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.

**************

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.

****************

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?

  • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave


    how good would a Russillo/Michael Holley afternoon drive show be?”…EXCELLENT…however if
    Russillo took a spot on the 10-2 show the crossovers would be most entertaining. ‘POW!”….”BAM!”

  • bsmfan

    I also could not see him leaving because SVP made the clear decision to stay, even with NBCS/CBSS clearly hot on his fail. His colleague, Doug Gottlieb, did jump. Without SVP, Ryen is fine, but they have such a tight rapport and I think it would be hard to de-”ball and chain” them. Moreover, Ryen loves to talk CFB. He loves the SEC even more. He’d be hard-pressed to take a job somewhere where you could not talk SEC, let alone CFB, in my opinion.

    Which gets us to football coverage.. why are Matt Chatham and Mike Flynn not used more around here?

    • 02062

      Here, here on both Chatham and Flynn.
      Although Flynn sometimes descends into a bit of a shoe-wetter. (I don’t know if he’s prodded to do that by a producer or mgmt. or it just seeps in subconciously).
      The fact that neither one of them is on CSNNE regularly and Marc Bertrand suddenly is tells you all you need to know about that place.
      The lineup over there is loaded with Michael Felger YES men and the same old hacks who’ve been in town for 30 years and bring nothing to the discussion.

      • Winning_Again

        I think what Sports Tonight has become is completely centered around whether Felger can attack you or have you pump his tires. One week, you’ll have Bradford and Buckley and the next you have Mazz and Beetle.

        • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

          you can throw a net over the whole bunch of em’

      • bsmfan

        I know they get Chatham on the “Tailgate?” or one of the Thursday programs shown by CSNNE.

        However, lately it’s been Steve DeOssie, and I don’t hold any of the Giants stuff against him. However, the times I’ve heard him all this pre-season, while I know he played/understands the game, he uses so many clichés, and it sounds like Jermaine Wiggens with how vapid of analysis it is. I don’t know if he’s just.. lost it? or too busy to watch the games? But I wound up finding more listening to a weekend TSH show with and following Chatham on twitter (in regards to the O-Line stuff).

  • http://twitter.com/theaisleseatcom Andy Dursin

    Yes, we know you hate The Lighting Round. I have no problem with one segment that keeps callers from droning on for minutes at a time. They’re on the air for 4 hours a day…no reason not to mix it up for one segment.

  • latetodinner

    So much in one column…nice job Bruce…even if I disagree some.

    On Borges critique of Felger….I think Borges is wrong. I don’t think Felger should be in the locker room asking those questions. I think he should be questioning why the beat writers are not asking them. Felger’s job on the radio is as an observer of the Boston Sports scene…he looks at and comments on the players, the teams, the owners/management/ media members/networks, and coverage. It is all part of what he is supposed to do. What he is not supposed to do is some silly stunt where he corners a player and asks him a difficult question because the beat writers were unwilling or unable to ask that question on their own. Borges, the very definition of look at me reporting, calls out Felger because he has made a living doing these stupid stunts, rather than his job.

    On whether the media is too hard on players in Boston. Sticks and Stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you. We learn that rhyme in kindergarten for gods sake. I have zero sympathy for professional athletes who can’t handle what people are saying about them. The fact that a guy being paid $10 mill a year is so sensitive that he he lets idle chatter and gossip affect his performance tells me more about the character of the athlete than any story every will.

    On Ryan Russillo and a Michael Holley teaming…kill me now because that is my ultimate nightmare. Holley has made the Big Show completely unlistenable…I do not understand how seemingly smart people listen to him and don’t come off feeling considerably dumber after the experience. He adds nothing of value. For someone with his connections and insight…he states the obvious better than almost anyone I have ever listened to. Russillo was a pompous turd when he was at 1510 and I am convinced the only reason why anyone in Boston likes him is because he stuck it to John Dennis. If you actually listen to him you will hear a talentless hack who is preoccupied with college football…which is akin to crickets on the Boston airwaves.

    Lastly, if WEEI makes a midday move. Please, I am begging, don’t let it be Minihane.

    • Frank

      That may not be Felger’s job but here’s an idea, if he wants the question asked so bad why doesn’t he send Tony the parrot down to get the answer? Tony is still a writer correct? He’s a card carrying member of the BBWA isn’t he?

      I don’t understand hating Holley. The only sport he can’t talk for hours on is hockey. He’s extremely knowledgeable on football, basketball, and baseball. I would rather hear his take on anything Boston sports related than any other talking head.

      But I do agree that Minihane sucks. Anyone who is look at me, style over substance, I’ll pass.

      • latetodinner

        Frank…I respect your opinion…but honestly I don’t get it with regards to Holley. He can’t talk about any sport. Ordway carries him when the talk hoops or he reverts to his…i went to school with Lebron’s mom so I know hoops schtick. He is clueless on Baseball between the lines. He brings nothing to the discussion. But where I am most disappointed and I have mentioned this many times is with football. bill Belichick truly likes Holley and has twice given him better access than any one else int he media. The books he produced from that access were simplistic reads…lots of flash…very little substance. But worse is the radio show. You would think he would give insight that no one else in town has…he never does. He gets by on reputation and for the life of me I have no idea how he earned it. He was lousy at the Globe, he left one step ahead of the posse..he failed miserably in Chicago…comes back to the Globe with tail between his cheeks asking for another chance, then he gets lucky and gets the show with Dale. Dale carries him for 4 years, then he moves on to Ordway’s show where he ads nothing. I don’t get the love.
        As for Mazz…he is no longer a beat writer. He is no different than Felger. Look, Bruce makes the observation that the role of the beat writer is to dig up and report the news…not shape opinion. I agree. However I think asking questions about behavior, mindset, attitude, work ethic and emotion not only are fair game for the beat writer but they should be obligations. What the beat writer should refrain from doing is then interpreting the answers….either way. I think saying “nothing to see here” is just as biased as “he said what…can you believe that”. Ask the question, get the answer on record, then let us make a decision. Don’t filter the news.

        • Frank

          I guess we’ll just agree to disagree on Holley. I have always found him informative, quick, and funny without being offensive. As per beat writers I whole heatedly agree that they should report facts not spew opinion, and they should ask all the questions even the tough ones. It just seemed to me like Felger was going out of his way to give Alex a hard time because he’s an EEI guy. As for Tony, he may be on the radio like Felger, but he still writes columns, mostly on baseball. Tony should have no problem going to the locker room after the game and asking about the picture. If it were that important to talk to Pedroia make a media request to the Sox. If he turns them down I’m sure Felger would be happy to spend 4 hours blasting Pedroia for being “afraid to come on his show.”

        • Winning_Again

          We’ve disagreed on this for a few years now. But did Michael Holley and you split a lottery ticket and he cashed it without splitting it with you? Did he commit a crime against you? You really hate the guy. I don’t get it and completely disagree with the above analysis but thats old news.

        • latetodinner

          I have never met him. I just find him to be similar to nails on a chalkboard.

    • 02062

      “observer of the Boston Sports scene…”
      Than he’s not doing a good job.
      Felger was broadcasting from Kenmore Sqaure every day last week, him, Corky or Precious could have walked the block over to the ball park and asked the tough question. Mazz is now navel-gazing about the “relationship” that Red Sox mgmt./pr staff has on the local beat writers. I heard/read/saw no mention of this when it worked to his advantage all those years. If it means that much to you, go get the question answered or have one of your flunkies do it.

    • whitey b

      Does LTD ever post during the 2-6 drive slot? Just wondering …

    • JonFrum

      Holley replace Pete the Meat Sheppard, and you don’t see why smart people like him? I rest my case.

      • latetodinner

        I don’t see Holley as a replacement for Shepard. I see Holley as a replacement for the revolving band of 2 other hosts. I think the show is significantly less listenable since holley replaced the panel “experts”. I also think the show has suffered since Pete left because Pete brought a lot of passion to the discussion that the fence sitting Ordway and the utterly bland Holley don’t have. As for smart people liking Holley…that is pretty funny. Do people like him more than Larry Johnson or Butch Stearns or Bill Burt…sure…but over voices like Tom E Curran, Sean McAdam or Bob Ryan…not a chance.

  • bsmfan

    Felger vs. Peter Gammons.. live on Sports Hub right now..
    Round 1. Fight!

  • latetodinner

    Did anyone else hear the painful Peter Gannon interview on F&M this afternoon. It was predominantly about Becket and why Gammons thought he was getting a bad rap. Basically Gammons was echoing Bradfords position. Felger went right at him and Gammons was off. I do not know if it is age, leftover residue from the stroke, or something but Gammons had a hard time focusing on Felgers direct questions. He kept giving these rambling almost nonsensical answers. He would forcefully disagree than he would come around to Felgers position. It was odd to say the least and almost embarrassing. I am not sure 98.5 is doing Gammons and his legacy any favors putting him in that position if indeed his faculties are starting to fade.

    • 02062

      The Kenosha tough guy. I don’t think Gammo was ever thrown off the beat and the Globe was threatened about being sued over something he wrote.

    • bsmfan

      If I could hear or understand half of what Gammons says.. seriously.. I know some people complain about the phone thing that Felger has here but are you kidding me? Sorry, but if you’re going to be on an interview, you call from a good phone. How can Gammons not have a good phone? He usually calls from Fenway where cell reception is perfect. To make things worse, he could just pick-up a land line there. Do you call your customers on a crappy phone where they cant hear you? I don’t nor have in years. We have a thing now to go on landlines (or a solid VoIP link) whenever possible.

  • Paul

    I thought PG was good.

  • Paul

    Even in his prime he either missed or covered up the biggest scandal in MLB history . And Baseball thanked him with an invite to Cooperstown. The guy is a fraud. Felger beat him like a drum.

    • whitey b

      Felger and Mazz had him on the other day, waited for him to leave, then attacked him. Double douche.

  • Paul

    Oh and BTW Mazz is is on the record for missing/ignoring the roids issue with an apology. PG? Not so much.

  • whitey b

    1. Felger is a douche.
    2. See No. 1.
    3. Abraham doesn’t realize we don’t freakin care whether the players heal the sick in their spare time or molest collies. We just want them to play well on the field. That dude is soooooo sensitive. He needs to go back to NYC, stat.
    4. See No. 1 again.

  • JonFrum

    Whenever I can, I listen to SVP in the afternoon. The comparison between Van Pelt and Russillo vs Joe From Everett offering Red Sox trade talk on ‘EEI is stunning. SVP actually talk sports. I tune out when he goes to golf talk, but that’s just me. WEEI’s hyper-local strategy works for them, but it’s not sports radio – it’s Boston radio. I actually sports, so I want to hear about other pro teams, and college football.

  • bsmfan

    Everyone looking forward to:
    Don King: We have fouls by both teams during the kick.
    Official in the Background: Both on the kicking team!
    Don King: We have an illegal shift on the kicking team.
    Official in the Background: Both penalties are on the kicking team!
    Don King: Uhh… after the kick…
    Official in the Background: Both fouls are on the kicking team!
    Don King: Then after the kick we had a 15-yard penalty. Chosen to kick. 15-yard penalty.
    (What the hell does that mean? The already-restless crowd was booing, as
    King caused another 5-minute delay attempting to figure out what
    happened.)
    Don King: Correction on the reporting of the foul. Both teams were on… uhh… both opp… uhh…
    Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Don King: Both fouls were on the kicking team…

  • Guest

    The Globe put out a little free ebook of some of Bob Ryan’s best columns, recently, and there was one about blame. (Part of a 2006 column largely about people blaming Theo for things.)

    “…the need of many, as I saw it, to find someone to blame for all this, rather than to
    accept it as a pure athletic situation in which one team simply performed better than another over a period of time…”

    Amen.

    That said, I agree — a columnist is not doing the same thing as a beat writer, who is not doing the same thing as an occasional news reporter. To me, the columnist is writing opinion (“These people are bad apples”), the beat writer is writing about the facts of the game and the day to day transactions, and the news reporter is writing about the slightly larger picture items. The differentiation is important, and there are roles for them all. Or, yeah, thank you, Ron.

    And if the picture Pedroia took is important to write about — /which I don’t think it is/ — then it’s arguable if it’s a beat writer thing at all.

    And also, I don’t give much of a fig about “accountability” or any of the byzantine “who did what to whom with whose cell phone” things. I care that this team has had injuries, and I care that this team was badly put together, in some ways. I also do, reluctantly, care if Josh Beckett is a bad influence because it affects how the team plays, but I /primarily/ care about the on-the-field performance.