Forethoughts On The Playoffs: Fifth Quarter 2013

On the cusp of 2014, time to take a look back at another year of double-digit wins for New England, another first-round bye, and another year as AFC East Champs. Considering all that happened in 2013, 12-4’s not too shabby.

To review the fourth quarter of the regular season, the Patriots had a near-impossible 27-26 comeback win vs. Cleveland (including their first recovered on-sides kick since the Clinton administration), a disappointing (and, in retrospect, hard-to-understand) 24-20 loss down at Miami, a thorough 41-7 dismantling of the Super Bowl champs in Baltimore, and a wet-dog-ugly 34-20 win vs. Buffalo in the season-ender to secure their first-round bye.

Here are a few of the things we’re thinking of during a much-deserved – and much-needed – week off. [Read more…]

Sports Media Musings: The Best & Worst of 2013

My New Year’s resolution includes a re -commitment to write here more consistently, as in multiple times a week. In order to do so, I’ll need help from you guys, the BSMW community — so send along tips, jokes, articles, or angry missives either to my email – [email protected] – or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, Out There in the Twitterverse (@Hadfield__). Either way, I’ll be back here with more media chatter and the like on Thursday.

THE BEST & WORST OF SPORTS MEDIA IN 2013

Today: A simple exercise, in which we review the good, the bad, and the Shaughnessy; taking you into a fragmented holiday work week (seriously, Christmas and New Year’s Day on a Wednesday is the worst, right? Right.).

A valuable disclaimer: I did not include the beat reporters in this list; news is news, and while it’s nice to consistently have your name in first place on the imaginary scoreboard of who broke what story, ultimately, the news – not the person – is what matters. (Unless, of course, you’re wrong. Then, you matter. Pretty thankless value proposition.)

BEST PLAY-BY-PLAY AND/OR COLOR ANALYST

Mike Gorman, CSNNE: In the middle of a recent broadcast, Gorman had to explain plus-minus (+/-) to Tommy Heinsohn. Related: Mike Gorman works with Tommy Heinsohn on a regular basis. That alone gives Gorman this award while running away from the pack. The NBA game has changed drastically over the years, but Gorman has been able to keep up every step of the way.

Honorable Mention: Jack Edwards, NESN

BREAKOUT ANALYST

Alex Speier, WEEI.com: For the informed, Speier’s prolific work is anything but new – he’s been doing this since WEEI.com revamped their website in 2008. His profile, however, was rightfully raised this last season, evidenced by his all-too-seldom appearances on CSNNE’s “Sports Tonight.”

To his credit, even as the line between reporter and analyst is increasingly blurred, Speier tells us what he knows, not what he thinks. To that end, the former Harvard debate team member is anything but caustic in his analysis, instead relying on hard data for his insights and a friendly demeanor to cultivate sources, particularly at the minor league level, where his work is undeniably the best in the city, if not all of MLB.

Overall, it was a great year for Speier. While his talent still isn’t used nearly enough on the airwaves of 93.7 FM, the Senior Writer of the dot-com side of WEEI’s operation still cranks out his “Down on the Farm” show and manages to work well alongside Rob Bradford and other personalities for podcasts. Speier also appeared on a memorable podcast with Jonah Keri that ran on Grantland during the Sox’ postseason run, in which the two champions of sabermetrics and advanced statistics discussed the importance of team chemistry. While now dated, it’s still worth your time.

Honorable Mention: Erik Frenz, Boston.com; Matt Chatham, Boston Herald

BEST PERSONALITY

Tom E. Curran, CSNNE.com: Personalities need to write. Like it or not, this comes down to branding. (Did I just Darren Rovell all over myself? Great, I need to shower.) Writing helps reinforce a stance in a clear way that’s not confined to a 15 second spot on a television show, or diluted in a four hour radio program.

Case in point: If you’re not enjoying Tom E. Curran’s work on CSNNE.com, his WEEI appearances, and across other CSNNE’s programming, I don’t know what to tell you. He’s likable and funny — and not in a forced or awkward way. More importantly, he’s honest. He’ll go after those in the media who go after him (*FELGER*), and he’ll applaud those whose work should be praised. He’s not a homer or a contrarian; he’s what Shank pretends to aspire to, without being an elitist about the whole thing: an observer.

Mind you, Curran isn’t Bill Barnwell or Aaron Schatz . He won’t use advanced statistics or run Monte Carlo Simulations, but he manages to impress sound logic to the conventional audience, while covering the most polarizing team in the city, through a balanced perspective aided by basic statistics that are easy to comprehend. Believe me, it’s an invaluable skill.

Honorable Mention: Kirk Minihane, WEEI (Kirk, start writing again). While we’re here, WEEI may have had their struggles, but how about the attempted takedown pieces levied at them, and other in the local sports media, this year … Minihane undressed Alan Siegel on a podcast in the aftermath of his uneven piece about the dire state of local sports media personalities in Boston magazine this year. Then, the third wheel on the “Dennis and Callahan” morning show, helped do the same, both in print and on the air, to Callum Borchers for his poorly conceived hatchet job of the radio station in the Boston Globe.

Now, I’m not bringing up either to laud Minihane – or defend WEEI, for that matter – but, rather, to raise the question as to why neither Borchers or Seigel could defend their reporting or analysis? Oddly, both had holes in their stories, but the process should have been cake; either way, these two came off as rather pathetic in both instances.

WORST PLAY-BY-PLAY AND/OR COLOR ANALYST

Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub: Say what you will about Edwards’ strange post-game monologues – and there is plenty to say – but they rarely take away from the broadcast. Zolak’s “WHERE’S THE BEEF CALL?!” did exactly that. And no, “Toucher and Rich,” it’s not that I’m “taking sports too seriously,” I just think that there is a way to call a game that appropriately captures the excitement of the moment without sounding like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch circa 1994.

Honorable Mention: Tommy Heinsohn, CSNNE

WORST PERSONALITY

Before giving my pick, I need to work this out in my head. On one hand, you have a dude like Eric Wilbur, who has taken trollin’ to Baylessian Levels. This is a guy who wrote the following statements this year …

Following the Browns win:

It’s OK, Pats fans. It’s OK to laugh at yourself, get frustrated when things don’t go the right way, particularly against the likes of the Cleveland Browns. It’s OK to have a sense of humor about things, and even more apropos, a sense of humility.

It’s OK to show emotion other than when reciting the Kraft Pledge of Allegiance. It’s OK to question the status of a quarterback and head coach who both haven’t won a Super Bowl in almost a decade. It’s OK to wonder just why in the hell you’re running the ball with a minute left, down by 12.

Because of drivel like this, I won’t remember the Patriots’ run as an unprecedented decade-plus of consistency, but rather a period where we actually diminished the value of regular season wins based on – I don’t know? Style points, I guess? Still, it’s worth nothing that Wilbur isn’t the only person guilty of throwing this type of garbage against the wall.

Here’s another gem:

Was it interference or not? Who cares? It was a bad pass. End of discussion.

I imagine Wilbur’s had a car accident at one point in his lifetime, and I picture the discussion developing like so: “Who cares that I ran a red light?!? You were going 10 miles above the speed limit!”

Wilbur also recently hypothesized that Rob Gronkowski’s venture into film in his upcoming role in the “Entourage” movie could be a tipping point as far as distractions go. Last spring, he ripped the David Ortiz contract, because the slugger got two years from the Sox, and insisted that the only reason Papi was still around was to sell tickets.

Here’s the thing, though: I think Wilbur is a really good writer who can put together an entertaining piece … he just tries too hard to identify what will get him clicks and attention and – ultimately – relevance. That, coupled with his relative obscure visibility, detracts from his candidacy atop this list.

Michael Felger and Tony Massarrotti’s strange crusade against the media this year makes them likely candidates, particularly when they questioned Mike Reiss’ reporting for reasons that remain unclear, but I don’t think listeners take the duo seriously enough anymore. They’re entertaining radio, full of salacious discourse but that’s about it.

Gary Tanguay flipped out a few times. That was fun. But he is too goofy to care about. Plus, the hair is a feat of itself.

Let’s be real, you knew how this game was ending before it began. If nothing else, Dan Shaughnessy made waves this year, and that’s why he’s your winner (and I mean that in the worst possible way). Look, we don’t need to rehash the issues with his much-discussed column about the staples of solid commentary: TELLING IT LIKE IT IS. In the end, we should be grateful that Dan took the time to share with us his mission, his plight; and that he addressed something that really needed to be brought to the forefront.

Writers should be objective and care only about the story at hand, not the subjects. Journalism 101, everyone.Shank did well with the Terry Francona book, but his cohorts, who rallied around him after his TRUTH TELLER COLUMN, need to remember why Shank is terrible and he sucks.

To properly understand why we say this requires one to peer back to the beginning of the year and recall the unnecessary, self-serving insertion into the Texans-Patriots Divisional playoff game. This, readers and media members, is why Shank sucks. Because Dan claims to be a neutral observer WHO CARES ONLY ABOUT THE STORY! … oh, right – and also someone who occasionally interjects himself into the storyline itself. What a joke.

Not to mention, he was a jellyfish during his self-defense of that debacle, quipping “I don’t know football” to a Houston radio station. Well, that’s great — good thing we established your incompetence as a sports columnist who doesn’t “know sports.”

Congrats, buddy. 2013 was your year, a swan song of sorts; shine on, you crazy little diamond.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__ 

NFL Regular Season Winds Down On Sunday

Weren’t we just in training camp, admiring the work of Zach Sudfeld and how he was going to fill in ably at tight end?

Now, the NFL regular season will be over on Sunday, and the Patriots, despite a myriad of injuries, are pretty much right where people expected them to be. With a win on Sunday against Buffalo, they can clinch a first-round bye. A loss likely puts them in the 3 or 4 seed.

Buffalo is likely to play the Patriots tough on Sunday, they’ve been better as of late, and Matt Chatham says that the Bills defensive line is the toughest for the Patriots to play in the AFC East.

Check all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

This time of year means plenty of fill-in hosts on the sports radio airwaves. Some of the combinations are horrific, some are ones that I would actually listen to on a regular basis. It was great to hear Greg Dickerson on the air this week, and his pairing with PFW’s Andy Hart made for a good show.

DJ Bean is someone who I’ve really only been familiar with from his very good work covering the Bruins for WEEI.com. He’s taken some on-air shifts and has been impressive. Ryan Johnston and Mike Flynn work well together, as always.

The Globe’s Ben Volin has been on with Dale Arnold the last two mornings, and has been…OK. He seems nice enough, but doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table.

If I hear Butch Stearns take one more 10+ item list and read every single line off of it, I’m going to lose it.

Elsewhere:

NESN’s Jenny Dell in talks with Fox Sports 1 – Earlier this week, The Names Blog had this news, which is not surprising. There have been rumblings that Dell might want out, or that the new management types at NESN would like to make their own hire. If she’s going to continue to date Will Middlebrooks, it’s probably best she get out of the market anyway.

A superlative year in Boston sports media – Chad Finn looks at some of the breakout performances this year in the local media, and looks at both 98.5 and WEEI posting some strong ratings numbers.

And yes, this is happening today:

media-hockey-game

Patriots Back Into Playoff Spot As Miami Chokes in Buffalo

The Patriots backed into yet another division title as the Buffalo Bills helped them out by shutting out the Miami Dolphins yesterday, 19-0. The same Dolphins team that beat YOU last week.

Kidding aside, the Patriots played perhaps their best all around game of the season yesterday – or did Baltimore just play that poorly, as the storyline ran on the on 98.5 morning show today?

It was a rough afternoon for sports radio hosts and columnists who rely heavily on storylines to do their jobs for them. (catch up on all coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.)

Let’s review:

  • The Bills beating the Dolphins eliminated the lusted-after possibility that the Patriots could be playing for their playoff lives next Sunday, and could even miss the playoffs altogether.
  • Dont’a Hightower was visible and made several good plays yesterday, which actually isn’t new, but he has actually been labeled the worst first round pick of the Belichick era by more than one radio personality.
  • Tony Massarotti was heard screaming THIS DEFENSE BLOWS, MIKE! last week. The cornerbacks can’t cover, the safeties can’t cover, the linebackers can’t cover…they BLOW! They all looked pretty decent against a team with better personnel than the one they faced last week. The stops of the Ravens on 3rd and 4th down throughout the game were impressive as well.
  • Joe Flacco owns YOU! The story this morning has been that Flacco has been terrible this season. Which is true. However, this was not the storyline last week, it was all about how Flacco always outplays Brady and that he lights up the Patriots every single time.
  • We heard last week that the Patriots have not had a “quality” road win since 2006, or something like that. This game was pointed to as one that they would have trouble with. I’m 100% positive that this will now no longer be considered “quality” win. We had no idea Flacco was so hurt!
  • They can’t make plays in  the Red Zone without Gronk! Running back is perhaps now their deepest position, talent-wise, and as long as Vereen isn’t hurt too badly, look for a lot more calls to this group inside the 20. All offensive touchdowns were scored by running backs yesterday.
  • The Ravens aren’t afraid of YOU! The coach and QB matchup are not an advantage! They have your number!  41-7.
  • The Patriots are not a very good team right now. Too many injuries, not enough talent left to make any sort of run. 41-7.

It was, all in all, a glorious Sunday. Plenty of schadenfreude to be had all around.

Some of my favorite Tweets/Moments from yesterday:

Our (2nd) favorite Boston Globe troll. This was after the Patriots very first drive. Within 10 minutes they were up 14-0.

Peter King hates Cam Newton. It’s odd, really. in addition to the Tweets shown in that post, on TheMMQB today, he writes:

Time was drawing short for Cam Newton to justify why he’d been the first pick in the 2011 draft, and why the Carolina Panthers made him the franchise cornerstone 32 months ago. In the last 20 minutes of the NFC South title game Sunday in Charlotte, he’d gone three-and-out four straight times. Four series with the division on the line, 16 yards. Playing at home. Losing, 13-10, the only touchdown coming on a 43-yard run by DeAngelo Williams. Sitting there at NBC, I’d seen enough. I tweeted: “Has Cam Newton made a play today? One?” Then: “Carolina drafted Newton first overall for games like this, and he’s failing them miserably today.”

It’s not the first time King has gone off on Newton. He’s been pretty critical of the Panthers’ QB. Do you know why? Not because Cam stole his triple grande hazelnut latte or anything. It’s much simpler:

Yes, the cardinal sin for an athlete.

Tom E Curran has a terrific column today, it’s the anti-Boston sports radio version of the Patriots:

Patriots continue to make the most of who’s left

He also had a tremendous Tweet:

I don’t mind that people picked the Ravens in this game. I wasn’t feeling all that great myself going into it.

(An early graphic had everyone picking the Ravens, Ditka apparently changed his pick yesterday morning.)

I appreciate that Mike Reiss acknowledged and owned the pick that he made:

Some other links this morning:

Belichick’s best year? Don’t go there – Bill Burt (who guaranteed a Patriots win yesterday) doesn’t want to hear this talk that this is the best coaching job of the Belichick era.

What we learned: Complete game carries Patriots in rout of Ravens – Last week, a mailbagger to Mike Reiss wanted Belichick’s head for the massive failure that was the Issac Sopoaga trade. (yes, the one in which the Patriots swapped 5th and 6th round picks with the Eagles and Sopoaga thrown in.) Chris Price in this column, points a trade that has been a roaring success, but no mailbaggers mention – Jeff Demps for Legarrette Blount.

Pats push Ravens around in signature win – Reiss has noted talker Terrell Suggs silent after this one.

Ravens Present Huge Challenge To Patriots Hopes

This week has been a lovefest for the Baltimore Ravens, both from the Patriots themselves, and from the local media.

It’s understandable, the Ravens have become a thorn in the side of New England pretty much since John Harbaugh took over. Do you realize that the 2010 Wild Card playoff game was the first time that the Ravens had ever beaten the Patriots? Since then, every single game has been a battle, with the possible exception of last year’s AFC title game, which the Ravens were running away with at the end.

The Patriots speak in reverential tones about the Ravens, even Bill Belichick today was waxing poetic about his relationship with Harbaugh and about his respect for and relationship with Ozzie Newsome.

There is a lot of respect there, and there should be. This is going to be a very difficult game to win, and will pretty much tell us if this Patriots team can still harbor hopes of a Super Bowl run, or is more of a one-and-done playoff team.

There is another possibility, one that the WEEI morning show, along with he-who-shall-not-be-named were drooling about, that the Patriots lose and are fighting for their playoff lives the following week against Buffalo. Wait, in order for that to happen, wouldn’t they been rooting for the Patriots to lose on Sunday? I thought your columnist was there to write, not to root?

Catch up on all the coverage today and this weekend on PatriotsLinks.com.

*******

I did get a bit of a laugh yesterday from the Felger and Mazz show when Felger was launching into his YOU bit. “Joe Flacco plays great against YOU, the Ravens defense knows how to stop YOU, etc etc.

Marc Bertrand (and even Mazz) called him on it, and he confessed that he doesn’t always realize he’s doing it, but that he does know that it makes him even more annoying, it’s a way to “twist the knife” on fans a bit more. He admitted to using YOU only on the negatives. When there is a positive, he just says “the Patriots.”

I laughed because it was a rare admission that it is all an act, and he actually did it good-naturedly. That’s the thing about Felger. I just can’t dislike him, no matter how much trolling and faux storylines he creates. He has moments where he actually breaks character, and its amusing when he does. Massarotti on the other hand, I have no use for. He has no redeeming qualities, and exists simply to shout agreements to Felger and to worry about how the sky is going to fall this time.

******

Chad Finn’s media column today – Formula ranks the NFL broadcast teams from bad to not-so-bad – looks at a study from SportsOnEarth of the national NFL broadcast teams.

He also has a few notes, and this morning he noted on Twitter:

I don’t know what changes are afoot, but we can all guess. The bit about D&C (and Minihane) getting a new deal is interesting. They’ve definitely made a nice comeback in the ratings area, and I know I listen to them a whole lot more than I do to Toucher and Rich. The latter are nicer human beings, but come up lacking in what I’m looking for in a morning sports show. I definitely do my share of flipping back and forth, if there is a worthy guest on Toucher and Rich (Mike Gorman, Danny Ainge, Rosevelt Colvin, etc) I’ll listen in, but the discussions among themselves about sports are low quality.

*******

If you see a Patriots Football Weekly on the newsstands near you, pick it up! My monthly media column is in there, and it is a three-parter. A look at the broadcast crews who have called the Patriots games this season, including Don Criqui making some history, a look at why this week’s game with the Ravens was flexed out of Sunday Night Football (Hint – it wasn’t because Eagles-Bears was a better game.) and debunking some conventional wisdom about the impact of playing in the AFC East for the Patriots.

One final link: How To Become The Next Great Sports Talker – Jason Wolfe gives his tips on how you can become the next Glenn Ordway.

Wolfe says he’s now considering becoming an agent for radio hosts.

Media Circling Wagons Around Shaughnessy Are As Clueless As He Is

I’m convinced that the majority of these media people 1) only read the headline or summary of the column, namely that sportwriters shouldn’t root for teams,  and 2) have no idea about some of the stuff Shaughnessy has pulled over the years.

I’m not going to launch into another 2000 word screed here. Just want to reemphasize a couple of things.

I keep hearing from media, while Shaughnessy goes on his media victory tour “Dan’s absolutely right, media shouldn’t be rooting for teams.” – as if that is the entire issue here. The enabling hosts cry “But it would be so boring if there weren’t brave people like Dan and Ron Borges around!  They’re making this into “Shaughnessy makes fans mad because he picks against the locals!!!”  As if that matters at all. I don’t care who he picks to win.

Let me be clear: I don’t think sportswriters should be rooting for the home team.

It is possible though, to write entertaining columns while remaining detached from the outcome and without completely trashing the locals.

I understand that Dan Shaughnessy is simply not a talented enough writer to do this. He’s no Ray Fitzgerald or Leigh Montville. He’s not Bruce Arthur. He only knows one way, and that is the misery way. Shaughnessy is utterly predictable.

Either that, or he’s just too lazy.  Yeah, he’s not there to root. He’s there to troll the fans. That’s brave? That’s creative? When was the last time you ever learned something from a Shaughnessy column? The next time will be the first time for me.

This morning Shaughnessy said his not caring about the outcome allowed him to sit and write after the Patriots blew a 19-0 season instead of “wetting his pants” like the fanboys and presumably others in the pressbox were doing. Even on the air, he needs to bring that game up whenever possible.

How noble. How brave. Yes, Joe Sullivan, I know Shaughnessy is the bravest columnist you’ve ever seen.

I can see how others in the media just want to hold him up as a shining example of their profession.

 

.@Dan_Shaughnessy Is Here To Troll, Not To Write

It seems like Dan Shaughnessy isn’t feeling the love as of late. Why else devote a whole column to trying to justify his pitiful existence?

As usual, Dan also completely misses the point, and shows repeatedly just how clueless and out of touch he really is.

I’ve sort of shied away from the Dan Shaughnessy topic for a few years, mostly because most people who come here have already tuned him out. Beating a dead horse isn’t enjoyable for anyone.

That said, his submission this morning needs to be exposed for the pathetic cry for attention that it really is.

Do you want coverage or celebration? Do you want subjective commentary and analysis, or do you just want writer/fans rooting for the local teams to win?

It is interesting to me that Dan used the word “subjective” here. It is of course, the opposite of “objective.” A subjective commentary integrates the writer’s personal perspective, feelings, beliefs, and yes, biases.

We’ll go more into this later, but I find it really curious that he talks about being the opposite of objective, but then attempts to hide behind the “rules of journalism” and so forth.

But to answer Dan’s question, and I’ve said this dozens of times before, fans don’t want the media to root for their teams. But they don’t want them to be rooting against them, either. It’s called being objective, which I’m convinced, many people in media have no idea how to be. To them, being snide, and negative is being objective.

So anyway, Dan claims that many Patriots fans came up to him down in Florida and asked Don’t you want the Patriots to win?

I call BS. If anyone knew who Shaughnessy was enough to approach and talk to him, they already know what he’s about. I just find it extremely unbelievable that legit Patriots fans would go up to Shaughnessy and ask him that.

Now that he’s got that impossible scenario set up, he unloads:

I don’t care if they win. I don’t care if they lose. I love sports. I love football. I love the story. The story can be great, win or lose. But I am not emotional about the outcome. Overall, of course, it’s better to work in a region with good teams, and Boston has more than any other city. Most of the time it’s a great story if they win. It’s even good for the city. Money flows. Strangers talk with each other. Sometimes it’s a good story even if they lose.

I’ll state this right now. Dan does not love sports. He especially does not love football. How else can you explain that 90% of his columns (that’s an unscientific measurement, by the way) are miserable trolling attempts to anger people? Even when he writes “positive” he does it in a way that is so far over-the-top that you know that he is still trolling. He’s mocking you.

I’ll give Dan a little credit, he at least makes it into the 1990’s with his pop culture reference in this column.

You’ve no doubt seen “The Fugitive” with Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. It’s a classic. There’s a scene early in the film where Jones, as Deputy US Marshal Samuel Gerard, pursues fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) through a viaduct in a dam. In the ensuing confrontation, Kimble points a gun at Gerard and says, “I didn’t kill my wife.’’

With nary a shred of emotion, Gerard barks, “I don’t care.’’

That’s it right there, people. It’s not the marshal’s job to determine Dr. Kimble’s guilt or innocence. The marshal’s job is to bring him in.

That’s me. I write the stories. I care about the stories. But when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day it does . . . not . . . matter to me if the Patriots won or lost.

Of course Shaughnessy fancies himself the journalistic equivalent of Tommy Lee Jones’ character. Of course he does. (As noted by Craig Calcaterra, if Shaughnessy’s job is not to determine guilt or innocence, why did he write the May column accusing David Ortiz of using steroids?)

He cares about the stories. The problem is, he focuses exclusively on stories that are usually contrived controversies, innuendo, settling scores, making a splash so he can make extra money with a Jim Rome appearance, or just lazy, recycled bits that he’s written a dozen times before. Is it a “good story” if no one enjoys it?

He doesn’t care if the locals win or lose? This is the guy who put his kids through college by writing about the misery of Red Sox fans having to deal with a made-up “curse” and as long as the team kept losing, he could keep adding chapters to his book. He had a financial stake in the team losing year after year – the more painful the ending, the better.

For years, Shaughnessy’s email was [email protected] But no, he doesn’t care if the team won or lost.

Now we get into the most ridiculous part of the column:

This is how we were trained a few decades ago. We were instructed not to root for the home team. Just deliver the story and the analysis.

That’s the way it is in other departments of a legitimate news operation. Journalists who cover politics, science, medicine, labor, and international relations are asked to put their agendas on the shelf. Tell the story. The reporter covering the Romney-Obama election is not supposed to be a fan of either candidate.

Why is it presumed to be different for us? Why do readers expect — and in some cases, demand — that sports reporters be fans of the team they cover? This amazes me. Are we supposed to suspend all rules of journalism because we cover sports?

Have you stopped laughing yet? Asked to put their agendas on the shelf. Does anyone have more agendas than Shaughnessy does? What a fraud. This is the guy who, because he was supposedly snubbed by the Kraft family at some breakfast the team put on over 15 years ago, continues to slam them every opportunity he gets.

Readers don’t expect, much less demand that sports reporters be fans. That’s utter nonsense. The real reason Shaughnessy is hated goes right over his head. Rational people are not upset that he doesn’t’ root for the home team. They object to the manner in which he continually attacks certain home teams and players.

Remember earlier Dan asked if we wanted “subjective” analysis? Wouldn’t that go against these “rules of journalism?”

OK, some might say “He’s a columnist, he’s supposed to give his opinion, and be controversial.” I’m not the one citing “rules of journalism” here and attempting to hide behind them as some an excuse for his work. Is a columnist exempt from these “rules of journalism?” If so, why is he then citing them? Is it against the rules of journalism to use the people you supposedly cover to also get your children jobs and internships?

Trust me when I tell you this whole thing has changed. When I came into this business in the 1970s, it was OK for sports reporters to be skeptical and critical. It was not a crime against humanity if you suggested the Patriots or Red Sox might not win the championship, or perhaps might not be serving the best interests of their fans. It was OK to occasionally poke fun at Haywood Sullivan or Billy Sullivan.

I’ll take Dan’s word for it. I know there were plenty of critical sports writers in those days. I also know there were columnists like Ray Fitzgerald, who wrote columns that are still enjoyable to read today. 30 years from now, what will people think if they look back and read Shaughnessy? Why was he so miserable? Leigh Montville shows that a columnist doesn’t have to be constantly bashing the locals in order to be successful.

But if you also read Howard Bryant’s Shut Out, you know that there were plenty of sportswriters in the 70’s who covered the Red Sox and ignored the team’s racist practices. So I’m not sure his claim that they were so critical holds up very well there.

I love the phrase ‘crime against humanity’ slipped in there – isn’t that what Dan and his buds usually accuse Bill Belichick of on a regular basis?  Also they could “occasionally poke fun at” ownership. Does anyone with half a brain think that Shaughnessy is “poking fun” at Robert Kraft when he takes his shots?

 Naturally, the Internet is a good source of explanation for this new dynamic. The web gives fans an infinite forum. Fans have a place to read like-minded people. It’s like one giant sports-talk show with no hosts interrupting. It turns out that fans love reading other fans. And, naturally, they all love their teams. What a surprise. Now they expect everyone else to love a team. It’s the wild west of fanboys.

Stupid “fanboys” reference. Check.

But not everything is always great and it’s OK to point this out now and then. Opinions about sports don’t impact important issues that touch our lives. This isn’t about taxes, abortion, gun control, or health care. It’s about first-round byes and Cover 2 defenses. If we have differing opinions about Wes Welker, it doesn’t mean we can’t get along with one another.

And then:

In this spirit, I submit that the 2013 Patriots are headed to an unfortunate ending this season. Please don’t take this as negativity. It’s just an opinion. I may be wrong. But it really won’t matter if I’m right or wrong. It’s sports. It’s entertainment. It’s fun. And it’s not going to change your life or mine, one way or another.

Wait, so the entire point of this column was to tell us that the Patriots are headed to an unfortunate ending this season. Was it only eight days ago you wrote a ridiculous, over-the-top piece about how the Patriots were going to win the Super Bowl? (By the way, I don’t think the Patriots win the Super Bowl this season, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the remaining games.)

Setting that aside for the moment,  Dan is telling us that sports doesn’t matter. It’s unimportant. It’s not life or death. It’s not death, taxes or politics.

OK, granted. Then why all the references to the vaunted rules of journalism above? Isn’t this a contradiction? He has to follow these rules (which he doesn’t) but the subject of sports doesn’t compare to politics or actual news reporting. If we’re talking apples and oranges here, why does it matter? He says it doesn’t. So what is the point here?

I have no problem with pointing out problems on the local teams. I have a problem with him being a totally biased, agenda-riddled prick while doing it, and then hiding behind some “rules of journalism” which he flaunts by being “subjective” when he pretends to be “objective.”

Dan – It’s OK to have your opinion. But you need to own it, not hide behind some “rules of journalism.”

Going back to Dan’s Fugitive reference, does he know how the movie closed out?

Dr. Richard Kimble: I thought you didn’t care?
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: I don’t.
[laughs]
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Don’t tell anybody, OK?

Shaughnessy cares. Much more than he’ll ever admit. He just wants you to think he doesn’t.

Do you know why he cares? Because he’s a dinosaur. Even Carl Everett would admit this. He’s rapidly approaching extinction. In 1993 his employer was purchased by the New York Times for $1.1 billion. It was sold this fall for $70 million, or less than half what the Yankees will be paying Jacoby Ellsbury over the next seven years.

The Globe has to ‘double count’ subscribers in order to even seem respectable. Shaughnessy is behind a paywall, meaning fewer and fewer people are reading him, which means he has to try harder to get attention.

No Dan, we don’t want you to root for the local teams. We just want you to go away.

Comcast Launches Bruins On Demand

Similar to programming they’ve done for the Red Sox and Celtics in the past, Comcast has now launched Bruins on Demand – another way fans can catch up with latest from the Black and Gold.

Here is the release:

BOSTON – Comcast launched a new series of programs available as part of Bruins On Demand in partnership with the Boston Bruins and NESN. The partnership will deliver Bruins fans wall-to-wall coverage of the team, ranging from behind-the-scenes features to entire game replays.

Bruins On Demand is available to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers to put fans in control and give them access to in-depth coverage of the players and team as well as press conferences and community events produced by the Boston Bruins. With the latest Bruins On Demand programs, fans can get to know Brad Marchand, Kevan Miller, Dougie Hamilton and other stars. In addition, Bruins On Demand offerings will include the “Behind the B” series as well as “The Week Ahead,” which is a preview of the on and off ice happenings of the team in the coming week produced by BruinsTV. Furthermore, Bruins On Demand enables fans to tune into replays of NESN’s Bruins game telecasts within four hours of each game’s conclusion. Games are available On Demand for 24 hours.

Bruins On Demand programming is updated regularly and is available around the clock during the season with the ability to pause, fast forward and rewind selections for Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. It’s easy to access just by selecting the “Get Local” category from the On Demand menu, then choosing “Bruins On Demand”. As with the vast majority of Comcast’s 100,000 On Demand programs available on TV and online each month, Bruins On Demand comes at no additional cost to the company’s TV customers.

“We pride ourselves on producing and delivering compelling content to Bruins fans,” said Bruins President Cam Neely. “With this partnership, we will create programing that will be delivered through Bruins On Demand making it convenient for Comcast subscribers to keep up with the Bruins on a daily basis.”

“The addition of Bruins On Demand to our Get Local On Demand programming – which also includes the Red Sox and the Celtics – is another big win for our customers,” said Steve Hackley, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Greater Boston Region. “Bruins On Demand is perfect for busy fans to stay connected to the team at any time of day or night, with can’t miss features and full game replays that bring them all of the action on or off the ice.”

Good News: Patriots Don’t Win On Gift Pass Interference Call

So, all those big Patriots “fanz” who felt that last week’s win was “cheapened” by a “gift” pass interference call have to be waking up pretty pleased this morning, right?

I mean, better to lose honorably than to get a cheap win, right? So, congratulations, Pats Fanz on the loss!

The Patriots had issues scoring touchdowns in the red zone yesterday, which led to a 24-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins. If New England was able to get into the end zone a couple of times instead of having to settle for field goals, we’re probably not talking (as much) about the “abomination” that is Dont’a Hightower, (CSNNE poll question before the game.) or in Stephen Gostkowski pulling a John Kasay to set the Dolphins up nicely. The defense was troubling, but again, two TD’s instead of FG’s, and the conversation is much different.

Obviously, the team missed having the big target that is Rob Gronkowski, and that is going to be an issue moving forward. Hopefully they get Aaron Dobson back soon, as he was showing glimpses of being someone who can go up and get a ball.

Check all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

*******

Dan Shaughnessy had the Patriots winning the Super Bowl last week. This week, he says the idea that the Patriots could be the number one seed in the AFC was laughable. He of course, blames their troubles on “arrogance.”

As the heroes at Dan Shaughnessy Watch point out, here are Shaughnessy lines from the last couple weeks:

December 1st:

Less than a year later, the Patriots are flexing their muscles after last Sunday’s dramatic comeback over the Broncos. The 8-3 Patriots are favorites to run the table and return to the Super Bowl.

December 15th (yesterday):

This is where, on Sunday, the Patriots will assume their spot as the top-seeded team in the AFC.

Today:

but the notion that they were the AFC’s top seed is laughable.

It really must be nice to be able to write something on one day, and then the next act like it never happened.

Is there anyone lazier than Dan Shaughnessy? Seriously. Each of his columns reads as if it took 15 minutes to write. Just come up with the angle that is going to piss the most people off, and hit submit, and Joe Sullivan will call you the bravest columnists in the history of newspapers. It used to be that a columnist’s role was to make the reader think. To challenge some of their perhaps preconceived notions, and to perhaps stir things up by playing devil’s advocate. Now, it is simply to troll the fans.

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If you’ve suspected that Peter King writes much of the Monday Morning QB in advance, today’s edition probably seals that. In the Fine 15:

king-patsUpdate: Passage has been edited so that it now ends at “dominating no one.”

Clearly written after the loss to Miami, but before the Bengals laid down to the Steelers last night.  Most other sections are current, he’s got the Bengals losing, he notes that the top three in the AFC remained the same this week, but forgot to change the Patriots blurb.

********

This morning on WEEI, the crew was bemoaning Brady’s lack of weapons, and their reliance on the tough scrappy guys like Welker, Edelman and Amendola. Gerry Callahan stated that he wished the Patriots had drafted Dez Bryant instead of Devin McCourty, who he says has been “fine, I guess”

Can you even imagine if Dez Bryant was here, how he would be treated by the Dennis and Callahan show? It would be Manny Ramirez, part II.

**********

Four things from the CBS broadcast yesterday:

Note to Simms and Nantz. It’s am-men-DOLE-uh, not AH-men-dole-uh. (It’s in the media guide and everything.) How annoying was that?

On the botched FG by Miami, they never picked up on the fact that the two ends flared out at the snap, indicating that the attempt was a fake. It was picked up in the press box though:

In Miami’s TD drive at the end of the first half, it was never mentioned that the clock did not run at all on the 2nd and 10 play to Marlon Moore. It was a pretty long play, as Tannehill left the pocket, and ran to fairly close to the sideline before throwing. The play took at good eight seconds or so to develop, which ultimately didn’t matter too much as the Dolphins scored pretty quickly, but it was never mentioned.

Finally, in the second half, when the camera was focused for an excessively long time on offensive coordinator Mike Sherman up in the coaches box, Jim Nantz casually mentioned “Jones is injured for the Patriots” but the camera and storyline remained fixed on Sherman. The Patriots have two Jones’ on defense but obviously one is much more critical than the other. Patriots fans were left to wonder if Chandler Jones was the next Patriot to suffer a season-ending injury or if he was going to be OK, or if it was Chris Jones. Kind of a difference there.

Globe 10.0 To Debate Whether Or Not To Boo Ellsbury Ad Today

On today’s Globe 10.0, Joe Sullivan and Chris Gasper will debate whether or not fans should boo the full-page ad that Jacoby Ellsbury took out in today’s Globe.

Would that surprise anyone?

This week has been a banner one for bang-your-head-on-the-desk sports talk radio storylines. Consider:

  • Patriots win cheapened by “gift” pass interference call.
  • Feigned outrage over Shawn Thornton’s beatdown of  Brooks Orpik.
  • Should fans boo or cheer Doc Rivers? (Can’t say that I’m upset that I missed this variation on the topic.)

I suppose there are those who enjoy these types of “debates” but none more than the hosts, who can just roll the topic out there and give the airtime to the loonies who call sports talk radio.

The Patriots now have the opportunity to control their own playoff destiny. Thanks to the San Diego upset of the Broncos last night, if the Patriots win their remaining three games, they will be the number one seed in the AFC.

They’ll have a challenge in Miami this Sunday, as the Dolphins appear to be trying to make this a statement game for themselves.

Here’s a few links that I enjoyed as we head into the weekend:

Northborough teen has been hot on trail at Winter Meetings – Chad Finn looks at an 18-year-old who has made a name for himself at the baseball winter meetings with several big scoops.

Curt Schilling plans to reinvent the way pitching is talked about in new Sunday Night Baseball role – Bob Raissman has the former Sox ace looking to bring a new style of TV analysis.

Inside the NHL’s process for player discipline – From Wednesday, Amalie Benjamin with a good look at how the NHL reviews and administers discipline for on-ice incidents.

Players have full belief in Brad Stevens – With the Doc Rivers return out of the way, Steve Bulpett looks at how the Celtics players have completely bought into their new leader.