Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VII

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.

Happppppy Friday, you guys. More importantly, happy Super Bowl weekend. Wes Welker, Pete Carroll, and Peyton Manning. Drink it in — tastes delicious, doesn’t it? So many weird feelings arise when thinking about each of them. Whenever I try to reconcile a rooting interest, it feels like I’m eight years-old all over again, and my best friend will appear out of nowhere to accuse me of having “girl cooties” or something.

This is the world we live in.

Hey, look on the bright side, at least we weren’t subjected to 63 combined hours of Spygate talk this week. (Fuck.)

Before we get to emails, I need to get something off my chest. I was on Twitter last night, and came across Ian Rapoport, former Patriots beat guy at the Boston Herald and current NFL Network reporter. I went down the “Rap Sheet” rabbit hole (because I lead a very desolate life and do such things on a Thursday night), and discovered that Rapoport and his wife made a Twitter account for their infant child, Max.

Is this happening now? Like that’s a thing people do, or are going to do in the future? Rapoport has a storied history of pissing people off on social media, like the time he live-tweeted Myra Kraft’s funeral, so maybe (Read: Dear God, hopefully), this is a case of Rapoport being a weirdo. I comforted myself with that rationalization until I realized Boston Herald radio personality, Jen Royle, has a fucking Twitter account for her bulldog, Truman, which I refuse to link to here based on personal values. (For the record I presume it was Royle who made the account. If it was someone else, I apologize. Also: Whoever it was, you’re a huge tool.)

If this is the (d)evolution of social media, I think it’s time I make the leap. Have to be progressive, you know? Comes down to who (or what) I can use to extend my brand Out There. After thinking long and hard about the situation, you may see a @Hadfield_Stapler account pop up on Twitter for my trusty stapler at work. It’s the logical choice: we’ve had a good run together, it never lets me down, and – best of all — I could really play up some fun sexual innuendos with the account. Just something to think about.

OK. Enough nonsense, on to your emails:

Is this Shaughnessy column real? TROLLING!!!!

–         Joe (via Twitter)

Banner week for Dan. Started things off with the David Ortiz piece, and finished strong, wondering (aloud) why Bill Bellichick hates Wes Welker. Because THEORIES.

Writes Shankeroo:

“Wes, why does Bill hate you?,’’ I asked Wes Welker.

Does anyone else try to imagine Dan asking this question in a Zoolander-esq tone? You really should, it makes reading his column a million times funnier. Trust me. Oh, and you’re welcome.

He caught a Super Bowl-record-tying 11 passes in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. But Belichick didn’t like him.

So now The Hoodie hated Welker after the 18-1 season? Really?

The Patriots franchised Welker and Belichick froze Welker out of the game plan at the start of the 2012 season. The coach was intent on proving that the system was bigger than the player. The Patriots could do without Welker. When Welker finally got a chance to again show us what he could do, he said, “It’s nice to stick it in Bill’s face.’’

“HE’S ON FIRE!” (said in the NBA Jam video game voice). Who doesn’t love the FREEZING WELKER OUT OF THE OFFENSE STORYLINE? Old reliable. Hey Dan, I was at training camp in 2012 – and guess what, Julian Edelman simply usurped Welker in the offseason. I wouldn’t expect you to know this, because you weren’t there.

Then he signed with the Broncos. What an ingrate.

On the word “ingrate,” can we all agree it’s a weird word choice here? You’re dating yourself, Dan. Don’t use it.

But perhaps the worst part of this mess is that Shank actually wrote a pretty solid piece about the media overreaction toward Marshawn Lynch’s silence the same day. SIGH.

Speaking of which, this happened …

A HOT SPORTS TAKE turned #Humblebrag? YES, WE CAN! YES, WE CAN!

You wrote: “Meanwhile, Katie Nolan going after Reilly is pragmatic. It makes you wonder why FS1 doesn’t take advantage of the endless opportunities to land punches on the four-letter network more often.”

This was really a topic on First Take on Monday:

– bsmfan

“Could Charlie Whitehurst lead this Seahawks team to the Super Bowl?? Matt Flynn???”

Sounds like NESN did the right thing. You wrote:

” the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks hampers objectivity, and, furthermore, hurts other female sports reporters who are trying to be taken seriously. NESN’s decision is more than fair to Dell.”

I forget the source but there were quotes from other females around here about the issue. If the quotes you pasted from the SI column don’t convince you, I’m not sure what will.

–         Guest

I’m not saying anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot. But they’re not smart, at least in terms of media relations, anyway. And man, if I see one more person read or write that Jenny Dell isn’t covering the White House or some other outlandish beat as grounds to keeping her on the Red Sox telecast, then I’m going to throw up in my mouth. I cannot stand when people use extreme opinions to back a premise that makes no sense; the exercise doesn’t prove you’re clever, and serves no purpose – well, besides derailing the conversation around the issue.

On the Dr. V-Grantland fiasco: I, too, thought Tim Marchman’s piece [on Deadspin] was very good but agree that it slip into the default anti-Simmons mode a bit (Simmons did appropriately apologize and take ultimate responsibility as editor in chief, so it’s kinda intellectually dishonest to call that “self-obsessed;” would he rather Simmons blame others?)

But I don’t get your T’eo parallel. That Deadspin story refuted the lie, started and perpetuated by T’eo. Meanwhile, Grantland went after the transgender angle in part because it made the story more salacious.

So if Dr. V had committed suicide because of the public shame of being a fraud, Grantland would be the recipient of much less public scorn. But since they followed the transgender angle, they are being blamed, in part, for her taking her own life. That may be unfair, but we have no way of really knowing in the truth. And had T’eo committed suicide after the Deadspin article, it would have been tragic but Deadspin wouldn’t have been blasted in the same manner.

Where’s the tl:dr guy when we need him?

– HighWireNickEsasky

In both cases, we’re dealing with subjects who perpetuated a lie. Let’s start there and make one thing clear: In many circles Dr. V is being made a martyr, and I think that’s kind of absurd. She was a con artist. Of course that doesn’t exculpate Grantland. The fact that Grantland, and the author of the story, Caleb Hannan, were way off-base in their lack of understanding of the ramifications of outing Dr. V to her business partner is mind boggling.

But beyond that mistake, I refuse to kill Grantland, especially after the publication admitted their faults. It’s not as if they were malicious in their reporting, and I’ll be perfectly honest, I would make the same mistakes as a reporter. I think 99.99999% of media outlets would. Keep in mind, the backlash never came until after the transgender community illuminated the problems with the story.

And the Manti T’eo thing is just an example. What if, after A.J. Daulerio paid for and then published photos of his Green Bay Packer that he sent to Jenn Sterger, Brett Favre committed suicide? Or what if his wife took her life? Or one of his kids?

Again, Deadspin espoused the story just like everyone else. They loved it. Then, when they saw an opportunity, they attacked Grantland because that’s what Deadspin does. Fuck, when Grantland launched, Deadspin would post “corrections” blogs for copy editing mistakes. And that’s OK. Little guy takes shots at big guy. I get it. To a lesser extent, it’s what Katie Nolan (justifiably) did to Rick Reilly, and what “Toucher & Rich” regularly do to “Dennis & Callahan,” and what I do here.

I’m even OK with Deadspin being super critical after initially promoting the piece – but, shit, don’t then make this a macro-indictment of Grantland and Bill Simmons. Slow down, breathe, and be honest with yourself as a “media critic.”

Speaking of T’eo …

I hear Jerry Remy’s been schtupping Wally for a year and a half. Can we fire him now?

–         Dave R.

We’ll always remember the Catfish story, because it was glorious and weird and all-encompassing. It was THE sports story of 2014, which seems goofy, but truthfully is kind of a nice change of pace, considering the Penn State scandal was THE story of 2013.

But let’s say T’eo has a great season in 2014-15. His career arc will change because he’s young and has plenty of life left to live. We’ll care less and less about his fake online girlfriend (still feels weird typing). The point is this: when discussing Jerry Remy’s return to the broadcast booth, you have to think in terms of the news cycle we live in nowadays. We have to weigh whether or not this will matter come summertime, because there will always be a bigger, otherworldly story that will capture our attention next. You know it, I know it.

With all that said, the answer is “Yes, the Remy situation will still be on our minds.”

Now, I refuse to call Remy selfish. He wants to call Red Sox games, which makes sense — it’s a pretty sweet gig. I blame NESN here. If the trial had happened already, maybe – just maybe – we could move on, and enjoy baseball games to a soundtrack filled with banter between Don Orsillo and Remy.

That’s not the case, though; the trial is in front of us, not behind us. Remy is a public figure, more recognizable in Boston than Phil Pressey, or Avery Bradley, or Stephen Drew, or Steve Gregory. To me, this all goes back to something I’ve written about in other places before. I’m a big believe in what I call the Bill Clinton Corollary.

The parameters are simple: As far as public figures go, whether it be athletes, actors, musicians, or, to a lesser extent, politicians, I only care about their behavior as it pertains to me. These guys aren’t coming over for Sunday dinner. I’m not catching a movie with them. They aren’t dating my sister. We aren’t friends.

As a broadcaster, Remy is an exception to this rule because his personality is thrust into his role. It matters. In the end, it’s tough to predict a story’s staying power in 2014, but while the legal system untangles the Jared Remy murder trial, we’ll be reminded of the horrific ordeal, and that will hurt the NESN broadcast. NESN should have taken the bat out of the Rem-Dawgs hands.

A few years into F&M’s reign of terror and I’m ready for a new drive time show. I haven’t listened to those clowns in well over a month because of their complete and utter disdain for the Celtics. I’m not asking them to like basketball but it’d be great it they wouldn’t openly defecate all over those who do like the game.

I hope Glen does come back, and he gets paired with someone good so I can try to listen to local sports talk in the afternoons again.

– OpinionNotFact

A few readers seem to be rallying behind the idea of a Glenn Ordway redux at WEEI. Have to say, I cannot support it. Mike Salk is not the answer, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have been asking the question. I know select readers — like LateToDinner — think removing The Big O was ill-conceived, but he was losing the ratings war. It’s like having Ryan Fitzpatrick as your quarterback. Yeah, you may win some games — maybe even make a run to the playoffs — but what are we really doing here? You want to win the whole thing. To matter you have to be the best.

Does Ordway have the backing of a few big sponsors? Sure. But if WEEI figures out a better alternative and that alternative resonates, brings listenership up, and helps dethrone “Felger & Mazz,” I’m pretty sure advertisers will come around to whoever that personality is, too.

Reminds me of “Mad Men” when Don Draper says something like, “Happiness is simply the moment before you want more happiness. You’re hungry even though you just ate.”

***

OK, that’s all I have for this week. Before I let you go, I need to deliver some SHAMELESS Self-Promotion:

I’m a realist. This Super Bowl situation sucks, I totally get it. But as an eternal optimist, I offered up three reasons why football will be better than ever next season in my column for Metro Boston last week. And in the meantime, since we have to endure the wrath of Sunday, I wrote a guide detailing the 10 types of people who attend Super Bowl parties that you’ll want to avoid while watching the game this weekend. Both are light reads, because sports are supposed to be fun, ya know?

Anyways, as always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

Report: Jenny Dell Removed From NESN Red Sox Broadcast

Over at Boston.com, Chad Finn is reporting that NESN has removed Jenny Dell from her post as sideline reporter of the Red Sox telecast. Instead, Dell will serve as an anchor for “NESN Sports Today.” While NESN did not directly link the issue, the general consensus Out There is that her public relationship with third baseman Will Middlebrooks led to Dell’s removal from the broadcast.

Writes Finn:

Recently, Dell has been filling in as anchor on “NESN Sports Today,” a perfectly viable role but one that according to another industry source is her penance for . . . well, one thing or the other.

Dell, the popular in-game reporter for the past two years, is dating Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The relationship wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret around the team for some time, but the official acknowledgment of it via a Middlebrooks tweet on New Year’s Eve brought fair questions about the ethics of a reporter dating a player.

Detractors will claim Dell is not exactly covering Syria or the White House (because inaccurate, circular logic requires insane examples to back up an even more insane premise), but this is Journalism 101. As I outlined earlier this week — and which was also noted by Finn — the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks hampers objectivity, and, furthermore, hurts other female sports reporters who are trying to be taken seriously. NESN’s decision is more than fair to Dell.

To review, the following is from Richard Deitsch’s media column over at SI.com:

Appearances of interest conflicts matter, or they should to any editorial entity that cares about disseminating information. Such a relationship — if NESN stays the course — also hurts the efforts of female sports journalists. On this note, here were some answers to my question from women sports journalists in the field:

Boston Globe sports reporter (and former Red Sox beat writer) Amalie Benjamin: “Never. Ever. And more, it hurts the credibility of every female reporter doing it the right way.”

USA Today’s Lindsay Jones: “Never, never, never. Did I mention never?”

SI’s Joan Niesen: “Under no circumstances. None whatsoever. No, no, no.”

Dell would have entered her third season as part of the broadcast team after replacing Heidi Watney at the end of the 2011 MLB season.

*Bruce usually handles news like this. I’ll write at more length about Dell, how it relates to Jerry Remy, and more in tomorrow’s mailbag. To contribute, fire off questions/funny comments to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Katie Nolan vs. Rick Reilly; “Salk & Holley” Go Shankin'; Ordway Downplays WEEI Return

Mailbagin’ it Friday: To contribute, fire off questions/funny comments to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

***

Anna Kendrick is my number one right now. She’s a fun follow on Twitter, and seems like a great hang who’s down to earth. Can’t fight love; it’s just how I feel, man. But Katie Nolan rocked my world Wednesday afternoon. I’m still reeling.

The Framingham native and Fox Sports 1 personality launched a diatribe toward ESPN’s Rick Reilly during a Crowd Goes Wild segment. The spot was in response to Reilly taking a cheap shot at Nolan’s colleague, Regis Philbin, during a SportsCenter segment at Media Day, in which he called Philbin a “little man with makeup” that no one knew.

A few things here:

1. First and foremost, what happened to Reilly?  This guy was once considered one of the greatest sports writers in the game. That’s not an overstatement. Now, he’s a punch line. Other more-accomplished writers have wondered about his fall from grace. Is he just sick of his job? Does he hate it? Or, most damning, is he just a jerk? Truthfully, I always thought the whole thing was overstated. But, man, it’s been a train wreck for him, and part of you wonders if he dished Philbin because, deep down, Regis was the only target (he thought) was a slam dunk.

2. It wasn’t. Reilly going after Philbin is laughable. It was a case of an out of touch guy who lacks any semblance of self-awareness taking a pot shot at a dude who’s on his way out (Regis was never a good fit for FS1, and confirmed he is leaving the network). It’s sad, really: Reilly doesn’t realize his career outlook is closer to Philbin than it is someone like Nolan. An agism joke gone awry.

3. Meanwhile, Nolan going after Reilly is pragmatic. It makes you wonder why FS1 doesn’t take advantage of the endless opportunities to land punches on the four-letter network more often. Who wouldn’t watch a satirical version of First Take? Smaller entities – even ones with gobs and gobs of money – are perceived as underdogs, they win sympathy points, and the general public will support their crusade (You could make a strong case this is how “Toucher & Rich” took down “Dennis & Callahan.” I’d disagree. The 98.5 guys won out on wit, talent, and ingenuity, but I’d also argue that it certainly helped expedite the process.)

4. The suits at ESPN cannot be happy about Rick’s decision. In terms of payoff, his reportedly lavish contract is more on par with the likes of Barry Zito than it is Tom Brady. Guy has never fit in since joining the Bristol campus. So not only is he a sunk cost on the balance sheet, but his screw up led to some visibility for FS1, which like CBS and NBC’s 24/7 sports networks, has mostly been a non-factor since launching. I doubt this incident provides any sustainable momentum for FS1 (I still don’t know what channel the station is on here in Boston), but it was a gratuitous dig that prompted a response which went viral.

5. Back to Nolan for a second: I’ve been sporadically following her stuff since her days at Guyism, because I’m secretly a tool who reads sites like Guyism in my spare time. Judge me. Anyway, this was completely different, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately think: “Could it be? A Miss Media Musings exists????” Just excellent stuff in her rant.

BONUS: All that said, my heart stays with Anna. She gets me. In my head we’d totally be the couple that finishes one another’s sentences. We’re dating. Again, only in my head. But still. It counts. If it doesn’t work out, it’s nice knowing there are other fish in the sea. Anna is “approachable girl hot,” you don’t take “approachable girl hot” for granted. You just don’t:

***

Speaking of easy targets, “Salk & Holley” had a strong segment in which they questioned Dan Shaughnessy’s piece about David Ortiz’s comments regarding his contract extension in an interview with Steve “HOCKEY LOCKOUT IS OVER!” Burton. The duo, who have not been shy about calling out Shank since the Boston Globe columnist turned up the volume of his Troll-Amp to an Iron Maiden-esq 11 during the NFL playoffs, aptly pointed out Shaughnessy’s misrepresentation of Papi’s statements.

Whatever happened to simply honoring your contract? Especially when you are nearing the end of your career?

There’s reaching, then there’s reaching. Ortiz was asked a hypothetical – about the future – he answered it. It’s clear, at this juncture, that Papi complaining is nothing new. Rinse, dry, repeat – all of that. It’s annoying, and definitely selfish, but he’s not rallying a mutiny here, or stating a plan to hold out come Spring Training time. But that didn’t stop Shank from doing what Shank does. Not when there’s faux outrage to be had!

Swell. Way to go, Big Papi. Everybody loves you. But you have no leverage. Please stop talking about a contract extension and honor the deal you signed.

Wait, did Ortiz say he wasn’t planning to honor the deal? I’m confused.

***

I killed Colin McGowan for his off-target, take-down piece about Kirk Minihane, Jenny Dell, and the sanctimony of “conflict of interest in sports journalism” the other day. It’s only fair to applaud him for his column about the media reaction to Marshawn Lynch’s eerie silence during media day. McGowan does well here in a missive that’s well worth your time. A few favorite excepts below:

It’s astounding that some people still don’t know to not use the word “articulate” in reference to a black athlete anymore, but that adjective has been invoked a lot this week. Journalists are, in their own blinkered way, trying to pat Sherman on the head for being good copy and allowing them to write easy Richard Sherman Is Not a Thug articles.

Predictably, he has been widely admonished by the people who had to stand around with tape recorders while he gave brief non-answers. CBS.com’s Gregg Doyel called Lynch’s Tuesday session “embarrassing.” The Daily News‘ Greg Meyers opined that it’s “really not all that hard” to answer simple questions. Strong take dispenser Pete Prisco tweeted that Lynch would be “begging for attention” in five years.

I don’t know about you guys, but I for one was waiting with bated breath for Lynch to tell me about the importance of execution, staying focused, and trusting the game plan. It’s downright disrespectful that he robbed the masses of that insight.

***

My thoughts on the Boston Herald story claiming WEEI wants Glenn Ordway back on its airwaves? News like this engenders the same feeling we get when we hear Eric Mangini or Paul Westphal is a rumored coaching candidate: irritation.

It’s not that Big O is terrible. He’s fine. The rumor just lacks imagination. I feel like I’m talking to a buddy who wants to get back together with his longtime ex-girlfriend. Guys, there’s a reason you broke up with him in the first place. And seriously, that’s the best you can do? A retread? Run it back with the same formula? This isn’t Hollywood.

For what it’s worth, as much as Ordway downplays the report, you know he’s hot and bothered by the prospect of a return.

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.