Celtics Crushed In Philly, Sheppard on WEEI Return

The Celtics were absolutely demolished in Philadelphia by the 76ers last night, 103-71.

Peter May explains why Boston never had a chance in Philly. On the heels of this loss, Paul Flannery tells us to Get ready for the longest week of the season.

The Celtics might not be title contenders, but they are still a topic of conversation around town. They also beat the Bruins in the head-to-head national TV ratings on Sunday, when Celtics/Knicks (ABC – 6.4 rating, 15 share) beat Bruins/Rangers (NBC – 5.1 rating, 12 share) in the local market.

The level of ignorance/apathy from sport radio hosts on the Celtics is bothersome. The best option for Celtics talk is The Big Show, but Ordway spends most of his time laughing at fans suggestions about the team (though, to be fair, most of the suggestions ARE laughable.)

Michael Felger just flat out won’t talk about the Celtics, except to trash them. He’s an unabashed Celtics (and NBA) hater and takes every opportunity to remind you of that, and Tony Masserotti isn’t about to challenge him on anything. (An aside – Thanks to Toucher and Rich, we got this great 1990 cable-access video of Mazz, complete with Bill Cosby sweater.)

The worst though, are Dennis and Callahan, who, despite talking to Doc Rivers every week are completely clueless. They rail each week about how that since the Celtics are not contenders, Danny Ainge needs to “blow it up” and how he’s certain to trade away his veterans before next week’s deadline. Callahan restated it this morning.

What Callahan just doesn’t get is that Ainge has already blown it up. Making any sort of trade, unless it nets the Celtics a draft pick or a young building piece just makes no sense at all. Ainge has set it up so that next year’s team is likely to be unrecognizable. They’ve got four players under contract next year – Rondo, Piece, Bradley and JuJuan Johnson. Brandon Bass has a $4 million player option, which he’s likely to decline. The team is already “blown up.”

In order to trade away any of the veterans, the Celtics need to take back salary, which, if it carries over to next season, probably only hurts their rebuilding process, unless the salary coming back is in the form of young talent – which it won’t be. Not many teams can take on Ray Allen’s contract and give the Celtics back anything of value. Even less can take KG’s.

I don’t know what the offseason holds. The free agent options seem very limited, but the Celtics will have the ability to take on salary and make trades, even if they are straight salary dumps.

But for this season, unless the Celtics can steal someone from another team, I don’t see any big moves coming. They might make a move for a borderline big man who can rebound, but I don’t even know who that would be.

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Moving on to Pete Sheppard and his return to WEEI, he talked to Jessica Heslam a little bit yesterday, saying he’d like to work into a larger role.

If radio stations were NFL teams, WEEI would be the New York Jets right now. They’re in cap hell. Huge contracts given to John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Glenn Ordway have handcuffed the station from making significant changes. You’ll notice that those three people are the only major personalities still in their same roles at the station.

They tried to low-budget the mid-day show, (the only timeslot they were winning at the time) and it backfired. Somehow they got Dale Arnold to sign a new deal, which still surprises me, and now they brought back Sheppard.

If the ratings continue to stay as they are, what further moves could come?

One might think this would be a win for the fan, seeing WEEI humbled in this manner. The problem is that 98.5 is the new WEEI. They’re every bit as cocky as WEEI ever was, and have started treating listeners in the same fashion. Some there seem to think, like WEEI did, that success is about the “talent” and not the content.

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Five quick links from this morning:

Ross-Sweeney combo could be a big upgrade for Red Sox in right – Tim Britton thinks that the duo could make a very successful platoon for the Red Sox this season.

Ready to Rott? The unconventional world of Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure – Alex Speier with a look at the Red Sox new pitching coach.

Jon Lester trying to set speed trap – Gordon Edes has Lester working on keeping baserunners under control.

AFC East with Peyton Manning a dream – Karen Guregian and the rest of the local media corps are drooling over the idea of Manning in the division.

Marty Turco arrives just in time – Joe McDonald looks at the Bruins new backup goaltender.

  • tl;138

    Hi! I’m Bob McClure! You may remember me from such baseball teams as the Kansas City Royals and the Montreal Expos.

    • APimpNamedDaveR

      “I move for a bad…. pickoff…. thingy.”
      “You mean a balk?”
      “That’s it! That’s why you’re the umpire, and I’m the pitch… talking…. guy.”

  • Bob Nelson

    remember that poor ratings led Ent. to chop Ordway’s salary in half–either that, or being cut…

  • GStill45

    “If radio stations were NFL teams, WEEI would be the New York Jets right now. They’re in cap hell.”

    Great line. The fact that WEEI can’t put up a halfway decent fight in the middays is sad. Gresh and Zolak are impossible to listen to, especially after football season is over. 98.5 is getting too caught up in their dominance.

    I think there are smaller markets than Boston that have more than two sports talk stations. Maybe somebody could give both a run in the future.

    • Jason Coyote

      As great a line as that is, just remember that someone at EEI’s rival declared that the ‘cap is crap’.

      Although Boston could someday get a third sportsradio station that provided quality sports talk, I am fairly certain that station would not get the same ratings as the current big behemoths. What none of us posting here want to admit is that we are but a small minority of the listening market. The fact that 98.5 is a younger-skewing version of EEI clearly shows that this is the kind of sports radio listeners want.

  • Winning

    You’re right about the complex TSH (mainly F&M) have developed with their high ratings. This reeks of WEEI 3-4 years ago. The appear to be too foolish to realize this is what did WEEI in (along with healthy and fresh competition).

    Felger’s bias towards basketball and the Celtics is eerily reminiscient of how WEEI handled the Bruins. Felger has even admitted to being bitter against Celtics fans and WEEI who buried the Bruins for a decade. He spouted this a month or so ago. Again, I don’t think its wise to mimic what WEEI did and applying to different sports. TSH is getting close to that slippery slope. Lucky for them, WEEI has alot of incompetents running their station so competition is not in the near future.

    Awesome video of Mazz. Is it me or did he get shorter and fatter?

    • Patrick

      The difference is that Bruins fans long waited for a sports radio station to take them seriously and then the Sports Hub came along AND it coincided with a Stanley Cup run. WEEI as a whole made fun of Bruins fans and hockey for years and years. Felger hates the NBA and the Celtics, but there are a decent amount of people who hate the NBA out there. Until the Celtics become championship relevant again or make a big trade or splash in free agency, the Sports Hub will be just fine.

      • Winning

        Thats not my point. Its simply that Felger and Mazz are doing the same thing WEEI did for years. Theres a reason WEEI faded and these things contribute. It will catch up with them if they keep it up and competition comes to town.

        • whitey b

          Back in the day, I’da busted a cap in those idiots’ knees. Now that I’m old and mellow, I’d just take a baseball bat to their heads.

        • bsmfan

          The best question I can ask is: Would you rather have a station that flat out doesn’t talk about something because they hate or don’t care about a sport? Or, when forced to talk about it (as Felger admits CSNNE does to him on Sports Tonight and other CSNNE shows), they do a really horrible job? Or you get people like Wiggens and Merloni who clearly don’t watch or have not watched hockey attempting to talk about it?

          I’ll take the former. At least admitting ignorance instead of trying to lie and embellish is more admirable. I know it might seem disrespectful but would you want Felger bsing about a sport he barely watches?

  • latetodinner

    Ok Bruce…let’s work backwards. If you were one of the two sports talkers how or better yet why would you incorporate Celtics talk into your shows? The real problem the Celtics have right now is a lack of hope/direction. Felger can be as anti NBA as he wants right now because he has no fear that the Celtics will make a championship push. So without a championship push what is the Celtics story line that would be interesting talk radio fodder? Rondo and his inconsistent play has been beaten into the ground. The aging big three really have no interesting stories around them currently. Its all been talked about. We are now watching them (if you tune in) become older not as fast versions of their old selfs. There is some interest around what Danny will do at the trading deadline but I think your analysis of the Celts situation and the fact they are better to stay put and let all the contracts expire next year is correct but makes for dull radio. So honestly, what is there to talk about with this team.

    Likewise, and I am going to get slammed for this. Were it not for the remarkable run last year that ended with the cup their would be little hope/excitement around this years team…other than maybe Fire Claude talk. But since they won last year that is gone. The story that got the phone lines most lit up for the Bruins this year has been Tim Thomas’ politics. They have lost several of their better players to concussions…not great talk radio fodder. The emergence of Tyler Seguin looked like a great story at the beginning of the year but it faded. I do think the Bruins give more hope therefore there is more to talk about currently but I don’t think it is because all of a sudden people like hockey and hate basketball. It has everything to do with the products in play.

    • Bruce

      I don’t think I was saying they need to talk more Celtics. The point was, when the host do try to talk Celtics, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

      Also, Felger refused to talk Celtics and took shots at them when they were at a championship level, not just now.

      This offseason is going to fascinating. What is Danny going to do? I think to intelligently discuss that takes thought and imagination – two things not in big supply among sports radio hosts or callers.

      • Patrick

        Locally, I would argue the Bruins are better and more interesting than the Celtics are right now. It’s not about whether the NBA is more popular than the NHL on a national level. We don’t discuss things on a national level around here unless it is an above and beyond story. There is just too much to talk about with all 4 local teams. Miami was talked about last year because of the “Lebron can’t win a title” story. If that had been Chicago/Dallas, no one would have cared……

      • Tony

        I’m with you Bruce. The Celtics are potentially the most fascinating team in town to discuss this spring because this coming offseason, really, will be the first time I can ever remember them not only having multiple first round picks in the draft, but also having a ton of salary cap space to boot. The lack of meaninfgul offseason activity during the fading days of the original “Big Three” era was a constant source of frustration for me, and the explanation we always received from the Jan Volk’s of the world back then was: “the salary cap limited the things we could do this summer.” After the 2012 post-season ends, this will really be the first time that the C’s can attempt to do pretty much whatever their hearts desire in the offseason. How that’s not an enticing topic for talk radio is beyond me. Of course, June is still a long way off and right now the only thing to talk about is an aging roster with a record just above .500, so I can understand the reluctance of talk radio to spend much time on the Celtics…for now.

      • latetodinner

        This is where I think you are you mistaken. The one thing the Boston Sports Talk Media does well is analyze offseason moves. They are much better at the business side of sports than they are at the x’s and o’s. The Celtics become a far more interesting story this offseason when they have tons of money and have to fill 11 roster spots. Right now there is no cohesive story line that makes good radio so they are being ignored. For all intents and purposes they have turned into the Harry Sinden Bruins. Good enough to make the playoffs, not good enough to do any damage, predictable on the court, void of feel good or compelling storylines.

  • Gary Tanqueray

    A great post Bruce – it’s astonishing how the C’s are neglected on local talk radio when their regular season ratings have consistently been higher than the B’s (at least they were last year – haven’t seen this year’s numbers.)

    As far as topics of discussion, sometimes it takes hosts who know what they’re talking about and can set the table so that it prompts people to call in with an opinion.

    Too bad Paul Flannery doesn’t have a bigger presence on WEEI.

  • Regular Man

    Before the current Big 3 era, WEEI didn’t talk that much about the Celtics either ( although the Celtics still got more attention than the Bruins ) . It was mostly Red Sox and Pats because those teams were winning and the winter teams were for the most part were mediocre to bad from the mid 1990s to 2007.

    • Jason Coyote

      As a result of that long stretch where both the Celtics and Bruins became irrelevant, the mentality of championship or bust is having its largest effect on those two teams. With the Patriots run to the Super Bowl nearly running into pitchers & catchers reporting to Fort Myers, it feels like both winter sports teams have become irrelevant once again this year. We know nobody on 98.5 wants to talk Celtics, and even the Bruins talk is falling off because they can’t win it all this year anyway. Have to love the fact that regular season games are totally ignored by most of the hosts.

  • Winning

    Here’s my take on the Celts:
    1) They should not trade the Big Three for the sake of trading hem for value. As Bruce mentioned, their contract expirations are where the value lies. Trading for a guy like Montae Ellis is not going to bring you a championship. These types of players had loaded contracts and are not true number 1′s that attract other pieces.

    2) Remember when we sucked and had Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract? That was huge and instrumental in landing Garnett. Having money come off the books allows free agent spending.

    3) I agree the past has shown it is not that easy to get a free agent to come here. This is why it is so important to have that cap space to throw money at them.

    4) Here’s an example where I think a trade would work (Disclaimer: this may not be realistic but is for examples sake only).

    Trade Rondo and Gentle Jermaine for Steve Nash and Gortat

    Acquiring Nash allows the big three to make one last push this year. Nash’s contract expires and there is indication that he will NOT sign with PHO. Rondo is locked up long term for reasonable dollars for PHO to build around.

    For the Celts, Nash’s contract expires along with Garnetts and Allens, and you arent bound an extra year from Jermaine. With Pierce and Gortat in Place, we can make a solid run at someone in free agency. Again this is example of something I personally would consider.

  • Beached Whale

    I think the NBA is the worst league in the top four. Regular season games have bad basketball because the season is too long and meaningless. The draft is to the point that if you don’t get a top 3 pick then there is no fan hope of immediate improvement for the rest. You cant make trades without matching salaries and paying someone tens of millions to sit on the bench or go away. They don’t actually have rules that they enforce that every level has until the NBA, like traveling, double dribble etc. The cynical among us pretty much think the NBA is a joke.

  • Guest

    John Ryder from WEEI is probably the best host on either station when it comes to talking Celtics. Unfortunately you’ll only hear it between 10 and midnight.

  • hugh johnson

    You hit the nail on the head, 98.5 is the new WEEI. Mazz is a Felger rump swab and Gresh is a buffoon of the highest magnitude. Keep screaming and you’ll be in second place in a two station race.

    I do however like the new Big Show with Michael and Sorry O. Mike has a calming effect on the screamer Ordway. I will never listen to D&C and Mikey at night.