Sports Media Musings: Bow ties and Alibis

“It’s a person. A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news.”

- Newsroom

Yeah, I thought the sanctimonious feel of “Newsroom” sucked, too. But, given the Manti Te’o saga, doesn’t it just feel appropriate today?

Here are a few links worth passing along, then, I promise, we’ll never speak of this again. (That’s totally a lie, we’re totally speaking of this again, but not at the length we did yesterday, because BREAKING — Boston isn’t a college town. We figured this out the hard way when we wrote 1,200 words on the Bruce Feldman vs. ESPN feud. “Bruce who?” Exactly.)

Deadspin’s editor-in-chief explains editing, reporting behind Manti Te’o storyTommy Craggs, Deadspin’s Editor-in-Chief, talked to Poynter about his editorial process behind the story, taking a pot shot at The Boston Globe, which promptly pointed out Deadspin wasn’t known for its journalistic standards in their recap of the Te’o scandal.

“Whatever. Why should I care what a craven, slipshod outfit like the Boston Globe thinks of my ‘journalistic standards’?”

I find it curious any major outlet would take shots at Deadspin during their victory lap. Alas, when you’ve run some of the content Deadspin has published in its existence, you’re inviting that tagline. I know Deadspin; my dad probably doesn’t — and that stigma (appropriately) goes on their gravestone.

The Lies He Told — A few readers emailed me about Grantland’s silence on the Te’o scandal. Look, ESPN was scooped and (presumably) embarrassed, but Grantland’s delayed reaction doesn’t warrant harsh critique here. Grantland, at its core, is reactive. They don’t break stories; they react. Bill Simmons and Co. published a (predictably) excellent and (predictably) verbose email exchange between Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman by mid-afternoon yesterday. Both writers are true heavy hitters. And while it’s confounding the two scribes actively circumvent the real question (“Did Te’o know?”), each raise a variety of other questions related to the story. I enjoyed it. But I’m the kind of guy that enjoys this style of writing — it’s certainly not for everyone.

Did ESPN Know About the Manti Te’o Hoax 10 Days Ago? — The Big Lead has sources that claim ESPN knew about the Te’o scandal BEFORE the National Championship game. Did the WorldWide Leader hold out for an exclusive interview? Or, perhaps more nefarious, did they hold out to ensure strong ratings for the BCS? (The latter seems very unrealistic; all things considered,  this scandal boosts intrigue, instead of hurting it.)

Will Leitch, co-founder and editor emeritus of Deadspin, wrote two thoughtful pieces for Sports On Earth yesterday. “Print the Legend”  is about chicanery at play and HOW Te’o’s fictitious girlfriend (that still feels weird typing) could get passed factcheckers; meanwhile, his second piece coincides with the theory I wrote about earlier this week — we want these stories to exist (and matter) because sports HAS TO MATTER.

OK, we’re done. SPORTS are being played Sunday, gentleman. SPORTS.

Oh yeah, nothing on cycling or Lance Armstrong, because who really cares about cycling?

(We’re kidding.)

(Not really).

Sports Media Musings: Manti Te’o & The Rise of Deadspin; Felger & Mazz Dance With Themselves

Girl: Do not try to bend the spoon, that’s impossible; only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Girl: There is no spoon.

-         The Matrix

We generally try to stay relevant to the topic in this space. And college athletics is anything but relevant in the realm of Boston sports media. That said, the Manti Te’o saga, probably the strangest story to break since the ascent of Twitter, has destroyed the Internet, induced a litany of conspiracy theories, and, ultimately, illuminated a myriad of failings on the part of major publications across the country; leaving one, rather unlikely, entity, Deadspin, standing atop the mountain.

To tersely recap, Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia hours after his grandmother passed away. Only she didn’t, because Kekua never actually existed. Under the guise of Te’o’s emotional leadership, Notre Dame would go undefeated before losing in the National Championship Game.  Elements of this inspirational story were told across multiple outlets, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, LA Times, New York Times, the AP and more; recounted on CBS This Morning; and, perhaps, the cathartic nature helped spearhead Te’o’s prominence as a Heisman candidate. (The last of which, we hold reservations towards – he did have to, you know, make plays on the field.)

Notre Dame held a gripping press conference last night where it stood behind its embattled linebacker, claiming he had been a victim of an elaborate hoax. That’s where we are.

Make no mistake about it, on a much, much smaller scale, this story echoes the New York Times’ shoddy reporting during the weapons of mass destruction stories early last decade, which, no matter where your political allegiances lay, helped justify a war.It will be taught in journalism classes. Probably forever.

Speculating whether or not Te’o was complicit, knew at some point, or was completely oblivious is not a practice we have any interest in participating in; nor is wondering What This All Means. (that’s something I’ll tackle in next week’s Obstructed View column. Here is yesterday’s column, in case you missed it.)

Let the record show, however, Deadspin insinuated Te’o willingly participated in the hoax. And, more than any other news outlet, the one whom boasts, “Sports News Without Favor, Access or Discretion,” is to be trusted most here. Remarkably, they’ve earned that right. How, exactly, did we get to this point?

***

Last summer, I had a lengthy conversation with Deadspin’s co-founder and editor emeritus, Will Leitch. The New York Magazine editor, GQ contributor, and Sports On Earth columnist, told me he left Deadspin because “it was time.” His assertions are better described in his ode to his successor, A.J. Daulerio, entitled, “A.J. Ruined Deadspin, Thank God.” Editorially speaking, how you feel about paying for Brett Favre penis photos is certainly polarizing, but as Leitch wrote, Daulerio did, in fact, take Deadspin to the next level. Favre’s penis paid for the “art projects” and real reporting, like the Te’o story. When Daulerio left to become editor-in-chief of Gawker (Deadspin’s parent company), his replacement, Tommy Craggs, who turned down an opportunity to join forces with Bill Simmons at Grantland, used the leverage spawned from Daulerio’s reign to further push Deadspin away from smut and towards what it is today, which as we found out Wednesday night, is an amalgam of hilarious sports commentary (do yourself a favor and read Drew Magary if you haven’t already) and fantastic investigative pieces.

It’s still a Gawker site – the stench of the big screen identifying what content is generating page views will always exist, but it seems to have worked out. In my lengthy interview with Richard Deitsch, the renowned Sports Illustrated media columnist, we talked about Deadspin at length. “ … I’ve always said this,” Deitsch told me. “They do not pretend to be The New York Times, they do not play by the same rules as everyone else, so you have to judge them on that.”

He’s right. Deadspin is not the New York Times … they could be better.

This Week In Felger & Mazz Constituents

Senator McCarthy appears confused, and is on the verge of combusting. “It’s a quarterback’s league,” the Governor bemoaned all season long. Yet, The Last Great Contrarian is picking the Ravens, and Joe Flacco, to beat the Patriots, despite having Tom Brady under center.

This, among other things, is why The Squeaky One Who Agrees found himself in a precarious position, and with tremendous trepidation, announced “You’re going against your core values.”

The Likely Bitter One Who Deserves His Own Platform announced that the Kanye West Of Sports Radio ranked Flacco 20th amongst his peers starting in the NFL. Ye’ responded, claiming if you switched the surrounding situations of Flacco and Mark Sanchez, the difference in outcomes would be immaterial.

“You’re wrong,” a stunned (and undoubtedly freighted) Squeaky One Who Agrees retorted.

“I have a gut feeling. Too many things went the Patriots way last time, and won’t this time around,” Senator McCarthy fired back.

A slow gaze was shared between He & His Cohorts. The three looked at one another, realizing the Sports Radio Zenith – a true nirvana – had been reached: Arguing against oneself.  A special moment that should be captured in a time capsule.

It was a productive day.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 44 vs. the Bulls

Celtics (32-11) vs. Bulls (15-29)
January 16, 1980
Boston Garden

Hosting Chicago for the first time in the season, the Celtics recovered from a harrowing loss to the Lakers by defeating the Bulls, 114-104, to improve to 3-1 in their seven-game home stand.  The Bulls were coming off a 21-point victory over the Kings the night before, and ran out of steam in the second quarter when coach Jerry Sloan received two technical fouls (in the “some things never change” department, a young Joey Crawford officiated the game) and was ejected as the Celtics claimed a 13-point lead at the half and never looked back. [Read more…]

The Obstructed View: Difficult Takes A Day; Impossible Takes A Week

In addition to my media notes, I’ll be swinging by Wednesday afternoons to write a weekly column dealing with How We Think About Sports (or something), entitled “The Obstructed View.” Think of it as an unfortunate tariff; and feel free to yell at me on Twitter about it (@Hadfield__) or email me at [email protected] 

The transitory sphere of sports commentary entertainment is alarming; probably because, alarmists are running the show.

This last weekend, for instance, saw miracles and epiphanies of the Other Kind unfold. On Saturday, The Book on Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, 28, changed from him being “inconsistent and frustrating” to “big when it matters most” and “dangerous;” and the signal caller in Atlanta, Matt Ryan, 27, once designated as a “fine regular season quarterback,” was reborn into a “winner” Sunday.

“It’s all happening!!!” Kate Hudson and her fellow “Band-aids” bellowed on the television screen Sunday night during my 187th viewing of “Almost Famous.”

Yes, it was. (Except it wasn’t.)

The problem with the much-talked about column written by Dan Shaughnessy (which the attention gained, as much as he denies, was exactly how he drew it up), is that he leaves no room for growth. Players are typecast, and crazy ideas like “learning about your craft” fall by the wayside (or somewhere else). Thus every player, it seems, is JaMarcus Russell or Tom Brady (unless you’re Brett Favre, in which case RIDE THE WAVE). And I think we can all agree, speaking and writing in vague, highly circumstantial terms that can’t possibly be quantitative – like adjudicating whether or not an athlete is “clutch” or a “winner” – is just obtuse. These concepts have been specious from the outset of their existence. And, mind you, their sheer existence is due to selfish fandom, writers yearning page views, and radio hosts trying to fill air time.

I can’t figure out why, however, we enable this to keep happening time and time again. Maybe it’s because, these days, we want things like ChuckStrong – the moniker placed behind the Colts’ improbable run, purportedly credited to the inspirational story of head coach Chuck Pagano, who recovered from cancer this season – to matter; instead of Andrew Luck being really good at football.

Because sports has to take a bigger form – It All Has To Mean Something, or else we start asking more pressing questions like, “What the hell are we really doing here, man?”

So, in turn, we constantly hear and read emphatic declarations of whether athletes pass or fail subjective “eye tests” based on intuition. Perception gradually coalesces into reality; only those ruling on such matters are manufacturing this perception, instead of observing what actually exists, leading to one sad fallacy: You are who you are, until, of course, you aren’t.

I was fat, then, I lost weight, and now I’m skinny – today am I a different person?

Woah, I just blacked out. Somewhere, Lance Armstrong is nodding. Suffice to say, existentialism and sports shouldn’t mix.

Still, the Shaughnessy and Michael Felger’s of the world sly wink and feign ignorance to this truth (even though they totally get it. It is, after all, staring them right in the face). Shank wrote a book about a mythical curse, which later was broken. It seems like Felger exclusively talks in generalities. For example, like most, he killed LeBron James after Paul Pierce drained a 3-pointer in Miami to give the Celtics an “insurmountable” 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.

James, everyone agreed, didn’t have stones. Months later, we all staggeringly recant, he does.

An interesting case study, really. At 18, LeBron James is a great basketball player. LeBron James, now slightly older, flees Cleveland, and thus, lacks self-awareness and is selfish. LeBron James fails to win a title in his first year on the Heat, and it’s decided he can’t will a basketball team to a championship (yes, this was a real question in 2011). Last summer, The King is crowned, after winning the NBA Championship and leading Team USA to Olympic Gold; magically, he’s transformed and (you guessed it) figured out how to be clutch!! Most recently, though, LeBron James showed regression by berating an official — consequently, he’s back to being a dick.

Everything is about this is true; yet, everything about this is false.

Contrary to popular beliefs, LeBron’s accomplishments last spring and summer didn’t alter the reality that he is a great basketball player; just like raising the Larry O’Brien trophy didn’t mark his personality traversing from puerile and nonsensical to reformed and modest. This isn’t a Hero’s Journey, just someone’s journey.

And, despite recent events, Matt Schaub still could have beaten New England last Sunday night, he just didn’t. Because … uh … because … ahhh screw it – NOTHING IS PROMISED, ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, AND THE OTHER GUYS GET PAID TO PLAY, TOO.

(Shit.)

Patriots-Ravens Round 2

The Patriots may have caught a break with the Ravens beating the Broncos in Denver Saturday, meaning the Patriots will now host Baltimore in Sunday’s AFC Championship. Don’t think it will be an easy win, despite the early line set at -9.5. The Ravens are one of the few teams who have given the Patriots fits in the past and don’t give an inch when going toe to toe with Brady and New England.

In fact, Brady’s two worst playoff games have come against the Baltimore defense. In the teams’ 2010 season playoff matchup Brady was 23-42 for 153 yards, two touchdowns, but three interceptions for a QB rating of 49. in the Ravens’ 33-14 beat down. Brady did not play particularly well in last year’s AFC Championship game where the Patriots pulled put a 23-20 win. He finished 22-36 for 239 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions for a rating of 57.5.

For those keeping track of media member predictions, Michael Felger already gave his, saying the Ravens would upset the Patriots on Sunday. This despite being all over Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco all season long.

For full Patriots coverage visit Patriotslinks.com.

They were nothing special covering kicks- Shalise Manza Young looks back at Sunday’s game and how poor the Patriots special teams played, especially the kick off team.

Patriots report card- Ron Borges hands out his grades from Sunday’s win. For the most part they were very good.

No introductions needed for AFC title game- Tony Massarotti says these teams know each other so well and it always is a one possession game, so the opening line of -9.5 is way too high.

Refresher on Patriots-Ravens- Mike Reiss looks back at the two teams’ matchup from Week 3, but notes a lot has changed for both teams since the game.

Patriots quietly take out any trash talk- Jeff Howe has the Patriots, as expected, not giving in to any trash talk despite what a few Ravens have said.

Why Patriots could beat Ravens- Kirk Minihane says unlike the Houston game, there is a chance Baltimore could pull off an upset Sunday.

Curran: I don’t see Ravens as a threat- Tom E. Curran doesn’t think the Ravens will pose much of a threat on Sunday.

Ho-Hum, Another AFC Title Game Appearance For The Patriots

The Patriots find themselves in their 7th AFC Championship game since the 2001 season, as they knocked off the Houston Texans 41-28 at Gillette Stadium yesterday.

Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens and their 2OT victory in Denver on Saturday night, the AFC Championship will be right here in Foxboro, where the Ravens beat the Patriots last January to go to the Super Bowl.

Well, they practically beat the Patriots, right? After Lee Evans dropped the winning TD had the winning TD stripped from this hands and Billy Cundiff missed a chip shot field that would’ve sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl would have tied the game.

The Ravens will be back, hungry for revenge, and eager to have Ray Lewis’ final game be the Super Bowl in New Orleans. They can beat the Patriots, as some are eager to point out, and I wonder how much we’ll hear about whether it matters when you’ve lost to a team already in the regular season. We’ve already got one villain for the week, and there should be no shortage of storylines for the media to drool over.

Get all the coverage from yesterday’s win at PatriotsLinks.com.  Meanwhile, here are a few items of note this morning:

What we learned: Get ready for latest chapter of rivalry with Ravens – Christopher Price touches on all the big points from yesterday and looks ahead.

Ninkovich picks good time for INT – Greg A Bedard looks at the Patriots defender once again making the big play. This column is a prime example of very good football writing. Great stuff.

Of course, the Globe also runs two clown columns today, one by Shaughnessy taking his victory lap, and the other by Gasper smugly saying “Time to up your game, Patriots.”  Terrible, terrible columns both.

Pats adjust to life without Gronk – The Patriots will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski for the reminder of their playoff run after he re-injured his arm yesterday, but Mike Reiss says that at least this season, the Patriots have experience playing without Gronk.

Patriots put mental toughness on display in win over Texans – While football simpletons like Gasper talk about how nothing yesterday should make you confident that the Patriots can win it all, others note that after the Patriots lost two of their big weapons – Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead, whom much of the gameplan going in had revolved around – they were able to completely adjust and still put up 41 points on an allegedly stout Houston defense. Tom E Curran looks at the Patriots stepping up, and at why the Ravens may have started talking already.

Speaking of Curran, he did have showdown with Shaughnessy (and Felger) on CSNNE yesterday. It’s worth a watch.

A couple of SI links:

Offensive outburst, meeting of legends set up conference finals – MMQB. The usual number of head-scratching statements and proclamations.

MEDIA CIRCUS – Among other things, Richard Deitsch’s media column looks at whether Brian Billick, who worked the Falcons/Seahawks game for FOX, should’ve disclosed that Atlanta coach Mike Smith is his brother-in-law.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 43 vs. the Lakers

Celtics (32-10) vs. Lakers (30-15)
January 13, 1980
Boston Garden

Defense.

The Los Angeles Lakers employed a stifling defensive strategy to hold the Celtics scoreless during a 21-0 run in the third quarter, drastically altering a 67-53 Celtics’ lead into a 74-67 deficit.  Yet the Celtics refused to surrender, and the game — a 100-98 victory for LA — ended on a controversial whistle. [Read more…]

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 42 vs. the Hawks

Celtics (31-10) vs. Hawks (26-17)
January 11, 1980
Boston Garden

The Celtics hosted the Atlanta Hawks on this date thirty-three years ago in the Garden.  Winners of three of the past four, the Celts hoped to build some momentum on this marathon seven-game homestand at the Garden.  Sandwiched in-between an intense match-up with New York and a rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers stood the Atlanta Hawks.  Hubie Brown’s team of overachievers, on their way to a 50-win season, laid a 28-point beatdown on the Celtics the last time the two teams met.  The defeat also marked the Celtics’ only home loss of the season, with a 17-1 record nearly midpoint in the season.  A balanced attack from the Celtics’ starting five, as well as a breakout performance from Rick Robey, allowed the Celtics to avenge the loss and defeat the Hawks, 108-93.  The game also featured four ejections, all beginning near the end of the first quarter. [Read more…]

Divisional Weekend Has Season On The Line for Patriots

The Texans can win this game.

If, for no other reason that every media person in the universe seems convinced that the Patriots will easily win this one. Maybe not as easily as last time, but still, it’s hard to find anyone picking the Texans. (Adam Schefter is one of the few picking the Texans.) No matter what Dan Shaughnessy says, the Texans can win this game. Nothing is given in sports.

Get all the coverage this weekend at PatriotsLinks.com, meanwhile here are some links and quotes for today:

Ted Johnson making himself heard on radio – Chad Finn’s media column talks with the former Patriots linebacker, who is now working as radio host in Houston.

Pundits picking Patriots, but not in another wipeout – Bill Doyle’s media column has FOX analysts Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman talking about this weekend’s matchups.

Football and family saved Brandon Spikes from bad side of life  -Jeff Howe has a nice mini-feature on the Patriots inside linebacker and his emergence from a potentially troubled beginning.

Logan Mankins tractor-tough as ever – Jackie MacMullan submits a feature on the Patriots guard.

Rob Gronkowski’s play is crucial to game plan – Matt Chatham looks at why whether the Patriots big tight end is healthy is critical to the Patriots chances of success.

PHIL SIMMS

(On Houston-New England): The intriguing part of this game is the way the last game was played and how it worked against Houston so much.  That’s a tremendous motivating factor for the team.  It’s just human nature. Can the New England Patriots still take the Houston Texans as seriously as they did the first time because of that?   Those are parts of the game that we can’t quantify but know they’re there.  Vince Wilfork was a tremendous problem for Houston in the first game. What will Houston’s plan be this week to maybe change Vince Wilfork’s production?  What will Houston do on the defensive side? When you give up 42 points, you have to try something different.  Because whatever they did last time, it didn’t work.  That’s what NFL coaching is about. And that is why coaches are so important in the NFL.  They have to change game plans in order to change the performance and thought process of all the athletes they’re asking to do these things.

STEVE YOUNG

Q.  This weekend, two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time playing, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  When you look back over the course of their careers, is there a season that stands out to you as perhaps the best between them?  I mean, 2004, Manning set the record for passing rating, depending how you feel about passer rating.  2007, Brady led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season record, 50 touchdowns, eight interceptions.  If you had to pick one accomplishment by one of those guys, could you pick one?

YOUNG:  Well, it’s funny, you mentioned 2007, because but for, I think, laying an egg in the Super Bowl, both Bill Belichick and the Patriots, in general, and Tom Brady missed the opportunity to be the de facto answers for any argument that anyone brought up as the greatest season in history, the greatest team in history, the greatest quarterback in history and the greatest coach in history. In my mind, all of these things hung in the balance in Phoenix that night just because of the nature of what they were about to accomplish.  It was a phenomenal season, unfortunately not capped.

What they have done collectively, the two of them, I always think greatness is really about building off the previous generation and stretching the game and taking it in new places, developing, doing more with the position.  And I always find quarterback as an art form and the ultimate guide in the position of artists, and these guys have done that. So, for a guy that’s played a generation before, I just honor them with how both of them have taken the game and extended it, and the position and extended it, and doing it like the next generation should, but so few can.

Peyton changed the game forever because he demanded more from the receiver/quarterback relationship.  That’s never been demanded.  Tom did the same in other ways.  So to pick a season, these guys are so far ahead.  In some ways, as they get ready to play, there must be a little piece of them chuckling because they are so far ahead in the free agent era and with the rules kind of bending towards the offense’s favor, they have to be chuckling that they are so far ahead of any defense. Everything they are doing they have such mastery over, that yeah, they could still screw up; yeah, they could get beat.  But boy, they are playing kind of in a downhill, kind of from the start and that’s got to be a fun place to be.

Sorry that doesn’t answer your question.  I’m not great at picking greatest, you know what I mean.  I honor what they are doing just because it’s amazing to me what they have accomplished.

Q. Sticking with the Patriots, one of the things they started out with Belichick and went 9‑0 early on in the post‑season with him, not so hot of late.  Curious if your experience with the 49ers, with that first loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship, and another loss to the Cowboys, it looked like that first loss to the Giants broke the mystique a little bit.  Do you sense that with the Patriots a little bit – that the mystique has been broken by their, not failures in the last couple of years but their average play in the post‑season?

YOUNG:  There’s no question that when we warmed up, I got a sense that we were up 14‑0 at times, with perception with the way that people thought about us.  And as you said that could be broken with some tough losses a little bit here and there.

But substantively when you’re getting beat in championship games by teams, most of the time it’s because they are better, and I think the Patriots lost their pass rush, they got a little bit weaker defensively and they’ve been trying to make that up.  So I think there are things that substantively happened that they have now tried to fix. You’re right, though.  When they are rolling, when they are two‑time defending or two‑out‑of‑three Super Bowl champions, you have a lot of kind of perceptional advantage as you warm up.  And that gets lost.

So, yes, I agree that some of that is lost.  But substantively, the Patriots seem to have put some of the things that have been hurting them, like two or three years ago ‑‑ but yet still haven’t I think gotten to the point where they really had that defense that was top two or three in the league.

And to me, the 49ers, Patriots, I’m thinking back to the Cowboys in the early 90s and the vintages I knew so well, they were great offenses but really you took a look at the defenses, they were the top two or three defenses.  So a great offense with the top two or three defense, that’s when you constantly win Super Bowls, and that’s the thing that they Patriots have been missing.

Sports Media Musings: Return of the Jester

Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet

(Programming note: For ACTUAL media commentary, please feel free to skip the next 450 words. I won’t be offended. In fact, I encourage it. I apologize for this voluminous explanation about my respite from writing these past few months; there are just so many big things happening in my head, man. Alas, this practice in self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement is co-sponsored by Adrian Foster’s Twitter avatar … and Dan Shaughnessy’s hair ego.)

Great news, guys: I am back, and there will be blood (maybe … well no, not really). Longtime readers of Boston Sports Media Watch – which, I suppose, is a great deal of you reading this very text – know who I am, appreciate (or mock) my gimmick, and will welcome back the 2011-UNDISPUTED-CHAMPION-In-Arbitrary-Media-Musings-Related-To-Sports-Personalities-Produced-By-A-Fledgling-Writer-In-His-Parents-House, with overwhelming joy. I think.

The bunch I’m referring to may recall my departure from this very space, just a short year ago, to try my hand with the gentlemen occupying Guest Street, with great sadness and sheer despondence. But fear not, dear readers, in the year since, I have covered everything from the Celtics and Patriots to Bonnaroo Music Festival in TN (for Boston.com) to music for TIME. It was, from what I imagine, the feeling Billy Joe Armstrong wishes upon his subject in the song “Good Riddance,” mixed with a shot of the Showtime series, “House of Lies.” Sports, everyone. And writing, too. SPORTS WRITING.

And while it may not seem this way in future columns, the truth is, the gentlemen Over There were gracious, accommodating, and gave me every chance to succeed at my endeavors. You’ll scoff because, sure, my dalliance with The Mainstream Media resembled Gerald Green’s combustible NBA career more than the steadiness of Julio Franco for my liking, but in the interim, I would like to think I learned a lot about life, barriers of entry in competitive industries, and most importantly, proper etiquette while in a buffet line. And hey, as much as I would have loved to keep the Out of Bounds blog going Over There, life, sadly, has countered with rules and obligations, mostly revolving around superficial yet paramount concepts like, “bills,” “net income,” and a relationship with my new girlfriend, named Sallie Mae.

In all earnest, writing about the media, in general, is difficult. However, I can’t complain. Like I said, I was given a great opportunity. I enjoyed the people I worked with and had an incredible experience.  The writers and editors I had the pleasure of working for are, for my money, the best at what they do in this town.

“But look,” I negotiated with myself (we’re getting very, very meta now), “Going forward, if I’m going to write for a reward equivalent to your iPhone bill, I feel, it’s only fair, I should be able to write about who I want, when I want … Because PRINCIPLES, people.”

Please know, dear readers, I have returned to you now living back in Boston (breaking the blogger stereotype) as a “wiser” (Read: Jaded) writer, offering two columns a week – the aforementioned “Media Musings” notes, and a more focused column entitled, “The Obstructed View.”

Fin.

They Said It, Not Me

(This is the part where I deride statements made by Those Who Make Statements)

… Dan Shaughnessy admits that he doesn’t know football. Very tongue and cheek, because he’s ABOVE IT ALL. Don’t think for a second, after he whipped out that gem of a zinger, he didn’t strut into good ‘ole Morrissey Blvd., sporting a BIG WINK shot in the direction of Joe Sullivan; leaving the rest of staff gushing, “That’s so Dan, guys!”

But hey, way to hold and develop that authoritative voice, bud. No need to actually defend your stance with statistics and rationale. I mean, that’s OK – you’re just paid to write about it, is all. Play the Blind Squirrel because, guess what, THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY, EVERYONE!

… After the Celtics “upset” the Knicks Tuesday, Gary Tanguay alluded to trade rumors swirling around the team before their current winning streak took form; many of which, Alan Thick assuredly informed us, are incorrect.

Are we to believe Tanguay, who, if you recall, is the same person who confidently told us Paul Pierce was to be traded last season? Keep in mind, as of this morning, Pierce is still listed on Doc Rivers’ roster. Still, to his credit, Andy Bernard desperately – and justifiably – wanted to be believed that his sources were correct about Ray Allen’s departure being related to his salty relationship with Rajon Rondo.

Let the record show, none of this aimless conjecture supersedes Tanguay’s remarks due to an unconfirmed heat stroke he suffered this summer. The highlights, or lowlights, included his indefensible (and maniacal) castigation of Clay Buchholz for going to a pool party at Foxwoods after being released from Intensive Care, and curious proclamation that Aly Raisman was more “clutch” than Tom Brady. Yes, that really happened. Oh, and there was the time he said LeBron James wasn’t a top-5 player in the NBA before the playoffs began, because SPORTS TAKES.

But the line, it seems, between host (ostensibly Tanguay’s role) and commentator/reporter (what sets Ron Burgundy’s calves on fire) is further blurred. JOURNALISM.

… ESPN told Rob Parker, the dude who infamously questioned Robert Griffin III’s blackness (or something, rather) on “First Take,” thanks but no thanks, releasing him from his duties at the network.

Rob Parker’s contract expired at year end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew.

So long as “First Take” – the embodiment of a Shank column – exists, extolling the four-letter network for the decision to remove Parker from the equation is like giving a standing O at a DUI hearing because the driver wore his seatbelt.

… The WorldWide Leader also apologized for Brent Musburger incessantly pointing out the obvious during the college football National Championship Game: Katherine Webb, girlfriend of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, and former Miss Alabama, is a professional smokeshow. MISOGYNISTIC ATTITUDES CURED.

This Week In Felger & Mazz Constituents

This week, Senator McCarthy took his hatred toward the BBWAA (namely Tom Verducci) to new levels, probably to avoid putting any real focus on his other enemy, the streaking Celtics. Earlier in the week, he frothed about reports of Chip Kelly coming to New England to succeed Bill Belichick, because no “Belichick Guys” ever workout. (Somewhere, Thomas Dimitroff and his hapless, top-seeded Falcons somehow feel more disrespected.)

Meanwhile, The Squeaky One Who Agrees gave insight based off a time when he, you know, gave insights; ranking PWIFS (Player’s Wives I’d Like To … well, you know). Who feels out of place on this list: Canseco, Clemens, and Hatteberg. The Squeaky One Who Agrees giggled, mostly.

Finally, when asked about his thoughts in the upcoming New England-Houston playoff game, The One We Shower With Adulation For His Seven-Yard Catch In Super Bowl XXXVI decided that if the Patriots “just do what they did last time against [the Texans], it will be a blowout.” Glad he’s here.

It was, what He & His Cohorts would call, “A Productive Day.”