The Daytona 500 Was Fixed, And Other Miscellaneous Monday Thoughts

Gerry Callahan is fearless.

Only he has the integrity to call out NASCAR and shine a light on the fact that its biggest event of the year was fixed.

This morning he insisted that there was an arrangement in place to ensure that Danica Patrick finished in the top 10. He said that other racers were instructed not to bump her car and that the neon green paint of the car assisted other drivers in letting her have the position. He stated that it’s really all about the car, and Danica was provided with a car that guaranteed a top-10 finish, and was surrounded by a gifted team which really was responsible for the showing. Danica, he said, isn’t a very good driver, and that this was simply a reward by NASCAR for all that she has done for the sport.

When asked by Kirk Minihane if he was joking, Callahan repeated his points.

OK then. WEEI, once again on the cutting edge. Clearly they’re about to turn this ratings thing around.

How long can the three-man morning last? Things are going to come to a head soon there. It’s inevitable. Maybe that was the plan all along.

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Last week I railed on the combine, questioning why outlets send their whole crews out there. I guess I was speaking from the reader/viewer perspective, as the experience is largely useless from that standpoint. For the media, it’s an important networking event. They meet executives, agents, other media people, form relationships, groom sources. It lays a foundation for future material. The player stuff is largely an afterthought.

All that said, the best column from the combine that I’ve read was a Friday feature from Tom E Curran:

2011 NFL Combine a bad scene for Mallett; was it fair?

It is a fascinating look at the grilling Ryan Mallett received at the combine two years, and is especially interesting in light of the session from Manti Te’o from this year’s combine.

Media types like Mike Florio and Jason Cole come off as complete asses in the story. They kill Mallett for talking to the media about the drug rumors around him, as Mallett said he would only talk about that subject with the teams that he met with. A perfectly reasonable stance. Why in the world would he talk to the media about it? Yet, Cole and Florio (and others) come off as entitled, whiny, self-appointed guardians of the gate. Some interesting stuff from Mallett’s agent and also from Gil Brandt, who suggests that agents routinely start smear campaigns at these events to hurt players who might be in competition with their own clients for draft position.

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

Dan Shaughnessy’s last seven columns:

  • It’s hard to get excited about these Red Sox
  • How much like J.D. is Stephen Drew?
  • Ben Cherington merits blame too
  • Red Sox put all the blame on Bobby Valentine
  • No chance Jacoby Ellsbury is staying with Red Sox
  • Downsized expectations for Red Sox’ Mike Napoli
  • Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez still complaining about Boston

Anyone sense a pattern here?

I understand low expectations for this team. But these are the stories that “represent the interests of the fan?” (as Dan claims that the media does.)

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Hard not to be impressed with the job Brian Scalabrine does on the game broadcasts. He’s good. His insight into the makeup of the team, and his ability to interpret the moves of Doc Rivers is outstanding. It’s even on little things. He mentioned on Friday and last night about Rivers playing newcomers Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford at the same time. Initially you might think it would be tough to have two guys who just joined the team on the floor at the same time. Scalabrine pointed out that in the past, when new guys would join the team, Rivers and the coaching staff would show them just a few plays at a time in the walk-through or practice, so that in the game, they would know the same plays. They would both be at the same level. Small things, but an interesting insight into the workings of the club.

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

I also enjoyed Cedric Maxwell’s calm, patient smackdown of Michael Felger in this CSNNE video. Felger starts out demanding to know what happened to Danny Ainge’s “sack” and goes downhill from there.

Predictably, Dennis and Callahan also hated Lee Jenkins’ feature on Rajon Rondo in Sports Illustrated, mostly because it was positive. They hated that it made him look like a great point guard and didn’t portray him as a selfish assist-seeking punk, and that it didn’t run down all the flaws in his game, like that he cannot shoot at all.

  • Chris

    Right before that unbelievable Danica talk was about 20 minutes of painful discussion about a gay athlete coming out of the closet.

    Gerry Callahan said that a football player coming out of the closet today would face a life “ten times harder” than what Jackie Robinson went through. He actually said that in a completely serious manner.

    Minihane tried to interject but it’s kind of hard to have a conversation with someone that far off base.

    • latetodinner

      The important part of the gay athlete discussion was the assumption that Manti T’eo must be/might be/assumed to be gay all because he was the victim of a hoax by Tuiasaopo. As much as I dislike Minihane he had to be wondering what he got himself into this morning because it was just dreadful radio. Minihane tried on several occasions to make rational points that were just ignored…even bringing up Steve Buckley’s contention that the first openly gay athlete will most likely come out in High School, go through college and then when he gets to the Pros it will be a fait acomplit…as everyone has always known but it never effected his play (a position I completely agree with).

      By the way…if WEEI thinks talking Bruins is death on the radio…what does their research say about talking Oscar recaps, athletes coming out and NASCAR in Boston in the morning?

      • ben

        Interestingly the former USNT soccer player who recently came out (plays lower division in the UK) didn’t go Buckley’s route.
        As it regards Gerry Callahan, i’m not sure i’ve ever heard someone who was prepared to take Gerry on not just with data but with an understanding of his aggressive debate style. Gerry does two things that seem to crush opposition – first, he speaks with conviction on facts that aren’t truly facts yet they don’t get challenged. Second, he is such a true believer that he goes on the offensive in such an aggressive manner that most opponents either cave or get angry at him and don’t confront his argument. A classic Gerry move — a tragedy happens and someone calls in to make a point (opposite Gerry’s) as it regards the tragedy. Gerry goes off “I can’t believe you would use this tragedy to try and make your point!” which avoids the challenge. Yet he’s the first to do the same thing.

        • Mike

          I hadn’t heard that remark from Buckley, but I can believe it: the first active player willing to come out will have come out young, so that it’s never a hurdle again. But there’s some justice to the Jackie Robinson argument: homophobia among athletes is real, not something to be ignored (as that fool on the Niners reminded everybody). And there’s another comment, from Mark Cuban, worth mentioning: the first active pro athlete to come out (or simply be out) as gay will have a gigantic amount of publicity and sponsorship money. The financial incentive for an active player to come out is pretty big.

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

          I was trying to think who brought it up but I found this from 2007 when Cuban seems to first mention it:

          http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2762656

          I was talking NFL with someone last night who said, “If ESPN went nuts over Tebow at training camp, how are they gonna be with Te’o?” And, again, Te’o hasn’t come out, nor has anyone done the “sources tell me that..”

          Is it me or is there some large contingent of media that wishes he is? Part big story and part politics.

          He would have many allies there but is that the best for a younger player? Maybe Te’o’s agent/IMG has told him to just stop talking because of the media circus it would create? Unless you’re the Jets, most teams/GMs/Coaches/Owners do not want a media circus (which will inevitably be translated into them being anti-gay).

        • Mike

          When it comes to a football player (I’m not as concerned with other sports) coming out, or already having come out, as gay, I think the press attention is less important than the attitudes–that is, homophobia–of a lot of guys in the locker room. Football is so dependent on machismo that I think the first gay player will be under nearly constant attack. It makes me think about Jackie Robinson, how it’s said that he wasn’t the best player in the Negro League, but he was the player best equipped to deal with what the whites made him go through. And if Te’o is gay, his Notre Dame shenanigans convince me that he’ll fold like a chair when confronted in the NFL.

  • Linda Austin

    Gerry Callahan knows very little about many many topics and knows absolutely nothing regarding any sport beyond the major 4. Let’s put Callahan in a stock car as a passenger and have him experience a practice run at Daytona. His tighty whiteys would be soiled beyond salvation.
    Spewing stupidity on the radio is hardly fearless. It’s actually the “fix” for a waning ratings book.

    Btw is it my imagination or has Kirk Minihane been “muted” since that first show last week?? Listened for 10 minutes before he said anything this a.m. The flash guys have had more input than Kirk had today. Think he’s been put in his place by D & C.

    Dan Shaughnessy is suffering from Larry Lucchino withdrawal. He burned his Lucchino bridges with his interesting use of adjectives to describe the Sox CEO in Francona’s book and now he’s persona non grata over at Fenway. Shank is so upset he’s actually got other media boys carrying his water. Shaughnessy is found whining to Bill Madden in his NY Daily News Sunday baseball column.
    Expect more nothing~but~Sox~negative from Shank in the coming weeks.

    • Winning_Again

      Was going to make a separate post about it Linda, but you said my thoughts exactly: “Btw is it my imagination or has Kirk Minihane been “muted” since that first show last week?? Listened for 10 minutes before he said anything this a.m.”

      I tune in around 8am each morning during my 10-15 minute commute to work and I heard maybe 1 or 2 words from Kirk this morning, and each morning has the same feel. D&C with a sound byte from Kirk. I think another D&C experiment gone wrong!

      1) Putting D&C on NESN. Who actually wants to look at either of these two?
      2) Hiring of El Prez for weekly segments. This is probably the only fit worse than placing Minihane with the two nancies.
      3) Roto Flash boys
      4) Hiring Kevin Winter. Didn’t fit the style, though this is not his fault.
      5) Minihane in the mornings. Wah Wahhh Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh

      • Linda Austin

        Winning_Again, the obvious silencing of Minihane can only mean one thing. D & C are not going down without a fight. You don’t marginalize the new kid when the new kid was put in that chair by your boss unless you’re ready to go down swinging. I’d look for that morning show to get blown up really soon. Makes no sense to have a razor tongued opinionated guy like Minihane sit in with D & C if they’re going to turn him into a potted plant……and he was very much a potted plant today.
        Another WEEI quake is coming and it’s coming sooner rather than later because D & C are intentionally forcing the issue.

        • Chris

          Absolutely true on all counts. There were multiple times when Minihane would directly ask a question to Dennis and he would be demonstratively ignored. Anyone listening could translate it as unprofessional and rude. Is that what WEEI wants? This can’t go on much longer.

        • Mike

          I agree with pretty much everything written here. I’ve detested those two old hens for years. They were teabaggers before teabaggers were invented. And true to form, Callahan can’t wait for a chance to find some supposed affirmative action to bash. I really wonder if he can tell how good a driver Danica is or isn’t–does anyone think he really knows the sport well enough to say with any knowledge?

        • dan

          It looks like Meter knew what he was doing. He was not going down with a sinking ship.

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

        “Putting D&C on NESN. Who actually wants to look at either of these two?”

        Minihane has a face built for radio as well. Plus he never smiles — EVER.

        • dan

          I would bet anything that WEEI could get the same numbers just by simulcasting Mike and Mike on FM.

    • dan

      I noticed this morning that John Dennis made a reference to the movie Horrible Bosses” and then a few minutes later he called Kirk a “flash boy” which clearly agitated Kirk who has clearly being shut out by them.

      John seems especially threatened since it is the likely fit that the next to go would be him and Kirk is obviously in the waiting.

      • dan

        Calling him flash boy to demean him and shuting him out of conversations against the clear statement from management that kirk is an “equal” voice in that booth.
        It’s clear that the KKK boys aren’t taking this well.
        Karma’s a bitch fellas.

  • APNDaveR

    That’s exactly the sort of ridiculous thing that someone with the limited mental capacity of a Gerry Callahan would believe…

    Ben (below) makes excellent points about his “arguments”, too — with the exception that you left out, Ben, how he’ll assert “facts” that aren’t actually facts in the context of a condescending berating in re: how you MUST be [stupid / on the team’s payroll / communist / whatever social/ethnic group’s put a bug up his rear that day] to believe otherwise. The “how dare you use a tragedy to make that argument” is just a fact-specific variation on this more general tactic — which, as you note, is designed to obfuscate the argument in emotion, thereby throwing the opponent off his/her game and making refutation difficult or impossible. (“When did you stop beating your wife? Well, of COURSE that’s what a lying wife-beater would say…. How about you go beat your wife some more, caller? /click”.)

    • JonB

      Don’t forget Callahan’s whiny baby voice used to obnoxious effect when mocking anyone who disagrees with him.

  • John, The Elder

    I’m glad you listen to Callahan (and Dennis) so I don’t have to. Appreciate the updates. Thank you.

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

    On “the fix is in”, NASCAR sure benefits from Danica, no? ESPN spent more time on who Danica was dating after getting the #1 spot than they did on hockey highlights each sports center.

    @FOXONNASCAR Sunday’s Daytona 500 posted a 10.0/22 overnite, +30% over last year’s 7.7/13; Best metered market rating for the Daytona 500 since 2006.

    I don’t watch NASCAR nor care who wins. I just have to look at the “who benefits from what” part here.
    ———–
    On the combine, isn’t the NFL trying to humanize this thing more? I get the media networking part but I’ve never seen more people around here talking about the combine. Normally, people don’t care about these guys until their team drafts them, outside the hardcores.

    • APNDaveR

      Yes, NASCAR benefits from the attention Danica gets, which is why they and ESPN have been pushing her as hard as they possibly can.

      The abject idiocy is in believeing that there was a “fix”, and that NASCAR “instructed” drivers to “let the girl finish in the top 10″. That displays (a) a glaring, painful lack of knowledge about how racing actually works, and (b) utter ignorance as to the psychological makeup of drivers.

      Here’s an equivalent: can you imagine someone, with a straight face, arguing “the NBA instructed its players to make sure the Miami Heat reached the finals last year, because having Lebron in the finals is good for the game”? That’s laughably ridiculous. Even assuming the league did something like that, what would actually happen in practice? A guy like Kevin Garnett would say “yeah, sure, whatever”; then when Lebron went up for his first powerdunk of the game, Garnett would utterly obliterate him. Why? Because athletes are insanely competitive. And they don’t give the slightest rat’s ass that Lebron in the finals is good for the NBA. They have no stake in it whatsoever — in fact, conforming will likely cost them money if they get labeled as someone who “doesn’t show up in the playoffs”.

      NASCAR drivers get into fights on the track. Speculating that they all lined up and agreed to NASCAR’s mandate to let Patrick finish in the top 10 is…. is just so brain-meltingly turducking stupid if you know the sport at all that I can’t even begin to process it.

      • Mike

        While I agree with your general point, I’ll contest one thing: Garnett isn’t a guy to contest someone going strong to the hoop. It’s not his game. He’s not a banger. In fact, during their 2007-08 championship run, I remember exactly that scene playing out in the Cleveland series. LeBron, before he quit, was ripping through the Celts’ defense (I forget which game), and on one play, was thundering toward the hoop with only Garnett in the way. And KG? Just waved wildly in LeBron’s direction as he steamed by on his way to the hoop. I do agree with your overall statement, but just trying to be accurate here. I don’t see the players who matter–KG, Duncan, Kobe, Wade, LeBron for that matter–being bought off by league instructions to go easy. These guys are competitors. Stern might have an inordinate amount of control over the refs, who are more anonymous and not nearly as well-paid, but the players can’t be so easily pushed around. So too the NASCAR drivers–the most competitive people are the ones who got there in the first place.

      • HighWireNickEsasky

        Someone should ask Callahan if he thinks PGA golfers would tank to allow Michelle Wie (or whoever) a top 10 finish in the Masters with $ and Fed Ex pts (and exemptions) on the line.

  • JonB

    Today was one of the worst D&C shows I’ve heard in some time, and that’s saying something. The three man booth isn’t working at all and I don’t see it working in the future. While you’d have to think Entercom management is just counting down the days until eating John Dennis’ contract becomes a somewhat palatable proposition, Callahan’s the one who has no chemistry with Minihane.

    It’s pretty obvious Callahan isn’t too thrilled to be sharing air time with Minihane, and from what I recall, he never held Minihane’s opinion or other EEI work in high regard previously (and I don’t blame him). I think the more outlandish opinions and conspiracy theories Callahan’s spouted over the past few days (Danica Patrick is the Anna Kournikova of NASCAR, which is fixed anyway because one time Gerry saw a race where Dale Earnhardt passed like 30+ cars in the final lap to win, an NFL team shouldn’t draft a player if he’s gay because it’s a macho sport, etc) are a direct response to having his role as the alpha-male personality on the show threatened by Minihane’s presence. That’s not to say Minihane is deserving of any praise; he’s been woefully underwhelming in his first week. He’s basically allowed Callahan to steamroll over any of his points by shouting him down or simply talking over him. At one point today I don’t think I heard Minihane speak for about 15- 20 minutes, and that’s not an exaggeration.

  • DrakeW

    So, no thoughts on the big Brady deal?

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

      The Gronk third surgery made me wonder a bit more..

  • nutcracker

    I agree with all of Bruce’s points. It makes absolutely zero sense to have Minihane teamed up with Dennis and Callahan. In fact, it’s stupid to have 3 strong personalities together like that. I was watching one exchange on NESN where Dennis asked a question then immediately told Minihane to “shut up and don’t answer because you’ve already used up your 33% of airtime” and you could see that Dennis was clearly flustered. When these guys start keeping track of each others airtime you know it’s just a matter of time before somebody (John Dennis) implodes. Then again, maybe that is Wolfe’s plan all along to break up D&C by creating dissension. I guarantee you that Minihane is nobody’s flash boy and won’t take crap from either D or C. Tick, tick, tick, tick …..

    • Jason Coyote

      …and that’s how they overtake T&R in the ratings! Who doesn’t want to watch or listen to an on-air train wreck? That Wolfie is a genius!!!

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

    Anyone listening to this Gregg Doyle vs DC+M right now on WEEI?

    Actually nice to hear someone finally take him to the woodshed.

    • Ryan

      Who in this case is him, Doyle?