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.
The Bruins are winning (BUT PERHAPPPPSS PEAKING TOOO SOOOON …. DISCUSS !! ). The Patriots just put the rest of the NFL on notice. The Red Sox are set to begin their World Series defense. The Celtics, mercifully, have tanked their way into an apparent high draft pick (maybe). Even the UMass basketball team is relevant.
Sports, you guys! Drink it in, because it doesn’t get much better tha –
… Wait a minute? What am I talking about? More than anything else, one thing became clear this last month: Charles Barkley’s recent comments about ESPN “manufacturing controversies” as well as the remarks he made to the Boston media during the NFL playoffs about how New Englanders “don’t appreciate the Patriots” are unintentionally connected.
Chaz doesn’t realize the ESPN problem – meaning the oversaturation of vapid content (e.g. LeBron James! LeBron James!!! & LeBron James!!!!!; “ELITE/MT. RUSHMORE!!” segments; Skip Bayless; almost the entire NFL Countdown crew; Skip Bayless again) is actually more widespread than thought.
This is the pulse of the Boston sports landscape from a fan’s perspective:
The media? Yeah, they’re more inclined to think otherwise, because instead of all good vibes developing, we hear and read and watch analysis breaking down the following: “Are the Bruins winning too much, too soon??” (Because STORYLINES!) “Did the Patriots give into the noise?” (OMIGOD, get over yourselves) “Is Rajon Rondo a centerpiece?” (Maybe, maybe not – but we should probably wait until he’s playing alongside pedigree above the level of Chris Johnson to decide) “Is David Ortiz a mercenary?” (Plenty of venom thrown Big Papi’s way these days.)
Of course, the same people that write garbage like the following:
“Being good and smarter than everybody else in the face of the NFL norm is great for the Krafts. I’m sure John Elway, Manning, and Talib will care about that when they’re fighting for the Lombardi Trophy next February.”
… Not only follow-up with a “Jets reaction” piece (because commending a move you begged for lacks the requisite amount of lighter fluid to spark a HOT SPORTS TAKE), they also accuse this site of publishing propaganda. Good times! We really are obnoxious sports fans, Chuck.
Before we get to the emails, humor me and read my column for Metro Boston this week, on Dick Vitale – the last universally beloved blowhard (Yeah, I said it). To the emails …
For Salk’s replacement, I don’t think there is anyone to promote from within. They need to outside the building – Michael Smith, Danny Picard, Jen Royle, Marc Bertrand, Jermaine Wiggins.
I’m pretty sure Jermaine Wiggins and Jen Royle are both readily available. And each would make sense to replace Mike Salk, if only because it’d be the most WEEI-move EVER, right? Wiggins promoting his clothing line. Royle blathering on about her fucking dog. Dear God, just a complete disaster
According to Chad Finn’s piece today, Dale Arnold will reunite with Michael Holley for the foreseeable future (maybe longer??) to fill the void left by Salk’s departure. The duo will also have a rotating guest on the show, presumably to help back up whatever the topic of the day is.
Long term plans for the afternoon drive program? Happy you asked? This exact topic was discussed yesterday here, but if I were running the shop – HEY PHIL ZACHARY, LISTEN UP – here would be my shortlist of (realistic) candidates:
Marc Bertrand: My personal favorite. This is absolutely the Belichickian move, just poaching from the proverbial Jets, like a ruthless tactician. A Beetle Coup accomplishes a few things:
1.) Instantly makes your station younger, thus more relatable (Gerry Callahan’s comments about the gay community participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade isn’t doing you any favors, Phil)
2.) Weakens the competition (Beetle challenges Michael Felger on the regular which helps “Felger & Mazz because Tony Massarotti has been YARM-ing [‘You’re absolutely right, Mike!] for the better part of three years now. MEMO to Mazz: Look, I’m not one for #EmbraceDebate and I get Felger is your buddy, but palatable discourse with your counterpart doesn’t make for compelling radio, especially when your co-host – a champion of consistency – repeatedly contradicts his own seething analysis.)
Who isn’t at least interested in listening to “Holley & The Beetle”?
Chances of Happening: I’m sure WEEI would be on board. Beetle’s a regular on CSNNE, and a known personality. He’s level-headed, but hardly formulaic in a Salkified way. However, I have not reached out to Bertrand. I don’t know him aside from a few Twitter exchanges. And while it was made clear he has aspirations of headlining his own show when Damon Amendolara left for a national gig, does he want to roll the dice and leave a comfortable role at the highest-rated show in Boston for WEEI – a station seemingly in flux? He’s great with Chris Gasper on their Saturday show – maybe he’s still holding out hope the goodwill earned there will lead to something bigger at The Sports Hub. Who knows?
Kirk Minihane: I actually like this better than Bertrand because of familiarity; frankly, it’s the obvious move I’ve long-espoused. It would work, too. While filling in for Salk a few weeks ago, Minihane and Holley, with a shot of Tom E. Curran, predictably, was the best sports radio I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Chances of Happening: All things considered, as much as I want to yell PULL THE TRIGGER PHIL, DO IT … I get why “Minihane & Holley” will likely remain a pipe dream. In short, to his credit, Minihane has played a large part in revitalizing the “Dennis & Callahan” show. And last time management broke up a good thing – “Dale & Holley” – the worst case scenario unfolded. Which is all why it’s not exactly a shock to hear the word on the street is Entercom is happy with the current iteration of their morning drive program to the point where they wouldn’t want to jeopardize ratings in one place to bolster them in another.
Greg Dickerson: He’s in the same vein as Arnold, and don’t see it happening. A good guy, who’s likable (likability, amazingly, is still an ongoing issue for WEEI). Dickerson is a familiar face, which probably induces some eye-rolling around these parts, but I remember him and Gary Tanguay as mainstays co-hosting “Sports Tonight” before it was the “Sports Tonight” it is today, and it was clear he’s not an alarmist or contrarian. Moreover, Dickerson’s still young enough that he’ll translate to a wide audience … and he’s likely available.
Danny Picard: I’d be floored if ‘EEI gave the Southie product this platform, but not because of lack of effort – they’re simply not in position to take such a risk. Either way, Picard is a workhorse, evidenced by his daily podcast, “I’m Just Sayin’”, which he’s done for several years now. He’s earned a fill-in gig on WEEI and his time as as a staff writer at CSNNE.com helped him finally make his way up the ladder to appear on “Sports Tonight.”
Michael Smith: Would love to see it. Smith and Holley, two longtime pals, would be great together, but that dude isn’t leaving Numbers Never Lie and the comfort of Bristol for WEEI.
I don’t have much sympathy for Wilfork. He’s already been the highest paid nose tackle in NFL history. He’s coming off an injury and seemed like he lost a step before he was hurt. He’s already been paid $32 million I believe…and yet the team made the AFC title game without him. He’s not Revis, he doesn’t hold the same value to the team…the emotional element is the only thing that will irk some fans
Yeah, I’ve written about this for Metro Boston before. He was the best player on New England’s defense. A workhorse and anchor. Below are his usage rates in terms of overall defensive snaps played, courtesy of Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com:
2009: 51.8 percent
2010: 69.8 percent
2011: 86.8 percent
2012: 81.3 percent
So, he was a beast. That’s a given. Buttttttt in the same time frame, in FootballOutsiders.com’s excellent defensive statistic, DVOA, the Patriots defense ranked 14th, 21st, 30th (YES! 30th out of 32 teams!!), then back to a respectable 15th in 2012.
That’s not all on Wilfork, of course; he consistently took on two offensive linemen and single-handily helped Mark Anderson tally 10 sacks in 2011, which led to the Bills comically overpaying Anderson the following offseason (THE WAGONS! OH, THOSE BEAUTIFUL WAGONS!!! THEY ARE A CIRCLIN’!!!)
… You can’t look at these things in a vacuum, but Andy’s right in terms of CB versus nose tackle and how each position can help a defense. I hope Wilfork comes back, because I’m sappy and care wayyyy too much about the pending employment of big, jolly, no B.S., locker room leaders like Big Vince. But both parties will be fine if they goes their separate ways. (#analysis)
WEEI needs a big move, but the options seem quite limited. They want to bring in someone that can entertainingly lead a program, but co-headline with Holley. One name that comes to my mind is Damon Amendolara. Not sure he would return locally, but with a little money, you can sway people’s minds.
The human monologue and “big name”? Take a drink, sir.
Can you not blog with profanity? It’s childish and doesn’t really befit a self appointed critic of media that find ways to write without it. There’s simply not need for a word like **** on a site like this.
Wooaaaaaaah … first off, “self-appointed” media critic? Look, you can agree or disagree with what goes into these columns, but, if nothing else, I’d like to think I’m authentic – meaning, I don’t write for page views. However, calling me a media critic is stupid; it bestows authority that I’m not worthy of – like saying a reporter is an “expert” or an “insider” (the latter may be true, but just because a writer covers something doesn’t qualify them as an “expert”… they are just well versed in the topic). So, look, I’m delusional, but not that delusional. As far as swearing goes, I’m sorry about your virgin eyes. Everyone makes it to the back of the school bus at one point or another. I hope it was good for you, it was great for me.
What is people’s obsession with Jen Royle? She is absolutely terrible, was never prepared for her Saturday shows on ‘EEI in the past and has very thin skin. She would be a horrific choice for PM drive.
AMENDOLARAAAA & ROYLE.
(Don’t do it for us. Do it for the story, Phil. For the story.)
Yes, John Dennis is thin-skinned. To an Nth degree. Maybe when you stop deleting/editing comments that are critical of your work you ought write something about it.
Comment moderation is handled by the Big Guy running this operation, Bruce Allen. Any readers will attest I’m very open to people ripping me; granted, I’m not a troll — I don’t get off on it or anything. What I do here is mostly subjective, thus I hardly expect EVERY reader to enjoy my stuff, much less agree.
But yeah, you’re probably right: I’m terrible and completely off-base with everything I write. Also I’m a hack. A fraud. Thanks for not only reading, but taking the time to comment, all despite these shortcomings!
I think the WEEI ‘brand’ and ‘nameplate’ have been destroyed, no matter the people behind the microphone. There apparently is no way to right a ship once it has listed too far to starboard.
Disagree here. The downfall of WEEI certainly happened faster than anyone expected, but then again – while dominant, the station NEVER had the type of competition The Sports Hub presents. One thing we’ve all learned in the radio wars is that listeners are willing to change the dial if there’s better, more thoughtful (and less condescending) options available.
WEEI simply needs to find those options. So far, save for the addition of Kirk Minihane to the “Dennis & Callahan” show, every moved has been an unmitigated disaster. And more concerning, it wasn’t as if each move was met with great praise and then backfired – even at the time, the decisions were met with general trepidation, both inside the walls of Guest Street and out here, in the Blogosphere.
Re: Salk, Who knows, maybe the deal is that sports talk show hosts are a lot better if they have to actually show up in the locker rooms they talk about on air?
Keep up the writing
It would be hard for me – someone who has been in the locker room, covering each of the Big Four sports, but mostly writes from HIS MOM’S BASEMENT nowadays (not really, but you know what I mean) – to back up this theory.
Yes, there is real value being in the locker room. Getting to know the players, atmosphere, and the like does provide insight, but I think someone is capable of talking about sports in an entertaining and intelligent way without having been in a locker room.
“Of course, Belichick never is one to get caught up in the chatter or what the pundits are telling him to do. This time, however, he didn’t ignore the noise.” Karen Guregian, in the Herald today. There is not much more that is hateable about a journalist than when they starting take credit for things that happened outside of the world of journalism.
Going to give Karen Guregian a pass, mainly because it was a throwaway line, and she’s a pro. But agreed with your overall assessment, which is definitely a widespread problem.
Ryan, you do good work and I enjoy your columns. BUT, is there anything about Grantland you don’t like? I feel like at times you are a PR hack for them. Grantland has some good features, but really, in a blog post about “look at me” media members (Dino), doesn’t Grantland do the same thing with its pop culture stuff?
Speaking of Grantland, Bill Simmons & Co. has been doing another live webcast from his living room during the first weekend of March Madness. It’s basically a live stream of him, a few friends, Jalen Rose, and – new addition – Michelle Beadle watching the games, bull-shitting with one another. It’s not my cup of tea; but it worked well last year.
To your larger point, Grantland’s pop culture coverage is hit or miss. Wesley Morris and Alex Pappademas are fantastic; some of their other writers should try less. Often times, when they discuss a topic, like Matthew McConaughey’s resurgence (who I never thought had the chops to pull off the role he played in True Detective), it’s almost as if they’re trying to shoehorn every little moment as a larger paradigm shift that we’ll remember in 20 years …When, in reality, more often than not, these things don’t truly matter. A moment can be just that – a moment – meaning everything doesn’t have to take on this grandiose theme, greater than what is actually is.
As always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.