Mediots! Series: John Dennis As The Last Professional Internet Tough Guy

John Dennis

January has too much promise of the New Year. February is all about love. March, though? March is where we heat up the snark. Once a week, we’ll profile why we strongly dislike members of the local and national sports media, in what I’m calling the Mediots! Series. 

Here’s the biggest indictment of John Dennis: I can’t tell if he’s Jack Nicholson playing Lt. Jessup, an ornery, morally corrupt HO-RAAHHH dude, shown below demanding respect; or if he’s Tom Cruise, who Jessup mocks, calling out his “Harvard mouth.”

Come to think of it, he’s probably both. And that’s why John Dennis is awful.

In terms of a national comparison, John Dennis is Bob Costas. Which, all told, is a massive insult to Bob Costas. In actuality, John Dennis is how a growing number of people perceive Bob Costas, meaning the version of Bob Costas that’s as insufferable and annoying and pompous as the rest of the world views him.

The comparison coalesces when we think about how each personality looks at the Internet. For instance, in 2008, Bob Costas had Will Leitch-Buzz Bissinger-Braylon Edwards(!!) on Costas Now to discuss the new media, and it immediately became clear Costas had a vague understanding of the sports blogosphere, which is to say he had NO CLUE about the blogosphere. (By the way, Bissinger is the real showstopper in the clip, holy shit — his reputation was forever tarnished. Acting like a lunatic will do that to you.)

Re-reading Leitch’s dissertation of the debacle on New York magazine’s website displays the true issue: For all he has accomplished, Bob cares too much about what other people think of him. That’s a recipe for loads of snark; the Internet tends to smell insecurity and, instead of relenting, it ATTACKS. I’m not particularly proud to be a part of this contingent — but, then again, I’d like to think I’m level-headed about the endeavor, and write with a conscious and tone that’s both enjoyable AND truthful. Regardless, for how brilliant and smooth Costas typically comes across, I get an unseemly amount of pleasure knowing that he failed to distinguish between a blog post and the comments section while reading Deadspin.

Anyway, John Dennis is all of that – to his credit, he can be eloquent in his delivery, yet annoyingly loquacious at the same time. More important is that Dennis is insecure, and that insecurity manifests itself on Twitter. Consequently, instead of severely misunderstanding the blogosphere like Costas, Denito acts like a 17-year-old backup nose tackle on a junior varsity high school football team in his social media exploits. (In other words, he’s Andy Gresh, which is almost an insult to Gresh.)

It’s not a good look, but again, insecurity only fuels venom.

In fact, you could argue Dino’s timeline should be a case study for what NOT to do if you’re a polarizing Mediot. Worse, and I’ve written this before, John Dennis TOTALLY thinks if you delete a salty tweet from your timeline no one will notice and it will be like it NEVER HAPPENED. (It’s the Internet, JD – NOBODY FORGETS.)

Anyway, on top of him being a generally terrible person to listeners (I’ve received multiple emails from readers complaining about this), some of my personal favorite John Dennis moments on Twitter include the following:

  • The time he berated Marc Betrand, or at least a Twitter account that he thought was Marc Betrand.  What a moment. So many strange angles here, but I can’t help but think about the poor guy who was on the receiving end of those tweets meant for Bertrand. Must have been a strange email to get from Twitter. “Honey, why is John Dennis verbally accosting you on Twitter?” Great times. I love divas of sports media. Never change, guys.

(The tweets have since been deleted)

(Dino’s tweets supporting Sileo have since been deleted)

(And yes, for those of you keeping score at home — those tweets, too, have since been deleted)

  • Also, as an aside: I can’t find the link, but I remember people being up in arms about the time he [allegedly] told someone to check his W-2 forms and get back to him. Yeah, he’s awful.

That’s all interactive stuff, though. The complaints about the actual show are even more egregious. And no, we’re not talking about the legendary voicemail he left Ryen Russillo or the METCO gorilla comment. That stuff will live on forever, but it’s almost too easy.

With Dennis, it’s the elongated questions. The persistent claim during their tailspin that “Dennis & Callahan” are victims of Chad Finn misrepresenting the ratings. The time he used what was supposed to be a private correspondence with Tom Brady about Brady’s contract negotiations to – I don’t know?? – gain listenership.  Finally, the crusade he went on about how management was silencing him and his cohort, Gerry Callahan, from doing the show the way they wanted to do it, as if the temporary removal of the “Headlines” segment was the reason for the ratings plummet.

(Because, God forbid, sports talk radio keeps the conversation to sports.)

And let’s not forget about his recent, kinda creepy penchant to YACK IT UP about his MACK-DADDY-SMOOTH days with the ladies. One reader put it best when he said, it was called the ’70s, John.

There is a good side to Dino, I’m sure of it. I’ve been listening to the WEEI show more frequently than “Toucher & Rich” of late. He’s shown professional growth by learning to interact with Minihane, as opposed to pretending he doesn’t exist, and the show is better for it. Truthfully, the start to this new series could have featured a number of media personalities, but given the recent resurgence of the “Dennis & Callahan” morning show, which has been praised in this space of late, it was just time to remember that John Dennis is still an abhorrent individual.

To contribute or nominate a Mediot, shoot an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

***

10 quick musings (NOT INCLUDED: I don’t know what to think about the Big O’s new Internet venture, so I didn’t write about it. Maybe next week. If you care about such matters here are details):

1.) Ron Jaworski thinks that unless Johnny Manziel changes his playing style, he won’t last three games in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Johnny Football, who recently changed his moniker to Mr. Football, is one of things I most look forward to in September. I love that he’s so polarizing that people like Barry Switzer (!!) come out of the woodwork to call him an “arrogant little prick.” And I love that there’s no in between with Mr. Football, he’ll either be great or awful — any intermediary take is unreasonable. Just the best.

2.) AJ McCarron’s lady friend, Katherine Webb, has been part of Internet folklore since Brett Musburger got all hot and bothered by her in the middle of the BCS Championship game two years ago. RELATED (BUT NOT REALLY; ACTUALLY, YEAH, THIS IS DEFINITELY RELATED): NFL quarterback prospect, Blake Bortles’, girlfriend is not ugly. There has to be a correlation between McCarron’s stock dropping and Bortles’ coming on strong.

3.) Speaking of correlations, the MIT Sports Analytics Conference is this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center. The attendee list gets more and more impressive every year, and 2014 is no different. Writers, thought leaders, and important sports figures – both national, and here in Boston – will be there. Here are a few names that stick out: new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Andrew Luck, Brad Stevens, John Henry, Jonathan Kraft, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Gladwell, Mike Reiss, Mike Zarreen, Phil Jackson, Richard Deitsch, Thomas Dimitroff, Zach Lowe, and Wyc Grousbeck.

4.) A laundry list, indeed. Still, there are people – even select decision makers – in the sports world who have little to no interest in advanced analytics. In a piece that’s well worth your time, Bill Barnwell, formerly of Football Outsiders and now the lead football writer at Grantland, does his best to offer insight into why this gap still exists.

5.) Rajon Rondo took a day off to celebrate his birthday without permission from the Celtics. It is a story that requires reaction. Most people agree it was the wrong move, especially for the team’s captain. And I think that’s reasonable.

I don’t know Rondo. I don’t know what’s said behind closed doors, or what his teammates think of his personality. I will say that when I covered the team in 2012-13, the year Rondo truly became Boston’s best player, he always appeared like an aloof individual. (Read: has ZERO use for the media)

But because of that, his “it’s none of your business” comments about the story make perfect sense. Look, he doesn’t seek the attention when things are great, thus he doesn’t feel he owes an explanation when times are tough. I’m OK with that rationale, I suppose. But still, it’s not a good look.

6.) I think Andrew Sharp, who I highly recommend reading over at Grantland, especially his Onion-esq weekly column #HOTSPORTSTAKES, went the wrong way with the Rondo thing, claiming that because his name always pops up in trade rumors and he finds himself stuck playing on a crappy, tankaliscious team, Rondo should be free from scrutiny.

I’m not sure if Rondo needs to be lambasted here, but that rationale is faulty at best. Players are on the trade market all the time. Rondo deserves criticism.

7.) Criticism, mind you, which the local media is happy to give, of course. Although, on WEEI.com, Ben Rohrbach is mostly pro-Rondo, citing the Captaincy thing as a misplaced narrative considering the title has been “reserved for such luminaries as Dee Brown, Rick Fox, Pervis Ellison and Antoine Walker.”  Chris Gasper, as is his MO, delivers a harsh, but fair viewpoint about Rondo’s frustrating personality on and off the court. Meanwhile, Chris Forsberg does well to describe how this is just another chapter, in a series of chapters, of the Rajon Rondo Experience.

8.) For those who emailed me this week, I’m in on True Detective, but out on Mixology. Yes, I watched the pilot because I live with girls and am exposed to such things. In short, Mixology portrays guys like they’re a bumbling mess or borderline creeps. It’s the equivalent of how people react to Johnny Football — meaning there’s no in between. Somehow, this makes Girls look like a reasonable show. (Hey, at least Girls tries.)

9.) Drunken college kids. Competitive “student-athletes” (whatever that term means). Lack of security. Surprised incidents like this don’t happen more often.

10.) SELF-PROMOTION: I wrote about Aaron Hernandez and guilt in fandom for the Metro this week. Check it out.

***

Sorry for getting this up so late. Go big or go home, ya know? Anyway, I’ll hold off publishing the first part of Monday morning, so it doesn’t get buried. Hope everyone has a great weekend and, as always, thanks for reading. Say hello on the Twittersphere. @Hadfield__.

Your Patriots Mock Draft (Post-Combine Edition)

Predicting what the Patriots will do in each draft feels like trying to plot out snowflakes in a blizzard: you keep track of every storm and graph each flake falling, but at some point you realize you’re just a nitwit out in the cold. I mean, imagine if local weathermen had the same record of forecasting that draft gurus do.

In our previous, Way-Wicked-Early Edition, we plotted out roster concerns and where we figured Bill Belichick & Co. would address them. Now, we review our initial picks and amend them where necessary.

We’ve given NFL.com criticism in the past for its pop-ups and occasional navigational quagmires, but they deserve credit for their combine coverage. For a list and a description of events, you can read (and listen to) this link.

Now come on along to check out our updated picks. And get ready for the big storm starting May 8.

Round One: The Versatile Defensive Lineman

Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (6-6, 312). (Actually 6-5, 304.) Tuitt suffered a foot injury and couldn’t work out at the combine beyond an impressive 31 reps in the 225-pound bench press. Coach Belichick’s rapport with Irish coach Brian Kelly could come in handy here, potentially giving New England’s personnel people access to some background that other NFL coaches may not have.

Fielding Tuitt on one end of the line and Chandler Jones on the other may prove too much for the Foxboro front office to forego. The junior played both defensive end and tackle, tallying 49 stops with 7.5 sacks for the Irish in 2013.

Round Two: The Long-limbed Cornerback

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska, (6-3, 215). (Weighed in at 218 pounds.) New England has a history of drafting defensive backs in the second round, and – after Eugene Wilson in 2003 – it becomes a history they’d rather forget (Terence Wheatley, Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Ras-I Dowling, Tavon Wilson). Will the Pats grow enamored of this player’s height and long arms? He’s so raw that his name comes with an asterisk and a warning at the bottom of the menu, but Jean-Baptiste’s size and power could see him go in the second round.

At the combine, Jean-Baptiste ran a 4.61 40, not fast but not slow enough to scare off the Pats, who tend to look for other traits beyond straight-line speed (Logan Ryan ran a decent 4.53; Asante Samuel a less-than-blistering 4.49). Jean-Baptiste had a so-so short shuttle at 4.33 seconds and showed fair strength with 13 bench reps, but he came alive in the jumping categories, leaping 41.5 inches vertically (best among DBs) and 10 feet, 8 inches broadly (tied for third best among DBs). The Cornhusker had 41 tackles, a sack, four interceptions and 12 pass break-ups last season.

Round Three: The (Other) Big Tight End

C. J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa (6-6, 262) (Actually 6-5, 265). While a rush on tight ends could come to fruition, a surplus of receivers will probably get picked over first. Other tight ends had surprising times in their 40s, bolstering the market for smaller, “move” types. In other words, Fiedorowicz has a solid chance to remain available in the third.

The Iowa product ran a 4.76 40 and benched 225 pounds 25 times, numbers that seem like a drag queen at the Provincetown Carnival: noticeable on their own, but probably not standing out on that particular day. He should be commended, however, for his 7.10-second 3-cone drill (someone notify WEEI.com’s Chris Price, who has kept track of the link between Pats drafts and 3-cone times).

The big ol’ Hawkeye managed 23 catches and five touchdowns in 2013 but could flourish in the right (read: Brady-led) offense. Coach Belichick’s relationship with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz won’t hurt in terms of getting a full picture.

Round Four: The Solid Interior Lineman

Tyler Larsen, Utah State (6-4, 317). (Weighed in at 313 pounds.) This guy had more starts than an over-caffeinated teen at a horror movie marathon, leading off 51 consecutive games at Utah State. Larsen made the All-Mountain West Conference team three times. Though weighing in at 313, his 6-4 is legit. Also legit? His upper body strength, as he had 36 bench reps in Indianapolis.

To be kind, he lacks foot speed, with a glacial 8.22-second 3-cone drill and a 23.5-inch vertical jump that won’t get him on the Celtics (although this year, maybe). Still, after watching Pats center Ryan Wendell get pushed around in the playoffs, a big, strong pivot could bring some punch to the offense.

Round Six: Doubling Down On Round Four

Marcus Martin, USC (6-3, 310). Would be nice, but …

John Urschel, Penn State (6-3, 313). We let Martin go here because the junior has risen up draft boards. Urschel caught our focus for several reasons, including his time at Penn State under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Urschel has been lauded for his smarts at PSU, earning a 4.0 average both as an undergrad and grad student in math.

The former Nittany Lion could fall to the Pats due to a lumbering 40 time (5.31 seconds); however, his size, strength (30 reps in the bench press), and 3-cone drill (7.55 seconds, top 10 for all O-linemen) make him intriguing. Add to that the fact he features more brains than a zombie movie (possibly from that horror marathon mentioned above) and that he has experience in a New-England-style offense, and he looks more and more like a Foxboro candidate.

Round Six: The Complementary Receiver

Kevin Norwood, Alabama (6-2, 198). Cody Hoffman, BYU (6-4, 223). We would love to see Norwood picked here, but his combination of production in the SEC, better-than-expected speed (4.48-second 40) and quickness (6.68 3-cone drill) should make him attractive to an NFL team before the sixth round. Hoffman could stay on the board due to his 4.65-second 40 time (that’s not just pedestrian, that’s icy-sidewalk-during-rush-hour-pedestrian) and his injury-plagued senior year. Tallying 57 catches for 894 yards and five touchdowns proved disappointing considering that, as a junior, Hoffman caught 100 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 TDs.

Hoffman would add size to the New England receiving corps, a group that – when missing the 6-3 Aaron Dobson – literally comes up short in competition. He lacks velocity, but his 6.89-second 3-cone drill shows the ability to break open in tight spaces. Could provide another bigger target outside the hash marks.

Round Six (Compensatory Pick?): The Special-Teamer/Quality Backup

Tyler Starr, South Dakota (6-4, 250). Not exactly sure how New England’s compensatory picks will work out, but we wanted to add Starr to the mix here. The Pats have looked to these later rounds for special teams depth since taking Matthew Slater in the fifth round in 2009 (Nate Ebner in the sixth in 2012 provides another example). At outside linebacker, Starr was the Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Year for South Dakota with 71 tackles (15 for loss), nine sacks, one interception and four forced fumbles.

Starr ran a plodding 4.95-second 40 while putting up 24 reps on the bench press (10th among linebackers). He sticks out for his quickness, including his 6.64-second 3-cone drill (first among linebackers – Hey, Price! Three-cone alert!) and 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle (fourth). For perspective, his 6.64 3-cone proved better than any running back at the combine and would have tied for third best among all receivers.

Round Seven: The Big Defensive Lineman With Potential

Zack Kerr, Delaware (6-2, 334). (Actually 6-1, 326.) The Patriots have had some success with late-round additions to the D-line, including Myron Pryor (sixth, 2009) and Brandon Deaderick (seventh, 2010). At 326 pounds, Kerr has the bulk to man the middle of New England’s defense. He was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team, after 57 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles his senior year.

Kerr seemed to help himself at Indianapolis, benching 225 pounds 28 times and running a 5.08 40. At first we thought his speedy performance would put him into an earlier round, before we realized that for whatever reason everyone seemed to zip along at the combine. (Seriously, the ball boy could have run a 4.6.)

The big Blue Hen also leapt 28.5 inches in the vertical – pretty impressive if you consider that a 167-pound man would have to leap that height with himself on his back to demonstrate the same power.

ROOKIE FREE AGENTS

The Patriots have a consistent record of success when it comes to finding productive undrafted free agents. Below, we feature several athletes who may get bypassed during the draft but could easily find their way to Foxboro the following week.

Only one of these players got invited to the NFL combine (receiver Corey Brown out of Ohio State). We’ve kept our original stats-based comments about each and added combine results or pro day dates.

The Productive Small-School Running Back

Branden Oliver, Buffalo (5-7, 208). Who doesn’t like to root for the little guy (besides Shaquille O’Neal fans, maybe)? Oliver had 310 carries for 1535 yards (5.0 avg) and 15 TDs. Also tallied 25 catches for 173 yards and 1 TD. Buffalo’s pro day is March 4.

The Underrated Middle Linebacker

Greg Blair, Cincinnati (6-1, 252). New England could use more size and depth backing up the line, especially with the possibility that Brandon Spikes will play elsewhere. Blair led the Bearcats with 106 tackles, including seven for loss (one sack). He also had three passes broken up and one forced fumble. Cincinnati’s pro day is scheduled for March 6.

The Pass-catching Fullback/Tight End Hybrid

Gator Hoskins, Marshall (6-1, 244). We mentioned Hoskins in our Senior Bowl review, but his one reception in that game failed to demonstrate his potential. Hoskins, who snared 13 TDs to lead all tight ends nationwide, would fill the Foxboro gap of a smaller, pass-catching tight end/fullback hybrid who can split out wide. In 2013, he had 44 catches and averaged almost 17 yards per grab.

Marshall has scheduled its pro day for March 12.

The Small-School ‘Tweener Defender

Jerry “BooBoo” Gates, Bowling Green (5-10, 227). From Tavon Wilson to Adrian Wilson, New England has tried to bring in a run-stopping safety/linebacker hybrid with enough speed to cover a tight end and. Besides, who doesn’t love a good Yogi the Bear quote?

In 2013, Gates had 71 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, plus two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He also averaged 31 yards per kickoff return. Bowling Green has yet to list a pro day on their website. Come on, Freddie and Frieda Falcon!

The Raw Receiver

Corey “Philly” Brown, Ohio State (5-11, 190). (Actually 178 pounds.) Last season, Brown led all Buckeyes with 63 catches, gaining 771 yards and scoring 10 TDs. Old Belichick friend Urban Meyer (though, considering some recent Florida alums that became Pats, maybe not Bill’s bestie at the moment) called on Brown as a rusher (four for 42 yards) and punt returner.

At the combine, Brown was timed with a 4.51-second 40, a 4.22-second 3-cone drill and a 7.16-second 3-cone drill. None will make NFL personnel directors get out of their chairs, but his experience, production and tutelage under Meyer could get him to New England.

The Backup QB For Grooming

Tommy Rees, Notre Dame (6-2, 214). Seemed like a good idea at the time. However …

Garrett Gilbert, SMU (6-3, 225). Despite Coach Belichick’s connection with Coach Kelly (and thus with Rees), we switched to Gilbert after we reviewed his accuracy. He completed 335 of 504 passes (66 percent) for 3,528 yards and 21 touchdowns in 10 games, missing the final two with a knee injury. Also ran for six TDs. He passed for over 300 yards in eight games and over 400 in three games. Totaled 538 yards passing vs. Temple.

SMU’s pro day is planned for March 28.

The Rutgers Guy

Antwan Lowery, Offensive Guard (6-3, 310). Rutgers rookies have been traveling to Gillette more often than Bon Jovi. Lowery battled injuries this past year but in 2012 was honored as a First Team All-Big East offensive lineman. In January, he participated in the East-West Shrine Game. During his redshirt freshman year he switched from D-line to offense, also filling in as a fullback for short-yardage situations.

Rutgers’ pro day is slated for March 12. (Put that on your calendar, Pats fans!)

What say you, draftniks? What players have we missed? What potential trades have we failed to take into account? Let us know in the space below.

Chris Warner can be reached via email at chris. [email protected] or through Twitter at @cwarn89

 

 

Sports Media Musings: February Sports Coverage Is The Worst Kind Of Sports Coverage

Programming Note: With Bruce away, I’m captaining the ship this week. Always exciting, often disastrous. Shoot tips, comments, and other feedback to [email protected] or, if you consider yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

WARNING: THIS IS A RANT

I don’t like to be the Everything Sucks Guy. I really don’t. The Internet is full of Everything Sucks Guy(s). You don’t need another one of those voices filling the space here. But today, dear readers, I deviate; because while hanging out with friends this weekend, we pondered a significant question: Is February the worst month of the calendar year to be a Boston sports fan?

It has to be. Ohhhh, it hassss to be. We’re stuck in quicksand consuming takes on takes on takes about the NFL Combine, Red Sox Spring Training, and the merits of tanking in the NBA. Really, the only thing we have to hold our hat on is the Bruins. And, keep in mind, the playoffs are months away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for Jenny Dell, Will Middlebrooks and Everlasting Love; the over-saturation there helped me avoid an over-the-top, deep-dive into the meaning of Erin Andrews’s new role as host of “Dancing With The Starts.” (Or Erin Andrews doing anything, really.)

But, truthfully, I can’t stand February. This realization goes beyond the lack of relevant games, though — it’s everything else which has made consuming sports better and worse in 2014. What this all comes down to is speculation. Because if speculation is what you crave, February will tickle your fancy.

The main offender here is the NFL Combine, because the NFL Combine is terrible. Actually, let me rephrase — the combine itself isn’t horrible, but the way we digest the results definitely is. The problem is that the wall-to-wall coverage has not made us better, more knowledgeable fans. Nope. It’s made us informed juuuuuust enough that we’re annoying about the whole endeavor – like a college student trying to explain Occupy Wall Street to Will McAvoy.

Yeah, that’s fans and the media these days. A lot of people talking at once, without any real idea what’s going on in front of us.

For example, did you hear that draft pundit on “Toucher & Rich” this morning? I didn’t bother remembering his “premium” website, because he said things like “Jadeveon Clowney isn’t a winner.” He spoke in generalities and clichés, it was like listening to Danny Woodhead, circa 2011, tell the media he “just has to work on improving, day-in and day-out.”

What is happening here?

Well, 35 percent of fans, bloggers, “analysts”, radio hosts, and the like, take combine crap wayyyyy too seriously; as if someone’s 40-yard dash time tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about whether or not Player X will be an impact guy on Sundays.

(Because 40-yard Go -Routes are all the jazz in pro offenses these days. Seriously, I’d rather see how well DBs and WRs deal with pick plays; at least that would provide real context and maybe educate us with insight into what’s “dirty” or clean)

Then there’s 40 percent of the same crew, who have a little better handle on real life and understand that game film matters more than how awesome Player X is at working out. Of the remaining 25 percent, a decent chunk — let’s say 20 percent — then find themselves explaining the real value at the combine: the player interviews with team representatives behind closed doors: Are you in shape? What do team doctors think of you? Is your mom – or has she ever been – a prostitute?

Finally, the remaining five percent of people invested in this process, in one form or another, throw their hands up and say “I have no idea what is going on, and neither does anyone else.” As the coverage ramps up – and, in coming years, methinks it will – the blurriness between these groups will only distort. I can’t wait.

Spring Training isn’t much better. Let me sum it up for you: Xander Bogaerts is well on his way to being the next Mike Trout (Because you have to file the unreasonable column in Spring Training, so you can write the “WHAT’S WRONG WITH Xander??” column come July. Jackie Bradley Jr. is emphatically shaking his head in agreement). Jon Lester says he’ll take a home team discount, but that’s only left us to ask if he’ll take a real home team discount?

More story lines: Lots of Stephen Drew talk, the ongoing debate surrounding David Ortiz’s contract, and Ryan Dempster‘s shocking decision to walk away from $13 million. Plus, lots of stretching. That too. Like the combine, getting wrapped up in this discussion is fun, but generally pointless until the games start. (After all, remember, Bobby Valentine dazzled the cynical Boston sports media in Spring Training before the fourth estate gloriously turned on him.)

I won’t even get into tanking. At this point, the only thing worse than tanking is talking about the idea of tanking. Also, seedy stories like Rajon Rondo taking “unscheduled” off-days are always a good time; I’m sure people will have reasonable takes about that situation. This should be fun.

***

Now, as I understand it, the popular month’s people tend to point to as the nadir of the Boston sports calendar are July or August.

Not to be a jerk, but to that I say FOOLS. All of you.

(Alert: HOT LIFE TAKE coming your way – set your mind to blown)

As the wonky Internet writer, who fancies himself an intellectual luminary, one that is omniscient about these sorts of things (Read: life matters), allow me to explain. You see, there is life that takes place outside of sports. And July and August is when the other aspects in life supersede the enjoyment gained from sports. That’s not to say there is no room for sports, of course — but its place is auxiliary to all the other great events that make summer, well, summer.

Day drinking. Barbeques. Barbeques AND drinking. Beach days. Beach nights. Beach days AND beach nights. Summer concerts. Not to mention, people are in better shape and appear to be considerably happier – mainly because it doesn’t hurt to go outside. Sports is the cherry on top when I have all that going on in my life.

February? In February, it hurts to go outside. My lips are constantly chapped, face egregiously red because of wind burn, and people around me all gain weight because they can wear layers in the winter. And while there’s day drinking, it’s typically indoors in order to avoid the elements.

Case in point: my friends and I spent Saturday bowling, because there was alcohol and it was near my buddy’s condo. Then we watched Duke-Syracuse and speculated about NBA Draft prospects, because, as previously mentioned, in February there’s not much else to do but speculate.

Sports Media Musings: Bill Simmons Shines During Celtics-Lakers Telecast; Kirk Minihane Saves “Dennis & Callahan”

Programming Note: With Bruce away, I’m captaining the ship this week. Always exciting, often disastrous. Shoot tips, comments, and other feedback to Hadfi[email protected] or, if you consider yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

Today: In which we go Three & Out — yet again, because we lack a stretch wide receiver – while we discuss happenings in the media, as we brace for yet another Polar Vortex this week … BURRRRRR.

FIRST DOWN: It’s That Sports Guy On Celtics-Lakers

When it was announced Tommy Heinsohn would only provide color commentary for home games this year, my interest immediately piqued. Finally! Who would they bring in? Does this mean more Donny Marshall? God, I hope this doesn’t mean we’ll have more Donny in my life. Does he get any royalties from Ray Allen’s contract? He should definitely earn a little off the top.

Turns out, much like the admirable job NESN did back-filling the void created from Jerry Remy’s absence in the booth last summer, the brass over at Comcast has done a good job finding talent to insert on the road – Jackie MacMullan, Dave Cowens, and even the C’s General Manager, Danny Ainge, have all helped call games alongside the venerable Mike Gorman. Hey, if nothing else, the personalities have been interesting choices, in a somewhat uninteresting season of local basketball.

Enter ESPN’s Bill Simmons. As with all things (Boston) Sports Guy, his appearance on the broadcast of Friday night’s Celtics 101-92 loss to the Lakers was met with a wide range of reaction, because, these days, the Internet exists so we can dissect such things with purpose and vigor normally associated with political campaigns.

Here are scattered musings about The Sports Guy’s performance …

… Overall, listening to Simmons field questions during the pregame show was insightful and enjoyable. The guy is plugged in and has the perspective of someone whose knowledge extends well beyond the Celtics, because – you know – he watches the NBA, as opposed to aimlessly giving an opinion. For instance, Simmons spoke to why winning the lottery isn’t the end all be all of getting a good draft pick, because the lottery is full of dudes like Michael Carter Williams and Trey Burke who can be had with the seventh or eighth pick.

… I don’t think 85% of sports radio hosts in Boston know who MCW is or where he went to school last year. #FactNotOpinion. And stuff like that is a shame, because the NBA is great. It really is. But intelligent, league-wide conversation around these parts is lacking.

… Don’t think Sports Guy could pull this off as soon as a year ago. He’s improved considerably since joining ESPN’s NBA studio show.

… That said, I could have done without the obligatory “Wanna give a shout out to my friend Sully, Murph, Sully, Sully, et al” joke, but whatever.

… Could have also done without the weird interactions with courtside folk. Again, whatever — you win some, you lose a lot. This wasn’t a huge deal.

… I get that he’s polarizing — although, I’m not sure why — but hate him or love him, no matter how much his circumstances, access, and connections have evolved over the years, Simmons hasn’t changed the way he views sports – from the prism of a fan’s perspective — and there’s something incredibly endearing about that. He kept on rambling about how calling a game with Gorman was a bucket list item of his. Kind of cool.

… To that point, anyone berating Simmons for saying “we” or “us” in reference to the Celtics during the telecast misses the entire point. Plus, he’s filling in a role normally held for Heinsohn, a dude who doesn’t exactly scream objectivity.

… Within five minutes of opening tip, Simmons compared Jeff Green to an actor who doesn’t want to be the lead in a big budget film, but is instead content reprising the third or fourth role. When this happened, I’m quite certain Drew Magary’s head exploded.  SOMEONE CHECK ON DREW.

… Speaking of Magary, Deadspin took an opportunity to call out CSNNE for trying to fetch ratings with the addition of Simmons to the telecast. Because Lakers-Celtics used to mean something! (Or something.) It wasn’t that the assertion was particularly off – it was a Friday night and, on Twitter, I saw multiple people admit they were drawn to the telecast solely because of Simmons, as opposed to the two awful NBA teams that played subpar basketball. But, as Simmons told Chad Finn last week, this was planned in the offseason. The network had no way of knowing whether or not the Celtics or Lakers would be terrible. (To be fair, given the rosters, that certainly seemed likely)

Either way, does anyone else think Deadspin/Gawker’s infatuation with everything Simmons is beyond perverse at this point? Seriously. Transcribing the Lena Dunham podcast? (An interview where Simmons, ironically, announced that he likes Jezebel, Gawker’s website that boasts the tagline “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion For Women. Without airbrushing”) How about Tim Marchman’s well-written, but curiously agenda-driven breakdown of the controversial “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” feature on Grantland?

(I’ve already written extensively about this issue, but a quick refresher: Marchman does a fine job illuminating the journalistic failings of the piece, but ultimately tries to make this a marco issue about Grantland-Bill-Simmons. Frankly, it wasn’t. Any publication could have made the same mistakes. Do you know about trans-gender sensitivity issues? I sure don’t.  In fact, Deadspin, along with many other prominent journalists/publications, initially loved the piece.)

… And yes, this is interesting coming from me, someone who spends far too much of my own time thinking about media criticism.

… All that said, I don’t think I could watch Simmons call games on a regular basis, but I’m not sure he’d want to do that either.

SECOND DOWN: Kirk Minihane’s Jedi Mind Tricks

The morning show over on WEEI, “Dennis & Callahan,” have spent a considerable amount of time debating the impact of team chemistry on a team’s fortune, specifically how the intangible trait helped aid the Red Sox during their World Series run last season.

New guy – otherwise known to them as The Savior – Kirk Minihane, argued that stuff like team chemistry is overblown and simply another example of an overwrought narrative that morphs into (faulty) truth. (THEY LIKE EACH OTHER = WINNING!) John Dennis and Gerry Callahan could not wrap their head around this logic, but Minihane would only concede that chemistry merely helps matters and that it’s hardly important.

RELATED: “Dennis & Callahan” is listenable again, and it has nothing to do with chemistry. It’s funny: Minihane’s existence keeps Callahan and Dennis employed, as they disprove their own HOT SPORTS TAKE. This is a profession where chemistry matters — presumably more than something like baseball, anyway.

But on-air chemistry is much different than the type of crap Dennis and Callahan are espousing as ingredients for winning baseball games. Knowing your cues, when to let the other guy go on a tangent, or to put him in his place is comparable to a pitcher being in sync with a catcher. It’s occupational chemistry.

Whether or not, David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks double date with their respective WAGs is different. Sure, it may help matters, but overall, a relationship outside the game lacks any real bearing on the scoreboard. The same can be said for the resurgence of “Dennis & Callahan.” I get the feeling Minihane respects Callahan and tolerates Dennis. These guys don’t seem like best friends; they’re colleagues with similar aspirations. But it works. So much so that Minihane says if the duo doesn’t get the extensions they’re looking for that he’d walk. (I’m not sure if this is Minihane saying Minihane things, or if he’s serious – methinks it’s the former).

The funny part is that Dennis and Callahan definitely go into Phil Zachary’s office touting their banter and formula that is catching steam, but the truth is Minihane would’ve revived “The Big Show” the same way. Who isn’t listening to Michael Holley  and Minihane over “Felger & Mazz”? It was another long, overdue move – just like the switch to FM – that, for whatever reason, Entercom waited about a year too long to make.

(Side bonus: Minihane is writing more often at WEEI.com again. His stuff is usually worth your time.)

Third Down: Other Media Matters, Random Thoughts

… Question: How dumb am I for NOT watching True Detective? Is it good? How good?

… Congrats to Tony Gonzalez on his new role as part of the NFL Today studio show on CBS. Which also means happy trails to Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe, both of whom are being booted after yet another season that CBS trailed FOX’s coverage in ratings. I’ll miss nothing about Sharpe, except for his DAPPER suits. They were the best.

… As much as “Bill Belichick, The General Manager” supposedly sabotages“Bill Belichick, The Head Coach,” at least they’re cordial with one another (Sources say the strong relationship is due to the two being the same person. BSMW hasn’t confirmed these reports. Stay tuned…) That’s not the case in San Fransisco, however, where it appears Jim Harbaugh was in talks to be traded to Cleveland because he and the 49ers GM, Trent Baalke, don’t play nicely with one another. File this under: THANK GOD THIS STORY ISN’T HAPPENING IN BOSTON. (I think I would just ignore the Internet altogether if it was)

James Franco on seflies was better than James Franco on Shia LaBeouf, which was also really, really good. An auspicious start to a – possibly recurring??? – role contributing to the New York Times.

… The NFL is thinking about implementing a 15-yard penalty for using discriminatory language on the football field. I feel like Roger Goodell and the competition committee made a deal with talking heads in the media on ways it can fuel stupid, moralistic debates during the offseason. Is there an incentive metric for this in his $44.2 million annual compensation package? Has to be.

Alec Baldwin wrote at length about his “retirement” from public life. Is it me or is he totally one of those people in your life that announces on Facebook that they hate Facebook and are quitting, instead of – oh, I don’t know – simply deactivating their account? HOLY self-aggrandizement.

Catching Up With Some Quick Notes

Several notes from the last few days:

Will John Henry Save the Globe? – Jason Schwartz in Boston Magazine has a feature on the new owner of the Boston Globe. The feature overall is very good, an informative look at the new stewardship of Henry, and his ideas and goals for the paper.

A few points of interest:

One Monday after a Patriots game early in Henry’s reign, the new owner walked into McGrory’s office, sat down, and started thumbing through the Sports section. Why, he asked, weren’t there more ads? Soon after, McGrory and his fellow editors launched a new Patriots recap section called “Score”—with more space for big, eye-catching photos, and hopefully greater appeal to advertisers.

There’s your motivation for the special NFL section. Not to deliver a better experience for the reader with higher quality stories and features. Just more ads.

After Henry bought Liverpool FC in 2010, Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy made a habit in his column of asking whether he was spread too thin to effectively run the Red Sox (in case you’re wondering, McGrory says Shaughnessy has “the safest job in New England”). Now Henry has the Red Sox, Liverpool, and the Globe.

Well gee, I sure am glad that Shaughnessy is assured of future employment. I think that kind of says it all about the Globe and how it feels about sports and it’s readers, don’t you?

The Herald yesterday had a story on Henry looking to sell the Globe’s headquarters and move to a smaller site in the city.

John Henry to sell Globe HQ

Experts have told the Herald that Henry could actually fetch $75 million for the property. He technically paid $38.4 million for the site — which is its assessed tax value — in the $70 million deal with The New York Times.

So the rest of the paper – the “talent”, etc was worth $31.6 million? Consider that the same package was sold for 1 Billion dollars 20 years ago. A Shaughnessy just isn’t worth what it used to be, I guess.

A BSMW reader also made the following observation:

“Technically” accounting rules require that you first assign the purchase price of a business to the identified tangible assets (eg the Morrissey property), and then assign the residual to the intangible assets (eg the trade name, customer lists, workforce, goodwill). In this instance, after assigning $75 million to the property, Henry is left with something quite rare: negative goodwill. Translation – he agreed to takeover a money losing, worthless business in a dying industry in return for a 7% discount on a nice piece of real estate. Assessed value is meaningless.

He went on to point out that you can make the argument that the Boston Globe provides more value to the owner of the Boston Red Sox than it is to any other potential buyer.

In other Globe news, great to see Shaughnessy again today making himself the focus of a story, while saying that no one “hates” David Ortiz in Boston. Shaughnessy and others who say this clearly don’t listen to sports talk radio and some of the things that are said about Ortiz both by hosts and callers.

In a bit of positive news, congrats to Celtics beat man Baxter Holmes.

Holmes has been a great hire for the Globe. He’s done some great work – the three part feature on coach Brad Stevens being one – and more importantly from a reader standpoint, he does it the right way. The focus is on the story, and telling stories, and he’s been very impressive during a tough Celtics season.

*********

’EEI tanks after morning drive – Inside Track has the latest on the WEEI woes. The morning show is lauded despite dropping from 2nd to 4th in its time slot.

Tom Werner says Jenny Dell is free to leave NESN – Chad Finn has the Red Sox saying that Dell is free to seek out other opportunities if she desires.

The other owner: How Mike Gordon has become a key Red Sox figure – If you didn’t check out this feature by Alex Speier on the man who owns more of the Red Sox than anyone not named John Henry, its worth a look.

Round-By-Round Review, Pats Draft 2014

Last year on BSMW, we took a close look at each New England draft round  of the Bill Belichick era. Time to take 2013’s selections into account.

As of right now, Coach Belichick has seven picks in the 2014 draft, with an extra sixth-rounder making up for the lack of a fifth-rounder (resulting from the trade for defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga). The Patriots may get an additional late-round compensatory pick due to some free agent defections in 2013.

Every one of New England’s seven 2013 choices saw the field, with some displaying strong progression throughout the year. The team also added a handful of undrafted rookies who contributed. A complete list of undrafted free agents signed right after draft weekend can be seen here.

[Read more...]

Reading Between the Lines Podcast: Episode 2 — Michael Pina

A lot of great reaction to last week’s podcast with Dan Kennedy and Adam Kaufman, which is greatly appreciated on my end. I’m still working out the kinks, and quickly fell behind this week while working on my Metro Boston column and a Sports Media Musings piece for you guys tomorrow. The hope is to have an iTunes feed up and running by next week’s episode.

In Episode 2, I talk to Michael Pina, who writes for various sites on ESPN’s True Hoop Network, including Celtics Hub, as well as Sports On Earth & The Classical. Basically, he has a problem: he is a certified basketball junkie. Which is a great thing for readers, because he’s part of the wave of young basketball scribes who really teach you about the game’s nuances through analytics, clips, and still-frames.

CLICK HERE for the direct link to the player on SoundCloud if the player is not showing up on your Smart Phone. If you want to skip around, below is a breakdown of our conversation. As always, thanks for reading listening! Say hello on Twitter: @Hadfield__.

0:00 – 8:40 We talk about writing styles & the Sloan Sports Conference.

8:40 – 16:55 The conversation shifts to Celtics talk: Jeff Green’s future, the Rajon Rondo narrative (CAN HE BE THE BEST PLAYER ON A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM?!), and other relevant topics are discussed.

16:15 – 25:00 (END) With the Celtics, for most part, being irrelevant come spring time, we pick our favorite teams to watch, who we think is coming out of Western Conference (either the Heat or Pacers are a lock for the Eastern Conference), & the idea of “clutchness.”

Sports Media Musings: NFL Prospect Michael Sam Announces He Is Gay; The Media Debates How The Media Will Treat The Story

Today: In which we discuss Michael Sam’s decision to step forth as the first openly gay NFL prospect. Before doing so, let’s pass along some prerequisite reads from much smarter writers than myself.

Cyd Zeigler, of Out Sports, has the exclusive behind-the-scenes story of how Sam’s PR team chose to come out to the public with the news, including the thought process behind which outlets to confide in, etc. The piece deep dives into the decision to give the television component to ESPN, but the written news to the New York Times, in order to maintain control of the message. A must-read for media junkies.

LZ Granderson, who is a columnist at ESPN (and gay as well), says Sam’s announcement maters, but it’s hardly groundbreaking.

Mike Tanier is one of my favorite football writers in the country right now. Although, he’s quickly on his way to becoming one of my favorite writers, period. His piece on Sam is excellent.

***

The media (predictably) spent the immediate aftermath of Sam’s announcement debating — what else? — HOW THE MEDIA will treat the story. That statement reads cannibalistic, but the conversation felt genuine. Still, contemporary media’s penchant to hedge the future importance of something — anything, really — as its happening, rather than what it means in the here and now, is fascinating. Let’s play along, if only to work this out in our head and on your computer screen by answering three peripheral questions:

1. Is this a story?

Block everything surrounding this announcement out, and simply look at the decision as to whether or not this is “news.” The answer, of course, is that yes — this is a story. We’re traversing uncharted territory and establishing precedence here. To that end, there is immense news value, and plenty of angles to explore. Saying otherwise is ignorant at best and borderline insulting at worst.

Now, when someone questions the magnitude of the announcement or says “so what?,” they aren’t really downplaying its importance or significance, they are scaling back the scope of media reaction to show progress. The implication of that reaction is that we’ve come so far as a society that an openly gay football player assimilating himself to the NFL culture, by and large, shouldn’t be a big deal anymore. And that, really, silence on the matter — seamlessly moving on with our lives without skipping a beat — displays true acceptance, the kind which doesn’t need acknowledgement because This Is Just The Way Things Are. In theory, this is fine, but we live in the real world, where Sam’s decision engenders attention, both positive and negative.

As an aside, it’s interesting: Sam’s advisors planned the timing in a way that helps NFL officials absorb the news as much as possible before the draft. And while that method could prove effective in terms of his draft position, the media, as its wont to do, could find layers to explore, which will only build anticipation — effectively prompting the exact opposite outcome Sam was looking for. Time will tell, just something to consider.

2. What kind of legs does this story have?

It depends on the inevitable moment when an athlete or media talking head (probably the latter) says something stooooopid. So far the media has spent more time discussing whether or not this is a story (again: it is, you imbeciles), than the story itself. Because that’s how we talk about about everything these days. (e.g. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!)

By the way, Herman Edwards never stood a chance here. It’s not a good look, but I suspect, we’ll see worse down the road.

3. OK. That’s a given. Stop dancing around the question: Really, how long?

Fred Toucher compared this to the Manti T’eo scandal last year, which feels off. Toucher’s point is that the T’eo thing was THE story of 2013, but its attention died down shortly after the draft. His argument ultimately fails, however, because while both of these moments live in the era of the 24/7 news cycle, where we drop whatever has our attention for the next shiny object, they are rife with important differences.

Chief among them is that the “distraction” T’eo provided is his own humiliation; meanwhile, Sam’s pending employment (hopefully) fosters progress. This is a critical distinction. Sam is representing an entire demographic, one that this announcement profoundly affects not just today, but going forward. Forever, really. On the other hand, T’eo knowingly perpetuated a lie. It was salacious in every sense of the word, and the ubiquitous failings in the media to uncover the truth was certainly astonishing, but beyond that embarrassment, the story ultimately impacted T’eo and, I suppose, the fourth estate.

But, as with the previous question, the real implication goes beyond the surface of the question. What we’re really asking is “How long will this be THE topic that blogs, columnists, television panels, and radio shows are talking about?”

From an oversaturation standpoint, the period between now and the draft will see prolific overkill. That’s obvious. But it’s a special type of overkill: aimless overkill (my favorite kind!). Because no one, certainly not anyone in the media, is particularly adept at identifying draft value. (Think of how many impact guys come in undrafted every season, or how many third round draft picks outperform first rounders. Trying to reconcile his changed draft status — post-announcement — feels silly and pointless and empty, but simultaneously is an important question. Alas, #EmbraceDebate. Ewwwww.)

After Sam’s drafted – and, despite what one General Manager said in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column today, we’d be floored if he wasn’t drafted – the story will garner attention in training camp, but no more than other typical preseason storylines “Will RGIII will bounce back?”, “Is Rob Gronkowski healthy?”, “TEBOWWWWWWWWWW!” (I feel like a SportsCenter anchor just needs to yell “Tebow” once every 90 minutes in August – can’t just quit cold turkey). In the end, who cares? We just want to watch football.

As far as outlets ranging from TMZ to CNN? They’ll keep their eye on matters, but direct their attention elsewhere as soon as Justin Bieber enters rehab. So, basically, by Valentine’s Day.

 ***

At the very least, we’ll be taking a break from Pete Carroll: Leader of Men talk this week. Speaking of which, in my Metro column this week, I examine the Carroll era and rank the top-five expatriates of Boston Sports who we wouldn’t want to see a championship. Because lists are always fun. Especially negative lists.

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

Sports Media Musings: The Narrative Problem; Revisionist History of the Pete Carroll-Patriots Divorce; Sochi Games Unplugged

Today: In which we play a game of Three & Out while cleaning out the notebook as we head into the weekend. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

FIRST DOWN: The Narrative Problem

HOT SPORTS TAKES are all around Boston these days, and it’s killing my wardrobe. Yes, my wardrobe. This morning “Dennis & Callahan” teased whether Tony Gonzalez, who apparently left the door open to stave off retirement one more season to play for a Super Bowl contender, would even consider New England as a destination. The statement was so outrageous that I spit my coffee out. Now, I have a coffee stain on my shirt. Thanks a lot, Hot Sports Takes. JEEZ.

To clarify, I’m not blaming “Dennis & Callahan.” They are just following suit, I suppose. But this idea that the NFC is now impenetrable needs to stop. The Seahawks and 49ers probably beat whoever comes out of the AFC this season. I have no qualms with that assessment, but the problem here is obvious: Football happens once a week, and in between games, we develop these “irrefutable” ideas/takes about teams and players, then either whimsically flip the idea or doggedly stress its absolute truth based on the result the following week.

It’s a foolish exercise and lacks any perspective, but hey — sure, NO ONE IS BEATING SEATTLE, until the Seahawks lose, then the tide turns to IS THIS THE BLUEPRINT TO BEAT SEATTLE? Rinse and repeat, and so on and so forth. You know the drill. When the Super Bowl happens, we’re stuck on that same narrative until summer time, and forced to listen Steve Young talk about Pete Carroll like he’s a philosopher as opposed to a fucking football coach with a straight face. This is real life. This is happening.

Meanwhile: WHAT HAPPENED TO ANY GIVEN SUNDAY???

// AND PARITY??

The answer? Those things don’t exist in the offseason.

(As an aside: Yes, the Patriots are still Super Bowl favorites. There are 32 teams, and they consistently reach the conference championship game, year in and year out, 8 out of 13 seasons in the Brady-Belichick era.)

SECOND DOWN: That Mind Erasing Device From Men In Black Totally Exists

As previously mentioned, the talking heads are having a field day with Carroll, and some are questioning, or at least discussing, whether or not Bill Belichick should loosen his grip on his team. The problem is that those espousing such ideas blacked out the downside to Carroll’s approach and conveniently forget to mention that Seattle is the first true beneficiary of the CBA (Russell Wilson & Richard Sherman count for LESS THAN A MILLION dollars on Hawks’ cap). Although, I refuse to believe the talking heads would ignore facts to promulgate an idea or, GASP, agenda.

No. Never. The only explanation?

In case anyone was exposed to such a device, here’s a refresher. This is what happens when 10-6 turns into 9-7 which turns into 8-8.

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I’m happy for Carroll, I really am. But I think his success is mutually exclusive in terms of how the Patriots should conduct affairs going forward.

THIRD DOWN: The Sochi Games Are Everything Right Now

Goalies taking a trolley between rinks, toilets that don’t work, and the Russian deputy prime minister indirectly admitting that the government has surveillance cameras set up in hotel rooms. So much wrong happening here. It’s fantastic, actually.

As insane as this sounds, I want to welcome the Olympics to the way in which we discuss sports in 2014. You’re a little late to the party, but that’s OK, kegs in the back, LET’S PLAY FLIP CUP!

What am I talking about? The way we talk about sports in 2014 has very little to do with sports. Bullying, the idea of tanking, the stoooopid Hall of Fame debates, everything about the NCAA, even over-the-top postgame interviews (OMIGAWD, DID YOU HEAR WHAT RICHARD SHERMAN SAID!? THUG … ACTUALLY, IF YOU MUST KNOW, HE WENT TO STANFORD. SO THERE.). These topics are related to sports, but unrelated to watching sports. The Olympics, though, are supposed to be different – the purity of sports, which is supposedly pristine.

Instead, it turns out, the Winter Games are just the rest of the sports world. Except maybe worse, like on steroids or something, because Russia is what happens when keeping it real goes wrong. When the games start, maybe that will change, but so far, it’s emblematic of the way we consume the rest of sports.

 

Reading In Between The Lines Podcast: Episode 1 – Dan Kennedy, Adam Kaufman

We’ll come back tomorrow with Media Musings.

Today: In an effort to serve the growing BSMW readership, I’m going to host a weekly sports/media/culture podcast (because I’m original like that) every Thursday afternoon entitled, “Reading In Between The Lines” (Get it? Sports ANDDDD writing pun — yeah, you got it!).

Now, a few quick caveats about the podcast, before you guys advise me not to quit my day job. First off, from a technology perspective, it’s an extreme work in progress. I bought a fancy-schmancy microphone with my Super Bowl winnings (PUMPED & JACKED), which is why I sound great in the introduction, but the recording software I’m using leaves a lot to be desired (hence the crappy interview sound).

But worse, as a host, I LEAVE A LOT TO BE DESIRED. I’m my own worst critic. It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to do “Sports Media Musings” here, as well as find my voice for my column over at Metro Boston. Sometimes, I look back to pieces I’ve written and a feeling of shame runs through my body. I suspect that’s the same feeling this first few months of the podcast will engender.  In general, with podcasting, I’m currently going through what Ira Glass calls the “creative gap” (Seriously, I implore you to watch this video, it’s 100000% true). I know what works, what doesn’t — and I expect everything about the product to improve.

Anyway, in Episode 1, I talk to Dan Kennedy, the author of Wired Cityand a nationally known media commentator who writes for the Nieman Journalism LabThe Huffington Post and other publications. He is also a panelist on “Beat the Press,” an award-winning weekly media roundtable on WGBH-TV (Channel 2). We discuss the Jenny Dell-NESN situation and the ramifications of John Henry purchasing the Boston Globe.

Then, at the 18:20 mark, I check in with Adam Kaufman, columnist for Boston.com and 98.5 The Sports Hub personality, about Curt Schilling, angry reader comments, and the new Entourage movie.

I’ll come back in later today and provide time stamps so you can skip around. As always, thanks for reading listening! Say hello on Twitter: @Hadfield__.