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.”

  • Will

    Ryan, I think we get it already. You, Bruce and your whole team hate EEI. We get it already.

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

      Actually, I think I've got it just right. The guys at WEEI think I hate them and are in the bag for 98.5, (as Mike Adams has Tweeted) and someone at 98.5 has called me a "WEEI fan-boy" and accused me of hating them.

    • misstito

      Any thoughts Will's ip is from weei.com ?

  • Will

    Do you guys at BSW like anything WEEI does? Anything?

  • Will

    Come on Bruce that's a cop out response. I've actually heard you use that one before, let's be real about it you guys hate the EEI guys and I'm not sure why. Hopefully it's not political because I'm liberal but I just think they're the better sports talkers. I know what the ratings say but I'm willing to bet alot of that is politically biased against D&C and Big O. For the record again, I'm a Democrat.

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

      Sigh. What is it with you guys who think that politics in any way, shape or form factors into sports radio commentary in such a huge fashion? For some small-minded people, I'm sure it does, but for myself, or the vast majority of people, I don't think they care one bit, they're listening to whichever is the more entertaining, informative show, not thinking in terms of political leanings. Sports should be a place to escape politics.

      I just don't get it. It never even crosses my mind to think that stuff. I have zero interest in politics. None whatsoever. I don't even want people on my messageboard talking politics, I made them an entire separate forum for them to do so, and I never go there.

      • happyyoungbastard

        zing zing zing! we have a winner…BRUCE!

    • Ryan Hadfield

      Umm, I said how I liked "The Big Show" yesterday and thought their approach recently has been less jarring and over-the-top as "Felger and Mazz".

      Then I lauded a column by Gerry Callahan..

      Of course, I did quip how I wish "Planet Mikey" was off-air, but if you have a problem with that then we simply disagree. I also went after Bradford's column, but that's just an opinion. I think he is generally a good writer.

      Two critiques and Two pros? Feels balanced to me..

      I like 'EEI when they stick to sports, and I actually really liked Minihane on with Mut today.

  • Will

    Bruce, this was no intent to tick you off man,I like your site but sometimes I feel like it's a marketing tool in favor of the Sports Hub. And Ryan, I agree with you about Planet Mikey. They need to give the kid Matt Peralt a shot. I know he had some negativity surrounding the Jack Edwards interview but I think he's good and could be a star in waiting. Actually sounds alot like Felger voice-wise and that is not a bad thing talent wise. Much respect guys I do like your website. I go to it everyday. Don't be mad at me Bruce!

    • APimpNamedDaveR

      The best marketing tool for the Sports Hub is WEEI.

    • Winning_

      If you followed the site you would notice the constant bashing of Felger and Mazz, Gresh and Zo, along with D&C, and the Big Show. Its equal. The bashing happens when most people here feel its deserved. WEEI has simply deserved more criticism.

      My question to you is why are you so offended by it. If WEEI still had Dale and Holley, I would probably be listening to it everyday, 99% of it enjoyment. They made bad decisions. Do you have stock in Entercom? Are you related to a personality or behind the scenes worker?

      • Will

        So because I love listening to WEEI and I'm not on the Sports Hub band wagon it means that I'm related to someone or work for them? No you're wrong I'm just a sports radio fan who enjoy good sports radio talk. I know you and alot of people in town likes the New sports station because that's the way wind is blowing right now but don't be be an idiot by attacking the fact I stick to WEEI. I enjoy sports talk not guys who take cheap shots and attack people personally. And please don't use D&C as a comeback because that would be too predictable.

        • Winning_

          Lets address your above comments 1 by 1:

          "So because you love listening to WEEI and not on the sports hub bandwagon" – there is nothing wrong with liking the station. I personally don't care what station is better. You seem to think liking the sportshub is like rooting for the RedWings in the late 90's, Yankees in the mid to late 90's or Jordans Bulls. Could it be the fact that the Sportshub offers more right now?

          " I know you and alot of people in town likes the New sports station because that's the way wind is blowing right now but don't be be an idiot by attacking the fact I stick to WEEI." – Again no1 is attacking you. If anything, you entered this realm attacking Bruce, ryan, and everyone else for being a TSH rumpswab. My agenda is to simply point out that is not the case. If anything, you appear to be looking through a one way mirror.

          "I enjoy sports talk not guys who take cheap shots and attack people personally."- This comment sums up Dennis and Callahan to a tee. You want to talk about cheap shots? How about everytime ratings emerge and they cry about Providence, mention those numbers aren't included, or gloat in the early days when they were in fact beating the fledging TSH.

          This argument has run its coarse. I could care less if you don't like TSH, just don't make assumptions for posters on BSMW. If you followed enough you would realize most are impartial listeners.

        • Guest

          Matt Perrault, is that you??

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      DaveR++++

      And, Winning_ pretty much said it. The site takes fair shots, reviews and offers criticism and analysis of all media Boston. The fact that WEEI might be "hit on" more than SportsHub or NESN than CSNNE might just be a sign of the popular opinion, which, I add, is reflected in the comments. Likewise, the ratings from Arbitron and Nielsen seem to back this up as well.

  • latetodinner

    Spend a day traveling and I miss all the good stuff. Will…let me make this really simple for you…this sight is dedicated to watching the Boston Sports Media. Bruce et al comment on bias, agenda, delivery, talent and discussion that is present at the newspapers, radio stations and TV broadcasts that cover the Boston Sports market. At the risk of putting words in Bruce's mouth…he is absolutely biased…he is biased towards competency, fairness and accuracy. For 10 years now he has been pointing out the good, bad and ugly of the media coverage of Boston Sports. Some media members are repeat offenders. Some are excellent. Most are in between.

    What amazes me is that you would make a comment accusing Bruce of being biased towards WEEI or 98.5. All he has done is pointed out time and again things that he thinks are either wrong, unethical, immoral, sloppy or downright bad examples of journalism present at either station. That fact that for the past year most of the issues have been occurring at WEEI should not damn Bruce. If you were smart enough to understand what he is doing you would see the real problem is with the programming at WEEI and their inability to hear what their listeners want. 98.5 is not part of the at equation…instead it is just an alternative available in the marketplace.

    One last thing…Bruce spends much more of his time pointing out the problems in print than he does on what happens on the radio. Does this mean he is biased against print?

    • Winning_

      I'm breaking out the retired Dale and Holley "Outstanding" for you on this one.

  • Jason_Coyote

    Will, I don't know if you ever read Chad Finn's analysis of WEEI a few months before The Sports Hub made its debut, but if you haven't here it is:
    http://www.boston.com/sports/ot/2009/02/sports_ta

    I think he does a decent job of breaking down the good and bad and offering some advice to make the station better. Might also help you understand why some folks here feel the way they do about EEI.

    For everyone else, it's finally official – the Theo era is fini. Press conferences Tuesday, compensation still being ironed out.
    http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=

  • Will

    Wow! Great job with the attacks against a guy who still happens to like WEEI. Again, I don't work for them, just a regular fan who enjoys their station even though it's not the popular view these days. Yes the TSH has good ratings at the moment but is it wrong for me to still take a stand and say I like WEEI? This is not about attacking Bruce and his site, Bruce I apologise for that, I think I did come off that way but it was not the intention here. However all of you guys who are unleashing with the attacks in your comments, you give the impression WEEI is no longer on the air, when in fact they're not going anywhere, they're still here. FACT… NOT OPINION. FYI, I'm in my thirties so I'm not an old EEI listener who can't let go. Bruce I love your site and will always read it but these guys that are commenting against me needs some DECAF.

    • latetodinner

      Will you need to learn to read. Honestly. If you did you would realize most of us like WEEI…or at least we did while it was a competent sportsradio outlet. Since 98.5 has come on the air management at WEEI has made a series of decisions that have alienated listeners. These decisions included demoting Dale Arnold, moving Mike Holley, changing Ordway's role on the Big Show, attempting to get "younger" by making an alliance with Bar Stool Sports…only to have that blow up in their face, giving Mike Muttansky a weekday show, adding Mike Adams to the Big Show after firing Pete Sheppard for "monetary" reasons, and finally leaving Mike Adams on the air at night. Not one of these moves has made the stations ratings better, all of them were counter intuitive to loyal listeners. You are more than welcome to like WEEI. However if you are going to comment on how they are treated by people who watch media…then I suggest your bring a better argument than "I am a loyal listener and I like WEEI". Start with the "why" and end with the "because". Then we can see if what you are saying makes sense and maybe change our opinion…or we can see if you are a complete idiot.

      Lastly, I don't need DECAF…I need the new guy to bring some facts. By the way…we all know WEEI is still on the air…we don't need you talking down to us like we are three year olds. What we want is better programing.

      • Will

        I have to wonder if I would have commented about how cool the Sports Hub is and how old and tired WEEI is I wonder what kind of response I would have gotten from you guys. My "opinion" still remains, regardless of you trying to call me an idiot for still liking WEEI, is that they have the better sports talkers. Yes Mutt and Mikey are head scratchers but even with that they have better sports talkers and please let's stick to the present. Talking sports, EEI is better. Not the past when D&C talked too much politics. By the way nothing personal I enjoy a heated sports debate. I read all of you guys, writers, and the guys who make comments.

  • vince

    Dont know if anybody listens to WEEI on the weekend anymore but, Jen Royle made here maiden sail today. Just Google "Jen Royle baltimore lawsuit" . She makes Heidi Watney look like a nun.

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      Let me help you there since I saw this before and your google terms yield insufficient results:

      http://bit.ly/o8ekjx

      ——-

      A female sports reporter for 105.7 The Fan has filed an $800,000 defamation suit against WNST station owner Nestor Aparicio and two of his hosts, saying they diminished her reputation by calling her “trashy” and incompetent on-air and online.

      Jennifer Royle, who has been covering the Orioles and the Ravens for WJZ-FM and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network for about a year, filed the suit March 10 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

      The suit alleges that during her time at MASN, Aparicio, Glenn Clark and Drew Forrester made repeated statements about Royle on WNST 1570AM, on blogs and on Twitter. According to the suit, the statements included saying Royle was incompetent, involved in sexual relationships with multiple professional athletes and resembled a stripper.

      ———–

      From my understanding with this and asking a lawyer in a Top3 market who has handled such things, he said it’s effectively career suicide.

      Weren’t there rumors before about her coming up to replace Heidi on NESN? I recall this being around the time that the ESPN/MLBN talk was going on.

  • Doug Drabek

    There's more bitching and moaning on this message board than an episode of Sex & the City. What is wrong with you people?

  • Mark

    Zolak …enthusiasm is infectious ? Really Chad.. Zo's nothing more than a grown up teenager with an giant ego. I don't see it & I don't get it regarding Zo. In my opinion, he is terrible on the radio & aweful to listen to in any medium. The Pittsburgh- ease in his voice equates to nails on a chalkboard. I can't be alone in thinking this.

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