Help! We Don’t Know How To Talk Soccer!

That was basically the message I heard on both morning sports radio stations this morning, as they relied on callers for explanations and analysis of the  USA/Portugal World Cup soccer match yesterday.

Apparently Alexi Lalas was a little too fired up yesterday for the likes of Kirk Minihane as well, as the former Revolution defender was a target of the morning show.

Dan Shaughnessy got plenty of attention for his recycled and moronic  I’m choosing to ignore soccer column from yesterday.

Question: Are you really ignoring something if you’re writing an 800-word column on it in the region’s largest newspaper?

One thing is certain, Shaughnessy and his tomato can Globe editors were high-fiving over the reaction to the column, no matter how negative it was. The reaction is what matters. Effort, interest, prose, none of that matters.

A couple other notes:

Skip Bayless defended? A Q&A with head of ESPN’s First Take – An outstanding job by Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated in trying to get Marcia Keegan, the ESPN vice president of production to explain the appeal of the debate show.

Nick Cafardo wrote twice over the weekend saying that David Ortiz should have enough goodwill built up around Boston to get him through events like his complaints over the official scorer last week.  I agree. It seems ludicrous to me that Ortiz has so many detractors in this town, mostly on the airwaves. The emailers to Nick’s Saturday column (toward the end) are typical of the sort. They can’t wait until he’s gone. I don’t get that. You may not like him, but he’s done enough to earn some respect and some slack for when he does shoot off his mouth.

ESPN’s new SportsCenter set has gotten a lot of ink and attention over the last few days, but WCVB’s SportsCenter 5 OT also has a new look, and I thought it looked pretty good last night.

  • bsmfan
  • RoadToOctober

    Why shouldn’t Shaughnessy ignore it? Nothing worse than these phonies who don’t devote one second to soccer all year long, but now they want to talk about it as if they know what they’re talking about? At least Shaughnessy is being honest.

    • bsmfan

      I saw it the same way, as well.

      Want to anger your listeners? Be unauthentic and try to sound like you know something you don’t–or, worst, have no interest and just pay lip service (Francesa bit last week).

      To me, G&Z have been the “i’ll keep an open mind and let experts and listeners who follow help”. I’m sure it didn’t placate everyone but coming from someone who does watch, they seemed the most receptive and intellectually curious about it.

      When Shank admitted he doesn’t care, nor wants to, he reflects the opinion of many. Unless the US wins it, I hate to say it, but he’s right about the majority forgetting about soccer once that first Thursday evening game kicks off.

      • latetodinner

        Even if the USA wins it all Soccer gets forgotten when Seattle kicks off on that first Thursday night. But I think there is more nuance to this conversation than we are discussing. Dale Arnold has called Rev’s games. He should be able to lead a meaningful World Cup discussion. The real problem is that the fans are not educated enough to discuss it intelligently on the air. World cup soccer chat screams Long Form Segment radio like what ESPN does on their night time show that does not take call ins. Without an educated fan base it is awful radio. Because the stations were not discussing soccer for the past 4 years the fans are not educated. I don’t think you can blame just the host.

        • bsmfan

          Yeah, good points there.

          The problem is: how fast would the majority of sportstalk listeners tune out if, lets say, G&Z took 1-2 segments on Monday morning to discuss what went on in Europe over the weekend (all the big leagues)? I think they’d be flipping the dial real quick. What if you’re a serious Revs fan around here? Your only “chat” is one of the two big blogs that have forums for the team. I’d have to think that even with 98.5 having the Revs “rights” (simulcast of the TV feed..), the segment would tune the majority of listeners out.

          The closest to any of this is what ESPN and FOX are doing with their daily 30-minute shows, like ESPNFC has. It’s burried on ESPN2 at 5:30 but they’re still doing something. NBCSN has nothing outside of the pre and post to its EPL coverage. But, this is national, not local.

    • http://mcurtiss.tumblr.com mcurtiss

      The difference in him ignoring it and Joe Sixpack Baseball Fan ignoring it is that CHB makes him ignoring it the story.

      • RoadToOctober

        He’s a columnist, he writes his opinions. His column is about him not liking soccer. In essence, every columnist is making the story about them since it’s their opinions. If he ignored it, then he never would have wrote the column, and then you couldn’t bash him. The funny thing is that if he wrote this column about not liking the Ryder Cup, no one would care. So why is this such a big deal? Because “soccer fans” are a-holes. Many of them aren’t even real fans. They couldn’t care less about soccer any other time except now. Which is fine, but don’t tell me that I have to like it, or that I’m an idiot if i don’t watch.

        • Early_Riser

          I am the guy you reference here. I don’t watch soccer outside the World Cup. I can’t remember ever sitting down to watch a Revs game, or making it a point to check the scores or standings for them. But I’ll pay attention to the World Cup. I liken this situation to what happens every 4 years at the Winter Olympics. People who don’t normally give a toss about hockey watch the U.S. team and generally care about it, but when it’s over a lot of them are not following that interest back to the NHL, or not until the playoffs at the least (Not here or in solid NHL markets, but elsewhere). I think most of it is national pride/patriotism, and some of it is that you know you’re seeing the best quality of the sport being played that our country can provide. I think the spectacle of it all is another part of it. But you’re right, if you aren’t interested in it or don’t like it, you shouldn’t be admonished for it. However, those of us who aren’t hardcore soccer fans who are watching this should not be admonished either. The only people who deserve scorn are the bandwagon folk who act as though they’re huge fans of anything while the event is happening, then couldn’t care less when it’s over. Those are the frauds. For once, that doesn’t include CHB….well…except the part about him basically rehashing the same column for the third time and throwing it out there as new…

  • latetodinner

    Hey Bruce…Happy Summer…

    2 comments:
    1) On the soccer talk/Shaughnessy column issues. I think WEEI and 98.5 were caught a little flatfooted with the appeal of World Cup Soccer…similar to the way WEEI got caught flat footed on the appeal of Bruins talk prior to the Bruins Stanley Cup run. To be honest there are not a whole lot of qualified American media guys who do a good job breaking soccer down on the radio in a way that allows for decent sports talk. Even Taylor Twellmen doesn’t do a great job of making the sport accessible. He is knowledgable but in my mind too much of a cheerleader and not enough of an analyst. So look at the Boston Sports scene right now…the Sox suck and as long as Steven Drew bats .150 they are going to be mocked, the Celtics are hoping for a ping pong ball but otherwise no one cares right now, the Bruins disappointed everyone with how they went out, and the Pats do not start for 5 weeks…all this and because of ESPN’s exposure and the fact that there have been some good games (the USA/Portugal game was a very good game that just had a lousy outcome…but it was played quite well.) people want to talk soccer and Lucy Li but her performance is another post for another time. You would think the local talkers would be flexible enough to find people (even if they had to import them from England) to lead the soccer talk. They haven’t and as such the listeners suffer.

    2) On David Ortiz…Cafardo is wrong…no player ever has enough goodwill built up when they are paid $16 mill to allow them to act like a petulant 5 year old who is not allowed to eat Candy for breakfast.

    • bsmfan

      On #1:

      I think everyone was caught flatfooted on the appeal. Also, the “local talent” here? I can’t think of many. I give credit for 98.5 to have on a guy from WorldSoccerTalk.com (weekends so far), but here’s the problem: watching and following soccer, all the big leagues, is a full-time job. Also, many of these people would not be good to address a completely novice audience, or they’re bound by exclusivity agreements to their networks. T&R had Ray Hudson (think Jack Edwards meets Gus Johnson all in one but 100% soccer) on, but mainly because he’s so colorful, not because they were interested in the sport.

      But, you also point out he issue of both stations seemingly doing absolutely no contingency plan to bring in or on experts. I would think that an intern or PA would have been asked to spend 4-5 hours to find people and ask about their availability, like WorldSoccerTalk. You’d think most of these people would be happy to do a segment, in order to plug their website/blog, let alone the usual 50-100 gift card they mail them to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

    • http://mcurtiss.tumblr.com mcurtiss

      The problem in getting flat-footed is that now they are painfully trying to fit a “tie that feels like a loss” into their #hotsportstake mentality. When I heard comparisons to Buckner on the WEEI mid-day show yesterday, I knew they would have nothing more of substance to offer.

      • bsmfan

        Only defense of that I’d offer is that American fans are NOT used to how soccer analysis is done. The people who are either uninformed or are attempting to “Americanize” it resort to how analysis is done here. I’m not sure if it’s right, but it’s either a “defense” tactic or how they think they can bridge the gap with casual listeners.

        Is it good or will it work? Not with the hardcores. I also don’t know how the casuals view it.

  • OpinionNotFact

    The only people who care enough about what Ortiz did happen to have pulpits to preach from, unfortunately.

    • latetodinner

      That just is not true. My 72 year old uncle who has not missed a televised game in 35 years has changed his opinion of Ortiz greatly. He used to be a huge fan. Now he thinks at best he is a whiney, entitled, pampered 5 year old living in a 37 year old’s body. I know plenty of others who think that. The fact that they don’t have a platform just ensures their silence. I think what you see as apathy is in reality fatigue.

      • OpinionNotFact

        Given all the issues the Sox have right now, I really don’t care about Ortiz’s complaining, especially when he wasn’t exactly wrong in that situation.
        I get that he’s taken to this before and I can see how it would grate on you but ask yourself this; if it isn’t harped on day to day does it ever reach the point it has?

        • latetodinner

          That isn’t really the point. The point is does a guy who has been paid close to $200 mill over his career who is currently being paid $17 mill because he had a hissy fit, who had a huge storehouse of goodwill because of his on-field accomplishments and off wield charity work loose some of that gavitas when he acts like a petulant child. I am saying yes he does and it is not just the people with pulpits who think that way.

          I do agree with you with all of the problems the Sox have focusing on Ortiz’s behavior is kind of silly…but perhaps it is exactly because Drew is hitting .159, Boggarts is hitting .179 since Drew joined the team, JBJ is hitting .200, Nava regressed, Pedroia has lost any semblance of power and Farrell seems ill equipped this year to right the ship that listening to Ortiz’s “its all about my stats” tirades are wearing on people’s nerves.

        • andy

          Actually, that is the point. You just don’t agree with it.

          Moreover, the media points to three things that have occurred in the last 12 years (complaining about the RBI, the bat incident, & now this. Isn’t it interesting that Lucic threatens two members of the Canadiens and the media ho-hums that, yet this is a crisis. Please.

        • latetodinner

          There are more than 3 incidents…there are also the contract disputes. Look we all agree Ortiz has been great for the Red Sox. He was instrumental in 3 titles. He has done great charity work. But as I keep pointing out…when he acts like a petulant child…either in his contract negotiating or when he whines about an official scoring decision he looks bad. When he looks bad the Boston Media reports it as they should. Whether he is right about the ruling or not…there are better ways to get these things resolved than making a public spectacle of yourself.

          As for your comment about Lucic…its Hockey…unless he actually killed the Canadian press people it would not register as a story. Heck most causal Boston sports fans don’t know who he is.

        • Homer Greenz

          Ortiz looks ‘bad’, on this we agree, but the point is, who cares if he does?

          I follow baseball (and other sports) because I enjoy watching the game, talking about the game and stats. All of this other stuff, contract talks, personalities, what is enjoyable or necessary about it?

          This is what I don’t understand about the oft-heard complaint (this week) that “Ortiz never gets called out for anything”. Why is it my responsibility as a baseball fan, to be little David’s parent and teach him right from wrong? Is he even going to listen if I do? For crying out loud, do you see how ridiculous this all is?

        • latetodinner

          I don’t think Athletes should be roll models. I do think they have to realize they are paid exorbitant amounts of money because they are famous..not because they hit a baseball well…but because they are famous. Were they able to hit a baseball well and there was no fame…then there would not be $17 mill contracts. As the consumer of their fame product all I am asking is that they keep relatively petty issues that make themselves look like petulant 5 year olds out of the public view. Knowing a guy is paid $17 mill a year to hit a baseball rubs, at least me, the wrong way when he is complaining about the way the official scorer (I am not even sure the official scorer is actually paid) subjectively scored a play. In the end we are not far apart in that we enjoy sports and we care what the players do on the field. Where we disagree is whether or not the lack of honor, professionalism, curtesy coupled with the at times disdain or disrespect for the people who support the team effects one’s ability to enjoy the game.

          As a baseball player I think Ortiz is great. However, between the PED whispers/promised explanation that never materialized, his continuing selfishness when it comes to stats and his yearly contract whining I find him hard to like as a person and that effects my enjoyment of him as a player. Maybe it shouldn’t but it does. I can’t separate the off field stuff with the on field performance. I can’t do it with anyone who makes money in the fame business whether they are an athlete, an actor, a politician, a musician or something else. If they have a carefully presented public persona and they profit from it, then when they do something hypocritical or stupid or repugnant I am turned off to them.

      • Oswee Larvey Hald

        Guarantee your unc was loving Ortiz last year when he was hitting .688 in the WS.

        Professional athletes are entitled and pampered across the board. Why are people surprised when they behave as such? They have the mentality of kids because people have been kissing their asses since they were in high school and as a result they’ve never grown up.

  • bsmfan

    ESPN posted a link with all the #’s from yesterdays game, including market breakdowns. Boston was, again, top5:

    http://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2014/06/usa-portugal-most-viewed-soccer-match-ever-in-u-s/

    Most watched, ever. If you also combine the Univision + ESPN #, it even beat out last year’s BCS National Title Game (Superbowl of CFB).

  • bullock

    I liken soccer to practicing religion or enjoying Rush. If it brings happiness and meaning to your life, then I’m happy for you. Just don’t try to convert me.

    … But I’ll admit I have been swept up in this year’s World Cup and I don’t care if that makes me a fraud.

    • bsmfan

      So may your wish be granted: http://i.imgur.com/Y5AJV12.jpg

    • latetodinner

      I totally agree…Geddy Lee sounds like a chipmunk on speed…I don’t understand anyone who likes them…besides they are a Canadian band!

      Having said that..$10 bucks is $10 bucks…still makes me laugh when I listen to the Great White North album (even if Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis are both Canadians).

  • nsbombers

    The people who are following the world cup are not your typical sports radio listeners,Myself I’ve been waiting for soccer to be the next big thing since the seventies.I know my friends early fifties are not watching.Yes they are drawing huge numbers but its every four years.Plus you have a second language network involved.

  • Brian Shea

    He gets a lot of criticism here, and deservedly so (oftentimes from me!) but Michael Felger’s done a great job with the attention he’s given to soccer for several weeks now.

    And Ortiz deserves the criticism he is getting over the complaining situation.

    • bostonbruins59

      It shows just how low the bar is when you have to praise Felger for his soccer coverage. I agree its good to hear him actually cover it but true to form, he can only operate in a very narrow band. Don’t get too technical on him like some caller did last week in mentioning a 4-4-2 or he’ll hang up on you. Let him, in one breath, mock Lalas for his lack of analysis but then not allow any of it on his own show either. I think he feels he needs to keep his fellow idiot hosts happy who have bashed him any time he or a caller wish to talk soccer but, as usual, the show degrades to the least common denominator.

    • Homer Greenz

      He does sound sincere and the short portion of the show that I heard yesterday was entertaining. Was Tony the Phony off for the day, maybe that’s why my head didn’t explode?

  • bsmfan

    Oh, boy… thank god ESPN has to cover tennis and the World Cup today..

    @awfulannouncing If LeBron James and Johnny Manziel both end up in the same city, ESPN is moving from Bristol to Cleveland.

  • bostonbruins59

    Agreed, CHB is being typical CHB and not unlike the majority in the local Boston sports media. Since he doesn’t know the game and is too lazy to learn it he feels the need to write some superficial crap about how he’s ignoring it as though its some noble act. He probably doesn’t care about lacrosse, wrestling, bowling, golf, or skiing either. Do we need to see pieces on how he chooses to ignore each of those sports too? Who cares what this guy likes? I have chosen to ignore him for years since he brings nothing but the contrarian to the table anymore.

    • bsmfan

      Greggggggggggg Doyle said the same this morning on D&C.

      CHB has already tarnished his credibility so far that you can’t take him seriously on anything.

      If it was just an honest take, I appreciate it (amazing for an established media member to preach being open minded, too!). But, knowing him, he did it just to write a #HOTSPORTZTAKE.

  • OpinionNotFact

    This morning’s scorching hot sports take? Luis Suarez = Aaron Hernandez.

    Thanks John Dennis!

  • bsmfan

    So, in the past day, Tomasse and Pete Abe both put out their “break this team up” articles. Can’t help but laugh at the “coincidental” timing here. I assume this is management’s “focus group” to gauge reaction and prepare people for the sell-off?