelers feast on weak Patriots secondary – Tom E Curran has the Steelers happy to talk about their gameplan and what they did to burn the Patriots defense all afternoon. (Good stuff)

Patriots’ offense strikes no fear – Karen Guregian has the Steelers confirming that the “Brady owns LeBeau” talk fired them up.

Maybe the Pats are setting them up for the kill – Jim Donaldson says that the Patriots were clearly just lulling the Steelers into a major case of overconfidence for the next time they play them.

Kevin Faulk takes big role in 2011 debut – Ian Rapoport has the veteran back returning to action yesterday, a theme shared in the Globe notebook by Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker and in the Patriots Journal.

Why Dale Sveum is a candidate to manage the Red Sox – Alex Speier looks at the former third-base coach for the Red Sox.

Mackanin gets first interview – Peter Abraham has Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin the first candidate to be interviewed.

 

Back With The Friday Megalinks

Due to a crazy schedule for most of this week and then having a medical procedure done yesterday, I have not been able to blog like I’ve wanted to. Links have been scarce, but I’m available to do them now and hopefully, won’t be interrupted.

Your Weekend Viewing Picks have your sports and entertainment programming for Halloween weekend. Let’s get to the links.

National

Michael Hiestand of USA Today notes that Tim McCarver has been broadcasting for a very long time and reports that Ron Franklin makes a return to the broadcast booth next week.

Georg Szalai of the Hollywood Reporter writes that if the NBA loses an entire season, corporate partners Time Warner and Disney would take some hits in the short term, but see moderate profits in the long term.

Philiana Ng of the Reporter says Game 6 of the World Series dominated the primetime ratings on Thursday.

John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable says DirecTV is crying foul to the FCC about Fox’s ad in their carriage dispute over several networks including FX, 19 Fox Sports Net affiliates, Fox Soccer and Speed.

George Winslow of B&C notes that NASCAR.com has developed the first app for Google TV.

Mike Reynolds from Multichannel News says MSG Varsity will stream high school games for co-owned Cablevision subscribers.

Mike says last week’s bidding for US World Cup media rights doesn’t help FIFA’s corrupt reputation.

ESPN Ombudsman Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute delves into ESPN’s role in the college sports realignment game.

Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times writes in the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center that baseball’s problems are magnified when a historic moment as in last night’s World Series Game 6 comes so late for East Coast viewers.

Awful Announcing gives praise to Joe Buck for his plagiarized call of David Freese’s walk off home run in last night’s Game 6 World Series.

Deadspin’s AJ Daulerio exchanged e-mails with Buck on his call.

Glenn Davis of SportsGrid notes that a Dallas TV station jumped the gun in saying the Texas Rangers won the World Series last night.

Sports Video Group reports that CTV/TSN has won the Canadian rights to the FIFA World Cups from 2015 through 2022.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell explains why we’re suddenly closer to an NBA deal and a complete 82 game season.

Sports Media Watch writes about the World Series Game 6 ratings.

Dave Kohl in the Broadcast Booth looks at the reporting on Dan Wheldon’s death.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe looks at the World Series ratings vs.the NFL this season.

Bill Doyle from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette talks with Fox 25’s Kristine Leahy.

Newsday’s Neil Best looks at MLB Network’s latest Bob Costas special with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.

Neil says ESPN2’s SportsNation will do an ode to LIVE with Regis and Kelly on Monday.

Over to the New York Post where Phil Mushnick is again filled with hatred.

Justin Terranova of the Post has 5 questions for Sirius XM MLB Network Radio co-host Jim Duquette.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union says Fox finally got a ratings payoff for the World Series.

In Press Box, Dave Hughes from DCRTV.com has the latest on the Baltimore-Washington, DC sports media.

Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner interviews the host of Bloomberg’s weekly “Sportfolio” program.

South

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder gets the opportunity to talk about his former team twice a week on local sports radio.

Barry Horn at the Dallas Morning News writes that Game 6 of the World Series is now the most watched baseball game in the history of the Metroplex.

David Barron in the Houston Chronicle says the Texans continue to top the local TV ratings.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman notes ESPNU will air a basketball fundraiser for the Joplin, MO tornado victims.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter from the Cincinnati Enquirer talks with local website owners who want businesses to help ensure the Bengals won’t be blocked out in the local market.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes that viewers are the losers in the DirecTV/Fox carriage dispute.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tells us that Week 7’s Vikings-Packers game was the most watched TV program of last week, topping all network programming.

Bob notes that Milwaukee and surrounding towns are part of a rare TV marketplace where a significant amount of viewers still don’t have cable or satellite.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business notes that classic Bulls games will be aired on Comcast SportsNet during the winter.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar writes that Fox has hit the megaload with a long World Series.

West

John Maffei of the North County Times writes that last week’s brawl with Arizona gave UCLA some TV time, but for the wrong reasons.

Jim Carlisle in the Ventura County Star says Christmas doesn’t need NBA games.

Jim notes that ESPN took a big hit when it lost the World Cup bidding to Fox.

Tom Hoffarth at the Los Angeles Daily News talks with ESPN’s College GameDay’s Lee Corso.

Tom talks with SoCal broadcaster Steve Physioc.

Tom says people are confused over the battlelines in the DirecTV/Fox carriage dispute.

Tom talks with Dan Patrick about the #occupygameday movement.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail notes that CTV/TSN has wrested the World Cup rights away from CBC.

Sports Media Musings: ESPN Original Programming Wins, Media Scolds NESN, CSNNE’s Farm System, Quick Musings

Praising Rage Against The Machine

ESPN gets criticized with great regularity. Much of the scrutiny is deserved. Segments like, “Who’s Now” on SportsCenter” feel forced. I shake my head when Skip Bayless argues Aaron Hernandez’s fried chicken entrée could be a harbinger of trouble ahead for the Patriots. Lastly, Herman Edwards‘ rants lay somewhere between Al Pacino’s cathartic “6 Inches Speech” and Keanu Reeves trite, “Pain Heels and glory lasts forever” pep talk.

With all that laid across the kitchen table, the maligned four-letter network’s documentary efforts are commendable. Since the inception of 30 For 30, ESPN has shown (with its Eff-you $$$) they are capable of getting out of the way and letting accomplished directors spawn great documentaries. I’m not saying this based off the screening of “Unguarded” I attended on Wednesday. Films like “The Two Escobars”, “Four Days In October”, “June 17, 1994″,  and “Jordan Rides the Bus” were all exceptional efforts.

(*Note – ESPN discontinued the 30 For 30 branding for reasons that still seem unclear, at least to me. The subsequent films such as “The Fab Five” and “Unguarded” are being produced by the same creative team.)

During the premiere Jonathan Hock, director of “Unguarded”, took time to praise ESPN executives John Walsh and John Skipper citing, “They supported a project that in the past may have not received blessing.”

Another innovative project from the “WorldWide Leader” reached a different milestone this week. Pardon the Interruption had its 10-year anniversary being on the air. The show was appropriately lauded by WEEI’s Mike Mutnansky during last Friday’s “Mut & Merloni” broadcast. PTI created a myriad of terrible step-children (I-Max, First Take), but also served as the paradigm for “talking head” sports shows I generally enjoy (Sports Tonight).

Here is a 11 minute video of the great opens over the years between hosts Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. Watch it, enjoy it, and keep avoiding that stuff called, ‘work.’

Quick Musings, Links

(Because, at age 25, I’ve gotten soft)

1.) Many have expressed disagreement with my opinion on NESN not covering Theo Epstein’s exile to the Second City. I expressed my point further in the comments section of the piece. If you don’t agree, no biggie. We’re not going to keep things copacetic with every column, after all, it’s the Internet!

Kirk Minihane, from WEEI.com, expressed similar distaste from the coverage oversight.

 And speaking of embarrassing, if NESN want to at least pretend to be a network with a sliver of credibility, you have to show Theo’s press conference. I think we all could have lived without the 14th straight showing of “NESN Daily.” You either cover all Boston sports, or you are a shill for Larry, John Henry, Linda Pizzuti and the Red Sox. I think we already have our answer.

Michael Holley called it ‘shameful’..

@MichaelSHolley How is NESN not showing the Theo press conference? And Comcast is? #shameful#doyouwannawin

I’m not saying this validates my overall stance. (If I agreed with media-types like Minihane and Holley all the time then I wouldn’t be here.) But I just want to point out that I’m not the only ‘hater’ out there in terms of this issue.

2.) CSNNE.com’s affiliation with WickedGoodSports.com leaves something to be desired. I get the comedic aura trying to be evoked, but I’d rather the site take itself less flippantly. I like the concept: Major Outlet (CSNNE) espousing Rogue Entity (Wicked Good Sports).

However, I’d tweak the content of Wicked Good Sports. There’s an opportunity to report and ruminate on topics that Deadspin and The Big Lead touches on. I think that’d be cooler than barely cracking a smile at B+ Photo-Shop projects that my college roommate used to do in order to kill time.

3.) Speaking of Deadspin, Joe Buck vs. Jack Buck is equivalent to Theo Epstein vs. Ben Cherington. Creepy.

4.) Not you too, Ron. Bruce Allen hit this topic earlier in the week: The media did some quick math and realized Tom Brady is 6-1 as a starter against the Steelers. I always thought we could count on Ron Borges for “proper perspective”, but even he feels Sunday is a lock. Regardless, I liked the column.

5.) At CSNNE’s “Hockey Night” Monday, Shawn Thorton said he hopes to retire a Bruin. I noted Tony Amonte was in attendance, and asked if he saw a future as a personality in the media, “I’m not doing all this for nothing,” Thorton swiftly replied.

Thorton is good on CSNNE’s new hockey show, “Sticks & Stones”, and his appearances on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” morning radio program. He is affable and seems primed to join at least one form of medium when his playing days are over. I think Amonte, Thorton, and Mike Felger sparring in pre/post-game settings would bolster CSNNE’s hockey coverage.

Additionally, CSNNE seems to have another prospect waiting in the wings with former Boston Celtic, Brian Scalabrine. Scal is already making brief appearances on Sports Tonight and as a color analyst with sage, Mike Gorman, at Connecticut Sun games. Like the aforementioned hockey trio I just mentioned — Donny Marshall, Scalabrine, and Gary Tanguay would be a solid core debating Celtic news and games.

6.) Good Grantland Range — Really enjoyed Rembert Browne’s piece on MTV’s old Rock N’ Jock productions. Fun stuff, highly recommend it if you grew up during that time frame.

7.) Bad Grantland Range Molly Lambert dissects fluff magazines. Umm, don’t kill me for this, but I liked the piece. Then again, I understand this is probably to far outside the realm of the average consumer reading Grantland. And I don’t doubt (or blame) that it will likely get skewered here.

Friday Media Quicklinks

Just a few links this morning while Ryan readies this week’s Sports Media Musings…

Baseball takes two from NFL – Chad Finn has the World Series taking two nights in the ratings war with the NFL, as baseball beat football on both Sunday and Monday night this week. Chad also reports that NESN has hired NH native Jamison Coyle ( @Jamison_Coyle )  to replace Jade McCarthy on NESN Daily.

Fox 25’s Kristine Leahy arrives with new, youthful outlook – Bill Doyle talks with the 25-year-old Leahy, (@KristineLeahy ) who has been a sports anchor at Fox since July after two years as the Celtics web and in-arena host. She had also previously hosted the Top 5 at WEEI.com.

Media Roundup – Cowher Talks Pats/Steelers – In my SBNation Boston Media column, I’ve got CBS’ Bill Cowher talking about the Patriots, a team he knows a thing or two about losing to.

The Best Sports Section in History – Grantland has a column this morning from Nell Scovell, who talks about being a young writer working with the likes of Will McDonough, Bob Ryan, Michael Madden, Lesley Visser, Peter Gammons, and Leigh Montville.

 

ESPN Films “Unguarded” Delivers Un-Filtered Journey of Demise & Re-Emergence

Last night I had the opportunity to catch a screening of the new ESPN Films documentary, “Unguarded.” The film tells the story of local basketball legend, Chris Herren. The former NBA player’s story is well documented. In fact, in one form of medium or another, Herren’s ongoing journey has always been disseminated.

Bill Reynolds, of the Providence Journal, wrote about the heralded prospect’s recruiting courtship in Fall River Dreams. An unfinished documentary, presumed to revolve around Herren’s life as a young father preparing for the NBA Draft, was taped in 1998. Finally, last year, Reynolds and Herren teamed up to write Basketball Junkie , which told the story of Herren’s demise and re-emergence.

“Unguarded” almost serves as a bow tie, fusing the coverage of Herren’s life into one gripping film. This presented both challenges and advantages to the film’s director, Jonathan Hock.

How do you re-formulate a story that has already been told?

Hock made two critical (and successful) choices in “Unguarded.” First – much like the 30 For 30 film “June 17, 1994″ – Hock chose not to directly interview his subject. Instead, Hock used footage from a variety of speaking engagements Herren frequently does to narrate the documentary.

This ingenuous move proved to be effective because of Herren’s audience. Hock picked roughly four settings to cut and paste from: A high school, basketball camp, military base, and rehabilitation center for prisoners. This eclectic mix of people gave the viewers authentic reaction to Herren’s life. The decision re-affirmed the power of Herren’s story and eliminated any desensitization viewers may have had.

The second choice was selectively pulling the footage from the unfinished documentary from 1998. There were over 140 hours of material, which Hock jovially described as hitting the lottery. The footage was jarring because Herren – who had struggled with a cocaine addiction in college – was newly married with a son. One got a sense of the pensive hope surrounding the family as Herren’s career progressed to the NBA. With his dreams coming to fruition, anything for the young family seemed possible. However, little did the family know, Herren would be pronounced legally dead for 30 seconds after a heroin overdose a mere eight years later.

In my eyes, there are two underlying themes in “Unguarded.” First and foremost, is a family persevering through a father’s sickness. Herren’s addiction never was properly addressed until after he had thrown away his career. Everything was an illusion created in part by Herren’s profile. This isn’t a basketball film, frankly, because for a majority of his life post-Fall River, Chris Herren didn’t care about basketball.

“There was always this feeling of ‘We’re turning it around, because now we are doing this. Now we are good because we’re doing that.’…I kept his addiction going as much as he did,” Herren’s wife, Heather.

Secondly, in my view, is being a product of your environment. Herren had the weight of Fall River’s aspirations on him at a young age, and he delivered. The film conveyed the town as a security blanket for the former savant of the hardwood.

“There is something special about this place (Fall River). You don’t want to let it go. And, it doesn’t want to let you go either.” – Chris Herren, 1998

Herren notes his troubles started at Boston College when he first used cocaine, “It opened up doors I couldn’t shut for 15 years.” After being kicked out of “The Heights,” Herren fled to Fresno State. His game excelled out west, despite lingering drug issues, and his professional career as a Denver Nugget started auspiciously as well.

Unfortunately, when he was traded to the Celtics, Herren re-discovered addiction – this time in the form of the omnipotent pill, OxyContin. Herren’s brother lamented that the move back to Boston was a “death sentence.” Every instance Herren was placed around Fall River his life seemingly regressed into a worse drug and (ultimately) deeper addiction.

If I were to find one fault in “Unguarded”, I would point to the length. The film is nearly two hours and will certainly be laborious to sit through with interjected commercial breaks. On the contrary, there isn’t one portion of the documentary I can point to and say, “That was unnecessary.”

The portrayal of Herren’s older brother as a folk figure, who piloted Durfee to over 40 straight wins, was necessary to accentuate the pressure put on Chris to perform well. The discussion of Herren’s relationship with his wife was also necessary to substantiate the powerful bond that would not break, even at the worst of times. Herren’s cavalier attitude towards his front-page picture on the Boston Herald and urgency to replenish his pill supply displayed how far his priorities had been displaced.

There were also the anecdotal pieces that aided the film such as Herren’s performance against UMass coming off an all-night bender, the Denver Nugget veterans taking Herren under their collective wing to ensure he would remain sober, and the relationship with Jerry Tarkanian.

Overall, “Unguarded” continues to hit the ambitious target that ESPN Films strives to aim for. “Unguarded” premieres Tuesday night at 8:00 pm.

Understated Steelers Week Moves On

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little sick of the stories and talk that Tom Brady owns the Pittsburgh Steelers. I take a little solace in that fact that Brady himself isn’t buying it.

Sure, these aren’t the 2008 Steelers here, but they’re more than capable of beating the Patriots on Sunday. Maybe it’s the bye week, or all of the Red Sox drama, but this game is getting shockingly little play around here. Its seems a given in many quarters that the Patriots will win, always a dangerous position to take.

Pats Pregame Points: Game Seven At Steelers – Chris Warner on Patriots Daily hits on some areas to look at in this one.

Versus Pats, Steelers’ D never rests – Chris Forsberg has the Steelers defense looking for answers for this one.

Patriots, Steelers are proof that stable QB/coach relationships are big key to success – Christopher Price has these two teams as prime examples of stability. A Sherrod Blakely has more on the topic. Paul Kenyon says that this game will showcase two of the NFL’s best.

Can the Patriots pass defense find a way to keep Steelers receiver Mike Wallace grounded? – Nick Underhill says that keeping the explosive wideout under wraps will be a challenge for the Patriots. Karen Guregian says that cornerback play will be key for the Patriots.

Roethlisberger a big pain for opponents – Julian Benbow looks at what makes the Steelers QB so tough. Glen Farley says that Roethlisberger is “big Ben,” not “gentle Ben.”

Scott Zolak: Steelers should throw on Pats – The 98.5 mid-day host (and Pennsylvania native) tells a PA newspaper what the Steelers need to do to beat the Patriots. He also talks about his role at 98.5 and on the Patriots radio broadcasts.

Patriots must look for safety first – Mark Farinella says that Brady the Patriots must always be aware of where Troy Polamalu is.

Dan Koppen with down time – Rapoport’s notebook has the injured Patriots center staying upbeat dispute not being able to play. The other notebooks this morning reference Rob Gronkowski issuing an apology or saying sorry , when in reality, he didn’t do either. He expressed regret over the incident, but didn’t actually apologize, either to Robert Kraft or the media.

Joe Maddon might not be a fit for the Red Sox, but he knows somebody who might be – Rob Bradford has the Tampa manager touting his bench coach, Dave Martinez for the Red Sox job.

Cherington’s first task a daunting one — hire a manager – Tim Britton looks at the first step for the new GM.

Repairs start with starters – Michael Silverman says that starting pitching is a close second.

Jays may target David Ortiz – Scott Lauber reports that the Blue Jays might make a run at the Red Sox DH.

Why it might be close to freakout time for the Bruins – DJ Bean says that you might need to keep your hand close to the panic button.

Comfort zone isn’t good place for Bruins – Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins just look too comfortable on the ice.

Kelly key to new ‘SKL’ line – Mick Colageo looks at a revamped line that will be on display tonight. Mike Loftus has more on the new line.

Ryan Hadfield will be by later this afternoon with a review of the new ESPN Films production “Unguarded,” about  Fall River’s Chris Herren, which had a special premiere in Boston last night.

Cherington Era Under Way At Fenway

NH’s Ben Cherington officially took over at Red Sox General Manager yesterday, speaking at an afternoon press conference at Fenway Park.

Reaction from the event is mostly positive this morning, as Cherington takes over a talented but troubled team that looks to return to contender status in 2012.

A lifetime of preparation for Ben Cherington – Kevin Gray in the NH Union Leader gives you the background of the new GM. Bill Burt talks to Cherington’s mother about her son’s new job. Steve Buckley says that Cherington and his family know what he signed up for with this job. Bob Ryan notes that Cherington is another certified member of Gammons Youth.

Ben Cherington steps up to the plate – Gordon Edes has Cherington taking on thorny issues head-on, giving a lesson to his absent bosses yesterday. Sean McAdam says that while the GM has changed, many of the philosophies will remain. Peter Abraham has the new GM eager to get started. Scott Lauber has Cherington finally getting the opportunity that he has waited so long for. Tim Britton says that Cherington has been preparing for this job for a long time. Tony Lee says that Cherington’s introduction yesterday was impressive. Mike Fine says that Cherington will try to keep some things the same, while bringing his own twist on certain things.

Epstein, Cherington inspire emotional tale of two cities for Red Sox – Alex Speier looks at a day that was all over the map for the Red Sox front office.

As Cherington signs on, Red Sox issues await – Maureen Mullen runs down the list of issues that Cherington must address. Visiting Carl Crawford this offseason as he works in the batting cages is on the list.

John Lackey injury blessing in disguise – John Tomase says that Tommy John surgery and a year off might be the best thing for both Lackey and the Red Sox.

Pap, Papi figure to test free agent market – Lauber’s notebook has the Red Sox top two free agents likely to at least test the free agent market. The Patriot Ledger notebook has more on Lackey’s surgery.

Brady has found Steel Curtain to be no barrier – Greg A Bedard looks at Tom Brady’s success against the Steelers’ defense.

Transition Game: Several positional battles still taking place on Patriots roster – Christopher Price looks at a few spots in the lineup where there is competition for the starting role.

Patriots still waiting on Albert Haynesworth – Karen Guregian says that the Patriots lineman talks a good game, but they need him to finally play one.

How does Kevin Faulk fit in RB mix? – Chris Forsberg looks at where the returning veteran will fit in the lineup.

Sebastian Vollmer eyes return to give line a boost – Ian Rapoport has the Patriots tackle “hoping” to play this week.

On a pretty good run – Monique Walker has BenJarvus Green-Ellis remaining a steady contributor.

Brandon Deaderick works toward return on line – Rapoport’s notebook has the second year lineman eager to get back. The Globe notebook from Gary Washburn has more on Haynesworth. The Patriots Journal has the team almost at full strength heading out of the bye.

Bruins hope to get back on track vs. Habs – Mike Loftus has the Bruins hoping that a pair of matches with their hated rivals will get them going.

Bruins aim to break bad Hab-its – Stephen Harris has the Bruins hoping the home-and-home series will get them on track.

Chiarelli preaches patience – Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has the Bruins GM insisting his team will come around.

Bruins better in net than what they’ve shown – Joe Haggerty says that the skaters around the goaltenders need to improve.

Sports Media Musings: NESN Forgot To Cover Theo Epstein’s Departure, CSNNE Flexes Muscle with Chicago Affliate

You thought “Sox Appeal” was cancelled? The laughable Red Sox-centric date program may have unceremoniously ended, but the stigma lives on. In fact, it permeates throughout the entire network. NESN decided they won’t report on Yankee victories next season. In their eyes, the World Series was cancelled after Jon Papelbon blew game 162 in Baltimore.

I’m obviously being (somewhat) sarcastic. But NESN is not a viable sports network. After 10 years as Red Sox General Manager, Theo Epstein made his first appearance in Chi-town at a Cubs press conference today. I suppose, because this isn’t exactly seen as a ‘warm’ moment for those running Yawkey Way, NESN decided to skip-out.

Oversight.

No big deal, really.

NESN decided this wasn’t newsworthy.

The station instead thought better-of-it to play a “NESN Daily” re-run. A re-run which by the way featured a Heidi Watney narrated piece on “Who Ben Cherington really is.” Of course, this had a clip of the Globe’s Nick Carfardo effusively praising the new architect of our ‘beloved’ BoSox.

Really?

NESN has been accurately accused of not covering the Patriots or Celtics as extensive as the two teams, the Bruins and Red Sox, they hold the game rights to. That argument sailed away a long time ago. Futhermore, NESN’s coverage of the Bruins is being usurped – in terms of ratings – by CSNNE. You’re telling me, the “Three Stooges” are going to lose ALL credibility in their coverage of the cash-cow (Red Sox) as well?

I understand Sox ownership, who own NESN, don’t exactly want to throw hosannas at the feet of Theo Epstein as he jettisons town — but, my God, cover the team. Cover the team. COVER THE TEAM. This is something that should have had attention and analysis  before and after-the-fact.

Ugh.

Comcast SportsNet New England had their Chicago affiliate feed their broadcast of the presser. Immediately following Theo’s Hello-Goodbye moment, Mike Giardi and Sean McAdam discussed what was said as well as projected what would happen in Ben Cherington’s introductory press-conference later in the day.

(Because, you know, they cover sports stories in this town.)

Red Sox Still Talk Of The Town

The Red Sox remain the biggest topic of conversation around here, but hopefully we’re moving away from the “drinking in the clubhouse” discussions and towards the “what moves should they be making” discussions.

In yesterday’s Globe baseball notes, Nick Cafardo made the case that the Red Sox should try and get John Farrell away from the Blue Jays. Comments from the Toronto GM would seem to indicate that the door might be open for a move, but Rob Bradford looks at Why John Farrell should be the Red Sox’ next manager but won’t be.

Also in the Sunday Globe yesterday was a full-page advertisement from Theo Epstein, thanking Red Sox fans for 10 years of support. Also, in an effort to mess with his reader’s heads, Dan Shaughnessy wrote a glowing column on Epstein and the job he did here. (Maybe Dan and Larry Lucchino are on a break these days?)

Gone, never forgotten – John Tomase reviews Epstein’s reign as Red Sox GM.

Here’s looking at you, Theo – Gordon Edes looks at what is next for Theo and for the Red Sox.

The Patriots return from their time off this week and prepare to face the Steelers next Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Patriots superlatives – Ian Rapoport gives us the superlatives (yearbook-style) for the first half of the season.

Brown’s D.J. Hernandez serves as role model for Pats’ Aaron – Bill Reynolds with a look at the Brown assistant coach, and older brother of the Patriots tight end.

Life on Pats’ practice squad is a wild ride – Glen Farley with a look at the ups and downs that come with being a practice squad player.

Patriots’ Spikes learns game on the fly – Monique Walker has a look at the second-year middle linebacker and the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the defense.

In search of some early risers – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has the Bruins desperately needing to finish shots early in games.

An unheralded Kelly leads B’s by example – Steve Conroy looks at the impact Kelly has made on the Bruins since coming over in a trade last February.

 

Sports Media Musings: Bryant Gumbel & Shock Value, The Big Lead Impresses, Zolak Bolsters Broadcast

Shocking…But That Was The Point

Bryant Gumbel knew his well-written, yet very misguided rant about David Stern and the NBA lockout would garner Hank Williams Jr.-esq attention. Gumbel compared Stern to a plantation owner on HBO’s “Real Sports.”

“Stern’s version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.”

Gumbel ceded the analogy wouldn’t exactly go over well, which was alarming on many levels.

“Some will of course cringe at that characterization but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent,” Gumbel said.

Usually when a public figure makes an off-color remark – whether premeditated or not – it is viewed as a short-sighted moment of self-inebriation. For example – and I’m only using this because it was recent – Hank Williams Jr. stumbled into his Obama/Hitler analogy. He didn’t participate knowing he wanted to get that one-liner off his chest.

Gumbel, on the other hand, acknowledges that the public will “cringe” and said it anyway. To me that suggests this was said to draw the ire of viewers and gain attention. I don’t buy the theory Gumbel was looking for street credibility amongst the black community. Why would he wait until now to use his “Real Sports” platform to espouse his image that way?

I actually caught wind of this on Wednesday, and assumed it would be something fresh for the BSMW readership. To my surprise, “The Big Show” spent a few segments broaching the subject yesterday. It was a nice change of pace. The co-hosts showed good rapport as Glenn Ordway was deferential to Michael Holley on the matter. Ordway and Holley were right to point out the Shaun Powell piece on ESPNNewYork. Powell’s take down of Gumbel’s proclamation was spot-on.

Meanwhile, during the same hour of programming, “Felger & Mazz” teased their rebuttal to the Dan Shaughnessy piece with Red Sox CEO, Larry Lucchino. I’m going to side with Bruce Allen’s media column – this is getting weird.

Michael Felger and (to a lesser extent) Tony Massarotti believe the story is about them. And that’s NEVER a good thing. Lucchino’s notes the media is “misleading” the public. It is transparent Felger is excited to be enthralled in this mess. He hasn’t been this fired up since Shawn Thorton said, “Suck it, Felger” following the Bruins Stanley Cup victory. The duo needs to retreat and start talking about the Patriots defense or the Bruins early season struggles to get back on track. For instance, the Kerry Byrne segment yesterday was a breath of fresh air.

I haven’t said this much, but yesterday was a win for the “Big Show.”

Quick Musings, Links

CSNNE.com has a better design. Still needs tweaking, though.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Gerry Callahan is still awesome in print.

Last night, on my way home from the gym, one of those elaborate “Free Credit Report” songs came on 93.7 FM. It sounded like an actual tune. And for a second, I was euphoric. My credulous attitude led me to believe the “Planet Mikey Show” was tossed in favor of Mike FM tunes. Hope quickly evaporated. Poor John Ryder.

Hated this column by WEEI’s Rob Bradford. He argues captains are worthless in baseball. Just because Jason Varitek was an awful captain doesn’t devalue the title. And yes, I realize only three teams in MLB have captains — but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be beneficial for more teams to appoint a leader.

In fact, I’d argue Varitek’s biggest failure this year was his admission the ‘C’ had no real impact on his role. Way to own it, Jason! Furthermore, this is an example of a column produced in reaction to the collapse. Look, its sports, sh!t happens. Not everything has to be a macro issue. Simmer down.

Colin Cowherd is delusional: He thinks his NFL picks move the lines in Vegas. I don’t listen to Cowherd’s radio show, and have seen “Sports Nation” sporadically — but he seems like a braggart. I can’t believe CBS almost launched a sitcom based off his life and career.

Speaking of ESPN’s Cowherd, remember when he was scolded for ordering listeners to blow up The Big Lead’s server? Feels like 10 years ago…

Now TheBigLead.com is, for my money, the best sports blog on the web. Even after being bought out, Jason McIntyre has maintained the integrity of the site and content has stayed on par. As a Patriot fan, McIntyre’s incessant Jets posts can be carping, but the rest of the country has to deal with ESPNBoston Bill Simmons. It feels like a fair trade. Another aspect which bothers me are the “sponsored posts” — but it’s only a slight mar on an otherwise great site. Here are two good sample posts from this week…

1.) Why did Adam Schefter sit on news of the Carson Palmer Trade?

2.) Stephen Douglas destroys FOX Columnist Bill Reiter. This is really an exemplar of what the blogosphere is all about. Reiter wrote a terrible piece and the ultimate watchdog – IE ‘The Internets’ – cries foul. A tidbit I enjoyed about the piece is Douglas insinuating Reiter knew the blogosphere would kill him for the column…

Before I get into the jackassery –  Yes, I’m fully aware that Reiter likely wrote this column in hopes that blogs would tell him what a jackass he was being. Reiter is “trolling hard,” as they say. You can’t simply say that LeBron James is one of the best basketball players alive. You have to take a hard stance one way or the other. He either is or he isn’t. Get on the train or f*** off. Pick a side and watch those page views grow.

Before I move on, I’m aware Deadspin and The Big Lead overlap with many of their stories. I just find Deadspin’s updated site design laborious to navigate. Plus, I enjoy each of the five regular writers on The Big Lead.

Liked this piece, by Chad Finn, on Scott Zolak’s new role as sideline analyst during Patriots radio broadcasts. I’ve said this about Zo before, but his enthusiasm is infectious. His passion is evident both on his mid-day show and also during game broadcasts. Two things I took away: 1.) Zo’s blunder leaving the mic on during the last Pats touchdown. High comedy; 2.) His reaction to the Tony Siragusa comparison, calling him a “goofball.” Umm, is it me or is Zo a goofball too? His Twitter description includes, “Shake & Bake.”