2011 Boston Sports Media Year In Review

Note: also see Media Roundup: The Year That Was In Boston Sports Media – my SB Nation Media Column this week.

Hard to believe that another year is almost in the books. We’re also closing in on 10 years of BSMW, which will happen in April.

Looking back at 2011, what do you think were the biggest stories in the Boston sports media for 2011? Here is a look back at some of what happened this year, along with some of the most visited posts on BSMW:

In an effort to stymie lagging ratings, WEEI shuffles their lineup, booting Dale Arnold off the mid-day show, teaming Michael Holley with Glenn Ordway on a new “Big Show” and inserts Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni on the mid-day show. Dale Arnold’s final show on the mid-day was bittersweet.  

We still couldn’t get away from Spygate. Peter King brought it all back up again in a column on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Then Gregg Easterbrook moved the goal posts again.

NESN’s Executive Vice President of Programming and Executive Producer Joel Feld left the network after five years on the job.

There was a silly Gary Tanguay/Michael Felger dustup over CSNNE’s coverage of the Celtics.

The Sports Media’s Guide To Twitter - Some media members still believe they are in-demand content producers when tweeting about Jersey Shore.

Remember when Bill Belichick had the audacity not to show up for a media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings?

NH Sportswriter Blames Prostitution Arrest on Newspaper Cutbacks - The economy hit everyone hard.

Twitter wars between morning sports radio hosts are always entertaining.

WEEI’s D&C Strike Out at Competitors, Media Reporters - When they attack media reporters, it’s even more entertaining.

After trying the Ordway-Holley experiment for a few weeks, WEEI got even more desperate and added Mike Adams to the show.

In the midst of the Bruins playoff run, Jack Edwards agreed to a multi-year contract extension with NESN.

Apparently Mike Adams thinks I kiss Felger’s ass too much. Really.

The Bruins added to Boston’s championship decade by winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972

Former Boston Herald columnist George Kimball passed away after a long battler with esophageal cancer.

98.5 crushed WEEI in the spring ratings.

It was reported that the Celtics would Acquire Up To 20% Stake in CSNNE. That deal has not yet been officially announced.

Guest Column: The State Of The Media – 2011 - Former Channel 7 Sports anchor Roy Reiss wrote this guest spot.

Former Pats LB Tedy Bruschi Joins WEEI’s Patriots Monday - This was announced with much fanfare, Bruschi appeared on a few shows, and then stopped appearing. Efforts to find out why have been unsuccessful to date.

Guest Column – The Rise Of Armchair Sports Commentary - Former Boston Herald columnist Michael Gee wrote this one.

A reckless blogger claimed that Bob Kraft bullied the utility companies into restoring power to Gillette stadium first after the August hurricane. Oh wait, it was an actual newspaper reporter?

Old friend David Scott landed at ESPN in charge of PR for news content.

NESN Daily host Jade McCarthy announced she was leaving the network.

Barstool sports posted pictures of Tom Brady’s son at the beach, which kicked off a giant battle with WEEI, where El Presidente, David Portnoy had been appearing regularly. First Jason Wolfe denounced Portnoy, (In the same post, plans were announced for the Dan Patrick show to simulcast on CSNNE) and then Glenn Ordway talked the subject into oblivion, prompting An Open Letter To Glenn Ordway from this address.

Guest Column: This Just In - George Cain kinda-sorta-in-a-way saw this whole Red Sox September collapse brewing.

It was announced that the Felger and Massarotti show would be simulcast on Comcast SportsNet New England.

When the Bills beat the Patriots in September, the Buffalo media cheered and taunted the New England media. Seriously.

Meet The New Red Sox, Same As The Old Red Sox.

NFL Films featured Patriots coach Bill Belichick in a two-part documentary as part of the A Football Life series. Some wondered why the Richard Seymour trade and “lategate” from the 2009 season were not included in the film. I asked director Ken Rodgers that very question.  

Losers All Around In Globe Article - I wasn’t a fan of the Bob Hohler Boston Globe expose with painted Terry Francona as a drug-addled philanderer who lost interest in managing the team. Another notch on Joe Sullivan’s lipstick case.

Bizzaro Boston: Shaughnessy Is On Point - Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Sports Media Musings: The Sports Lodge Is On Fire! - One of the most popular posts of the year, from Ryan Hadfield.

John Henry Speaks Out On Felger and Mazz - The Red Sox owner had enough of the trashing from the 98.5 afternoon show and showed up in their studios.

BSMW In The New York Times - Got a mention and some quotes in The Gray Lady.

Don Orsillo re-signed with NESN through 2015, while Heidi Watney was the latest departure.

John Dennis and Gerry Callahan talked for 12309474 straight hours about Jerry Sandusky, while inserting creepy jokes at least a couple times a show.

Michael Felger has a weird obsession with the New York Jets. If they don’t make the playoffs, is their way of doing things still the better way?

Remember the old 1510 The Zone? I caught up with a few of the cast members from that era.

Rumored Replacements For Heidi Watney at NESN - An announcement isn’t expected until next month on this.

BSMW Enemies List – Edition 1 - A lot of discussion spawned here.

John Dennis’ assertion that Jeff Green’s aortic aneurysm is a result of Danny Ainge’s arrogance might be a new low in sports media.

As the year winds down and the Patriots are the main topic of discussion, we have worries about Team X, complaints that you’re not allowed to criticize the Patriots and a handy flowchart of coverage options.

What does 2012 hold? I can only imagine.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    The biggest sports story has got to be the Bruins…. but the biggest sports media story of 2011 is, I believe, the rise of The Sports Hub. The first serious threat to EEI in… well, forever forced them into near-unprecedented (for them) changes — the dismantling of D&H and the Big Show, the long-awaited FM signal acquisition, the formatting changes (fewer commercials, more topical discussions, reduced emphasis on "celebrity" callers), etc. That's pretty big.

    #2 for me would be the way that the majority of the media rapidly and loudly called out the Red Sox ownership for their hamfisted, klutzy, Steinbrennerian spasm of incompetent management in October. When even Shank Shaughnessy is arguably understating his criticism…. you dun rong. Reel rong.

    • tl;138

      The Red Sox implosion was a bigger story than the Bruins. The Bruins are still behind the Sox and Pats in terms in popularity. They have moved ahead of the Celts but are still a distant third. The "thumbs down" button it on the right but that still doesn't change the facts.

      • Winning

        Opinion not based on facts. Douche!

      • Scott Benson

        You haven't displayed even the most rudimentary command of 'fact' in any of your previous posts here, so I'm not buying that you have recently acquired it. You'd be better served to stick your thumb back in your mouth, slide your well worn copy of "Still We Believe" back in the DVD and go back to counting the days until Truck Day. Does NORAD track the progress of The Truck like they do Santa's sleigh? Because you Nation-ites are just that pathetic.

        • tl;138

          You Bruin-ites are even more pathetic. At least Sox fans didn't boo their owner at both of their World Series ring ceremonies. Bruin-ites are an extremely vocal minority on the Boston sports scene. Just because you're loud doesn't mean there are more of you than Pats and Sox fans.

        • Scott Benson

          Yeah, that's me. BIG Bruin-ite. Ask anybody.

        • Winning

          Right, once again you show just how intelligent you are. Jeremy Jacobs deserved a standing O after 30 years of being cheap and cost-cutting with players/coaching/management staff. I'm sure John Henry would get booed tremendously today if he had a public speaking event with non-pink hats like you. You are a solemn individual that has the brain of a Gator.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Bruce, is there a way to see NESN/CSNNE's viewership numbers or ranks on the show? Do both add value or lose money producing the show? I know everything is being simulcast everywhere but I wondered if even with the robocams, in lieu of a live camera operator, if it was worth the cost. SportsHub looks to have gone up, even with the simulcast, for F+M.

  • Angry Old Bastard

    yeah, Sports MEDIA wise it's got to be 98.5' s rise and the shuffling of WEEI's lineup. Other than that it was pretty tame from a media standpoint. In other words the SAME OLE CRAP….given the fact the Pats are playing the Bills this week I found this amusing

    "When the Bills beat the Patriots in September, the Buffalo media cheered and taunted the New England media. Seriously"

    I wonder if they'll be a "bench clearing brawl" this Sunday? If Shank, Borges, and Felger are in the press box I'll root for Buffalo media. (I say Tony Mazz hides under the press table (or between Felger's legs)

  • Bomber

    Nesn not covering the theo hiring.Did Nesn even report on the bailey trade?

  • Brian

    I heard Shalise Manza Young got a little pissy with BB yesterday when he didn’t give her the answer she wanted to her question. With that in mind I present an original song set to “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano. It’s supposed to be funny, because it’s true.

    Shalise Manza Young
    Shalise Manza Young
    Shalise Manza Young
    We’re getting tired of your same old song

    Shalise Manza Young
    Shalise Manza Young
    Shalise Manza Young
    We’re getting tired of your same old song

    I really wish you would stop complaining
    I really wish you would stop complaining
    I really wish you would stop complaining
    About, Bill Belichick

    • Winning_

      Can we trade SMY and cash considerations to ESPN for Adam Schefter? We'd probably have to include heavy CASH considerations.

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      From media flowcharts to songs tailored to the members of the media, how can we go wrong here? A+

  • Classless

    The biggest story is the rise of sports media as a way to become a celebrity. Many of the stories linked by Bruce are attached to "look at me" personalities that don't report, but simply throw stuff out there in a hope of having it picked up nationally. That way, their name and reputation are augmented and they can make the slimly rounds on Jim Rome, 1st Take, Around the Horn, PTI, WEEI, Comcast Sportsnet etc. (think Shank, Borges).

    An example of this is when normally great Tom E.Curran falsly reported an issue with Brady's knee last year. The report was picked up by other outlets and created a false panic. When it was proven false, Curran never backed down, incorrectly gambling that his report and source was correct.

  • Rich

    I would agree that the Bruins were the number one sports story.

    That led to the number one sports media story which was EEI getting crushed. Also was kind of funny of EEI having to rely on Dale Arnold for his hockey knowledge after demoting him.

    I think the feeding frenzy after the sox season would really rank as the number one sports media story of the year. All the talk about fired chicken, beer drinking, pill popping and philandering leading to a John Henry pop in to 98.5, the rival station of his baseball radio network.

  • A G L

    The best Pat Benatar reference of 2011 ..well done!

  • latetodinner

    I think the Red Sox collapse with the resulting dissension/tension/utter clueless of ownership is by far and away the biggest story both sports and media wise in Boston this past year. Although the Bruins winning the cup was unexpected it was not as intriguing and it did not have the same far ranging consequences as the Sox implosion. The Sox story included a popular and successful manager being fired, a successful and popular GM being fired/allowed to go to Chicago, unbelievable leaks in the clubhouse exposing a decadent/spoiled culture among the pitchers, divisions between the players and a general dysfunction that permeated all levels of players and management, an unannounced visit by the principle owner known for shunning the press to the non radio affiliate competitor that has pulled away in the ratings battle, to an endless search for a manager that ended only after the new GM was emasculated by the president of baseball operations. The story had a new shoe drop every day, intrigue, internal politics that rival the North Korean succession, and most of all the most honest look at that organization by the press in years.

    I think that story overshadows the Bruins win, the rise of 98.5, the panic at WEEI, continued excellence of the Patriots and the aging of the Celtics. Part of the lure of the Red Sox story is the size of the Sox fan base and how no matter how hard Tom Warner and John Henry try and alienate the base by making the Red Sox a portfolio property rather than a primary interest there is still great passion surrounding the team. We will see how the story unfolds in 2012 as we follow Theo in Chicago, Tito on ESPN, Ben Charrington, Bobby Valentine, Liverpool Soccer, Lebron James, Rauch Racing, the weight and performances of John Lester and Josh Beckett, and whether there is beer in the clubhouse. It is the story that just keeps on giving.

    • Doc Michaels

      "Although the Bruins winning the cup was unexpected it was not as intriguing"

      Apparently not for you ltd. Are you really that excited about following Liverpool Soccer and Rauch Racing in 2012? I guess more than the Bruins, right? lol.

      • Angry Old Bastard

        Gotta go with Doc on this one. Once again, As far as sports (NOT SPORTS MEDIA) go the Bruins winning the cup is the biggest BOSTON SPORTS story of the year. How could it not be? I'd feel the same way if the Celtics won the NBA title and the NBA could dissapear tomorrow and I wouldn't give a damn (not my cup of tea)…unless something changed teams winning titles is what SPORTS is all about. Regardless of what your favorite sport is. I have lived in these parts all my life, People can talk to me about how the Red Sox are 'the most popular" until they are blue in the face, but they aren't TO ME…..gotta give props to the champs first and the BRUINS are the reigning champs in this city.

        • Winning

          Prior to 2004, the RedSox routinely collapsed or fell apart. While it was intriguing how this year unfolded, it does not surpass the Bruins winning a championship. LTD and others can squall about no-one caring about hockey in this area. I couldn't disagree more. I feel that the diehards were sick of ownership (Jacobs) BS the last 30 years and the prices. Hockey declined because of one man (or family). It didn't take much to bring that crowd back. Talk to anyone in the 70's, Hockey was King. While it isn't KING, it was definetly the cities most important achievement last year.

        • tl;138

          Because the 1 or 1A franchise in terms of popularity had an epic collapse. Negative news is always going to be bigger than positive news…especially when it happens to a more popular team.

        • latetodinner

          I have had a few more days to think about this and I am now convinced you all are crazy thinking the Bruins story was "Bigger" than the Red Sox collapse and resulting chaos revealed. Further I don't think the Bruins story is as big as the Sandusky story and that is not even local in origin…but it brought back to light the Fitzgerald problems with the Sox back in the late 80's and well as focused the whole country and definitely our region on the disproportionate position sports occupy in universities and society in general.

          I am not discounting the Bruins achievement. I am simply suggesting that it was not the biggest "story" of the 2011. It was clearly the biggest sports achievement as they broke a 39 year draught and we got to see Jeromy Jacobs in the city of Boston. But other than that it was a nice story, a feel good story but not the biggest story of 2011.

        • mandb97

          Late I respect your opinion but I have to disagree with you. There is no question the collapse of the Red Sox was a train wreck you could not take your eyes off of. The aftermath was also intriguing with Francona being thrown under the bus, ownership looking foolish and all the free advertising Popeye's and Budweiser got from the players. With that said, the Bruins were easily the top story.

          The Bruins were compelling from the beginning of the season to the end. They were up and down during the regular making you pull your hair out sometimes and at other times you could see the talent and toughness that would lead to the Stanley Cup. The playoffs saw the Bruins beat their rivals Montreal in seven compelling games. It was a series that had one subplot after another. From Chara and Pacioretty, to losing the first two games at home, to the emergence of Michael Ryder, to winning three games in overtime, it was a great series. The second series had the Bruins gain redemption against Philadelphia beat the Bruins the previous year in one of the great collapses in sports history. The next series against Tampa went seven games in which six of the games were terrific. Game seven was as good a game as you will see. Finally, there was the finals against Vancouver, a team that I will argue was as hateable, a team since the Yankees of the late 70's. In the end, the Bruins would win in seven games and Tim Thomas would arguably have the single greatest season a goaltender would ever have.

        • latetodinner

          mandb…First off…happy New Year to you and yours… I am not arguing the Bruins are not a big story. I am saying that real interest in the Bruins did not start until after they won the first playoff series. Think about it. The B's got into the playoffs as the 3 seed but could have easily been the 6 seed with the way they played in the last month. The Montreal series was fun because of the hatred and quite frankly the stupidity of Canadian's fans who want someone arrested for a hockey play. But it was not until after the Montreal series that people stood up and took notice…thinking maybe, perhaps the Bruins could get redemption from Philly. When the sweep happened…then everyone stood up and took notice. I thought the Bruins/Tampa series was the best hockey I have watched in 30 years…NHL, international, college….you name it. It was a shame one team had to win. It was just great hockey. Watching how soft the Canucks were was also interesting…but again…in the end the Bruins won, there was a parade and then nothing. The Red Sox story was unexpected…there was no build up and no warning. We did not know about the fractions in the clubhouse, the manager's drug problem (read that one with sarcasm and derision for the Globe), the lack of competency in ownership, nor did we expect seemingly smart men to compound the problems in their GM and Manager searches. There is still more to this story that we will learn in Spring training as we see how Bobby V approaches the pitchers, how Charrington fills out the roster, and how hard the team plays in the first 6 weeks of the season.

      • bostonsportsmediafan

        Everyone knows that "Inside Roush Fenway Racing" and 3-day old Liverpool games on NESN dumptrucks Bruins games by 10x in the key demo. Didn't you get the memo from Linda Pizzuti? Common now!

        • latetodinner

          This is my point in a nutshell. The fact that we even know that the ownership of the Sox owns Roush Racing and Liverpool (and the marketing rights to LeBron) shows how big that story really is. How the Sox, NESN, WEEI and the Globe all interact is also part of the story. I swear I am not discounting what the Bruins did…I am simply suggesting that in terms of size and scope of a media story it is not as big as what happened to the Red Sox and the resulting chaos. Winning the cup was great for the puck heads and the pink hats who jumped aboard the band wagon but once it was done…within a week the talk and the story was over. There was little offseason discussion about where they would go from here…there was some random cup sighting chat but that was it.

  • 02062

    Good stuff Bruce.

    Question, did you see a spike in hits after the NYT mention?

  • Doc Michaels

    Great article Bruce. I'd say the saddest part is that while the rise of 98.5 and the fall of EEI (at least until this last quarter where EEI's ratings all rose with the move to FM) was the big story, it actually hasn't made Boston sports radio BETTER. In theory the competition should spur positive change, and more options for listeners, but instead with few exceptions it's just resulted in more of the same o'l crap, and that's a shame.

    • Winning

      I honestly think that the "players" at WEEI couldn't care less about you or me. I am almost positive we could poll 100,000 people in the area and ask if they want Mutt and Merloni to remain on the air over Dale and Holley and 99% could vote D&H and Wolf-boy still wouldn't listen.

      While numbers indicate WEEI is rising in numbers, I don't give the station more than 5 minutes a day. That's only because I flip when TSH is on commercial in my car. Another note is that WEEI was actually good this week with Ryan and Arnold in the morning yet Miday and afternoon still reaked of Rob "Basement" Bradford, Butch Springsteen, and the two Steakhouse fatboys.

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      Since a few of us have offered thoughts (positive and negative) on the fill-ins plus personalities, one can only hope that the competition makes it better in general.

      Maybe some of their people might even read this board or get a pulse of the listeners outside the callers?

    • mandb97

      Well put Doc. Technically, the biggest sports media story is the ascendance of 98.5 over WEEI. The question is the impact. In my opinion, the impact has been nil. If there has been a winner in the radio wars it's the LCD. They now have two choices to listen to the same drivel that is put over the airwaves on a daily basis. The losers are those of us who want reasonable, fact based talk that is intelligent, snide-free and entertaining.

      I know this is going to sound pretty far fetched, but I would love to see another station in the Boston market. I can't believe that everybody wants the same garbage spewed on both the local stations. There has to be some media empire out there which wants to take a shot at a different format for sports radio in Boston. Before you laugh and say Boston could not handle three stations, Miami and Houston have five stations and Memphis has six.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    As a commenter on Bruce's SBNation.com column (link at the top) posted, "You failed to mention Kathryn Tappen leaving NESN this year as well in you article!"

    Very true. Can't help but miss a great on-air personality. She also seems to have been received warmly at NHL network when I've seen people comment on her. However, did it also give rise to Dale Arnold's visibility after being relegated at WEEI?

  • mandb97

    The biggest sports story is the Bruins. The champion always takes the number one spot. I know there is a lot of people who see hockey as fringe sport, but that was never the case in the 1970's. The loss of interest in the Boston Bruins over the past 35 years can be placed in the lap of two people, Jeremy Jacobs and Harry Sinden. Jacobs and Sinden felt it was their duty to "save" the NHL by being cheap and not concerning themselves with winning and the fans. The fans in return lost interest in the team.

    Today Jacobs has his salary cap. Cam Neely and Peter Chiarelli have done a remarkable job of turning around the franchise. Neely has set the tone of the franchise by wanting the combination of skill and extreme toughness. Everybody has each others back and makes the Bruins very likeable. Chiarelli has made tremendous moves which helped win the cup last year and has made the Bruins the favorite to win this year and probably the next few years. All we need is Jacobs to stay away.

    P.S. I saw the Bruins top draft choice for 2011, Doug Hamilton. He is brilliant.

    • tl;138

      Who took the spot in 2004 when the Sox and Pats both won championships?

      • mandb97

        No question the Sox. First title in 86 years. Pats a close second.

  • mandb97

    If I can nominate the line of the year in the Sports Media, I would like to give it to the owner of this blog, Bruce Allen, who came up with this remarkable observation of Tony Masserotti in his Sports Business Nation article:

    - "The Charly-like decline of Tony Massarotti into madness continued as the former writer apparently lost most of the use of his vocabulary and thinking faculties. He is apparently now only capable of saying that things SUCK."

    "Charly-like decline" is as beautiful a description as you can find. I laughed heartily. For you youngsters who follow the blog, do an imdb search for the film "Charly" and you will know what Bruce means. The only issue I have with it is it assumes Maz had any intelligence to begin with. I don't want to hear about how smart Maz is with baseball. Speier, Bradford and McAdam have always shown more aptitude about the game then Maz could ever hope of having.

    I thought it was pretty damning of Felger and Bertrand to play a tape of Maz snoring. I know they were kidding but think about it, Maz comes in three to four hours before the show starts. He shoots the breeze with the sales staff and then takes a nap in Cha Chi LoPrete's office. It tells me Maz does no show prep and guess what, it shows.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Is the Jen Royale-era about to begin?
    http://www.baltimoresun.com./entertainment/tv/z-o

    Makes it sound like "outlets want her"–guess they forgot to research on what happens when she gets "attacked".

  • su2c

    The sportsmedia story of the year should be the ongoing fraud perpetuated on listeners that is the Patriots pre and postgame show on 98.5. It's consistently awful and un-listenable.

    Also Zolak is terrible as a third voice. Contract talk during games, touting his expertise on offense and defensive play (this would be like Pervis Ellison breaking down Kevin Garnett's game or Lou Merloni talking baseball… oh wait).

    At minimum Get Gresh and Tanguay off the air.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Anyone see the new "Unos" set for SportsTonight @ 6:30? Looks good.

    • Winning

      Yeah not bad. I also found it hilarious that the new sponser is "Uno's" yet all throughout the Celtics game they were still running the Mohegan Sun promos. I was wondering if anyone else caught that gaf.

      Second, can anyone shed insight on why Kyle Draper is acting as Greg D. Did something happen or what did I miss?