Bruins Again Unimpressive in Dominating Win

Just a quick post today, as I’m in the middle of a hectic real-life week…

For the second straight game, the Boston Bruins took it to the Detroit Red Wings, and emerged with a convincing 3-0 shutout win. The Bruins now hold a 2-1 series lead.

It seems though, that the Bruins have reached Patriots-level analysis standards. For some people *coughFelgerMazzcough* every win is picked over for faults and deemed to be “meh” -unimpressive. Power play goal? You SHOULD get those. Caron goal? Lucky. The third goal was empty net. They were lucky to win!

Now, I realize these clowns are the minority, but they’re also the most influential people in the market, at least Felger is. It’s annoying. It’s repetitive (as are my complaints, I’m sure), unimaginative and it makes them look dumb. The latter issue they apparently have no problems with. Mazz is still worried about the 2013 Red Sox.

After last week’s Shaughnessy column breakdown where it was pointed out that the lead columnist for Boston sports had not written a column about the Bruins in over 100 columns, further research showed that his last Bruins column had been after the Blackhawks beat the Bruins for the Stanley Cup. He hadn’t written about the team since then despite the Bruins having been the best team in the NHL this regular season. Naturally, when the Bruins lost game one to the Red Wings, guess who had a column on the Bruins the next day?  Lame.

Get the coverage from last night’s Bruins win at BruinsLinks.com.

The Red Sox were pounded by the Yankees last night at Fenway Park, as Jacoby Ellsbury took it to his former team. The fan reaction to Ellsbury was mixed, with plenty of boos pregame and for his first at-bat, but then after a video tribute by the Red Sox, there were some cheers of appreciation for what he did here.

Check all the Red Sox news at RedSoxLinks.com.

Playoff Hockey Starts Tonight For Boston

The Bruins look to start their return to the Stanley Cup Finals with the opening game of their first round series against the Detroit Red Wings tonight at TD Garden.

This will be the first meeting in the playoffs between these two original six franchises since 1957. Prior to that, these teams were regular postseason opponents.

Red Wings, Bruins rekindle playoff rivalry that blazed in 1940s, ’50s – Gregg Krupa in The Detroit News looks at the history between these two iconic franchises.

Andy Brickley, Jack Edwards see Bruins winning – Chad Finn has the NESN broadcast duo feeling that the Bruins will take this series.

Edwards excited for another Bruins playoff series – Bill Doyle has more from Edwards.

You can get all of the local Bruins coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

We went over the NESN coverage yesterday afternoon, CSNNE will once again also have pre and post-game shows. As in the last few years, the shows will be led by Michael Felger and Tony Amonte, and Joe Haggerty, Mike Giardi and Kevin Walsh will have reports from the games.

Due to CSN’s relationship with NBC, the station will also have access to and interviews with the broadcast team of Jeremy Roenick, Keith Jones, Pierre McGuire, Mike “Doc” Emrick and Ed Olczyk.

Here is the schedule for CSN’s coverage:

  • Game 1 Boston vs. Detroit, Friday, April 18th – CSN Pre-Game Live @7PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Game 2 Boston vs. Detroit, Sunday, April 20th – CSN Pre-Game Live @2:30PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Game 3 Boston vs. Detroit, Tuesday, April 22nd – CSN Pre-Game Live @7PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Game 4 Boston vs. Detroit, Thursday, April 24th –CSN Pre-Game Live @7:30PM & Post-Game Live following game
  • Additional Games 5, 6 and 7 If Necessary; CSN Pre & Post-Game Live schedule TBD

Bruins First Round Series Coverage on NESN and NBC

NESN will have regionally exclusive coverage of up to five first round playoff games between the Bruins and Detroit Red Wings.

In addition to first round game coverage, NESN will produce one-hour of pre and post-game shows before and after Boston Bruins playoff games throughout the playoffs.

Games two and five (if needed) of the first round will be broadcast on NBC. The rest of the games in the series will be on NESN.

NESN’s Bruins Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Schedule

Day Date Game Game Broadcast Network NESN Coverage Begins  Game Time
Friday 4/18 Game #1 NESN 6:00 PM 7:30 PM
Sunday 4/20 Game #2 NBC 2:00 PM 3:00 PM
Tuesday 4/22 Game #3 NESN 6:30 PM 7:30 PM
Thursday 4/24 Game #4 NESN 7:00 PM 8:00 PM
Saturday 4/26 Game #5* NBC **2:00 PM 3:00 PM
Monday 4/28 Game #6* NESN TBD TBD
Wednesday 4/30 Game #7* NESN TBD TBD

* = If necessary

** = Game 5 pre and post-game coverage on NESNplus

NESN also announced that that Bruins regular season averaged a 5.0 rating over the 71 games that NESN broadcast. They’re calling this a ratings record for a full season, noting that last year’s shortened season averaged a 6.3 rating in the 41 games NESN carried (out of 48 total).

The Red Sox will be bumped over to NESNplus when the games conflict.

Red Sox Games on NESNplus in April

Day Date Red Sox Opponent Game Time
Friday 4/18 vs. Baltimore Orioles 7:00 PM
Tuesday 4/22 vs. New York Yankees 7:00 PM
Thursday 4/24 vs. New York Yankees 7:00 PM
Wednesday * 4/30 vs. Tampa Bay Rays 7:00 PM

 

Celtics Close Out Season of Change

The Celtics wrapped up the regular season last night with a loss to the playoff-bound Washington Wizards at TD Garden.

As with much of the season the Celtics had moments of competitiveness, but faded and eventually fell at the end.

They did what most people wanted them to do this season – lose – but perhaps didn’t even do enough of that. It was an odd season in many aspects. You had many fans and talk show hosts and columnists outright rooting (are they supposed to do that???) for the team to lose. Then had others in the media who were critical of the team for its effort and execution at times.

If you’re looking big picture, things look pretty good for this franchise. The stockpile of first round picks is well documented, they have a good shot at a top player this June should they choose to use their pick, have assets to trade if an opportunity presents itself (unlike many others, I’m not big on the Kevin Love bandwagon) and have some decent talent on the present roster to build around. They’ve also got a young coach who is already drawing praise from around the league, and who will no doubt use his first NBA season as a learning experience. They have a $10.3 million trade exception which can be used in a sign-and-trade or straight trade, but needs to be used before July 12.

In Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk they have two young players who at a minimum can be serviceable big men in the NBA. In his second season and coming off back surgery Sullinger averaged 13.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg. Olynyk had his ups and downs throughout the season, but in the last three games of the season he scored 25, 28 and 24 points.

They’ve got Rondo – whether they choose to keep him or use him as a trade asset. They have a decision to make on Avery Bradley, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, and who suffered through another injury-plagued season, but averaged 14.9 ppg in 60 games. Jeff Green remains maddeningly inconsistent, but he played all 82 games and led the team in scoring at 16.9 ppg. We’ve seen that he’s probably best suited to being a 3rd or 4th option on a club where he doesn’t have to be The Man, but can be a complementary piece. He could be used in a trade. Many of the other contracts on the team are designed to be flexible enough to use in a trade (non-guaranteed, year to year, etc).

It’s setting up to be a very interesting offseason, and while ownership promises “fireworks”, Danny Ainge just sees it as an offseason where there is a lot of work to be done.

I’m just glad that the games have been played, and we don’t have to hear about tanking and all the cute phrases that go along with it from the local sports radio and television wags.

While the season on the floor was tough, we got some great writing and coverage of the team this season. Baxter Holmes has done a terrific job with both features and the game-to-game coverage. He and Gary Washburn make a great duo for the Globe. At the Herald, Steve Bulpett and Mark Murphy did their usual outstanding job, with Bulpett remaining one of my favorite media personalities in town, and I consider him still somewhat underrated despite 30 years on the job. Jay King at MassLive.com is part of a tremendous young team at that website. Others on the beat – Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE, and Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com all added insight and information to the season.

I think the Celtics beat overall is the best and most professionally covered of any of the four major sports in town. Very little bombast or “look at me” types here. The Celtics blogging community is passionate and strong as well, with sites like CelticsBlog and RedsArmy leading the way.

The broadcast teams – Mike Gorman remains the gold standard in town. He makes whomever is with him sound great. For some reason Tommy Heinsohn has detractors and critics who cringe at his enthusiasm and support of the franchise that he has been a part of for almost 60 years. I’ll defend him to the death. The guest analysts – P.J. Carlesimo, Jackie MacMullan, even Danny Ainge and Chris Herren each brought something to the telecasts. On the radio side, Sean Grande also had many partners thoughout the season as Cedric Maxwell at times also moved over to the television side. If there was a weak spot, this might be it. Bringing in the likes of Rich Keefe and Adam Jones to sit beside Grande was curious – though it was likely a cost-saving move to bring on someone already on the station payroll.

Overall it was a rough season on the court, but we can look forward to better times ahead, and for an eventful offseason.

Shaughnessy – The Last 100 Columns

I’m not sure why I subjected myself to this, but I took some time to peruse the last 100 columns that Dan Shaughnessy has written.

This 100 columns dates back to October 14, 2013. So in almost exactly 6 months, he’s written 100 columns.

58 are on the Red Sox. Given that they won the World Series at the start of this timeframe and have held spring training and the start of the season since, it’s natural they would get the most mentions, especially when you consider special editions for the World Series Champions and Season Previews. Still, that’s a lot. Of the 58, 37 were positive or mostly positive. 11 were neutral. 10 were negative or negative/neutral.

20 are on the Patriots. Of those, I deemed 12 to be completely negative. 4 were neutral, 2 were positive. 1 was stupid. (The 12/10/13 parody of how the Patriots could be Super Bowl champs.) and 1 was negative/positive – the Darrelle Revis signing column where he lauded the move, but still took all his usual shots.

5 were “thoughts” columns. I was actually surprised there weren’t more of these.

4 were on Harvard during the NCAA tournament, and his transparent attempt to make Tommy Amaker the next Boston College coach.

2 were on the Celtics

2 on the Super Bowl

2 on general NFL topics

1 on the Texans (victory lap)

1 on the Orioles

1 on UMass

1 on MLB HoF voting

1 on himself (Write not Root)

1 on the Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch and not talking to the media, really)

1 on High School athletics

0 were on the Bruins. (Bruins fans probably prefer it that way.)

The full list:

More #Hotsportztakes Headed To Boston.com – Mazz Returns!

As The Boston Globe splits from Boston.com, the latter continues its transformation into a collection of #hotsportztakes with the return of Tony Massarotti to its bandwidth.

Now that none of the Globe content appears on Boston.com, and none of the Globe writers blog on Boston.com any longer, it really has become something of a wasteland for the web version of sports talk radio.

One of the few exceptions being of course, Finn’s own blog, which carries a very different tone from the majority of the site.

Here are the local media columns for today:

High praise, ratings for NCAA Tournaments – Chad Finn hits across many topics this morning, including the mens and women’s hoop tournaments, Danny Ainge’s turn as color analyst on CSNNE, and NFL draft programming.

Will a rookie come out of Woods at Masters? – Bill Doyle has thoughts from CBS analysts and executives on the Masters programming and storylines.

There will be much in the way of local programming heading up to the Boston Marathon. CSNNE, for example will feature a week of heartfelt vignettes that will air in Chevrolet SportsNet Central and online at CSNNE.com/runningstrong from Sunday, April 13th through Sunday, April 20th. The week will culminate with a 30-minute TV special titled Running Strong scheduled to air on Sunday, April 20th at 5PM.

Here are the segments which will be combined into the 30-minute special:

A TEAM REACTS (Sunday, April 13th)

A recap of how the day unfolded for the Boston Bruins who were scheduled to play a game later that night. Hockey reporters/analysts Mike Giardi, Michael Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont review the chronology as to how the team found out, their reaction, and all that happened right through their next home game which commenced with Ray Rancourt’s powerful pre-game National Anthem.

GROUND ZERO (Monday, April 14th)

Athletic store Marathon Sports was the site of the actual bombing and the store has since become a pseudo shrine to remember the events of the day and honor the victims and heroes. Shane O’Hara, Manager of the Boston store location, talks to Comcast SportsNet with a personal recount of the day, how the business has done its best to be “Boston Strong,” and his participation in the Red Sox parade ceremony later in the Spring.

RUNNING STRONG: REMEMBERING THE DAY (Tuesday, April 15th)

Airing on the 1-year anniversary of the 2013 Marathon, this segment will recap how the day and week unfolded with a focus on how the tragic events impacted the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins.

INSPIRED TO ACT (Wednesday, April 16th)

Comcast SportsNet talks with two doctors from Brigham and Women’s – Dr. Kelli O’Laughlin and Physicians’ Assistant McKenzie Bollen – who both witnessed and experienced trauma that day.  The two also talk about how they were inspired to train for and run in this year’s Marathon.

A NEW LIFE (Thursday, April 17th)

Heather Abbott lost a leg in the bombing and her life was changed forever. Comcast SportsNet visits her home in Newport, RI where she has recovered and remains strong.

AN INNOCENT SURVIVOR (Friday, April 18th)

Stoneham resident Mark Fucarile was another victim who lost a leg in the bombing. Mark talks about his recovery, how this affected his 6-year old son, and how he was set to be married soon after the marathon and will finally wed his fiancé later this month. David Portnoy, Founder of the “Barstool Sports” website which caters to the ‘everyman’ like Mark, talks about his efforts to help Mark with fundraising.

THE WITNESS (Saturday, April 19th)

Boston Globe Sports Editor Steve Silva captured the most powerful video of the explosions and ran towards the danger. Comcast SportsNet interviews Steve about how he remembers the day and talks about how he was inspired to train for and run this year’s marathon.

THE LAST RUN (Sunday, April 20th)

Boston Marathon Legends Dick Hoyt and his son Rick who has Cerebral Palsy have run the Boston Marathon together for decades and have become an iconic part of the annual event. 2013 was going to be their final time running the Marathon, but in light of the events, they will now run one final time in 2014.

The Devolution of Sports Talk Radio – Is It Permanent?

Before we get into this, let’s make one thing clear – sports talk radio was never the territory of Mensa candidates. Over the years though, it has somehow devolved into just grabbing onto the lowest hanging fruit.

There is in fact, very little sports talk on this genre. There is practically no analysis, no insight, just reactionary hot takes, which are only intended to stir people up.

Most of what you get on sports talk radio these days falls into one of these categories:

Contracts

Does player X deserve a new contract? Is the team disrespecting player Y by not giving him a huge extension right now? Why do the Patriots have to squeeze every single player down there? Why are the Red Sox giving out money hand over fist to players? Why are the Patriots disrespecting Vince in the final year of his contract??? Why is David Ortiz being so greedy and wanting an extension beyond this year???? The Patriots screwed up big time with Wes Welker! Why are the Bruins so tight with money spending so much money on their own players?? The Krafts are so cheap! Jon Lester – you’re going to pay HIM like an ace?

You get the idea. It’s an easy topic to put out there as there will be people on both sides of the argument. It’s also incredibly tedious.

Past Personnel Failures (Real or Perceived)

Let’s revisit the Patriots 2006-2009 drafts again! Peter Chiarelli traded away the 3rd and 6th leading scorers in the NHL!!! Danny Ainge cost the Celtics the 2011 championship when he traded Kendrick Perkins! Was Carl Crawford the biggest free agent bust of all time??? Belichick the GM is failing Belichick the coach! Ainge drafted Fab Melo – we’re supposed to feel good about him not screwing up these other first round picks??  The Bruins didn’t do anything at the trade deadline!

Fear-Mongering
No matter what success is happening right now, there is always the “Yeah but…” card to play. Mike, I’m worried that they’ve woken up the Yankees! Mike, I’m worried that Tampa is going to pass them in September – they always play well in September and the Red Sox always play LOUSY in September! Mike, I know we’re in the World Series, but I’m worried about next year – who is going to play centerfield?  THEY CAN’T REPEAT, MIKE!

Dumb, Stupid Arguments That Aren’t About Sports At All

Are you going to boo or cheer player X when they come back to town? It’s better to lose in the first round than get to the Super Bowl and lose. Whose legacy has more to lose/gain this week Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? John Lackey had a Bud Light in the clubhouse after the game! Tyler Seguin parties too much to be an NHL star! If Rajon Rondo is your leader, you’re in trouble. Is player X tough enough to play in Boston? They just need to get some damn players in here and win some damn games! Etc etc etc.

Mundane Stuff About Themselves/Promoting Their Own Deeds

Hey…did you know John Dennis is getting married? YOU could go to his bachelor party! (If Toucher and Rich don’t send a mole to this thing, I don’t know what they’re doing in life.)

Endless Celebrity Callers

These are the worst. The same callers every day, with the same script, same talking points. Most have a grating voice and annoying mannerisms. They bring nothing to the table but misery, yet the hosts eagerly punch up their call when they’re on the line.

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This formula apparently works, as sports talk radio continues to dominate the market. I find it intolerable. It’s just not enjoyable to listen to, from where I sit. We know why it is this way – it’s easy. To provide cogent analysis of games/transactions/drafts takes work. To give a #hotsportztake just requires your mouth. Also, there is only so much analysis you can really do before it becomes repetitive, so to fill time, you’ve got to get people stirred up, say something outlandish – and stick to it. It’s entertainment, I get it. But shouldn’t it be entertaining?

Mike Felger can pull it off. He’s intelligent and creative enough that he can play the game while remaining – most of the time – entertaining. His partner can’t do it. Just about everyone else in the market cannot do it. Everyone wants to be like Felger, but they can’t pull it off.

I’m encouraged that Dale and Holley seem determined to go another route. It could be an interesting contrast in the afternoons. Having Glenn Ordway and his cronies back and available to listen to also makes things interesting.

I’m hoping that perhaps we’ve hit bottom in terms of the devolution of the genre, and perhaps there can be some changes for the better coming down the line.

NESN Hires Steve Lyons as Red Sox Studio Analyst

NESN sent out this release earlier this morning:

April 3, 2014 – NESN, New England’s most watched sports network, announced today that former Red Sox player Steve Lyons (@SteveLyons12) will join the network as a Red Sox studio analyst. Lyons joins MLB Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Jim Rice along with Red Sox legend Tim Wakefield as studio analysts on NESN’s Red Sox pre and post-game shows, plus NESN Sports Today and other original programming.

Lyons’ first appearance on NESN will be on Friday, April 4th during NESN’s two-and-a-half hour Red Sox home opener pre-game coverage beginning at 11:30 am. He’ll join studio host Tom Caron, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice and Tim Wakefield before the Red Sox take on the Brewers at Fenway Park.

“We are thrilled to have Steve join our team of veteran studio analysts,” said Joseph Maar, NESN’s vice president of programming & production, executive producer. “He brings incredible passion, experience, candor and depth of knowledge about Major League Baseball along with a familiarity with Boston as both a player and a broadcaster.”

Lyons played nine seasons in the major leagues with four different teams including four stints in Boston. He is also a three-time national Emmy award-winning broadcaster. Drafted in the first round by the Red Sox in 1981 out of Oregon State, Lyons made his MLB debut in April of 1985 and was voted that season’s 10th Player Award winner by Red Sox fans. He is one of only three players to play all 9 positions in one game at the major league level. He finished his career where he started it, playing for the Red Sox at Fenway Park in October of 1993.

Lyons began his broadcasting career in 1996 with FOX Sports and has worked for both the FOX national and regional networks as a game analyst, studio analyst and studio host. A versatile broadcaster, Lyons has also hosted his own interview show, a sports show for kids, and for two seasons was the host of the This Week in Baseball. During his 11 years on FOX’s national broadcast he worked the pre and post-game shows for the Divisional Series, Championship Series and World Series. He just finished a 9 year affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a pre and post-game host and game announcer.

Dale and Holley – Reunited on WEEI Afternoon Drive

dale-and-holley

What was old continues to be made new again in the world of sports radio. Just weeks after Glenn Ordway brought his old gang back together on the Big Show Unfiltered, WEEI is reuniting their old mid-day combination of Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, this time in Ordway’s old afternoon drive slot.

Chad Finn had reported back on March 20th that this could be a permanent move, and Arnold confirmed that yesterday.

It seems clear that after the Mike Salk experience, WEEI was hesitant to bring in someone from the outside, and instead went for the comfort factor of a show with proven chemistry. No, it isn’t the creative or bold move, but it’s something that will at least keep things calm and will give a nice alternative to the afternoon programming of Felger and Massarotti on 98.5. They’re probably not going to challenge, let alone beat F&M in this timeslot, but they’re going to hold their own and have a built-in loyal audience that is glad to see them back together. This also gives WEEI a chance to sit back a bit and plan what they want to do in the future.

I’m OK with the move. We’re spared further invasion of the Felger Youth, at least for the moment, and while Dale has his detractors (I’m not among them.) he knows and understands all the major sports, and with the Bruins set for another extended run, having his voice on the station gives WEEI something it has been sorely lacking during the last few years of the Bruins success.

Arnold deserves credit for being a “good soldier” and remaining loyal to the station despite being replaced rather unceremoniously  three years ago. He’s been rewarded with a position better than what he had when he left. I’m happy for him.

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A few notes from NESN:

Red Sox White House Visit Today at 11:15 AM

This morning at 11:15 AM, NESN will deliver live coverage of the Red Sox visit to the White House.

NESN.com will provide a live stream of NESN’s coverage at www.NESN.com/WhiteHouse

Behind the B

Tonight at 8:00 PM, Episode #12 of Behind the B will debut on NESN.

Red Sox Opening Day Rating up 17%

NESN’s Opening Day game rating was up 17% over last season’s opener with a 10.1 average household rating (24 Share) for yesterday’s 2-1 loss in Baltimore. Last year’s opening day game garnered an 8.6 HH rating for a 8-2 win over the New York Yankees in New York.

That was  Gary Striewski serving  as the game-day reporter yesterday. He’ll be on for the entire opening road series in Baltimore. Elle Duncan will serve in the same role for the home opening series against Milwaukee (April 4-6).

Opening Day For The World Champs

That was a fast offseason.

The 2014 Red Sox begin their regular season this afternoon at 3:05 in Baltimore. A defiant Jerry Remy will be in the booth alongside Don Orsillo despite the fact that his presence on the telecasts is not just a job to earn a living, but he is there to entertain and inform the audience, some of whom may be uncomfortable with having him on.

He has a right to earn a living, but this is not just any living. Despite being a private person with a private lifestyle, his job puts him very much in the public eye.

My personal feelings are conflicted on this. While I appreciated Chad Finn’s column from Friday where he made the case that there is no reason to oust Remy from his job, I can see the other side too.

There are other factors here too. Putting aside the legal matters with his son, is Jerry Remy the best person for this job? At one time he was among the very best color commentators in the game. Is he still? I think that’s up for debate. Is he even the best one employed by the station? (I say Dennis Eckersley is better.) Does he bring out the best in his partner? I don’t think he does. Too often, they go off onto silly tangents, and is that going to be appropriate now? When Orsillo works with Eckersley, one of the things I appreciate is that Eck solicits input from Orsillo, who sometimes seems surprised at that. But he brings out the best in Orsillo, which is better for the broadcast.

So Eckersley doesn’t want the gig full time. OK. I was just using him as an example.

I really don’t know how these first few weeks and beyond are going to go. Are we just going to forget about it, and it will be Don and Jerry and Wally as usual? It’s really hard to tell. We know Remy’s not going anywhere of his volition, and John Henry and NESN are not going to remove him.

Finn in the Red Sox preview in the Globe had a look at all the Sox radio and TV voices.

For the on-field team, there is plenty of intrigue, from the official rookie season of Xander Bogaerts, to the comeback of Grady Sizemore (Tony Massarotti’s personal source of anger) and the performance of veterans who performed so above expectations last year.

Of course, we’re already being told in some quarters that there is no where for this season to go but down. I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad we have these brave truth-tellers to set us yahoo honks straight on things.

Check all today’s coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.