Wild Card Weekend, Will The Celtics Ever Turn It Around?

Once again, Patriots fans have the luxury of sitting back on Wild Card weekend and watching the games stress-free.

The Patriots will play one of three teams next Sunday afternoon: Houston, Baltimore or Indianapolis. Each has a ready-built week of storylines for talk radio next week. If it is Houston, expect to hear plenty of references to the 2010 45-3 December win over the Jets, and the ensuing Divisional round loss at home to those same Jets. You can do the same with the Colts, plus throw in the “Chuckstrong” angle, and how Bill Belichick ran up the score on a team whose coach had cancer. With both of those teams the “It’s hard to beat the same team twice in one season” line to fall back as well.

With the Ravens, you’ve got the “They’ve already beaten you once this year” which totally ignores that previous sentence. Then you go back to how the Ravens “basically” beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship last year, and then the wild card blowout after the 2009 season, and pile on the Ray Lewis retirement announcement and you’ve got the makings of a whole lot of fear-mongering.

This week, you had speculation on the end of the Belichick era, once Josh McDaniels declined to interview for head-coaching opportunities. It’s the worst part of having the bye week, the forced storylines.

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Another topic this week in lieu of the Patriots was the struggles of the Boston Celtics. Many seem ready to throw in the towel on this team, and in particular Jeff Green. I’m still not ready for either. Doc Rivers expressed this week that he’s seeing signs that the new guys (and most of the roster is new, remember. Only KG, Pierce, Rondo, Bass and Bradley were on the roster at the end of last season.) are starting to get it, which takes time.If they’re like this in March, I’ll worry.

While some are warning not to anoint Avery Bradley as the savior – and he wasn’t Wednesday night – he is a huge piece. His defense will completely change this team. No more will guys like Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis and the like be able to impose their will unchallenged on the Celtics any longer. It allows Rondo to freelance more on defense, where he is the best, and it allows Jason Terry to come off the bench and provide the offense that unit needs. Rivers said this week he will be calling plays for the second unit when Rondo isn’t in the game, with the idea of making sure Terry gets the shots. Green needs consistent minutes and he also needs plays called for him. Too often, he’s not involved and you see him just drift to the corner. He needs to be involved. I still think they’ll figure out the rotation and chemistry before the playoffs.

It seems a trade will need to be made at some point, but nothing can really be done until at January 15th. Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee would seem to be pieces that might be moved. I don’t see Ainge trading Bradley or Green, as Chris Mannix suggested yesterday on 98.5. We know Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to change things up when they’re not working, so if the team continues to struggle, look out.

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Perhaps the dumbest thing I heard all week came from Gerry Callahan, who stated that if you want to be a big star in this town, all you have to do is suck up to the local teams, especially the Red Sox. OK. Let’s name the big star media members on radio and TV who are local team suckups. It’s the complete opposite. If you want to make a name for yourself in Boston sports media, the quickest path is by saying outlandish things and trashing the local teams.

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Coordinating producer Russ Kenn leaving NESN – Chad Finn’s media column has the long-time Red Sox producer the latest in the departures from NESN.

These are rough times at NESN, which has been hit hard by the NHL lockout. Between layoffs and people leaving on their own, one source says they’ve lost a couple dozen people in the last two months.

Gil Santos ready to hand off Patriots gig – Bill Doyle has the longtime Patriots radio voice set to say good-bye sometime in the next few weeks.

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SBNation, which had made a big splash in 2010 with their regionalized sites, such as SB Nation Boston, is moving away from that format, and thus eliminating many local writing and editing positions around the country. Mine is among them. I filed my last column for them yesterday, though it has yet to appear.

In explaining their reasoning, on this move, Matt Watson of SB Nation wrote in an email to impacted personnel:

The Web is constantly changing, and one of the lessons we’ve learned is that regional sites aren’t nearly as effective as they once were because of globalization of fandom. Fans aren’t merely regional fans any more. We feel like we’re stronger when we stick to the narrower focus of team blogs to make it more personal to our end users, which strengthens our communities and deepens their engagement and commitment to our brands.

So while sites like SB Nation Boston will continue to exist, they will be solely hubs for the local blogs, with the dedicated editor and other contributors being let go.

So, I’ll be looking for a new outlet for a weekly outside-BSMW  paid media column. Anyone interested?

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The Patriots concluded another strong season ratings-wise, setting a franchise-record average household rating of 36.36 per game. The Patriots received household ratings of plus-30 in every game of the season for the first time in franchise history and saw ratings of plus-40 on three separate occasions, with a season high of 43.08 in the win over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

Here’s a look at the ratings, game-by-game:

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

    Anyone surprised to hear Kirk Minihane go off on Dan Sileo’s EEI appearances over the last few days? Granted Sileo was horrible, but for an EEI employee/on-air host like Minihane to trash Sileo (and Jason Wolfe as well for that matter for giving him a gig) was surprising…it certainly didn’t sound like it was supposed to be funny either. Minihane irritated he’s not getting more exposure than he already has? I don’t know if I’d want to piss off my boss like that…

  • Tiki

    Since they are admitted conspiracy junkies – can we suppose that there was a meeting at 98,.5 where it was decided that in order to push Adam Jones debut F/M would begin their return to duties by creating the BB shelf life stuff – with Felger explaining that it MUST mean Bill is sunsetting in fewer than 2 years (or else McDaniels is “just stupid”) and Maz yelping that it probably also means Brady is on a countdown…..

    Then they note “Good Thing Adam Jones has that interview with Jonathan tonight”…..

  • sjc6224

    I would amend that the best way to be a media star is to suck up to the team not currently in favor and has the lowest profile while trashing the ones that are such as Felger trashing the Patriots and Celtics in recent years while sucking up to the Bruins before their Cup run. That makes you “different” and “fearless”.

    Why would anyone think Belichick is “sunsetting”? He has been the total opposite of Parcells who always talked about retirement and exhaustion from coaching. Belichick has been the opposite and seems to gain energy during the season the longer he coaches. And he does not openly muse about retirement like Parcells did in every job he had. McDaniels is not interviewing or being asked to interview because as Mike Silver puts it:

    “Cheating, personnel blunders, lost 17 of last 22 RT @AdamSchefter Pats OC Josh McDaniels notified teams Mon he won’t interview for HC job”

    • dan

      Belichick is the kind of guy that would avoid answering the simplest of questions so what makes you think that just because he’s never mentioned anything in public would make you confident that he isn’t thinking about not coaching anymore? And why are people assuming that he would retire completely? I picture him putting one of his pupils on the sidelines while he moves upstairs to run the show.
      Also the last we ever heard anything about his contract was after spygate and it was reported that his new deal at the time extended him out to 2013. I’m just saying that it seems to line up just right for McDaniels to take over in 2014. And it makes sense for him to wait if he thinks he’s going to have a few years of Brady under his belt to help establish himself as a winner.

      • Frank

        BB would never do that to one of his coaches. It’s the main reason he left the Jets when Parcells stepped down as head coach but was going to stay in management. Belichick knew that was a no win situation. If he won it was because of Parcells, and if he lost it was all on him. I really can’t see him doing that to one of his coaches seeing as how he didn’t want to stand for it.

        • sjc6224

          Agreed. Most coaches coach until they get fired. It doesn’t seem like Belichick is a) burned out, b) tired of coaching, c) able or willing to become a broadcaster.

  • Carol

    Russ Kenn is a true pro. NESN stands for Never-Ending-Sales-Network (when they have games to air.) They’ll owe a lot of sponsors ratings points going into the new baseball season.

    • danny

      nesn doesn’t pay their people well. a few at the top make HUGE money, after that, ha-ha.

  • dan

    Nice piece on Gil but you know what always irks me when he is discussed? It almost never gets mentioned that he was the voice of the Larry Bird Celtics in the 80’s on tv. I know Johnny Most is most associated with the Celtics but to me as a kid I didn’t listen to the games on the radio I watched them on channel 56 with Gil and Cousy. They were excellent and I wished it would be noted in these articles that Gil called games for 2 of the greatest players to ever play in Boston.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      Yup. I know Patriots Football Weekly has a limited circulation in New England, (more subscriptions out of the area) but in my column last week on there I made sure to talk about that, as well as his time doing Boston College football and even Boston Breakers – both with Gino Cappelletti as well. He was also the radio voice of Penn State football for four years in the 80’s.

      • dan

        I’m glad you did. Thanks for letting me know that you wrote a piece on this.

  • HighWireNickEsasky

    This questions, from Finn’s chat, made my day:

    Comment From GeorgeC72 Chad, if the Patriots fail to make it out of the 1st round will Kraft make a change at HC?

    • SteveFromYellowstone

      He had a very similar question asked last night on Quick Slants. George has either completely gone off the deep end, or someone is pretending to be him and asking these questions to numerous media members.

      • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

        This reminds me of what my Giants friends brought up happening this week with some fringe fans:

        “TRADE ELI HE SUX” and “TOM COUGHLIN IS OLD AND DONE. FIRE HIM. HE SUX.”

        Thankfully, the NY media is too busy with the tattoo on Rex Ryan’s wife (google if you didn’t hear about it).

  • Soxfan

    NESN loses another one, eh? So I guess us die-hards will have to watch the Red Sox ‘shows’ next year and not the Red Sox ‘games.’
    NESN should change their logo to a Black & Blue Ticket…

  • TimesTheyAreAChanging

    Celtics suck and Pierce is the problem. He makes everyone around him worse.
    Callahan is correct. Red Sox have the most shills and suckups of any Boston team. And you know Larry loves to be sucked up too.
    SB Nation is going backwards.
    My dog wouldn’t watch NESN.

  • NutCracker

    We’ll miss you at SBN Bruce. Signs of the times, I suppose. Good luck in your search.

  • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

    This took about 30 minutes after HOU beat CIN:

    @RapSheet Was just thinking this RT @ProFootballTalk Pats blew out Jets in December 2010 then lost to Jets in playoffs. So there’s hope for Houston.

    https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/287722272234553344

    Anyone want to set some prop bets on which show/media here bites on that storyline the fastest?

    • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

      and what irks me most about this line of thinking is these Bozo’s act like it’s “breaking news”… Most rational/sane fans know IT’s THE PLAYOFFS..one game, anything can happen, regardless of how teams fared against each other in regular season.. that’s why we watch….but yeah, they’ll be beating this “storyline” into the ground all week.

  • Denny

    All of NESN’s defections and layoffs mean one thing: they’re for sale. Henry would make a boatload of dough on that one.

    • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

      Hasn’t it been repeated many times that NESN has a talent retention problem because they’re unwilling to pay industry rates? I’ve never heard or read differently.

      Many companies do the same thing, and the results are identical. Good talent will rise and get poached by something national or move on elsewhere. See: Kathryn Tappen, Jade Mccarthy, Randy Scott, inter alia.

      I don’t think it means NESN is on the market. From everything reported by the national media who are unafraid to report on the financial health of Henry, NESN prints money. RSNs print money in the hundreds-of-millions per year.

  • Winning_Again

    I feel I know the answer to this question gripe already but I’ll pose it anyways:

    How come Boomer Esiason is still on WEEI? I know the answer is likely contract related but with the CBS Sports Radio push recently (as least nationally) I would think they would want his voice showcased on 98.5. Granted I wouldn’t want T&R to interview him but I could definetely see him on Felger and Mazz. At least he would keep them in relative check.

    Bruce, any inside info on how long his deal with EEI is, if there is anything in place? Are you surprised he hasn’t been pulled, much like when Ryen Russilo was on F&M briefly, before getting yanked by the 4 letter network? I just find it odd that you can hear Boomer’s CBS Sports Minute on one station, and his weekly interview on another.