Sports Media Musings: Ramble, Ramble, RAMBLE

I used to hit on a variety of topics, both local and national, in my media columns. These days, because we’ve been hit with a barrage of news and events, my writing in this space has been more focused and in-depth. So, to combat this trend, I decided to clean out my notebook. Also, since I have your attention, I’d like to get a mailbag going next week so drop me a line on Twitter (@Hadfield__) or via email ([email protected]). As always, thanks for reading.

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Let’s play 9 innings with this, shall we?

1. Was this what Spring was like in the late ’80s? Riveting night in Boston sports.

  • I understand The Old Garden was legendary and all that. No arguments here. People romanticize about it and I’m sure the place was a fantastic venue to watch a big game (I was too young to remember). But I do think it’s telling how the Bruins and Celtics both hold two of the biggest home court/ice advantages in their respective leagues.
  • Jarome Iginla was heading to Boston then, overnight, he wasn’t. TSN had it wrong. Since they, evidently, adjudicate on such matters, it will be interesting to hear how Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti will handle the error in reporting today. This, of course, was all in the aftermath of Tuukka Rask letting in a game-tying goal with just under ten seconds left, leading to a Bruins’ overtime loss to Montreal.
  • The Celtics, meanwhile, came out with a dramatic 93-92 victory in Cleveland on the strength of this brilliant up and under scoop layup by Jeff GreenI was busy watching the end of the B’s game, but I hear Gary Tanguay and Brian Scalabrine had an entertaining post-game show. Apparently, Alan Thicke said that Green didn’t really impact the game, to which Scal replied, “HE HIT THE GAME-WINNING SHOT!” If Tanguay stayed his lane as a reliable host, he’d be fine, but Mr. Beaver gets in his own way far too often. Word of advice: stop watching Skip Bayless cuts, Ron Burgundy.

2. Bob Ryan, curmudgeon? Nope. Dude is a purist. Undresses JA Adande here. Excellent take.

  • More important (or comforting) is that, to this day, Ryan still loves sports.
  • Ryan’s appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast earlier this week is a must-listen. Ryan still throws 97 MPH and his ability to recall minute details about basketball over the course of four decades is remarkable. We always say, “Person X will forget more about __ than we’ll ever know.” I’m not sure if we always mean it. In Ryan’s case, we do.

3. Speaking of the Sports Guy, never got the chance to touch on his Twitter suspension after calling the Skip Bayless-Richard Sherman “First Take” fiasco a lose/lose segment for all parties involved, including ESPN.

  • Simmons was right. But the suspension makes sense, he had to be held in check — can’t be calling out colleagues.  Still, this (strangely) felt like yet another loss for us, the viewers, in ESPN’s curious role as Fast Food Food Journalism Enabler.
  • You know how I just wrote that Simmons needed to be held in check? Puhlleeeasse. A nothing Twitter suspension didn’t stop The Sports Guy from taking a veiled shot at Bayless in his recap of The Walking Dead on Grantland Monday afternoon (Yeah, I watch The Walking Dead. I concede it’s more or less a terrible show. Nonetheless …)

A little bit later, when Merle confidently predicts to his brother that Rick is gonna buckle, he sounds like Skip Bayless talking about LeBron James during the 2011.

4. Matt Doherty calling out CBS Sports coverage of the NCAA Tournament on ESPNU — specifically Charles Barkley, dropping a not so subtle “turrrrribllleee” line — is self-serving and specious. Sure, I don’t think Chaz or Kenny Smith are breaking down tape of Harvard before the tourney, but why do I need “experts” to tell me what’s happening with March Madness? I wrote about the tourney for Metro Boston on Monday. To me, there are no true insights available until the games are actually played. College basketball is sloppy; you never know how each team will handle the others playing style.

5. You want a “Salk and Holley” take, right? All I can say is that it’s an auspicious beginning. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, but you have to assume it’s going to get better; if this is the baseline starting point, then it’s possible for this show to make noise down the line.

  • Too vague, eh? (I feel like I should write like a Canadian when discussing Mike Salk because he really, really loves hockey guys. Like a lot. WEEI wants you to know this.)
  • The “Miked Up” segment should be scrapped. Like today.
  • I don’t want to pass judgement on the show anytime in the near future. That would be disingenuous and short-sighted. Plus, I’ve made that mistake before. Check my archives here: I sound bi-polar while writing about Grantland. I defended it, questioned it, tolerated it, liked it, and now I love it.

6. Amidst all the radio war drama, the “Dennis and Callahan” show has become unlistenable. I tried real hard this morning. Couldn’t get through an hour. Sorry.

  • I’m told the Kirk Minihane seclusion is a very real thing.
  • Since joining “Dennis and Callahan,” Minihane hasn’t been nearly as active writing on WEEI.com. And that sucks. For my money, he’s the best columnist in the city.
  • WEEI obviously wishes it had kept Felger and dumped Glenn Ordway during The Big O’s frisky contract negotiations in the later part of the last decade. Let’s say they fire up Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back in time to the first sign of trouble. My retrospective moves: Dump John Dennis and pair Gerry Callahan with someone who can challenge him; pair Minihane with Lou Merloni in the midday (Kirk would extract actual intel from the ex-jock); move “Dale and Holley” to the afternoon drive slot (Say what you will about Dale Arnold but those guys had great chemistry and were ALWAYS likable. Hmph, “likability.” Something “Felger and Mazz” are currently devoid of.)

7. Tim McCarver announced he is retiring at the conclusion of the upcoming baseball season. I actually didn’t hate him. I’ll let you guys have at it in the comments section with that gem.

8. Soccer will never be a huge sport in this country, but I still love it. The US-Mexico World Cup qualifier Tuesday night was fantastic.

  • Ian Darke puts every-by-play guy in every other sport to shame. Makes everything seem so effortless. Love that guy.
  • On the other hand, former CSNNE personality Taylor Twellman, now a color commentator at the WorldWide Leader, couldn’t keep with pace with Darke’s greatness. The Ken Doll didn’t offer much in the way of any analysis beyond vapid remarks like “The US isn’t holding possession but the reality is that it’s still 0-0.” Glad he’s here.

9. Joon Lee had Steve Buckley on his podcast to discuss his sports journalism career. It’s a good listen. Enjoyed Buck’s candidness about writing, “I hate writing, but love to have written.” I can attest to that. Believe it or not (and I suspect most of you don’t), writing a compelling, honest column is hard.

Extra Innings (Random stuff that may or may not be pertinent):

  • Going on vacation next week. Reading suggestions? Right now, I’m halfway through this year’s Baseball Prospectus. I’m also bringing along the oral history of Saturday Night Live (written by James Andrew Miller, which explains why it came free  along with my copy of “Those Guys Have All the Fun” a few years back).
  • Binge watched Mad Men over the summer to catch up. Excited for the new season. Question: Do I binge watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones next? Obviously Breaking Bad has more seasons and is much more of a process, but I’m willing to commit to either.
  • Will Leitch is leaving New York magazine to write full-time over at Sports On Earth. Leitch is severely underrated as a writer.
  • Steven Hyden’s look at the career of The Stokes has me going back through their anthology. Right band, right time (post 9/11), right city (New York City). The piece, as you can tell from my gushing, is awesome. Hyden is great. I want to write like him.
  • bosox3054

    TSN’s Aaron Ward got it wrong, TSN’s Bob McKenzie Tweeted once that Calgary might be leveraging Boston’s offer and once that it was not, so the blanket TSN statement is misleading/false. I find it interesting that you were wondering if Felger and Mazz might criticize TSN without mentioning any of the local scribes that jumped on the information with no sourcing—note that DuPont and Fluto never Tweeted that the deal was done.

    • http://twitter.com/Hadfield__ Ryan Hadfield

      Fair. You often hear, “Media Member X” is reporting, but I heard TSN is reporting. My fault. Either way, I’ll concede your point. It will be an interesting afternoon.

      • bosox3054

        Touch, Ryan, Touche.

    • bsmfan

      Believe it or not, ESPN has actual hockey fans and guys on TV who are so well plugged in with the hockey world.

      Enter John Buccigross. He’s a huge puckhead but ESPN locks him in a Meterjail.

      D+C had him on this morning and listen to the interview for a precise timeline. He resonates what bosox3054 said above.

      Audio link: http://bit.ly/11RWcUW

  • Charlie

    I don’t mind “Miked Up”, it’s “just answer the question” that is inane. It’s mindless drivel. “Ginger or Mary Ann?”, “Coke or Pepsi?”, good grief. Who thought this was a good idea?

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

      It’s more that “Mike’d Up” is nothing more than the old whiner line, which really needed to be put to bed. It’s been a long time since any funny callers have left messages there. To my mind is speaks more to a real lack of creativity in the afternoon hosts.

  • wdriii

    Who says their is any “intel” to extract from Lou Merloni?

    • Brianwaterslocker

      Intelligence? Intelligent? Not applicable either way with this moron

  • John

    How cool would it be if Felger and Mazz spent five minutes lamenting the fact Pittsburgh just got better and the balance on future speculation of the B’s next move? Instead of the other way around.

  • Ryan

    The last half hour of Salk and Holley is worthless betwen “Miked up and that stupid “answer the question” thing

  • Winning_Again

    Ryan, go with Breaking Bad. I recently flew through all seasons in a month. Theres not many episodes 10-12 a season, except the first where theres 7. Also, it seems like the series finale is starting in July so you’ll want to be able to enjoy the run before it ends. Game of Thrones will be around until they get through all the books material.

  • weishun

    Breaking Bad…great show.

  • latetodinner

    Ryan:
    Thoughtful column as usual but I have a few comments/questions.

    - The Old Garden was legendary the same way Fenway Park is. The only difference is Jeromy Jacobs was smart enough and connected enough to blow the damn eyesore/rat infested dump up, while the current owners of the Red Sox keep slapping a new coat of paint on the old pig and continue to sell it as nostalgic. The old Galrden could be a painful place to watch a game…from the obstructed view seats, to lousy sight lines, to the inconsistent air quality it was a lousy building. However, when the team was good whether it was the Bruins or the Celtics because it was so small and loud it felt like you were always on top of the action and into the game. I remember going to see a Celtics game in 1973 (I was 6) and thinking “wow the players look much bigger than they do on TV”. I was 25 rows back and everything was larger than life.

    - So you are still on the Mike Holley bandwagon. Please explain to me what he does or says that let’s you believe that even if you could have gone back in your DeLorean and moved Dale and Holley to the afternoon that would have worked. Your idea still contains Mike Holley. Other than he is a nice guy, articulate and can write reasonably okay…I don’t see why he has not been banished from the radio.

    - Higher level execs should be fired for the continued disaster that is the WEEI morning show. I don’t think very highly of Kirk Minihane and think he has a lot of growing up to do but his treatment is borderline abuse and it seems to be sanctioned.

    - Phil Liggetts coverage of cycling is better than Ian Darke’s coverage of futbol.

    • DrakeW

      RE: Fenway. The owners tried to get a new stadium built but the city decided it wanted another convention center. It’s not like Plan A was to fix up Fenway. They basically had no other choice.

      What did you want them to do? Demolish Fenway and then build another, equally small and horribly located stadium in it’s place?

      • latetodinner

        I wanted them to be well funded and politically connected enough to get a new ball park as part of the convention center complex. Barring that I wanted them to secure a different piece of land somewhere else in the City (maybe the old Gillette site) and build. If neither of those worked I was willing to consider a move to the suburbs if presented right. What I did not want them to do is come in, hold up their finger, figure out the political winds were blowing against them and then cave. Let me put it a different way…if Larry Lucchino could get Camden Yards built (as he did) then it is/was reasonable to expect that his inclusion in Sr. Red Sox management would have gotten a similar project done in Boston. They gave up on that in less than a year.

  • Ted Sarandis

    Ryan,
    I generally love your insights, but for the love of god, please get off of Simmons’ stick. I agree that Grantland is great, but notwithstanding that he the most powerful man in sports business, Simmons has become way to proud of himself and his writing has suffered for it

  • bomber

    Agree on Breaking Bad you can polish off the seasons pretty quick.As for a book I recently read No Easy Day.Firsthand account of the mission that took down Osama Bin Laden.The bruins need depth at forward and defense.

  • J.R.

    When Tim McCarver initially started out as a baseball analyst — initially locally in Philly and subsequently on nationally broadcast games — following his playing days (including the proverbial cup of coffee with the Red Sox in the mid-’70s), he was quite enjoyable and very good.

    Somewhere along the line he became an insufferable, drooling tool which, I believe, started shortly after he was paired with that smug, quintessential DB, Joe Buck.

  • Jed Bartlet

    Breaking Bad. No debate. Game of Thrones is visually arresting, but the plot lines are incongruous and sometimes just silly. Breaking Bad is part of the Mt Rushmore of great TV. Hmmm… what else would you put there? Me, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Seinfeld, Cheers and The West Wing.

    • bsmfan

      Breaking Bad.

      AMC will show all episodes, serially, for weeks before. The only problem? It’ll be 10PM+ because of the violence. Set your TV or grab some coffee.

      • Winning_Again

        I used “project Free Tv” for all of them on my computer. Pretty good with not alot of ads, spam, etc

        • bsmfan

          It sounds like something similar to what “streams” are when it comes to watching live sporting events, no? Obviously, anyone so inclined can get things online, but it goes well beyond the scope of this board is.

    • bosox3054

      The Shield. Far superior to BB and TWW

  • bsmfan

    So far on the Iginla coverage, Felger and Mazz are talking about Bob McKenzie (if you do not know who he is, he’s the Adam Schefter/Mort of the NHL world for TSN) and what he said that directly contradicts what Peter Chiarelli said about the pick Boston was shipping to CGY being conditional.

    Amazing when you, instead of just calling everyone a liar, point out the differences in what’s been reported by sources and then said by front-office staff in the teams? Being responsible covering topics isn’t all that hard.

    I haven’t heard them mention, specifically, the details that bosox3054 brought up below, which caused everyone to “report” this wrong.

    John Buccigross was on D+C this morning and lays out the timeline perfectly: http://bit.ly/11RWcUW

    (He explains it perfectly if you didn’t already read why the people reporting it as “done” or “almost done” said what they did.)

  • coachjac

    I seem to be in the minority here, but I still think D+C are the better morning show. I personally miss their political rants (its nice to have a different view than every other follower in mass)
    As for minihane, i think a midday show with him and mut would be fantastic..Merloni is terrible, doesn’t offer anything.

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