Welcome to the
Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.
Thanks for stopping by, GUYS! Tried to send everyone off to the weekend the right way. I covered a lot of ground and hit on a plethora of topics including the recent feuds in the local media, how I approach my column (boring and perhaps self-serving, but this was asked), the lack of solid NBA coverage in Boston, my Jason Whitlock/Gregg Doyel take-down piece from earlier this week, and other matters.
Keep it classy in the comments section … (well, sorta)
Ryan Hadfield, pelting John Dennis with stones from the comfort of his glass house. -JonB
Don’t be silly, my glass house is hardly comfortable, JonB.
Even a staunch Dennis supporter has no ground to stand on here. I just don’t see it. He used Tom Brady‘s email — sent out of courtesy as an explanation for not wanting to talk about his contract on the radio — for ratings and attention. And he’s mad why, exactly? Because Fred Toettcher misread the situation as Brady sending an email to the station unprovoked? Really? Dennis had no business leaking the correspondence to begin with. DISCRETION, pal. DISCRETION.
And yeah, Toettcher’s take was equally obtuse. As I wrote yesterday: Anyone in the media who actually believes that NFL teams are sitting down at the bargaining table and suggesting to agents that Tom Brady’s team-friendly extension should be a universal standard is out of their mind. Period.
On Ordway’s last show you wrote: “Media criticism often becomes problematic. We purvey analysis of other people’s, uh, analysis”… Do you mean how you write a blog about what other media people say about sports? Expand. - Dan
I’ll answer Dan’s question by being introspective for a minute here. Good media criticism — the type Bruce Allen has churned out in this space for over a decade — is tough. Long story long: I’m objective with myself and write what I think — not what you want to read and certainly not in any attempt to fulfill a preemptive narrative. (I leave that stuff to the “insiders” and “experts.”)
That said, I do have immense respect for the radio and television personas I write about, just as they (most likely) have respect for the athletes they rip. As a columnist, I’m afforded the luxury of time and insurance against any spontaneous mishaps. Once I hit publish it’s Out There, but until then, I have a safeguard and the ability to craft. However, their exposure to the whims of internal thoughts — good and bad — never lets up.
Now, do I have authority to rule and judge on media matters? I don’t know. I have a Masters degree in journalism and I’ve covered the locker rooms of each of The Big Four sports teams in Boston. I get the dynamics, but does that make me an expert? Hardly. But here’s the kicker: The aspiration of objectivity in sports media, as a whole, is dead. I’ve posed the question numerous times to reporters in the city, and the best explanation given was, as a reporter, “You root for the story.” That rationale becomes problematic awfully fast.
It truly is pathetic to see so few people in the media here that can talk about basketball. -Ryan
Lou Merloni, Donny Marshall, and Gary Tanguay didn’t do themselves any favors during the NBA trade deadline. There is no way around this. The proposed Paul Pierce trade that would’ve hauled in Marshon Brooks (at this juncture, a borderline bench guy), Mr. Kardashian (a piece), and a draft pick (who knows) was blasted by basketball writers across the nation. An utter joke.
Yet local personalities supported the deal. Why? BECAUSE BLOW THAT SUCKER UP, THAT’S WHY!
(Another reason could be because the media needs to write columns, fill air time, and tape daily shows TELLING US HOW IT IS. So remember, dear readers, they root for the story.)
Seeing how this is a great case study on sports media, let’s dip our toes into the water. The “blow it up” notion is a perfectly reasonable take to have in regards to the Celtics. But the “why” isn’t nearly as important as the “how.” Give me an actionable plan, don’t just talk in generalities. When I asked Tanguay what the exact steps Danny Ainge should’ve taken were on Twitter, all he said was “One step at a time.”
He answered with a fucking cliché. Not shocking — check out this video of Gare-Bear assessing Jeff Green’s recent improvement. Tanguay, as usual, talks in tropes, “He had courage. He couldn’t do this two months ago.” That’s bullshit analysis. Green didn’t go to Iraq, he didn’t take a “Magic Clutch Pill,” his personality didn’t change. None of that. He simply is channeling skill (some of which partially eroded from the fact that he was OUT OF BASKETBALL FOR A YEAR; and other portions of new skill that he’s developed.)
It’s telling that Tommy Heinsohn (who may or may not think it’s 1972 at times), Brian Scalabrine (a complete novice to broadcast media), and Cedric Maxwell (a great player in the ’80s, but I doubt he’s scouring Basketball Reference for trends on the regular) are the best NBA analysts in the city. On another note, the beat writers and select columnists in the city are good.
(Pro Tip: If you want real hardcore stuff, your best bet is to check out Zach Lowe over at Grantland or one of the million talented NBA bloggers … Perhaps someone like Michael Pina, who writes for like 18 different ESPN TrueHoop affiliates. These guys — and others — are junkies; the type of writers who aren’t dedicated to one team, and thus can take the time to use tape and still-frames to explain how things transpire on the hardwood.)
One person I think WEEI should look into trying to hire is Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. He’s from here and would bring good NBA insight. -RG via Twitter
I like this. Mannix on the midday would be intriguing and would instantly give ‘EEI the advantage. He is likable, and , heck, my friends and I could crush a 30-rack of Natural Ice (because we’re classy) and still make more sense than “Gresh and Zo” talking NBA. Plus, Merloni could more than carry the MLB talk.
While I’d admit to not being a regular reader, I do find that every time I read one of these, my main takeaway is that Ryan Hadfield sure is impressed with what Ryan Hadfield has to say. What exactly is the point of injecting yourself in the first part of the story? Because you thought someone was going to talk about you, then didn’t? Oh, well that’s worth keeping in there. - JC
Come on, JC! You don’t have to be a regular reader to know that I’m just as egotistical as the mediots I write about. I incessantly wrestle with the idea that Sir Paul McCartney wrote “Maybe I’m Amazed” not about a woman, love or anything else, but ABOUT ME BECAUSE I’M AMAZING (even though I wasn’t born yet … he had to know I was coming, right?). AND GET THIS — sometimes, while brushing my teeth I stop, just for a second, look in the mirror and say, “HEY YOU! YOU’RE SO FUCKING AWESOME!”
Hey Ryan, I’m a big fan of Bruce Allen and BSMW and glad to see another regular column from you. I’m ready to flip the dial back to EEI at 2p. Felger and Mazz are awful and I look forward to the new Mike and Mike!! I don’t get what Felger is up to? I thought he was bucking for a national show but maybe he likes being omnipresent here locally. Tony is AWFUL. I thought TSH would be better off trying to woo Minihane to take Tonys spot and get someone to challenge Felger’s blatant contrived arguments from this pompous ass. What can we do? Next up the “Lets get Tanguay off the air” rant!! Thanks for your time, Mark
Thanks, Mark. I get lots of emails about Michael Felger and Kirk Minihane. Look, you have to like someone and I enjoy both on different levels. It’s not like either is Greggggg Doyel or Skip Bayless. For my money, each is compelling — meaning they have something to say, and it’s generally interesting.
Don’t get me wrong, I get the vitriol. It’s becoming clearer by the day that Felger is incredibly agenda-driven and reaches for the low hanging fruit far too often. When you’re on the radio and television for 20 hours a day, that will happen. Exposure, more than anything else, may burn him in the end, and he could flame out just like Rex Ryan in New York (OH HEY IRONY: Felgy spent the better part of 2009-10 extolling the Jets — not the Patriots — for being the “model organization” going forward. Hmph.).
On the other hand, Minihane is more acerbic than Felger (mind you, no easy feat), and that will probably get him into trouble in the future, but he’s a smart dude, who shows diplomacy when necessary (Felger’s contrition comes off too facetious. It’s tough to take him seriously.) To his credit, Minihane is refreshingly adept at using statistics to support his takes and less pompous than others in the media.
Bottom line? Neither backs down. And that’s grating to many, but if I’m being honest with you, I do listen to both guys … that says something.
Will the NFL combine/Te’o situation end up being the downfall of D&C? If anything it’s shining a light on Callahan’s blatant unapologetic homophobia and you’d have to think he’s close to talking himself right off the air. – Jim
I admit I’m not totally sure, but I believe you’re referring to Gerry Callahan saying something to the effect of, “No NFL team wants a player who is going to be the trailblazer for the gay community and come out.” I remember Minihane steering the duo away from the conversation. But again, I’m not sure if he had a larger point that I missed (I started writing my column shortly after and had to turn the radio off), but that’s a fine line to walk.
Either way, the downfall of “Dennis and Callahan” happened the moment “Toucher and Rich” usurped them in the ratings. Leading up to the launch of “The Sports Hub,” Callahan had made incredibly arrogant remarks about how he hadn’t heard of his new competition, and went as far as to sarcastically say he was “hiding under his desk” because he was scared. No real coming back from that.
It looks like I’ll be in the minority here, but I thought Whitlock’s column was pretty good (and I usually do). I’ll admit his writing is at the least an acquired taste, because his bombastic humor (such as being the self-appointed arbiter of race in sports) can be a little obnoxious. But he covered football for years as a reporter, so I think he does have some knowledge about closeted gays in the league, and he certainly has knowledge of how homophobic an NFL locker room is. Jason’s comments on Teo’s performance in the championship game are pure speculation, but I agree with his main point: Goodell can use his position as Commissioner as a kind of a bully pulpit to hold the NFL to broader standards in society. He certainly has the power to start changing the culture in that league, particularly by working with the players’ association. – Jim
For whatever reason, Whitlock isn’t a must read for me. I’m not saying he sucks, or anything. Obviously, he is doing something right. It’s just, to me, he looks for the cross-section of sports and culture more than anyone else (probably to secure that Pulitzer he’ll never get). Sometimes it’s warranted, but the style can get preachy and formulaic.
In this case, the Te’o column felt forced. Conflating the girlfriend hoax/scandal with presumed homophobia in the NFL was irresponsible. Yes, the league should take proactive steps to figure out its (perceived) issues with homophobia, but using Te’o as a conduit to broach the issue feels unfair to the Catfishee.
Like I previously wrote, under this course of action the headline would read: “NEW NFL PRESS RELEASE — GOODELL TO PLAYERS: FAKE INTERNET GIRLFRIENDS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!! ALSO, IF YOU’RE GAY WE’RE TOTALLY COOL WITH IT!”
(Let’s not disregard Whitlock’s word choice in the column, either …”Free the gays” ????? What was that?)
I read Deadspin each day and enjoy what they provide, but, it seems that in light of the Te’o story that we’re holding them up as the “model” or “future”, while they are so far from it. – BSMFAN
Deadspin makes it abundantly clear that they classify themselves as a tabloid — the whole nine yards — replete with sophomoric (read: smut) content. Now, occasionally, Deadspin produces a Te’o-esq feature. And that’s great. But the simple model is as follows: The garbage pays for the investigative stuff. That’s how it works. Subsequently, at its core, Deadspin will never be the “future” … just part of the future (as it’s currently part of the present). I suppose the scary takeaway is that, these days, Deadspin exposes the mainstream outlets for shooting for the moon and more often landing in the mud … as opposed to the stars.
(By the way: BSMFAN is referring to my remarks about the editor of Deadspin, Tommy Craggs’, Q&A with the National Sports Journalism Center. It’s fantastic, and if you’re a media/journalism addict, like myself, I highly recommend taking 10 minutes to pick through it.)
On that note, as always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.