(A guest column from George Cain.)
In the world of sports talk radio we are led to believe the narrative is dictated by the events of the sporting world and not by the hosts themselves. ”We only talk about what the callers want to talk about, Gerry.”
But in reality, it is the hosts of the program, who fully control the narrative and the callers that follow.
In 2007, the Patriots marched through an undefeated regular season and two playoff games. Yet, all the media would talk about was Spygate. The run to perfection was pretty much an afterthought. It’s been awhile since one story has so dominated this local landscape. Fast forward to the present day, and we have the 2011 Boston Red Sox and the greatest collapse of all time. Dan Shaughnessy claims that even Spygate wasn’t this big.
This is the team the Boston media refuses to stop talking about. I say the Boston media, because the national media for the most part is moving on. I somewhat expected the Red Sox story to take a back seat this week after Tom Brady’s thrilling game winning drive against the Dallas Cowboys. But apparently fried chicken is a much sexier topic.
Now, let’s get this out-of-the-way: I am not naïve, the season was a historic, epic disaster. The drama that has succeeded it is worthy of prolonged discussion. I get that. Despite that, this story is being WAY overplayed. The New York Yankees, who somehow became the 2011 MLB underdogs despite 97 wins and a 200 million dollar payroll, followed the Red Sox right to the golf course or perhaps in some cases to Popeye’s. And let’s not forget “The Most Storied Franchise In Sports©” lost a deciding Game five at HOME, to Doug Fister and the Detroit Tigers.
The Philadelphia Phillies won 102 games this year. They were the odds-on favorite to win the World Series. They were the team with the greatest starting pitching staff since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles; and they were bounced in the first round. You could argue that their defeat was more impactful than the Red Sox collapse. If the Red Sox had squeaked into the playoffs only to get bounced, would this story still have legs? Or is it just all about the deep fryer?
“Let’s not forget, we’re the real story.” – Aaron Altman played by Albert Brooks from the movie Broadcast News.
That is a great line from a superb movie, and it couldn’t be more appropriate to describe John Henry’s appearance on 98.5 Friday and the subsequent aftermath on BOTH local radio stations. I am waiting for the one-hour documentary on CSNNE, as if
Woodward and Bernstein Felger and Mazz had just broken the Watergate story.
There is no doubt that John Henry’s “impromptu” appearance on the Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz Show was big news. It was great radio, it gave us some (a little?) new insight, it created talking points, buzz etc. I don’t blame Felger and Mazz for trying to squeeze some juice out of the story. But, do you need every drop?
The interview has been played and replayed and dissected, and played again, and then later played on Felger’s CSNNE Sports Sunday show, and discussed on the radio all weekend. At what point do we reach the tipping point? Sadly, that will not be until the hosts of these programs decide to move on. If they keep talking about it, people will keep calling in; it’s kind of a chicken and egg thing.
Monday on the Sports Hub, one of Tony’s opening comments was “This has nothing to do with us.” No Tony, I think you’re wrong. I think it has everything to do with you. Don’t misconstrue my point, I think that interview is still worthy of discussion today and throughout the next few months. But, I don’t think it should be discussed ENTIRELY for the next few months. Can we mix things up even a little bit?
As far as the interview itself, I thought both sides had their moments. Felger was funny when discussing Josh Beckett’s obvious physical changes. On the other hand, he sounded sophomoric when discussing David Ortiz running to first base.
Henry was right on point when discussing his focus on the team. Basically, Felger and Mazz had already talked this story so much to death prior to Henry’s appearance that they had reached the point where they were almost accusing John Henry of becoming “detached” from the team. Somehow, John Henry’s wife Linda Pizzuti had become Cleopatra or Yoko Ono and the entire Roman Empire was about to fall. Incidentally, for the brief time I listened to WEEI on Monday they spent “Patriots Monday” on the same tired topic. John Henry would be wise to sit down with Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft and learn a little about plugging leaks. The Less is More Strategy, might infuriate the Ron Borges’ of the world, but it serves the Patriots pretty well.
Felger and Mazz, sometimes seem to dwell in their own little sports bubble. Here’s a newsflash for Mike and Tony – sports owners usually don’t own just one business. Yes, some do, but most have businesses in all sorts of industries and walks of life. Some own TWO sports teams, can you believe that? Mark Cuban owns his own production company. How did the Dallas Mavericks ever win the NBA title? He must be quite the multitasker.
For me, the Red Sox 2011 Soap Opera is starting to feel like a movie you’ve seen just one time too many. It reminds me of when TNT started showing “The Shawshank Redemption” everyday.
Don’t we all get the gist? The Sox collapsed, the pitching stunk, and some pitchers drank beer and ate fried chicken while their teammates struggled to the finish line. The manager lost control of the clubhouse and was either fired or quit. That same manager was later smeared to the press by someone in the front office or on the team. The Red Sox “Boy Wonder GM” is heading for greener pastures and taking his huge ego with him. The Red Sox ownership is going to spend the next six months trying to restore their name. Whenever a Red Sox player does speak, like Jon Lester did yesterday, that interview is going to bring all of this up again, and their words will be examined as closely as the Zapruder film.
I think I have it all, but if not, just tune into 98.5 and listen to the hosts pat themselves on the back and discuss it again and again and again and again……