NESN To Let Naoko Funayama Go In Latest Headscratcher

Around 8:00 last night, just as the NBA draft was getting rolling, NESN sent out a press release announcing that they would not be renewing the contract of Bruins reporter Naoko Funayama.

Releasing the respected and professional Funayama is just the latest curious move from the network, which has had very high turnover across all departments of the organization.

Some have said that the network rivals or surpasses WEEI in the dysfunctional department. Fitting that the two have partnered up in many ways.

In the release, NESN states that NESN has incredible appreciation and admiration for the work that Naoko has provided the network during this historic chapter of rebirth of Boston Bruins hockey. 

So why let her go? She was respected by all, whether it being colleagues in the media, the players and coaches she interacted with, and viewers.

The announcement much immediate outcry and backlash against NESN, as well as words of support for Funayama. My buddy Ken Fang does a great job summarizing the reaction in a post from early this morning:

How to Anger Boston Bruins Fans? Let Popular NESN Reporter Naoko Funayama Go

Fang also posted the following on his Facebook page:

A source has told me Red Sox butcher Tom Werner made the call to axe Naoko in favor of Leah Hextall.

Now, I like Leah Hextall, and hockey is in her blood, but if true this still screams the point that Werner is the most out-of-touch of all the Red Sox ownership – which says a lot – and the direction that NESN has taken since he took over has been a screaming indication of that.

**********

Elsewhere in the local sports media, CSNNE announced yesterday that a new eight week primetime program, “THE SHOW” will debut next Monday, July1st at 8:30pm.

The announcement describes the The Show as The format will be similar to Comcast SportNet’s long-running signature baseball program “The Baseball Show” but with an interesting twist and perspective exclusively from the younger fan-base. The show will be hosted by Trenni Kusnierek and will feature panelists Chris Gasper, Marc Bertrand and Rich Levine. The show will feature plenty of staged “mock debates” which are all the rage in sports programming these days.

*********

NBC scores big with hockey fans – Chad Finn’s media column this week examines the ratings that NBC scored for the Bruins/Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals, and has other notes, such as the two items above.

**********

So, anything else happening these days?

I guess the better question should be what’s happening next? The last week has been day after day of headline stories, with most of them leaning toward the tough side of the fan experience.

The latest, of course, is the seemingly completed trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with Jason Terry, to the Brooklyn Nets. Danny Ainge made good on his vow not to let his mature produce rot on the vine here. Adrian Wojnarowski, as usual, was the man breaking the story (and seemingly every other story) last night.

The idea of KG and Paul Pierce especially, putting on a Brooklyn Nets uniform just makes my stomach turn. But I understand that this needed to be done. I guess whenever you can get the Nets franchise to fork over three first round picks (with an option to swap picks in another year) you HAVE to do it, especially when you consider that at least two of those picks will be after the Nets have squeezed any remaining value out of KG and Pierce and those two have retired.

I also really, really hope Ainge has more in mind for some of these Nets players that are said to be coming here. especially Kris Humphries.

The Garden is going to have a much, much different feel this season.

A few of the top links on the matter:

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett get traded as the Celtics finally blow it up – Paul Flannery, SB Nation.

Danny Ainge won’t let these Celts grow old – Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald.

Celtics made painful decision to start over – Gary Washburn, Boston Globe.

Huge trade further proof Nets, other ‘haves’ playing different game – Ken Berger, CBS Sports.

Also, check CelticsLinks.com for widespread reaction to the deal, and the draft.

Speechless.

After watching the arraignment yesterday of Aaron Hernandez, and then seeing the report this morning from FOX25 that Hernandez is being  investigated in Boston double-killing from last July, it makes you just question everything in this world.

It is mind-numbing. It is equal parts unfathomably brazen and stupid. Of course, if he did get away with a double-murder before, it would account for being so brazen with this killing.

Meanwhile while on with Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio, former Ravens coach Brian Billick is saying the Patriots will take a hit because players will fear that the organization will not have their backs if they hit rough times. Billick of course, was the head coach when Ray Lewis faced charges in a double-murder case, and the Ravens stuck by him.

If you’re going to read/listen to a lawyer who talks sports, I’d stay away from Harry Manion and Mike Florio, and go to Michael McCann (@MCCannSportsLaw ):

Breaking down the murder case against Aaron Hernandez

Former Patriot Matt Light told the Dayton Daily News “I have never believed in anything Aaron Hernandez stood for.” The writer though, inexplicably fails to follow up with any sort of request for elaboration.

Peter King even emerged from his annual vacation to do a finger-wag on Hernandez. He just had to contradict himself while doing it: Peter King: Lord Of Retrospect

The case has given John Dennis plenty of excuses to make jokes about anal rape, a subject he is seemingly obsessed with. Also, it’s nice to know seemingly the majority of the Dennis and Callahan audience these days is consisted of either former convicts or prison guards. You’d get the impression that the D&C show was piped into the jails as punishment for the criminals.

There are many other things happening in Boston sports right now, and I think I’d prefer to focus on that stuff for now.

John Lackey. This is the guy that we thought the Red Sox were getting when they signed him to that huge contract. He struck out 12 yesterday, helping the Red Sox to a 5-3 win over the Rockies at Fenway.

John Lackey all anchor, no rancor – Gordon Edes looks at how Lackey is anchoring this staff with Lester struggling and Buchholz out.

Who’d have thought it’d be Lackey to the rescue? – Sean McAdam has Lackey as the Red Sox best starter right now.

Are they OK without Clay? A look at how Sox rotation stacks up without Buchholz – Alex Speier has a thorough look at the state of the rotation.

Doc Rivers was introduced as head coach of the Clippers yesterday, and took some time to talk with the Boston media afterwards.

Fact or fiction: Doc Rivers’ odd call to Boston media – Ben Rohrbach has an exhaustive look at Rivers’ session which seemed to contradict some of what has been said from the Boston end of things.

After uncomfortable end, best to just wish Doc Rivers well – Steve Bulpett says we should just move on.

The NBA draft is also tonight, and despite not having a coach or system to project players into, the Celtics need to make a solid pick at #16.

Celtics need to score big in draft – Gary Washburn says that the Celtics up and down track record in the draft needs to improve. Washburn has the Celtics taking Shabazz Muhammad in his mock draft. Mark Murphy has Shane Larkin as the pick.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli held his season-ending press conference yesterday, and revealed that the team will not re-sign Andrew Ference or Jaromir Jagr, but would like to bring back Nathan Horton.

“Simply the right thing to do.”

Shortly after Aaron Hernandez was arrested this morning, the Patriots announced that they had released the tight end, ending his three-year tenure with the club.

They ended the announcement of the release saying that they believed it was “simply the right thing to do.”

The decisive action could mean that the team also knows that this is about to get a whole lot worse.

What a mess.  At least now he is “former” New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez. This robs sports radio of at least one storyline – “Why haven’t they released him yet???

There will still be a lot of noise around this team when camp begins a month from now, and it will continue. They’ve always been able to shut out the noise. This might be the ultimate test in that regard.