Not The Best of Sports Weekends For Boston

It hasn’t been a good few days, either personally or for the Boston sports scene.

On the other hand, if you’re a sports radio host or TV reporter or newspaper, this has been a bonanza. Murder! Misery! Heartbreak! End of eras!

We’ve got:

  • The Hernandez case.
  • The Bruins losing two straight in the Stanley Cup Finals with the possibility of the series being over tonight.
  • The Red Sox losing 3 or 4 in Detroit, in ugly fashion.
  • The Celtics trading their coach to the Clippers, officially waving the white flag on their status as contenders.

I don’t know where to begin on all of this, so I’ll offer my ramblings.

The Aaron Hernandez case is equal parts disturbing, perplexing and disgusting. The reports being put out there in the media from various “law enforcement” sources certainly sound like they got the guy and his cronies dead to rights. Every day we’ve had (very definite) reports that Hernandez is about to be arrested. He hasn’t been. Yet.

The Globe has gleefully jumped on this story as a chance to take down the Krafts. Bob “the hit man” Holher has been put on the case. (His first effort was laughable.) Dan Shaughnessy is as happy as he’s been since 2003.

I do wish the Globe would disclose at some point that the Krafts snubbed them (Shaughnessy specifically) at a media breakfast back around 1997, and that since that time, the Kraft family has been in the crosshairs of Joe Sullivan’s charges. It might add some context to the coverage.

It’s become a referendum on the entire Patriots franchise and way of doing things, which many media view as revenge time.

Lost in all of this seems to be that a young man lost his life in a violent fashion. It’s an afterthought in the coverage.

If you have to read about the case, I recommend these two pieces from last week:

A Mystery That is Not Like the Movies – Mike Tanier from Sports on Earth.

The Stupid, Stupid Implications About Aaron Hernandez’s “Ominous” Past – Barry Petchesky from DeadSpin.

I did find the graphic in the Globe Sunday NFL notes yesterday amusing. They had all the Patriots players with Red Flags pictured over the years. Some of the crimes against humanity:

Brandon Lloyd: Work ethic. Attitude.

Chad Johnson: Unprofessionalism.

Randy Moss: Immaturity. Lack of hustle.

Brandon Meriweather: Immaturity. College issues.

Corey Dillon: Poor attitude.

Rodney Harrison: Dirty reputation.

Bryan Cox: Fights. Fines.

****

The Doc Rivers era in Boston came to an end when the Clippers finally coughed up an unprotected first round in 2015 for the rights to the Celtics coach. It was an ordeal that needed to come to end, especially with the draft this week, a decision required on Paul Pierce by the end of the week, and free agency and the future of Kevin Garnett in Boston needing to be decided quickly.

Some are calling for harsh criticism of Rivers because of his reluctance to be part of a rebuilding project here with the Celtics. They’ve contrasted his situation to that of Ray Allen, who became public enemy number one among Celtics fans following his decision to sign with the Miami Heat last offseason.

The situations are quite different. Rivers has not complained at all about his experience with Boston, and I don’t think he ever will. Allen griped about his role, his starting position, his relationship with Rajon Rondo, and said he didn’t feel wanted, even though Boston offered him more money than Miami. There is also the matter of Allen joining the team that had just eliminated the Celtics in an emotional, draining  seven game Eastern Conference Finals series.

Rivers, who has reportedly had his own clashes with Rondo, isn’t going to go public with those incidents, and allowed the Celtics to get something in return for his services. The contract signed by Rivers seems to have been done with that understanding, safeguarding the Celtics for five years, and allowing them to at least get an asset if he chose to leave. He is also going to the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that has no sort of rivalry with the Celtics. (and could implode at any time.) The blow is softened somewhat by those factors.

If Rivers was not going to be committed to a rebuilding of the Celtics, this was probably the best way to go. I’m disappointed he’s gone, and will miss his presence here, but he’s always got a positive place in Celtics lore.

******

I had to laugh out loud at Dan Shaughnessy’s duplicity over the Bruins. The guys at Dan Shaughnessy Watch do a great job breaking down his flipflop/throw the blame on the fans.

  • sjc6224

    Do a thought exercise. Replace Doc Rivers with Bill Belichick and replace the Clippers with an NFC West team like Arizona or St. Louis. Somehow I don’t think the national and local media reaction would be anywhere near as friendly to Belichick as it has been for Rivers.

    Media relations mean everything, not the coach’s winning record.

    When is the media going to start blaming Bob Kraft’s girlfriend for Hernandez and say that Myra would never tolerate such a player being part of team and not cut immediately?

  • latetodinner

    Bruce

    The pre superbowl media breakfast snub happened in Jan of 1997 and it still effects the coverage the Globe staff gives the Patriots. What’s funny is the two organizations have needed each other ever since the Pats became relevant again. From advertising dollars to interest in the team, without the Pats the Globe sports page would have nothing to do in the fall. Likewise, the Pats have needed all the press they could get to go from perennial underachievers to sold out with 50 year waiting list A attraction.

    It is predictable how the Globe would cover the Hernandez story. I consider myself a pretty intense and strident fan of the team…but even with that it looks to me Hernandez was either involved with some questionable people at best or involved in a heinous crime at worst…either way I prefer him to play somewhere else if he ever plays again. Yet for the Globe there is almost glee in their coverage of the Patriots…as if the team’s desire to have players act a certain way (and when they do the promotion of it) is a bad thing. I wonder if the scribes at the Globe think the Pats brass knew it was possible a player they committed $41 mill to would do something like this. Clearly Hernandez had them fooled as well. Clearly, there was a side of him that he hid, that was rumored to exist, but which the team thought was under control. Clearly, the Globe in its rush to judgement would rather condemn the Pats management/ownership team than ponder how this all happened in a thoughtful way.

    • DryHeave

      Sports is play time for me not a question of morals. I save that for important stuff, like MY ACTUAL LIFE…. I don’t have to root for “fine, upstanding citizens” when it comes to sports, so if by some miracle Hernandez wiggles himself out of this, I say put him on the field.

      • agramante

        Athletes are citizens (or at least legal residents), so to the extent that you care about anyone committing crimes like murder, rape or anything else, you should care here too. Charles Pierce’s meditation over at Grantland (I’ve become a big fan of his writing, like I did of Hunter S. Thompson when he wrote for Page 2–I’ll never forget his comparison of winning the Super Bowl to winning the Presidency as “a Goldfish to a room full of Gold bars”) is excellent. And it makes exactly the point that an athlete (or any celebrity) committing a crime is no different than anyone else committing the same crime. The atrocity is no different, whoever commits it. Of course, practically speaking, everything is different when someone famous is involved. And as you said, LTD, the Globe’s accusatory coverage is helping nothing but its short-term sales (if that). Looking for scapegoats has nothing to do with finding out the reality of a matter.

        On Doc, I wish him well. He paid his dues with one miserable rebuilding process in this city, and he’s not required to go through another (and likely much longer one)–though it seems the Clippers are balking yet again (to no one’s surprise–is Doc really sure he wants to work for Sterling?). The only person I’m angry at here is Stern for ruling out any possible trade of Garnett to LA at this point. He’s compromised himself too many times for me to place any value in his judgment.

    • bsmfan

      I can’t speak for the ‘then’ but do you think that a team really needs a local paper? And, one in a town with two major papers and many more smaller ones? Maybe for a certain demographic, their influence is still there, but the younger folks? almost zero.

      No news here but I’d argue that beats, for the most part, are bordering on ‘extinct’, part of it being the obvious decline in print-media influence, but also the situation in the NFL and with most teams. I don’t know a single person around my age (younger 30s) and below who does not get their news from Twitter, ESPN.com or something else like that.

      Now, each league has mandatory media requirements, part requirement to placate equal access in terms of media and I assume historical/spirit of what we value (or used to value) journalists as. Even with this, 95% of the NFL news comes from the national guys (I think intentionally). And, going back to the article from Boston Magazine in February?, the folks who are breaking this stuff locally or doing good work wind up being hired away by those networks.

      Lets say it did drive sales: the Globe still hides much of the sports section behind the paywall. We’ve documented before about how removing the cookies gets around this if you’re not a subscriber. Most people are gone by that time because they don’t have any interest in reading if its not instant.

      • latetodinner

        BSMfan, I think you are kind of confused as to the influence of the newspapers to this day on the local teams and the symbiotic relationship between the teams and the papers. If you were right the Patriots would not spend a dime advertising and promoting games, events, ticket sales, pro shop sales etc in print…and certainly not in the Globe. Yet…they do because the economics of the relationship still says local print media is a good investment. There are several reasons why:

        1) Print still gives them marketing bang for their buck. Someone sees the ads and that turns into direct sales somewhere. Evidently a determination has been made that if that money were converted to radio, TV, billboards, sides of bus, bus stops, T-placards, blimp signage, or ONLINE ADVERTISING it would not have the same impact as it does in print. That may someday change. I have had long and in depth discussions about this very topic with professional media buyers in NY, Boston and RI and all agree that print is still a viable advertising medium. What they tell me is that it is an integral part of a strategy where one medium supports another.

        2) There is a credibility gap online line. When following stories on twitter or Facebook or instagram (not sure you get news from instagram but my kids seem to live there) a posting from LTD that says “just heard xxxx dumped a body in the woods of Attleboro…off to get a microwave burrito at 7-11″ is not nearly as credible as the same posting (without the lifestyle announcement) coming from a bonafide beat reporter say Mike Reiss or Tom E Curran. So just because you are not reading the news in the paper does not mean you are not reading the news generated by the newspaper. Better yet…it does not mean you are not taking their reporting more seriously.

        3) The local papers fill a void the national pubs can’t. I am not arguing that local coverage always sees the forrest for the trees, as a matter of fact it is quite clear on big important stories they often are timid or too intimidated with the threat of losing access to be out front, thereby making it easier for national guys to swoop in, scoop and then get out. I am arguing that the local papers are far better at filling in the gaps, doing game stories, in effect “promoting” the sports teams in a way that inform readers about what is happening daily. There is great value in that service. It may not always be as thorough as we want but it is a heck of a lot better than it would be if the local teams were only covered in a cursory way by national scribes. Think USA todays two sentence recaps.

        4) Of course better local guys get national beats. That is where the money is.

        • bsmfan

          Good points.

          I assume the value comes from the demographic that still trusts a “local” over national angle and the people who want it in traditional daily paper form?

          The “local” vs “national” I think can also be seen in ESPN’s hiring of 32 local beat writers. They’ve tried to get “local” before, as have other sites, and failed. But, how soon before the economics of papers/print can’t support having someone do this and the “gap coverage” local people have come from a national outlet?

          In the future, will there be room for more than one beat person per sport in major markets where you have a large enough base that want “gaps filled” by local vs. national?

          Sidebar but I think relevant: Have you thought about or looked into what the impact of “sports rights” (ie: can broadcast the NFL or NHL) has on the future of journalism? Anyone can start a blog but I’m wondering how having or not having specific rights affects the viability. I saw something about how national guys like ESPN take either a loss or such a slim margin on the pure “journalism”, but then make the bulk of their revenue on the carriage fees/advertising.

        • latetodinner

          Oy…so many questions…only so much time to hide from my staff, customers and work I should be doing to try and answer them.

          – re: Where value comes from: Like everyone your world view is myopic. So just because you and your friends don’t read the paper does not mean that others don’t. The value is that the news reported by the Globe and Herald in Boston is considered the “authoritative” news…meaning it can be trusted. There is value with associating your advertising with the “trusted” source. We can argue all day as to whether it should be…but it currently is. So between print, digital, and social media…the “newsguys” are the first people want to read because of their access when a story breaks. Don’t kid yourself, LTD with a blog can’t get any player or investigating policeman to talk…Ron Borges, Mike Reiss even Dan Shaughnessey can get people to talk.

          – RE: National guys going local: You have it backwards. The national guys are going local because they realize there is money to be made providing local coverage. It is not because they see a gap. It is because they recognize that people in Boston do not care about Miami or NASCAR. They need to cater their coverage to the market to stay relevant and compete with the local media. There are two things local papers/media will always make money with…sports and classifieds. The local papers sports coverage is not going away.

          – Re competition: There will always be room for multiple voices. I do not care how good one beat writer may be…take Mike Reiss for example…there will be people who want a different perspective. The economics say competition is good. Look at WEEI v 98.5. For all the hand wringing that 98.5 is killing WEEI in the ratings…WEEI’s numbers still have it as a top 6 station in Boston. If you combine the ratings of the two stations Sports talk dominates the Boston Airwaves when it comes to generating ad dollars.

          – Re: Rights and viability: I think that access (which is really what you are talking about) is dependent on reach. For example the fictitious LTD blog could not get a press box pass at Gillette because I could not show that my coverage of the team would be wide enough that the Pats should “invest” access in me. It does not mean I could not cover the team. it just means getting to players, the Pats PR staff or management would be much harder. As I developed my blog and was able to build a following I might eventually be able to generate enough of a presence and enough legitimacy that I could be considered for access.

          Having Rights does not guarantee anything but access. Also remember that from a marketing perspective, the teams/events want as many outlets talking about them as they can…because that builds a following. You will never see the Patriots or Red Sox or even the Races at Louden restrict access purely because someone is not a rights holder. They want the publicity.

          Lastly, ESPN’s news not making money is more about book keeping than it is about actual dollars. If ESPN did not make money on News then ESPNNews would not exist and ESPN/ESPN2 would not force 8 hours of Sportscenter on us a day. WIthout looking at their books…you have to wonder how they catagorize game day shows (are they part of the games or news)…how the dollars are allocated and in the end how the commentary helps build events and then keeps the audience post event.

  • bsmfan

    Which Globe writer has the exclusive on Claude’s prescription pain killer addiction and martial problems this morning?