Sports Media Musings: Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti Take On … The Entire Media

The Answer That You Want

Is In The Question That You State

 

No one knows anything.

That’s the takeaway I got from Welkahpalooza. Moreover, I doubt we ever will. Of course, that didn’t stop the loudest voices Out There from speculating what transpired as talks unfolded. And that’s fine, speculation is a pillar embedded into entertaining sports commentary.

Slander, however, is not.

Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, who, believe it or not, used to practice the field of journalism, have embraced their perceived positions as “truth seekers,” among a town filled with media members that, according to them, are compromised — using the Wes Welker contract negotiations as a polemic to launch a diatribe against how the Patriots conduct their affairs.

Agenda much?

(Side Note: When this is extraordinary run is over, we’ll wax poetic about the Tom Brady-era. But there’s no getting around it at this point. You would think the Patriots are the Detroit Lions, Bill Belichick is Rod Marinelli, and Nick Caserio is Matt Millen in the aftermath of Welker’s departure to Denver. Has there ever been a franchise that has sparked more media to have their trembling hands hovering over the “THE DYNASTY IS OVER” button?)

There is a watchdog mentality brewing here (which is weird typing from a website that, essentially, is a watchdog itself). No one asked for this, but we’re getting spoon fed the rhetoric anyway. Felger had no problem calling into question Tom E. Curran‘s report that Danny Amendola was signed the first day of free agency; and Tony Massarotti, as he’s wont to do, effusively agreed. Meanwhile, the two have incessantly claimed Mike Reiss is in bed with the Krafts. Do Felger or Mazz have sources telling them information contrary to what’s been reported, or are they just blindly shooting from the hip? Methinks the latter is a strong possibility.

Anyway, eventually, this prompted Reiss to call into “Felger & Mazz” Friday afternoon in a wildly entertaining segment, in which he reminded Felger about his journalistic roots, quipping, “That’s called reporting, Mike.”

Immediately after Reiss hopped off the line, Mazz retorted that he didn’t agree with a lot of what Reiss was reporting. Felger then said, “AT THEIR PRICE! I HATE THAT …. when you want a player, you get him!” At this point, we all were just hate-listening, but thinking about that asinine statement leads me to believe Michael Felger does not understand valuation, economics, or free agency in general. Though, I suppose “if you want the player, you do whatever it takes” works when you’re concurrently espousing the idea that the “cap is crap.”

This week, we’ll hear how the Patriots read the market right and tactfully signed Aqib Talib to a one-year deal on short money. Everyone will agree on this. What’s curious is that they used the same model to evaluate Welker, and are somehow considered frugal. This doesn’t align with any sort of consistency in analysis. And that’s because analysis has relented its position to (baseless) salacious accusations of other reporters’ coverage, I guess. Felger and Mazz continually upbraid the BBWAA; openly loathe the Celtics; and now this.

***

I have a friend who loves sports; probably more than I do in some ways. He can tell you where Brandon Tate went to school, rip off statistics off the top of his head from a few box scores from big games, all of that. A few weeks ago, I talked to him about a the Patriots’ run that is nearing the end. He told me he thought we were playing with house money and that he believed the Jets and Marc Sanchez were going to take the reigns back in 2010. We both chuckled, but I cut my laugh short when he cited Felger’s influence as a cause for this impression. People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel. That’s why I didn’t have a problem last week when Felger claimed he had more influence than ESPN in the Boston market during his media review on “Sports Tonight” with Glenn Ordway. 

It’s the gratuitous pot shots, heightened blurriness between entertainment and reporting, and, ultimately, how they recklessly use their influence that worries me most.

  • bosox3054

    Take Felger out of it for a second….do you actually believe its possible that they signed Danny A. on Tuesday and Schefter et al did not report it? I do not, and Reiss back pedaled better than McCourty does when presented with that scenario.

    I understand that F&M have their agendas and stuff, but that’s an absolutely fair point about the timing of the DA signing.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      Greg Bedard yesterday:

      I don’t understand why such a tight lid was kept on the Patriots’ agreement with Amendola on Tuesday afternoon, which multiple league sources confirmed. The Patriots had their man. Welker’s deal was supposedly off the table. When it did leak on Wednesday night, nothing had changed (Amendola still hadn’t completed his physical) except Welker had signed with Denver. I’m sure there are legitimate reasons — the Patriots could have helped Welker out upping the Broncos’ price by maintaining the illusion of a market; someone could have jumped the gun internally for PR damage control — but it just seems odd.

      • bsmfan

        @tomecurran has a lot of chatter but I recall him also confirming this same thing after Reiss had reported it.

      • latetodinner

        Bruce,
        There is another option that absolutely no one in NE is talking about. I wonder if the reason why the Pats did not announce the Amendola signing on Tuesday is that someone in the organization (maybe Kraft) had the idea that maybe they could get both players. Amendola is fast enough to play outside. Contrary to popular opinion he is not a Welker clone….he is closer to Edelman in skill set (taller, faster, better blocker) but he does have fabulous hands and runs great routes. If they could have gotten both players for 2 years $10 mill (which is effectively what Amendola signed for) then that solves the Edelman loss issue.

        The Patriots don’t leave anything on the table. They don’t brag and they seldom talk out of school (Kraft’s anti Dunn rant not withstanding). I think there are good football reasons for the Patriots to have been silent on the Amendola signing and for them to have given Welker a take it or leave it offer at that point. Getting the reactionary Boston sports talk media to think through these things and discuss them coherently..totally different story.

    • http://twitter.com/BruceNV Bruce Newman

      Absolutely think Schefter wouldn’t know, if the Pat’s DIDNT TELL HIM! Schefter only knows what sources tell him. If the Pat’s organization is tight lipped, he knows nothing. SilverSpoon and Squeeky give no evidence, just shout. Sad anyone believes them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

    Exactly, bosox. Curran himself reported that the Patriots’ account of negotiations is totally different from Welker’s and his agent’s, and he can’t figure out what happened. Since we’re ultimately dealing with a he said/he said situation here, with plenty of agendas on both player and team sides. I can certainly see Welker being so hurt that he told his agent to say the Patriots never made an offer (while he himself remains silent). I can also see the Patriots trying to spin it that they wanted Welker back on more modest terms, even while they felt from the beginning that Amendola was the better investment. We’ll probably never know. This is plainly the kind of situation where no one comes out looking very good. Negotiations between Welker and the Patriots have been contentious enough for the past year or so that a lot of things are possible (including that Belichick would make a personnel move that blindsides his quarterback, I suppose, as Curran reported). And one of Reiss’ own quotes was that New England already had some dealings with Amendola. So even rank speculation hasn’t been entirely off base. And I agree with Ryan’s point–I think much of what Felger and Mazz were doing was simply speculating. Felger particularly in his usual insulting manner.

    As an aside, count me a big fan of the Minihane-Callahan-Arnold morning lineup (and even minus Arnold, I suppose). I’m amused that Callahan so easily slips into copilot mode, but their dynamic works. I don’t think it’s a losing strategy for EEI to market toward a somewhat older demographic, particularly in the mornings. I guess I’m just too old for T&R’s routine, but I’ve never round them remotely amusing. Good smart sports talk is enough for me. I guess we’ll find out starting Wednesday how knowledgeable Salk is about Boston sports…

    • bsmfan

      I think some in the media, in the heat of the moment, got the events confused, and F+M did _nothing_ to help the situation. The timelines are out there but I thought what Jason LaCanfora said on D+C Friday morning was telling:

      tl;dr: Everyone knew the Patriots were beatable if you removed the middle of the field. Welker was a huge part of this. Patriots are also like other “smart” orgs like Balitmore/Green Bay/Steelers where they will not overpay for free agents. Audio is here: http://bit.ly/WyoReR . (Still wonder why WEEI, and not F+M, had him on given his employer..)

      On the speculating that wound up on irresponsible: I think this is what drove most of the conversation here, on other local media boards and on social media. There were some large stretches of truth that spun itself into “make my argument” facts. They took this and spent 3 days on it, instead of at least having Curran, Reiss or someone on who could inform the discussion. My problem on this is that shouldn’t you, as part of your “responsibility” as a host, at least do some searching for what did happen? Reiss and Curran, even Bedard, are not restricted from calling in and talking about their work. You then heard a flood of calls from people repeating the same thing. Only once or twice did I hear a call that called to challenge Felger on all of this, with each one winding up getting lost in details before Felger dumped the calls.

      As Ryan said above, “Felger’s influence as a cause for this impression.” — I can’t count the number of times I’ve had discussions in bars with people who cite the same thing on issues like “the cap is crap.” We’ve been over things like this where there is a large distinction between having an opinion that the NFL’s cap is “laughable” (maybe a better word?) because it’s so flexible unlike every other “cap” in North American sports. And, again, the “coverage” F+M yield toward the Celtics is laughable, when the town does clearly care about the team and sport.

      As Andre points out, as do you, Salk could not have come at a better time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

        There’s one thing I agree with John Dennis on: sports talk hosts are in the entertainment business, not the journalism (reporting) business. And in some cases, like Reiss on the Sports Hub, a station isn’t contractually able to have them on formally as guests. The reporter (or owner) has to call in or come bodily to the studio to respond. I know that Curran is with Comcast, but he’s been a regular EEI guest for some time so he might have his own independent deal worked out. But none of these hosts, for either station, have unrestricted access to any reporters. (And even if they did I can certainly see Curran saying “Screw you, I’m not coming on your crappy show.”)

        • bsmfan

          On the contract: I didn’t mean have him as a regular guest but as able to call in, as they are clearly able to. ESPN normally “restricts” it’s talent, but I’ve always read this is for normal spots and not something heat of the moment where Reiss had to call in because of how ugly it got.

          The thing I wondered in all of this was what Ordway brought up sitting next to Felger. Younger people have turned away from the.. what do you want to call the state of politics? It’s ugly. The hardcores love it but the reason sports talk has exploded is because it’s not politics. Having a different take is one thing; being contrarian constantly is another. The difference? Hard to define. It’s a bit like pornography where you can’t write it down but know it where you see it. So, given this, while they’re in the entertainment business, doesn’t it show that if all you do is a Skip Bayless impression, given some competition you won’t last well? Put simply: is the casual fan going to tune-into intelligent sports talk or someone blowing up the media to defend their own points.

          In that segment, Felger wished there was “more” of this type of stuff. He wants to see Skip Bayless trolling more athletes to the point that they get so fed up and want to come on First Take and call him out. If ESPN had competition, would this fly? I doubt it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

          Agreed–I don’t listen just to hear people screaming about each other. I like to listen to smart sports talk (which is why, for all his blandness, Dale Arnold is still my favorite guy in Boston). I do think Felger generally has intelligent opinions on things, but this episode has brought out the worst in him, where he impugns other people’s motives for no real reason. Teams and agents can misdirect reporters, and it’s not the fault of the reporters. (Mazz is a little more circumspect in this regard.) And that’s why EEI’s model of having regular guests, like Jack Edwards, works so well–Jack knows hockey, is an entertaining talker, and he’s not on radio so often that he develops tunnel vision. Holley is more fair-minded than Felger, but almost to a fault: I’ve rarely heard him give a strong opinion on anything. But since I’d never heard of Mike Salk before about a month ago, I’m genuinely curious to see what he’ll be like.

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

    Welcome Mike Salk. If you didn’t before, you definitely now have a wide open door for listeners from 2-6.

    • dan

      he will be a failure….that show will fail again in it’s next incarnation.
      face it guys you are the minority on this.

      • latetodinner

        No I agree that show will fail but that is because everything Michael Holley has been part of has failed. He is the weak link.

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

        You seriously believe that Tony Mazz is the future of radio in this town?

        • dan

          they are the present and the foreseeable future…weei has proven that they know how to mess up every new hire. that other guy only lasted a few weeks. So excuse me if i’m a little skeptical.

          I find nothing wrong with F&M. These are entertainment sports talk shows. It’s not 60 Minutes…chill. :)

        • Frank

          You’re right they are not 60 minutes. F&M is more fiction than fact

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Daly/100002270354596 Michael Daly

          The problem is 60 Minutes has always been more fiction than fact. Felger & Massarotti are fiction that think they’re humorously stating fact.

          I’m amazed Steve Burton and Levan Reid are not given that time slot on 98.5 because they are sensible sports guys who do not insult the intelligence of the listener the way Felger and Massarotti insist on doing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

    I recall something not entirely unlike this happening in the winter/spring of 2009. Kevin Garnett was taken off the floor with a knee issue, and the Celtics continued to say that it was no big problem, a minor strain, and the rest was mostly precautionary. A few games turned into several weeks, and ultimately, after a brief comeback attempt, the rest of the season. At the time Felger was throwing grenades everywhere, and had the bad grace to question Tanguay’s professional ethics. His personal attack was very unfair, but his questioning of the Celtics’ information was entirely appropriate. It’s still likely that the Celtics knew pretty early on that Garnett’s knee problem was serious. In this case, you can suggest that Reiss had bad information without attacking him personally. Because no team has ever misled reporters about its operations.

    • alex

      I dont remember the Celtics saying it was a minor problem. As I recall, the main issue was that they never put out a timetable for his return which led to speculation from the media and fans as to if/when kg would actually be back. I don’t recall anyone in the C’s organization ever saying it was ”minor” or ”precautionary.” I could be wrong though, because this was like 4 years ago…

  • Will

    File this under, “you heard it here first”, it took 20yrs of a successful career to finally come to an end, in the case od Glenn Ordway. Michael Felger’s will be much much less, in terms of his “poop slinging” style. Ratings will NOT last this way. Mark my words. We’re waisting for someone who can talk sports and just might be Salk and Holley. #Justsayin

    • J.R.

      If Felger wants to constantly play the aggrieved, DB contrarian card for either attention or ratings, that’s fine. In that department, he’s still a Borges knock-off. We as consumers have the choice to either listen/watch this nonsense, or not. I, for one, care about my brain cells and stopped listening to his getting-old-fast shtick and squeaky YARM side-kick a long time ago.

      Where it gets especially loathsome is when he takes his smug “I’m the only one around here with any stones” act and starts to verbally attack and judge other media members — who approach things in a more measured, balanced, professional manner (Reiss, Curran, et al) — as somehow being “in the satchel” for the teams. Just pathetic.

    • Looking for something new

      I totally agree. It’s amazing that Felger is pissing away the good will that came with the success of the Sports Hub. I think he’s got a short shelf life on this. He doesn’t know how to adapt and change. He’s doing the same crap over and over again and it’s tired.

  • bsmfan

    If you’re following live, Kraft just spoke @ the owners meetings on this:

    ‏@MikeReiss Will transcribe Robert Kraft’s comments and post on @ESPNBoston this afternoon. Best read with complete context.

    @RapSheet also has a comments/excerpts.

    EDIT: From Reiss: Robert Kraft on Wes Welker: “He was our first choice.” http://es.pn/ZEwtKw

  • Tom

    Anyone notice what Kraft said today about getting the chance to match the offer? He confirmed that Wes called him and Belichick personally before accepting the Denver offer, but it was “too late”. Once again, Borges is wrong!! Shocker!! He wrote, and then insisted on D&C, that they were never given the chance to match by Welker.
    You can believe Kraft or not about whether or not they wanted him back… But we KNOW Welker wanted to be back.

  • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

    another great column, Ryan….HOWEVER, I disagree with this line >>>> “People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel” ……..sorry man, no disrespect to your buddy but NO, “knowledgeable sports fan” takes what Felger says as “gospel”…if they do, then they aren’t “knowledable”…..in fact, they must be idiots

  • GRBSPR

    sports media hacks like Felger lead a very sad life, and I feel bad for his wife. They realize, as we all do, that theirs isn’t a ‘career’ built on anything substantive. A desire to eat food paid for by others, a lust to get into sporting events for free, and a miserable scholastic track record are all that’s needed to become a sports media hack. Lashing out is their version of ‘kicking the dog when they get home.’ A very sad existence by sports media hacks in this city.

  • dan

    I love what Felger and Mazz are doing.
    They are trolling the boston media and the rest of us who don’t get hot and bothered by negative talk about the local teams are loving it and the ratings prove it. All media in this country is corporate swill and they deserve the abuse.

    • Frank

      You’re a troll on this board.

      • dan

        why because i don’t agree that F&M suck? I know…they’re so horrible that most of this is devoted to hating them. Let’s call it the Howard Stern Effect. The people who hated him the most hung on his every word and obsessed about him and listened longer btw but never admitted to it even though they knew the whole show. That’s what i see going on now with F&M with some of you guys. It’s all about the ratings guys. They could give a crap if you don’t like them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

          Well put. And I enjoy them too, but I’ll be listening with interest to Holley & Salk’s new whatever-it-will-be-called show. I wonder if Holley will have the sense right away to defer if Salk is a stronger personality. And actually, I was a big Stern fan back in the day, when he was on evenings on BCN. I got sick of the lesbian stripper parade, but there were times when he was quite analytical, and he’s always been a good interviewer. But back to Felger & Mazz, I think the last week has shown Felger’s biggest weakness very clearly: he’s quick to make an issue personal, and attack someone’s professionalism. There are times I think this is justified: Josh Beckett betrayed any sense of accountability he had to anyone, from Red Sox ownership on down to the fans. There were reports all over the place that he’d given up working hard. But in 2009, when Garnett was down with his mysterious knee issue, Felger accused Gary Tanguay of being afraid to address the issue in a postgame report. Bad move, and Gary rightly hit back. So last week, Felger was way off base to say Mike Reiss is “in the bag” for the Patriots. That’s a needless pejorative. Saying someone’s report doesn’t pass the sniff test, that you think it’s wrong, is one thing–and it’s justified. But implying that they’re too weak or stupid or duplicitous to bother finding the truth is too much, it’s not justified–and that’s the slander Ryan alluded to in his post. Felger does need to turn his hysteria down at moments like that or he’ll lose his fans too.

        • Frank

          No you’re a troll
          because you consistently post unpopular
          things on this site. Hey if it’s your opinion, it’s your opinion, but when you
          know or hope it upsets the people that frequent this site that’s the definition
          of trolling. I don’t go to TSH’s site and
          trash Felger because that would be
          trolling as well.

          And your right, many
          people on this site who say they can’t stand him also admit to listening to him
          from time to time. I am not one of those people. I don’t care what he has to say
          because I believe 75% of what comes out of his mouth is verbal diarrhea which he hopes will
          move the needle. That’s not entertaining to me. If I’m going to spend my time
          listening to a program I want the host to actually believe what he says and back
          it up with actual facts. Oh and not intentionally taking a dump on my favorite
          teams EVERY chance you get would also go along way to securing my audience.

  • Mike

    Felger and Reiss might be a great show.

  • bsmfan

    On Deadspin yesterday:
    http://deadspin.com/welcome-kinglandia-em-sports-illustrated-em-is-g-455849787

    SI is developing a new brand and website with King as the
    centerpiece, sources told us. The in-house nickname for the new site is Kinglandia. The actual name for the site is still under discussion…
    Here’s one name: A source tells us Kinglandia is going hard after The Boston Globe’s excellent NFL writer, Greg Bedard.

    As they point out, it’s basically going to be a clone of Grantland but with King running it.. really? The name alone is, uhm..

    —–
    So, Everett from Brighton is getting his own segment on D+C now so he can spar with Minihane?

  • dan

    what happened to Bob Krafts face? I think we all know how that happened. CHEERS!

    • Frank

      It’s called treatment for a precancerous condition. Try and show some class you maggot.

  • whitey b

    If I were Felcher, I’d blow Mazz’s brains out, then my own, taking care to hide my Perrier and dildos so they don’t realize that in addition to being a jackass, I was also a homo.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

      I think we have our actual troll right here.

    • HighWireNickEsasky

      Heathers. Nice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.sutherland.90410 Michael Sutherland

    “Salk and Holley”, starting today on EEI at 2 PM. I guess we have our answer as to who the main host of the show is.

%d bloggers like this: