Labor Day Weekend Media Notes

It’s actually been a fairly busy week in terms of media news and happenings.

ESPN extension is good for baseball – Chad Finn looks at a number of things, starting with the extension between ESPN and MLB. He also looks at the interest in Ryen Russillo from WEEI, the continued slippage of Don Criqui and Randy Cross on the Patriots preseason broadcasts, and NESN.com’s decision to do away with beat reporters in an effort to fully become the TMZ of Boston sports.

FOX Jumps Into First Full Season Of College Football – My SB Nation media column has a look at FOX launching its first season of over-the-air football games, and their new pregame show with their new star, Erin Andrews.

WEEI announced their NFL programming this season. The biggest change is on the NFL Sunday show, which will still feature Dale Arnold and Christopher Price, but instead of Troy Brown and Christian Fauria, (who took Steve DeOssie‘s spot on WBZ-TV programming – and yes it was related to fallout over DeOssie’s appearance at the Giants Super Bowl pep rally.) former Patriots Matt Chatham and Kevin Faulk will be with Arnold and Price on the show, which will originate from Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill at Patriot Place before home games.

The addition of Faulk seems to be a recent development as Dale Arnold had tweeted this on Sunday:

(Chatham will also be writing two columns a week for the Boston HeraldEx-Patriot Matt Chatham joins Herald NFL team. )

WEEI will return The Real Postgame Show, which will be hosted by Butch Stearns (! I’d have thought Pete Sheppard was a lock to be back in there.) and Fred Smerlas.

Patriots Monday and Friday lineups will remain much the same.

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It’s official, AM 1510 will again be a sports radio station (at least at nights) starting next Tuesday, September 4th. The station is among eight nationwide that will carry all of the offerings of the new NBC Sports Radio network. Initially, this programming is only from 7:00pm to 5:00am ET.

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New England sports media had two more anchors recently leave the market, CSNNE’s Carolyn Manno, long tabbed a rising star is starting  at NBC Sports Network today.  Courtney Fallon left WLNE in Providence on Monday, according to her friend Jen Royle, Fallon is landing in Miami. As reported last week by Finn, Kristine Leahy left FOX 25, no announcement has been made yet as to her next job.

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Patriots.com radio is also expanding their lineup. In addition to its  flagship show “PFW in Progress” and “Patriots Playbook with John Rooke,” the team’s website will also feature three new shows: “Fantasy Football Champs,” “Cold Hard Football Facts” and “Football Nation.” All three shows will premier the week of September 3, leading into the NFL season kickoff.

“Fantasy Football Champs” is hosted by Todd DeVries and Bill Enright, and will air Tuesdays 4:00-6:00pm. Kerry Byrne hosts “Cold Hard Football Facts,”  airing Wednesdays 4:00-6:00pm and will also write a weekly column for Patriots.com during the season. “Football Nation” is also hosted by Todd DeVries and Bill Enright on Thursdays from 4:00 -6:00pm and will focus on the latest storylines and matchups around the NFL.

And oh yeah, today is Patriots cutdown day. Keep up with everything at PatriotsLinks.com.

Patriots wrap up preseason, Red Sox stumble again

The Patriots finished up their preseason schedule with a 6-3 loss to the Giants Wednesday night. No Patriot starters on offense or defense played with the exception of Sebastian Vollmer who made his preseason debut and only played 2.5 series. There was very little offense as the two teams combined for 18 punts. Now all that is left to do is finalize the 53-man roster, which needs to be done by Friday, and then all attention turns toward the season opener Sept. 9 at Tennessee.

On Mallett, the jury is still out– Greg A. Bedard looks at the preseason and where things stand for Ryan Mallett.

Sebastian Vollmer boots O-Line– Jeff Howe looks at Vollmer’s return to game action and a few other key players who made impacts Wednesday night.

Could Koppen get axed in final cuts?– Mike Reiss looks at the center position competition and wonders whether longtime Patriot Dan Koppen could be cut.

What we learned Wednesday: Ready for the real thing– Christopher Price has ten things that were learned following the preseason finale.

Pats players prepare for news on future– Tom E. Curran looks at a few players who are on the bubble for the cuts to get down to the 53-man roster.

Wednesday night wasn’t the debut Zach Stewart was looking for with the Red Sox. The right-hander allowed nine runs on ten hits in just three inning of work in the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Angels. Stewart was part of the trade that sent Kevin Youkilis to Chicago. The Red Sox are now seven games under .500 at 62-69.

Dustin Pedroia clears the air while declaring the best is yet to come– Rob Bradford sits down with Dustin Pedroia touching on a number of subjects including the meeting in New York, Johnny Peskey’s funeral, his comments about Valentine early in the year and the infamous picture message. Good for Pedroia to take some accountability unlike most of his teammates and Felger can finally shut up about no one asking Pedroia about the picture. I bet he never imagined Bradford would be the first one to ask about it.

Theo Epstein’s clean getaway irks Red Sox owners– Dan Shaughnessy says Theo Epstein deserves more of the blame for the mess the Red Sox had this season. He tried to get responses from ownership and got responses like, “I can’t believe you are asking that seriously, Dan. Anything we would comment to you would be distorted.’’ Do you think he is liked among Red Sox owners?

This Top 10 not worth any replays– John Tomase looks at the top 10 losses for the Red Sox this season.

Ron Borges, Voice of Sanity

What is: a headline you perhaps never thought you would read?

Well, its is true for today anyway.

The screeching over the Red Sox continues with now talk turning to media-on-media crime. LA columnist TJ Simers has become a hero to some here locally because of his childish attempt to rile up Josh Beckett after his start on Monday. CSNNE had a segment last night –  Beckett finally gets challenged by a reporter – and Michael Felger (who didn’t even like the Simers bit) is critical of Red Sox beat reporters for not asking tough questions. Alex Speier, one of the most even-keeled professional, talented writers you’ll come across, answers calmly that in fact most of those questions have been asked.

They also talked about lines being blurred between columnists and beat writers. How more and more, they’re becoming interchangeable, which according to Ron Borges isn’t such a great thing. I agree 100% with Borges there.

Then comes the topic of the picture that was allegedly circulating of Dustin Pedroia next to a sleeping Bobby Valentine, and Felger is apoplectic that no one locally had the stones to ask Pedroia about it. That led to this exchange between Ron Borges and Felger.

Borges: Well, I’ll say one thing in defense of Alex and his colleagues over there: Michael, if you want to ask those questions, you can drive over the Fenway Park whenever you want. The easiest thing in the world is to sit in a studio somewhere telling everybody else what they should ask and what they should say, and boy I got some big ones when I don’t have to do anything. Nothing stops you from going to Fenway Park and asking any question you want, anytime you want. They’d be happy to have you. Where you been?

Felger: (smirking) It’s a fair point, I’m much more comfortable here. Absolutely.

Borges: You sure are.

Felger: Telling other people what to do. But I mean, when you say I can…well….I’m on 2:00-6:00, the locker room is usually at 2:00, so to say I can go down there any time isn’t exactly accurate. But I see your point.

Borges: How about 2:00 to midnight? Or 10:30 whatever time it is they get done. Or you could go on a day game, or a Saturday. You could go on Sunday. They’d be happy to see you. But they don’t.

Felger: You’re right, I could make a trip down there. But I think when I was a beat reporter, on balance, I asked those questions, I mean I almost got beat up by several guys, including a guy you carried water for, out in Oakland right now, in Richard Seymour. So when I was down there, I think for the most part, I did ask those questions, and if I was covering the Red Sox, I would ask Dustin, at least once just so he could deny it about that picture, it’s not an unfair question.

Borges: I’ll tell you what. When they come back in town next week, why don’t you go do that.

Felger: Maybe I will. Me and Bradford, we’ll go down together, arm in arm to the clubhouse so we can ask those questions.

If Felger actually went into the locker room, and attempted to ask some of these questions, I’d grudgingly give him respect for doing so, but I can’t see it. It’s one thing I will give Dan Shaughnessy credit for: when he tears someone up, he will show his face in the locker room. Of course today, he’s got a ripjob on Adrian Gonzalez, Dan is out in LA right now, but the Dodgers are in Colorado. I wonder if Shaughnessy plans on sticking around till tomorrow night and heading into the Dodgers lockerroom.

CSNNE is also running a question today – Is the Boston media too hard or too soft on the athletes it covers? and asking for comment feedback.

It’s a question that can’t be answered in generalities. It’s not the job of the beat writer to be “hard” or “soft” on the teams and athletes. It’s their job to get facts and report on that is happening with the team, leaving their own opinion out of it. I won’t say that  the columnists and sports radio hosts are too hard on the teams, but I will say that they’re focused on entirely the wrong things. They’re about drama, about storylines and pounding a topic that is going to get people fired up. They’re not about the technical aspect of sports.

But in looking at the question, who is the media? The beat writers or the columnists/talk show hosts? They’re very different. Opinion and drama-hungry people are going to say that the beat writers are too soft, while those who want the facts and don’t care about all the manufactured drama are going to say that the columnists and hosts are too hard.

Do we want them all to be the same? All hard or all soft, no middle ground? I’m OK with a mix. When I want the facts and even-handed analysis, I read the likes of Alex Speier. When I need something more visceral and opinionated, I’ll go elsewhere. There’s a huge difference between what Shaughnessy wrote today, and something like what Rob Bradford wrote. (Which is countered nicely by Peter Abraham.)

Is there a place for both? I hope so.

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Some conspiracy theorists – both media and fan – had a bit of a field day with Wes Welker’s recent absence from the field and from some comments he made. The leap was immediately made that there was a contract issue and that Welker was disgruntled.

Is it an injury? Or some other form of disconnect that has suddenly developed between Patriots’ wide receiver Wes Welker and head coach Bill Belichick?

Neither would say Monday as the Patriots started their very short week of preparation for the preseason finale against the New York Giants on Wednesday (7 p.m.; Ch. 4, 64). But it was clear to reporters that clustered around Welker in the Gillette Stadium locker room that the use of polite but dismissive “Ask Coach Belichick ” answers to simple questions might be indications of some sort of rift – one that may have been intensified Monday with the revelation that tight end Aaron Hernandez has been given a five-year, $40 million contract extension.

Greg Bedard cleared that up yesterday – Ending the Welker speculation.

Check in at Patriotslinks.com for the full coverage of the team leading into tonight’s preseason finale against the New York Giants.

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Chad Finn had the following this morning, which is intriguing.

WEEI of course, never gave Russillo a chance in the past, and after his (first) run-in with John Dennis, he became something of a joke to the hosts on the station. It would’ve been delicious to have him come in and take over a role on the station.

In a follow-up tweet, Finn says Russillo wouldn’t have been taking Dennis’ job, but how good would a Russillo/Michael Holley afternoon drive show be?