Toucher and Rich Have The Right Idea, But Wrong Methods

By this point you’re probably aware of the incident at Bobby Valentine’s press conference yesterday involving Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub.

For some background, yesterday Toucher and Rich talked about how the media does not ask the questions that the fans would like asked at these sort of press conferences. Rich announced his intention of taking a listener question – a legitimate one, and getting a credential from the Red Sox and sitting in the front row and asking that question to Bobby Valentine.

Which is exactly what he did. He had no trouble obtaining a credential from the Red Sox, and he attended the press conference, and asked the very first question – “If you had to make your case to the fans as to why you should be the manager of the Red Sox next year, what would you say to them?’’

OK, so maybe it’s not the question that is on the tip of the tongue for the majority of Red Sox nation, but it’s a question that the beat reporters and people that cover the team on a regular basis are not going to ask.

Valentine seemed surprised by the question, and it apparently also didn’t sit too well with some of those on the beat, who viewed it as nothing more than a stunt.

Gordon Edes wrote about it in the Red Sox blog on ESPNBoston.com – Valentine: ‘I’m the best man for the job’

He added the following commentary:

Radio talk-show hosts don’t typically show up for pregame sessions, but Valentine presented WEEI’s Glenn Ordway with a gift sound bite last week, so perhaps ‘EEI’s rivals were looking for the same. If so, they probably went away disappointed.

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times also mentioned the incident in his column on Valentine today – For Valentine, a Ruined Season and Spoiler’s Role.

Kepner wrote:

The pregame news conference Tuesday began not with the standard talk about injuries and the lineup, but with a breathless demand from a radio reporter that Valentine tell fans why he should still be manager.

Both Edes and Kepner’s commentary seemed fairly benign from here, but it led to an epic, screaming rant from Fred Toucher on this morning’s show.

Toucher insisted at least twice that this was “not a wacky bit” just done to get attention. The pair insisted that this was an effort to get the “voice of the disenfranchised fan” out there and heard by Valentine. Toucher was insulted that Dan Shaughnessy after bring apprised of Shertenlieb’s intentions asked that they just not get the nice girl who gave him the press pass fired.

Toucher, who from the rant you would think was the one who went down and asked the question yelled that the pair is “in our mid-30′s” and that “we know what we’re doing.” It was stated again that this was “not a wacky bit” for the radio.

You might recall that a couple of years ago, Shertenlieb, on a somewhat similar mission, attended Celtics media day in order to quiz then-Celtics guard Delonte West about his alleged relationship with LeBron James’ mother. That was a stunt, and an incredibly awkward one as well. It would be easy to understand why some might have concerns that the intentions might be similar here.

Toucher went on, calling the sports media a “self-important righteous bunch of jerks” and wondered what the problem was with questioning an “a-hole manager who’s never won anything.”

He chided Edes for having an “overinflated sense of what you’re doing – what a jerk!” He then went on this hysterical, screaming rant after they read the quote from Edes above suggesting that this whole thing was just to get their own Bobby Valentine “moment.”

That’s right, Gordon! That’s what Rich wanted, was for Valentine to just BLOW UP on him, you hit the nail on the head! Better give your guys at EEI a nice pat on the back because they cover ESPN programming and ESPN guests can’t come our station. Better give your boys a little pat on the back you prick, you condescending prick, that’s just great.

This is where he lost me. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t hear Gordon Edes a whole lot on the WEEI airwaves. I don’t think he has any reason to plug WEEI in the least. ESPN talent cannot appear on any other radio networks, that’s their policy, it’s not particular to 98.5 just because WEEI is in town.

I can get on board with an outsider coming in every once in a while to ask a different sort of question. The reporters who are there everyday aren’t necessarily going to be big into asking confrontational questions every day, since it can make for an unpleasant work environment for themselves. The idea of someone like Shertenlieb coming in and getting questions from fans and asking them at a press conference is in theory, an interesting one.

The media can be a bit self-important. That’s not a secret. Calling them out is appropriate from time to time.

But when you do it in the manner that Toucher did this morning, any good points you have made quickly lose credibility. I can’t tell if he’s pissed that he and Shertenlieb aren’t being taken seriously as sports “journalists” or if he’s more mad that Gordon Edes had the temerity to suggest that this might’ve just been another attempt at publicity by a pair of wacky morning zookeepers. When you’re calling a pro like Gordon Edes a jerk and a condescending prick, (knowing he’s unlikely to respond) it tends to distract from your main objective, which is a shame.

  • whitey b

    1. Gordon Edes is not a prick.
    2. Toucher and Rich are making the same stupid mistake every nutjob with a radio show makes; that is, once they get a few rating points, they think they invented talk radio. Note to you whackjobs in radio: We get tired of you. Really tired of you. We don’t care about you, and we are just as happy to see you fail as the guy you replaced. So wise up.
    3. Felger is a douche.

  • bsmfan

    So, between this and.. certain media “lets call the media stupid for not thinking that Wes Welker’s reduced playing time is a story we completely milk out as long as possible…” what a bad day for local talk. On the national side, tons of interesting stories, though.

  • Winning_Again

    Felger is at it again as I type this. His mission today is to have us “listen to those that played the game.” He means that since Ty Law and Troy Brown made statements that Wes Welker is being phased out on offense, we should listen to them. We don’t need to listen to Felger or Curran, but the players.

    I find it funny that Felger is telling us to take players opinions on this ridiculous Felger created point. Do you think anyone ever says ” Don’t listen to Shefter, Rapoport, or Mortensen! Let’s hear what Cris Carter and Tom Jackson have to say. Remember “They hate their coach.” That was very accurate.

    Felger prefaces the point that Ty and Troy weren’t told to go in that direction. Sure Mike! I’m sold that you didn’t discuss any of these topics in your pre-show meeting. I’m sure you haven’t coached these guys up to the fact that “Negative= National” as far as attention and jobs go.

    I swear this is the nonsense that drives me nuts with this guy. If Welker has a ten catch game against Arizona, does Felger admit defeat, or say Week 2 is an anomaly? My bet is the latter. Welker will need 100 plus catches for Felger to admit it wasn’t a down year, and even with 100 catches who knows? I wouldn’t put it past the douche to make a 100 catch season “Down” for Welker.

    I guess what Mike thinks the Patriots should do is get a big play, big name player that has earned his due, and just force the ball to him multiple times, no matter if he’s open or not…..Oh Wait, didn’t this already happen? Didn’t Brady force the ball to Randy Moss in this manner a few years back against the J-E-T-S? If I recall, Felger’s reaction was the Patriots needed to rid themselves of Moss and this mindset. Funny how things change, yet stay the same. FACT NOT OPINION!

    • bsmfan

      You summarized what I had posted below pretty well here. Unfortunately, it must be a slow day, because this is about as freshman-level “lets only consider the information that fits into my take/argument” as you can get.. really

      But, I guess if you’re the cheerleader on the “Welker-is-done conspiracy” you gotta keep it alive.

    • Will

      Are you kidding me? Could this all stem what Borges said to Felger a couple of weeks ago that radio hosts should go ask the questions themselves? Who literally does that? Toucher and Richer brag about being #1 and Felger, who absolutely cannot generate a sports topic without some kind conspiracey theory (see Wes Welker’s first game on Sunday). Somebody please tell me how some see the Sports Hub as being the better station. #Amateurs

    • whitey b

      So Felcher, er, I mean Felger is saying we just listen to Zolak on this, because he used to be a player?

  • Hoss

    Bravo to Toucher and Rich. I agree with Bruce that this wouldn’t be the first question I asked, but good for Rich for doing it and good for Fred for pointing out how absurd the attitude of our sports media is.

    You guys write about baseball (or football or whatever). You don’t cure diseases. You don’t put out fires. You don’t even play the silly (and fun) game you’re covering. Get over yourselves.

  • rsox12

    It was an embarrassing rant. I’m generally a fan but Fred’s schtick of railing on people can be really silly and tiresome after a short period of time. I enjoy the show. Sometimes Rich’s lack of sports knowledge can be cringe-worthy but overall I think they are smart and funny. I don’t get why they are so defensive at times. You are doing well, worry less about what others write and focus on your audience.

  • GStill45

    So when Felger criticizes the writers for not asking the right questions, Borges tells him to go to Fenway and ask them himself. Rich goes down there, and the writers jump all over him.

    Ordway’s question was far more ridiculous, and Valentine’s response revealed that. The mere fact that Edes and Kepner responded at all is what set Toucher off. The beat guys have looked bad in the last year. They should have let this slide.

  • 02062

    The pair insisted that this was an effort to get the “voice of the disenfranchised fan” out there and heard by Valentine.
    See Shaughnessy, Dan “we are a conduit for the fans.”

  • Frank

    Fred is the worst. I don’t understand how anybody listens to Debbie Downer every morning. From the times that I have checked out the show, the “bits” that are funny are done by Rich. As far as I can tell he’s the one with the talent. Too bad you couldn’t pair him with someone who doesn’t complain constantly.
    As far as not doing it for publicity, I call BS. Do you honestly think Fred cares about the voice of the fan? What a joke. They absolutely saw the play Ordway got last week, and were looking for some themselves.

  • Bruce M.

    Toucher really brings the show down sometimes. I think the man is bipolar. The commenter who said all the funny bits are a result of Rich was dead-on. I’d still rather listen to the Hub than EEI, but Toucher needs to calm down his ranting. It’s not funny, it’s awkward.

    As for the Bobby V. question, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal if a.) Rich didn’t introduce himself before he asked it, and b.) it wasn’t the first question of the presser. It was a benign question, but it was poorly timed. The idea was a decent one, but the execution was lacking.

    • dan

      You are correct on this. I remember that this was Stuttering John’s theory on this. He would sneak in and wait towards the middle to end of the press conference to ask his question.

    • Joe in D.C.

      Rich’s bits are funny as hell, but Fred’s angry rants are the absolute best moments of the show. I listen via podcast, and whenever I see something like “Fred has issues with his doctor” in the description I know hilarity is about to ensue.

      Anyway, you’re right, this would have been a complete non-event if Rich didn’t make sure that everyone there knew who he was and if his question was seventh instead of first. I can see why he asked it when he did though, that ongoing silence with Valentine and the reporters just looking at each other was really awkward.

  • latetodinner

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) Bruce…I respectfully disagree. It was not a good idea for Rich S to go to the press conference because he has not established any sports credentials. Therefore, regardless of how benign the question there is no way to take it other than as a publicity stunt. Now if 98.5 had sent Felger or Gresh or Mazz to ask the same question…then you can make an argument that it was a fair question and the print/beat guys would be exposed. No matter how they slice it T&R are not sports guys, they do not garner and have not earned respect from the professional sports people in town and as such their actions need to be understood in that light.

    2) Having said the above, I do agree with you Bruce, that the idea of asking questions that the disenfranchised fans want to hear asked is a good one. I also think Ordway does that on his weekly chat with the coach. The problem is no one is listening.

    3) Regarding Felger and consistency…come on…no one expects him to be consistent, we bare expect him to be coherent especially when he is talking football. The Wes Welker chat is dumb…but when the team goes out and destroys the Titans there are only so many times you can break down the 125 rushing yards of Steven Ridley, or the 6 catches made by each TE or the strip sack. None of those things drive conversation. If they are sick of talking baseball, and they know basketball and hockey are black holes…they need to create a football topic…to be honest the Welker non story is better than artificially whipped up anti-replacement ref talk.

    • Enzo

      If Fred and Rich have no sports credentials, then why are they number 1 in their slot. Sports fans would not listen if it was just a Howard Stern rip off, Boston fans are better than that, give them credit. The fans are obviously sick of the lodge and their self absorbed, entitled attitudes.
      That question was not “shocking”, it was real.

      • latetodinner

        I am not saying they do not have them with the fans…I am saying they do not have them with the teams. There is a difference.

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          Should they need to pass a written exam on Red Sox history and baseball strategy to get into press conferences?

        • latetodinner

          No…you are missing my point…. they were not taken seriously by the media elite and the team/players/manager because they are considered entertainers and not sports journalists. It is no more complicated than that. I am not arguing they did not have a right to be there, nor am I arguing it was a bad question. I am simply explaining why their actions were taken as a stunt rather than serious journalism.

        • Evil Stacey James

          I don’t think that needs to be a bar that should be set for them, and whether the beat reporters take them seriously is irrelevant. The media “elite” are the problem here because all they care about is maintaining access and a clubby atmosphere at the expense of information. They’re entertainment reporters. There’s little to no value in most of the content they’re producing if they’re not telling us what we can’t watch or study on our own. And they’re not doing that. Read the last 10 months of what Nick Cafardo has produced and show me one ounce of critical thinking. Bobby Valentine as the 4th best manager in baseball? It’s a joke.

        • latetodinner

          What part of what I am saying is not clear or is incorrect. If anyone on this board has been hyper critical of the mediots in this town and their Sox coverage this year it is me. All I am saying is that Rich S took flack because he is not respected by either the beat guys or the team/players/manager. I did not say the question should not be asked. I did not say he should not ask it. I simply said the resulting chaos was to be expected simply because Rich is not considered a serious reporter in town.

        • Evil Stacey James

          Settle down Princess. I understood your point and that wasn’t really a refutation of anything you wrote. If you’re going to pride yourself on being the smartest bloviator here, maybe you should self administer your own admonitions on reading comprehension. Back to the echo chamber with you.

        • latetodinner

          Princess…that was funny…my wife better not be reading this because she would use that against me for years!

        • bsmfan

          You kinda hinted at it but, as a “disenfranchised fan” how else is someone supposed to ask the questions that need to be asked? I get your point about it being unprofessional, though. I would also be unsure of how to balance it.

        • latetodinner

          I am not saying what Rich did was unprofessional. I am saying that based on his performance on the air as more of an entertainer than as a sports reporter he does not have the respect needed from either the regular media or the team/player/manager he was interviewing to not expect what he did to be a stunt. Had he been there since spring training and had he taken baseball reporting seriously prior…then I doubt there is any backlash. But when you make a living out of mocking fans (interviewing drunken pink hats and and asking them baseball questions) among other things, and not really having much knowledge about the sport, when you show up in the middle of the season and ask a provocative question…I can see why he is taking flack. As for how do the fans get the questions asked…I am not sure…I only am commenting on why Rich is taking heat.

      • Will

        It’s simple Enzo, Toucher and Rich are #1 because people hate D&C because they hate their political views. No one in their right mind thinks T&R is better than D&C at talking SPORTS.

        • Tim

          Me listening to T&R over D&C has absolutely nothing to do with their political views. I was an avid listener of theirs for years, but found once they signed their new contract they fell out of touch with what I wanted to hear. What finally did it for me was when the Bruins were on their Stanley Cup run I had to wait till Dale started talking to hear anything Bruins related.

          I know it’s easy to oversimplify something to make a point but it is not correct.

        • Will

          TIM, is that really your reason for not listening to D&C anymore? Wow!

  • dan

    So I see Toucher and Rich are still ripping off Howard Stern.
    At least when Howard used to send Stuttering John to these kind of press conferences you got funny stuff. I will never forget Stuttering John asking Ted Williams if he ever farted in the catchers face!
    I do find it funny how pompous,uptight and sensitive the beat writers are. Their attitude of outsiders asking questions only exposes the little network of rump swabbers they really are and how eager they are to protect each other and their lively hood of being propagandists for the teams they cover.

  • BeachedWhale

    I thought it was a riot and he bashed Mazz and Shank just as much

    • 02062

      and than he immediately backpedaled and apologized to both. Bobby Valentine like.

  • Linda Austin

    Memo to clownish blowhards Toucher and Rich, if you want to be taken seriously then act the part.
    The Sports Hub is gaining a reputation for being all disingenuous all the time.
    It’s become the ~ let me create a controversy via personal attack/conspiracy theories out of thin air so I can self promote ~ station.
    Not a good trend.

    • Winning_Again

      Linda Austin aka Matt Perrault

  • Rick Mc

    Toucher’s anger was mostly a result of a tweet sent by Edes, not his post on the subject. I cannot connect to twitter at this time to find the Edes tweet.

  • Annoyed

    Fred & Rich have the ability to bring more hard to get laughs and take things to the next level (see Charlie Sheen); and I have to say stunt or not I liked how Rich took it right to Bobby V despite how prankish it seemed. Frankly, as a Sox fan all I have is the fellowship of the miserable to keep me interested right now thus not minding how Rich did his thing. The Sox want to have their cake and eat it too. Watch NESN, come to the games, trust we have sellouts but take all the fluff we give you and whistle past the graveyard on Bobby Vs fate and the joke of a team we’ve given you. Rich filled a void created by how the Sox run things, I say bravo. That said, T & R make me laugh and my mornings light, a far cry from the worst of D & C. But when I want actual sports info nobody does it better than an engaged Dennis and Callahan. Lucky for T & R the election is approaching and I’m sure right wing radio is on the way.

    • 02062

      The Charlie Sheen interview was 18 months ago. They’ve done nothing since – there show consists mostly of replayed bits (4) this morning including a repeat from the same day and the all important CBS sports minute.

  • http://www.facebook.com/belason Tom Belason

    The fact that Toucher and Rich have all you clowns talking about this, proves how successful they are. These guys have been successful in every endeavor they have undertaken in radio. So sad to see that so many people are threatened by young radio personalities who are not flagrant homers, and who dare ask questions that most stodgy, butt-kiss reporters in this town would never ask for fear of being denied their precious “scoops” in the future. I have been a Boston sports fan for my whole life, and to hear people from outside the market come in and be successful and not ball-wash sports teams in the market is refreshing. The Red Sox absolutely need to be questioned about their motivations, and Bobby V ABSOLUTELY needs to be questioned about whether he gives a fat rats a*s about this team or if he is just here for a paycheck. All you T&R haters need to grow up. I don’t agree with everything they say, and sure, some of their schtick is not for me. But I would rather listen to what they have to say than ANYONE on WEEI (what a joke), and I for one like to have my thinking and opinions on my beloved sports teams challenged from time to time. WTF would be the point of listening otherwise. It would be a fruitless exercise in boredom. T&R, keep on keepin’ on boys, you’re doing a great job.

    • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

      I have no problem with Toucher and Rich but who are these media “homers” you keep talking about? Boston media for the most part have a reputation of being pretty tough. It was WEEI and Ordway who, ”
      questioned about whether Valentine gives a fat rats a*s about this team” NOT
      Toucher and Rich….Do you really think Shank Shaugnessy is a homer?…Tomase?…Borges?…Felger?…I wouldn’t call Edes a homer either, he’s just not a screaming moron.

      • whitey b

        Problem with all those guys you mentioned, except Tomase, isn’t that they don’t seem to like the local teams, it’s they don’t even seem to like SPORTS.

    • Frank

      Signed Adolfo.

  • ryan

    doesnt olney appear regularly on mutt & merloni? is he an exception to the espn talent at rivals rule?

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      WEEI gets all the ESPN guests they want, because they are an ESPN Radio affiliate.

      • bsmfan

        I don’t have a list but I thought certain ESPN personalities do appear on TSH shows? I understand why they would prefer affiliates (they are paying money to them). ESPN is one of the most “protective” (see Dan Patrick) brands when it comes to talent.

        • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

          I don’t know of any.

  • mattm

    Not that this is directly on point but I saw a comment I’m responding to. (1) D&C do not necc. talk better spoorts than T&R and , no, “everyone” does not think they do. I like to get some national take and perspective and b/c T&R are not local or “assimilated EMassers” they offer that. (2) T&R are genuinely funny,even when unplanned. (3) People don’t ignore D&C “b/c of their political views” for the most part IMOI. I know I don’t. I ignore D&C b/c they are LITERALLY a Menace to Society what with their insane, maniacal obsession with whipping their ignorant listeners into a torch and pitchfork waving frenzy with their uninformed or misinformed opinions on EVERYTHING. Does anyone here really know how many falsehoods those two Savages have spread on the airwaves re: every controversy they’ve addressed in the past 12 months? When someone tries to correct Dennis SCREAMS at them. Really? You know they’re off the rails when Meter does not talk for 15 mins. I’d love to know what Meter REALLY thinks. D&C are an embaressment and a threat to a civil society. Period (4) D&C’s fawning, un-agressive interview w/ Wade Boggs after the Oil Can blow up was a complete and utter disgrace and embarressment. (5) Which one is Toucher and which one is Rich? I don’t care, they are the real deal.

  • Tim

    Good. I’m glad that Rich actually asked the question instead of just putting the idea out there and letting it go. A lot of people that are getting down on Toucher and Rich seem to be attacking them for all the same reasons that the pair are pointing out. If your job is to report the news, it should be the news that the fans want to hear. I want to know what Bobby Valentine thinks of his chances at being the manager going forward, and why he feels he should be. Not if he thinks the Yankees being in town is interesting. It’s a waste of a question and it’s one I could ask.

    I see a lot of ‘i don’t really listen to the show but…”, “I don’t tune in often but…” followed by an assumption as to why they took shots at the people they did. If you follow the show on a daily basis you’d know that their ‘stunts’ are opportunities to break news that is being flirted around. The Delonte West situation was being rumored on ESPN by everyone from Skip and Steven A. Smith to Barkley and the NBA countdown crew. No one asked the question, but we all wondered. So they did, and the rumors ended.

    This is how you make a name for yourself (I remember Dan doing that quite a bit before he became king of the lodge) and they are doing it. Everyone knows who they are now. And honestly, if you are going to lecture them on the etiquette of approaching a sports manager when they’ve had to get interviews out of the nutcases that are on tour across the music scene you’re a bit conceited and out of your league. Edes decided to take a shot at them, and explained how the kids should know better and let the adults talk. He got sandblasted for it, and he deserved it.

    You all cover sports, you’re not in the trenches in Afghanistan. Do some of the hard questions, or don’t complain when someone else does. Right now a lot of reporters are far to cozy in their jobs to do them right. (PS Felger might be a douche but his interview with Bettman was amazingly cathartic for the legions of NHL fans who can’t stand the way he conducts the business of the league)