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__.

Sports Media Musings: #MediaDay Saves the Super Bowl

Today: In which we avoid the Tweet below, and write about the goofiest day in sports media. Because sports are supposed to be fun, man. We’ll mailbag it later this week. Fire off funny emails and questions to [email protected] or tweets to @Hadfield__.

***

The transcendence of the Super Bowl just wasn’t palpable. Maybe Shankeroo was right: I couldn’t muster up the energy – the will, really – to write and think and care about Seahawks-Broncos, because I’m just a fanboy whose soul was crushed in Denver a few weeks ago.

Nah, that can’t be it. Maybe it was the increasingly smarmy corporate feel of the event. Although, the controversial New York City setting could be a more likely candidate. The incessant discussion around the forecast certainly hasn’t helped. Come to think about it, the nonsense surrounding the Richard Sherman Is A “Thug” Camp versus The Richard Sherman Is A Passionate Guy (WHO WENT TO STANFORD!!) Camp kind of curbed my appetite. And there’s no chance that anything I could put down would, you know, stay down because the “Peyton Manning: FOOTBALL DEITY” characterization is already as nauseating as the pending Super Bowl commercials, and the other commercials that won’t even air.

But one thing changed all this: MEDIA DAY, because I’m pretty sure I love Media Day. Or #MediaDay, as the current parliament refers to it.

#MediaDay is Super Bowl week unplugged; the spectacle in its pure, unabashed form. We hate the circus-like atmosphere, but really we love it, because #MediaDay serves as the saving grace, where thrills and frivolous shit occurs, causing the ACTUAL media to complain about THE DEPRAVITY of a woman in a wedding dress showing up to propose to a player, when, in actuality, the outrage is more likely due to longer lines at the buffet and bruised egos.

Because, like, seriously, the Super Bowl should be about the game, and only the gatekeepers of the fourth estate could deliver us the coverage we need. Forget the hoopla! The show-stoppers! Wouldn’t you rather spend $80 to go hang out in a hotel with Jerry Rice and Peter King?

(Careful, though, this event is only for those of legal drinking age — PK may love his coffeerdness, but don’t think for a second that he’s not a salty dog, waiting to unleash nuggets of knowledge, over some Long Island Ice Teas. And once the ball gets rolling, we could hear a Haiku – or TWO! — to capture the moment, because literary prowess and events sponsored by Citibank go hand-in-hand.)

#MediaDay is the sports world and the mainstream world colliding without pretense. Agendas are clear. And what these sports writers don’t realize is the moments that make #MediaDay awesome is not dissimilar to the manifestation of the same narratives, full of the usual clichés and platitudes, that they push on readers/audiences on a regular basis.

There are things at stake here, everyone. Two examples are as follows:

THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD

An oldie, but a goodie: I’m not talking about Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson, or the macro issue in terms of stylistic MOBILE vs. POCKET PASSER QB play. No, no, no. What I’m talking about is Ines Sainz bequeathing her throne as the scorching hot foreign reporter to the new breed of TV Azteca reporter, Mariana Gonzalez. The torch was passed yesterday.

It was simply Mariana’s time. We were all witnesses.

NEXT MAN UP

What did we hear throughout New England’s run this year? The genius behind Bill Bellichick is his ability to plug in nobodies and not miss a beat. Chris Jones became a commodity by the AFC Championship game. The lesson? When you’re injured and hurt, you don’t make excuses, you coach others up. TEAM BUILDING.

#MediaDay, again, is this trope personified: Enter a guy like DeSean Jackson, who showed up to the event, accompanied by none other than Terio, an Internet folklore, the product of a viral meme, who was more than ready to fulfill his destiny and drain every part of the last 15 seconds left of his five minutes of fame. Because #MediaDay is the best.  

How does this relate to the Patriots and next man up? Well, DJax & Terio teaming up, as a power duo, is perplexing on the surface, but if you’re a NFL wide receiver and your ex-girlfriend recently makes headlines from being caught sitting shotgun with Justin Bieber, as he gets arrested for drag racing in Miami, the only play is to align yourself with the likes of Terio. Can’t let the people know you’re hurt. And the only way to do that is roll with Terio. It’s called tact, guys. #Knowledge.

***

OK. Kidding aside, here’s why I love #MediaDay. For most of us, watching sports is an act of escapism. To that point, by definition, fandom is an irrational endeavor. These elements combined – the urge to get away and the irrationality about the whole thing – makes it pretty obvious as to why sports fans generally hate the Super Bowl.

Put simply: when a sports story goes mainstream, it sucks because people (most of whom aren’t fans or familiar with sports and its appeal) have to weigh in and dissect WHAT IT ALL MEANS. Suddenly, instead of talking about the games or Tom Brady’s deep ball, we’re talking about the dangers of bullying, faux Internet girlfriends and Catfishing, and other Tebowian matters.

This terrible discourse is best summed up by the current subject of “tanking.” Media personalities talk about the art of tanking more than we watch the Celtics play. We moralize about the merits and pros/cons of losing on purpose, and how that’s antithetical to the driving influence behind sports, which is competition. Meanwhile, here’s a metaphoric gun, load it up and shoot me. If you can, I want the bullet in the face, please.

While there is nothing more mainstream than the Super Bowl, #MediaDay manages to turn all the sanctimonious bullshit upside down. It’s ridiculous and stupid and people spend more time talking about the antics then the players and game itself. It’s a reminder of the silly premise behind professional sports: that in the end, we all just want to get away and watch grown men jump and run and hit and throw until someone is crowned champion. In a weird way, I love #MediaDay for the same reason I love sports: it’s a big waste of time full of characters and crazy moments.

Senior Bowl Standouts From A Pats Perspective

The Reese’s Senior Bowl happened in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday. Yes, Reese’s: because nothing says “elite college football” like a couple of guilt-inducing peanut butter cups in a non-biodegradable wrapper.

The South team beat the North team, 20-10, on a day where offenses looked out of synch due to strong D and apparent lack of practice.

Below, some notable players in whom the Patriots might take an interest.

[Read more...]

Jerry Remy Returning To Red Sox Telecasts – Not A Good Idea

It’s not easy to write this.

I think it is a big mistake that Jerry Remy is returning to the Red Sox broadcast booth on NESN this season. I understand why he is going to do it, and why he feels he needs to do it. I don’t begrudge him that decision at all. The problem I have here is that this should not have been his choice to make.

Remy announced yesterday in an emotional, tearful session with the media that he had decided to return to his job at NESN this spring, following his son’s arrest last year for the brutal murder of the mother of Remy’s granddaughter.

I don’t have a single doubt that Remy is sincere and completely heartbroken over the situation. By all accounts, he is a sensitive, thoughtful man who has had to struggle mightily through the last few seasons even before this situation came up. Battles with cancer and depression have cut into his time on the network, and forced NESN to scramble for fill-ins.

Remy insisted yesterday that he would be able to go back to doing his job as he’s done in the past. “I’m going to be myself.  That’s what I’ve always been. I don’t see how else I can do it. If I didn’t think I could be myself, I wouldn’t do it. I hope that doesn’t come off as insensitive. It may to some, but it’s the only way I know how to do my job. He (Don Orsillo) asked me that same question 45 minutes ago and I gave him the same answer. I said, “We’ll take it as we always do. The game is most important, first of all. Anything that flows off the game, you go with it.” If people think that’s insensitive, I’m sure I’ll hear about.”

Both Remy and NESN are fooling themselves if they think things will be able to just go back to normal. This isn’t going away. It’s going to be a very high profile case. There will be updates, both through the media, and to Remy personally. If something more comes out during the day, will Remy be able to go to the park that night and banter with Orsillo like everything is OK?

When asked about the inevitable media blitz around the trial, Remy said “It’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. There is going to be more stuff to come out. There’s going to be a trial in October which will probably be pushed back. I think it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen.”

It would seem that the trial being held at the earliest in October would be a reason for Remy feeling that he could come back for this season, at least. If the trial were to be held in say, June, I doubt he would be coming back at this point in time.

It’s going to be impossible for many viewers to listen to Remy this season without thinking of his family situation. It’s not fair, but when he jokes around and engages in his banter with Orsillo, some are going to object to that. At least one member of the Martel family has already said it will be tough to hear Remy in the booth.

As mentioned earlier, Remy has had a difficult few years, health-wise. Despite the battle with lung cancer, he’s still smoking, and how is the strain of this added emotional burden going to impact his mental and physical health?

Remy seems to maintain that it would be worse for him to be stuck at home and not working. He said “I can’t sit there. I just can’t sit in my chair. I’ve been there long enough already. I’ve got to be busy. I’ve got to do something to preoccupy myself. I need to do something I enjoy.”

Perhaps getting back to work, getting into the old routine is something that can put Remy into a comfort zone for himself, but I don’t think it can last. Eventually, I think the questions, the criticisms are going to get to be too much.

I often hear from viewers who say that Remy’s performance in the booth isn’t what it once was. It’s hard to argue that. Couple that with the health and emotional issues, and now this, it just doesn’t seem like this is the right move, for Remy or for NESN. He wanted to quit before, when those issues were fresh. Can he plow through this unaffected? I have serious doubts.

Reading through the media stories and the interviews on Remy, it seems that most of the local media are circling the wagons around Remy, thoughts such as “Remy deserves a chance to rebuild his life.” or that “Jerry Remy is part of the fabric of the Red Sox.” The Voice Of Boston Sports, invokes the Kennedy assassination when writing about the laughter in the booth being gone. Steve Buckley seems to be the only one saying that perhaps this isn’t a good idea. I think if the others really cared about Remy as a person and friend, they would tell him that he’s making a mistake.

This just cannot end well. In my opinion, NESN should’ve taken the decision out of Remy’s hands. He needs to be saved from himself. I feel for the man, and do not wish for him to have to suffer publicly in this manner. While this is the path he has chosen as his career, Jerry is 61 now. These should be his golden years. He should have many more years ahead of him, but I fear that continuing in the public eye like this will deprive his family of his needed presence (Remy said they’re trying for custody of their granddaughter) more quickly than if he were to try and find something else to do.

I don’t want to see that happen.

Sports Media Musings: Internet Tough Guys

Today: A round-up of media matters, starting with INTERNET TOUGH GUYS.

1. The John Dennis vs. Fred Toucher Twitter fight was a thing that happened.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

Screen shots courtesy of Barstool Sports:

VS.

… The obvious reaction: This episode played out like an argument in the comments section of a YouTube video, and ended the only way these such things can end, with John Dennis deleting his tweets from his timeline. Classic Dino.

… “Toucher & Rich” are born to be shit-stirrers, they play the underground card – WE’RE THE COMMON MAN! – very well, but fact is, their show has been number one in the market for an elongated stretch. It’s just funny because poking fun at the likes of John Dennis, kicking someone who’s purportedly down and below your level, would normally be seen as catty – that is, if it was any other media figure than John Dennis, who comes across as a loathsome dude.

… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – “Dennis & Callahan” won’t win a battle of wits against “Toucher & Rich.” They just aren’t likeable; instead, the Men of Guest Street should focus on their true advantage: an ability to deliver compelling discourse about sports, which is something “Toucher & Rich” struggle with at times.

… “Dennis & Callahan” has been much better in recent months and the ratings back this statement up, but that doesn’t warrant Dennis challenging Toucher to a back alley brawl.

… Reading this over, it’s important to remind oneself that these guys talk about sports for four hours a day. Sports, everyone.

… John Dennis is totally one of those old guys who believe if you delete tweets from your Twitter timeline that it means it never happened. NOTHING TO SEE HERE. Meltdowns on the Internet, and especially on social media, live forever. Nobody forgets.

 2. Kirk Minihane’s screed about how NESN should deal with Will Middlebrooks and Jenny Dell’s relationship made plenty of noise across the Internet.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Minihane is absolutely correct in his premise. This is, cut and dry, a conflict of interest.

… Sports on Earth contributor, Colin McGowan, thinks Minihane was over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top, and this was, perhaps, even self-indulgent.

There are numerous caveats and considerations in the article, but they’re ultimately buried beneath certainty. It’s a Hot Take that knows it’s a Hot Take, but self-awareness doesn’t save it.

Maybe the tone of Minihane’s column was a tad acerbic and provocative, but the piece prompted discussion and felt authentic. Moreover, both those adjectives – acerbic and provocative – is how I’d describe Minihane in general. I’ve always felt the greatest compliment you can give to a writer is an ability to develop a voice similar to how you talk. I’ll chalk that up McGowan’s unfamiliarity with Minihane. And that’s fine. But I think it’s important to note Minihane wasn’t flipping his tone just for this topic and the ensuing clicks and comments.

Where McGowan truly loses me, and, I suspect, most people is here:

There are times, sure, even in a field as frivolous as sports journalism, that seriousness is required and a discussion of The Way Things Should Be can be edifying rather than self-indulgent. A sideline reporter is dating a player. This is decidedly not one of those times.

Yes, Jenny Dell isn’t Jim Gray or Pam Oliver, but lines have to be drawn. That there is any support for continued employment is baffling.

… That’s because there is credibility at stake here – yes, even for a place like NESN – and if Dell stays with NESN, and rumors persist that she could be heading elsewhere, the Internet will increasingly develop a jaundiced eye towards female sports reporters.

… The outcome of that cynical thought-process: Jeff Pearlman’s tone-deaf piece about Erin Andrews. Mind-blowing. Perlman later posted an apology.

… Don’t believe those ramifications? 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.”

3. Watching the Internet deliver op-ed after op-ed about Richard Sherman made me dry heave.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… While covering the Celtics, I listened to guys regurgitate “athlete-speak” (“We just have to execute our game plan”) night after night. That, I suppose, is the reason I’d always stick around for Kevin Garnett’s post-game remarks, because he’d talk about real shit, often using crazy analogies that never quite made sense. It was the best. Can’t have it both ways.

… Reasonable people know this was a non-story. This was an athlete, fired-up after making the biggest play of his life, expressing that jubilation, and consequently letting the world watch emotion manifest itself in real-time. Nothing more, nothing less.

… Certain local sports radio hosts have proved themselves to not be “reasonable people.”

… Literally everyone had to have a take on this. A few that stood out: Will Leitch’s take, I felt, was spot on. Rembert Browne provided an interesting counterpoint to the logic behind the narrative: “There is more to Sherman than meets the eye; after all, HE WENT TO STANFORD!”

4. Former Boston Sports Media contributor and current ESPN PR guy, David Scott, teamed up with Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports to write a screenplay which turned into a feature-movie.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Wetzel continues to be one of my favorite columnists in the business. This column after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants is a clinic on great sports writing.

… On a personal level, Scott Shots was a regular read and definitely a precursor to my own work here at BSMW.

5. Lots of fallout from Grantland’s controversial feature, “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Please note: There were ethical breaches and a myriad of other issues about the piece. We won’t dive into the minutia here.

… Initially, the piece was widely accepted as a fantastic feature. It was not until the transgender community pointed out its insensitivity and shortcomings that the Internet gathered their sharpest pitchforks and stormed Grantland demanding blood.

… The reaction prompted Bill Simmons to write a “letter from the editor” response. The letter was candid and sufficient in our eyes; however, Simmons loses me here:

Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland.

Whaaat? Neither the editors, writer, or any of the other 15 other people who read the piece, thought there was an issue there? Really????

… Writing for Deadspin, Tim Marchman has a great breakdown of the failings here; that is, until he can’t help but go all-in on Simmons and Grantland, conflating the story with a larger issue:

The breakdown that took place here could have happened at any shop staffed by reporters and editors who aren’t as sufficiently attuned to trans* issues as they could or should be, which is to say nearly any of them, including this one. This particular breakdown, though, was a fractal of the Grantland problem in general, which is to say the Bill Simmons problem.

… For the record, I love Deadspin. Like most everyone else, I effusively praised the Manti T’eo story in this very space last year. Let’s use that story as an example, though: what if T’eo had committed suicide after Deadspin broke the hoax? Is Deadspin at fault?

Not to mention, this is a freakin’ Gawker site, a publication that once paid for photos of Brett Favre’s little Viking. I think many prestigious publications make the same mistakes that Grantland made here, but the problem is many publications aren’t Grantland, meaning the backlash isn’t as severe.

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

What Is Mike Salk’s Future? More After The Break…

In his Globe media column today, Chad Finn looks at the poor fit that Mike Salk appears to be with WEEI:

Mike Salk’s style isn’t what WEEI needs

It’s a fair article, outlining many of the issues that have led to the station’s continued struggles against Felger and Massarotti in the afternoons.

One thing Finn mentions is Salk’s penchant for teasing upcoming topics – Is Hightower the biggest bust in Patriots history – we’ll answer that after the break. I don’t see the issue as being that he does the teases, all good radio hosts do this – it’s one thing John Dennis is really good at – but rather, how clumsy and ham-handed he is with the teases.

It’s a tough situation, Salk was brought in to replace a legend  by someone who was immensely disliked and is no longer there, and apparently turned some people off within the station right away. What can they do? Salk moved his family across the country, and has a three-year deal, so getting rid of him would be messy, expensive, and probably not great PR.

But as Finn notes, it’s clearly not a great fit, and for a station that has struggled and is trying to turn things around, they have to make hard decisions.

Finn also touches on the departure of Mary Paoletti from CSNNE, which is a pretty big loss for them. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but people are nice and likable as Paoletti are not all that common in the media business.

So we lose Paoletti, and people like Gary Tanguay – catch that rant last night? – remain as fixtures in the market. Doesn’t seem right.

Tim McKone appears omnipresent as he runs broadcast spectrum – Bill Doyle profiles a young man who “works full time for Charter TV-3 as a producer, videographer, sports reporter and fill-in anchor, and also part-time for both Cox Sports TV in Rhode Island as a sports reporter and for 98.5 the Sports Hub providing sports headlines on weekends.”

A few more links from today:

No excuse not to lock up Jon Lester – With the lefty expressing a willingness to take less to stay with the Red Sox, Gordon Edes says the club needs to make it happen.

Danny Ainge thinks only of C’s future – Steve Bulpett looks at how Ainge’s mindset and approach is different this season as opposed to previous years where he had to be wary of not taking a step back in-season. Ainge also said part of the reason they traded Jordan Crawford was because they wanted more time for Phil Pressey.

Ainge says Celtics made Rondo contract offer – Baxter Holmes examines Ainge’s comments regarding the club’s view of their point guard.

Aaron Dobson works for healthy return – Jeff Howe has the receiver already looking forward to next season.

New England Patriots offseason primer: Hard decisions await – Nick Underhill looks at the offseason to-do list.

West Coast kid here to stay – Joe McDonald looks at the emergence of rookie defenseman Kevan Miller.

Trending toward Chara-Miller playoff pairing – Joe Haggerty thinks that with Dennis Seidenberg done for the year, the rookie could end up paired with Zdeno Chara on the first defensive pairing in the playoffs.

Scar Retires, Sox Dig Up Sizemore

In the wake of a 2nd straight loss in the AFC Championship game, the Patriots coaching staff is going through something of a shakeup.

Following the departure of linebackers coach Pepper Johnson earlier this week, the team announced yesterday that long time offensive line and assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia is retiring after spending 30 of the last 32 NFL seasons with the team. In addition, tight ends coach George Godsey is moving on to Houston to be Bill O’Brien’s QB coach.

On top of that, Karen Guregian looks at a report that Josh McDaniels and the Browns are still talking.

It might not be the worst thing to have some new voices in the coaching ranks, though losing Johnson and Scarnecchia is a really big loss for the franchise.

Coach Scar leaves lasting mark – Mike Reiss says that Scarnecchia leaves as one of the franchise’s greats.

Pats assistant Scarnecchia: ‘This is the time’ to quit – Tom E Curran talks to Scar about his decision.

The Red Sox made something of a surprise move yesterday, signing former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year, major league deal. Sizemore hasn’t played since 2011.

How Grady Sizemore finally landed with Red Sox – Rob Bradford was first with the news yesterday, and looks at how former Larry Bird trainer Dan Dyrek was a huge factor in Sizemore landing here.

Sox figure Sizemore is worth a shot – Gordon Edes says Sizemore might be a longshot to contribute, but he was worth taking a look at.

Grady Sizemore vs. Jackie Bradley Jr. could be a win either way for Boston Red Sox – Jason Mastrodonato compares the two players, and notes that competition is a good thing.

Shrine Game Notables – Because What The Heck Else Are You Doing Today?

To quote a great coach, “We’ll start working on 2014 tomorrow.” The tomorrow he’s talking about was yesterday. Let’s get going.

We present some players the Patriots may want to take a look at after solid performances in the East-West Shrine Game last Saturday, along with high school fun facts!

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois QB (6-3, 222)

In the Shrine Game, Garoppolo completed nine of 14 passes for 100 yards and one TD. Looked smooth and comfortable on all of his passes, which comes as no surprise considering he passed for 5,050 yards and 53 scores this past season.

I don’t care if you play for Eastern Illinois or your local town rec flag football team, those are crazy numbers. Considering that – and the fact that Garoppolo has been added to the Senior Bowl roster – he’ll probably go too high in the draft for New England’s liking. Still, a guy to keep an eye on this spring.

High School Fun Fact: Garoppolo passed for 1,888 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior year at Rolling Meadows High in Illinois, earning Northwest Suburban All-Area honors. Also passed for 2,072 yards his junior year.

Chandler Jones, San Jose State WR (5-11, 175)

Jones – who would be the second Chandler Jones on the Patriots roster – had seven catches for 73 yards in the Shrine Game. This past season, he led the Spartans in receptions with 79, totaling 1,356 yards. He also set the SJSU school single-season record with 15 touchdowns. His 17.9 yards per reception this season was over four yards more than his junior year average (12.8).

High School Fun Fact: At Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, California, Jones lettered in football and track & field, running the 100- and 200-yard dashes.

Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina WR (6-3, 190)

Hazel scored a TD on a one-yard quick slant from Garoppolo where he used his body well to shield the defender. This past season, he had 70 receptions for 990 yards for the Chanticleers (14.1 avg), totaling 183 catches and 2,553 yards for his career.

High School/College Fun Fact: Hazel represented South Carolina in the 2009 (High School) Shrine Bowl. Had 75 grabs for 1,193 yards and 18 TDs his senior year at North Augusta High in S.C. As a sophomore at CCU, Hazel completed the only pass of his college career, a 21-yard touchdown.

Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M DL (6-4, 263)

Westbrooks harassed opposing QBs all day and won the Defensive MVP for the East team (West Texas; East team. Go figure). In college, Westbrooks led the Buffaloes with seven sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He also had five pass break-ups and a forced fumble.

High School Fun Fact: At Franklin High in Oakland, California, Westbrooks was named an all-conference football player. He also threw the shot put and discus for the track & field team.

Antwan Lowery, Rutgers OL (6-4, 305)

It’s hard for any offensive lineman to set himself apart in this game, so we looked at the New England roster and decided to go with the Rutgers guy. Lowery was named to the Outland Trophy watch list for best college offensive lineman. Arrived at the banks of the Raritan as a defensive tackle out of high school but switched to offense his redshirt freshman year, playing lineman and also taking on a fullback role in Wildcat packages. Played both left and right guard.

High School Fun Fact: Lowery played at Christopher Columbus High in Florida. Participated in the Under Armour High School All-America Game. Had 35 tackles and 2.5 sacks his senior year.

Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech DL (6-2, 350)

Ellis got noticed at the Shrine Game for his surprising size/quickness combination. At La. Tech, he had 48 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss.

High School Fun Fact: At Neville High, Ellis was named a first-team all-state player by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He also lettered in track & field and finished third in the state in the shot put as a junior.

Ross Cockrell, Duke CB (6-0, 190) 

Cockrell had an interception and showed solid footwork in the Shrine Game. At Duke, he had three interceptions and 12 pass break-ups.

High School Fun Fact: Playing both receiver and cornerback at Charlotte Latin in North Carolina, Cockrell caught 29 passes for 459 yards and 11 TDs as a senior while notching 34 tackles and three interceptions. Had nine INTs and four defensive touchdowns his junior year. Also lettered in hoops and track & field.

Alden Darby, Arizona State S (5-11, 195)

Darby nabbed an interception in the Shrine Game. At ASU, Darby had 72 tackles, four interceptions, nine pass break-ups, and two forced fumbles. His play earned him first team all-league in the Pac-12.

High School Fun Fact: At Millikan Senior High in Long Beach, California, Darby had 38 tackles, 15 pass break-ups and four INTs his senior year. Also led the team in passing (593 yards, seven TDs) and rushing (702 yards, 11 TDs) while somehow ranking third in receiving (14 receptions for 149 yards).

Any players you noticed at the Shrine Game, please let us know in the comments section below.

Keep an eye out for the Senior Bowl, airing on the NFL Network on Saturday, January 25, at 4 p.m. ET. We will, because what the heck else would we be doing?

Chris Warner can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @cwarn89