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.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    Also on Grantland, Nell Scovell (one of these days I'll stop thinking of her as "Neil Scoville") has a must-read piece about the glory days of the Globe sports section.
    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7152773/the-b

    I get what you're talking about, Ryan, in the Joe vs. Jack Buck thing. But let's be honest: Joe vs. Jack isn't really like Theo vs. Ben — it's more like Theo vs. a scarecrow made out of bloody rags and pig entrails with a gorilla mask. That apple didn't just fall far from the tree, it didn't even fall in the same state….

  • Ryan Hadfield

    haha (on the Buck stuff)! Bruce linked the BGlobe piece a few hours ago, didn't want to seem redundant (but it was well done).

    • APimpNamedDaveR

      Good grief, I totally missed Bruce's post. Mea culpa…

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Listened on and off this morning to the Larry Luccino interview with D+C in the 8AM hour. My apologies for being on and off but some takeaways:
    - The op-ed Jerry wrote torching Henry for being an aloof billionaire owner did not sit well with Larry. As it has been said before, Jerry is a great writer. I had not known his history around here but I can see why SI used to employ him. Larry, on the other hand, was no happy camper with his well reasoned and threw the usual "you wrote this after your competition scored a Henry interview".

    - Larry kept referring to "the lying competition" and got D+C to comfy up to him, and I didn't get the impression that Larry was a SportsHub fan at all. I get the impression that with WEEI becoming the "breaking news" outlet of various RedSox droppings that do not go through your usual Globe/Gammons channels, this could have to do something good with this. Apply your usual theories on the huge logo that is on the wall next to WEEI. I don't get the impression Larry understood why people were not happy with some of the leaks and things that many filled comments/sportstalk up with and don't expect him on SportsHub anytime soon. I assume the Cherrington interview on SportsHub was more of a formality to introduce himself to Boston.

  • Classless

    Why is Tom Curran being late for his job at WEEI everyday funny?

    • latetodinner

      Come on classless…you don't find Ordways perpetual beating of a drum to "define a character" who plays a role on his show funny? WEEI is going to ask you to return its WEEI club card soon if you keep that up.

      To be serious for a second…Curran and his analysis of the Leigh Bodden situation especially the financial part of it was heads and shoulders better than anyone else's on either station. His reasoning that it must have been a mutual decision where if Bodden is picked up the Pats are off the hook for the last $2.6 mill thats great…if not they must have a settlement already worked out…because there is no real reason for the Pats to be paying Bodden to stay home…was incredibly insightful. Much better than Holley's incessant whiney "whys" and Ordway's clueless banter about Bill now developing secondary players since Mangini left. (Arrington)

  • Winning_

    Hey Ryan, just wanted to make mention to an old podcast you had with Kirk Minihane. Finally had a chance to listen during the mid-day shows (10-2= snoozefest) to this old cast and just wanted to make mention that I enjoyed it. It definetly left me feeling different towards Minihane, especially when he faulted himself for how he handled the Jack Edwards situation. I know this is not the necessary post for this comment but good job!

    I'm curious if you have any other local radio personalities lined up for a podcast. I don't know if you can make mention to it or not, but hearing Minihane acknowledge the competition is refreshing rather than most Weei people that pretend they don't exist.

    • Ryan Hadfield

      Thanks! It was a fun podcast to do..

      I was killed a bit for going soft on Minihane here. Rightfully so in some cases. Though, I don't count the Edwards thing as one of those said cases. It was hard to go after a guy who was accountable for his faults — he was equally critical on Gresh for showing none of that responsibility in the Ells case…

      I think anytime you're in the media you come off as a bit stand-off-ish and condescending. That's the case with Minihane both as a writer and when he fills in on air. But he HAS to establish the authoritative tone so maybe, by nature, he sounds unlike himself. Bottom line is I too found myself feeling a lot different about him after talking to him both on the podcast & off the air. Likable dude.

      Re Podcast: We're actually in the process of completely revamping the format of the podcast, giving the show a new feel and its own page. The former version was to sporadic (which is in part why I suck as a host sometimes, almost like Rask not getting consistent starts). Should be up and running within the month and obviously they'll still be guests and the like.

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