Sports Media Musings: On “Big Show: Unfiltered”, Baby Boomer’s C-Section Comment, & More

The Patriots bringing in Johnny Football for a pro day, then re-signing Patrick Chung was The Hoodie at his best. This has been the most interesting offseason since, um, the last offseason (the Brady paycut [Which somehow was criticized? God, I love the sports media!], Welkahpoloooozzzzah, Everything Gronk, and finally Aaron Hernandez, double murders, and Angel Dust … Unreal.).

Wait, Angel Dust was part of last year’s offseason discussion??? OK, OK: 2013 > 2014

Before some media takes, let me serve up a quick self-promotion alert: I wrote about the Bruins and Peak Talk for the Metro today. Read it.

OK – onto a few media notes. Feel free to say hello on the Twittersphere, @Hadfield__

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Early thoughts on the “Big Show Unfiltered”: It’s OK. And OK may be enough for Glenn Ordway & Co. – much to my surprise, I willingly listened to commercials, which truly distinguishes the program from, say, a podcast. I felt like I was listening to a radio. Only on the Internet.

INTERNET RADIO.

Anyway, about the commercials, which, before going any further, need to be discussed …  Because Connecticut School of Broadcasting is still a thing!! I’ll be completely honest, for the longest time I thought it was a joke, a scheme, or even the basis of the movie “Accepted.”

(Side Tangent: “Accepted” is a B- Comedy featuring Justin Long (Drew Barrymore’s old BF, also the guy in the Apple commercials), Blake Lively (before she was BLAKEEEEE Lively), and Lewis Black.

And, yes, even two-time Academy Award nominee, Jonah Hill.

Good stuff. Hollywood is the greatest. But, yeah – I 1000000% believed GO CSB was a fictional place where dreams go to die.)

OK, back to “Big Show: Unfiltered.” This iteration is basically a DIY, rough cut version of the original “Big Show.” Can they grab enough momentum to simulcast beyond Sirius? I’m not sure. I mean, clearly, there’s an audience for Pete Sheppard, Ordway and the guy that does the great Terry Francona impression, I’m just not it.

(I know, I know – this is despite Sheppard’s abrasive Tony Massarotti impressions; if nothing else Pete’s going for it … whatever “it” is.)

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“Sometimes it takes some time to remember where you were headed in the first place and the people you intended to go there with.”

For me, early questions about “Dale & Holley” Part Deux mostly revolved around whether bringing back what was never really broken as an admission of past failures …  or just WEEI’s acceptance that they are, for the time being, the alternative – as opposed to the FLAGSHIP STATION! …?

One thing’s for sure: It’s not the sexy move, or a game-changer. This play for WEEI is a means to survival through reliability. And, all things considered, with the revival of “Dale & Holley,”  the Boston sports fans are winning here.

(Yes, that’s right – I’m going positive, which almost feels borderline crazy to do in terms of media analysis.)

Look, upon conception, our hope for “The Sports Hub” did not necessarily circle around a precipitous demise for the men of Entercom (although, in some circles, seeing hubris wilt and decay was a nice byproduct). All told, reasonable sports fans just wanted WEEI to be better, and, typically, competition breeds excellence or, at the very least, improvement in quality.

Well, it took longer than expected, but, finally, mercifully this has happened.

Think about it: The morning at WEEI is better. I still can’t believe “Dennis & Callahan” made it through the storm unscathed, although who knows, maybe, at times, the two hosts were “hiding under their desks.” Either way, their improvement is palpable; heck, you could argue it’s undeniable. Kirk Minihane has proven himself a worthy foil to John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, and it’s kind of compelling radio.

(An aside: This will sound like I’m an ageist, but I could do without the obsession over Johnny Manziel’s girlfriend. Really, guys. You’re old, and it’s weird. But seriously, try harder.)

The afternoon, meanwhile, over on ‘EEI is a relic in the best possible way, and a sound option for audiences to check out instead of their counterpart, “Felger & Mazz,” which has evidently decided to become a different show than when it began its run. Dale Arnold, almost immediately, has rediscovered his rapport with Michael Holley.  Something Holley never could harness with Ordway, or what we can now the Misguided Mike Salk era.

(Another aside: Consistently adding a third man to the “Dale & Holley” rotation is a nice twist, too. But how about less Christian Fauria and more Matt Chatham, please. Thanks.)

Up on the dial, “Toucher & Rich” didn’t land the Torey Krug-80s hair metal voice over segment, at least not as much as the comparable “Rad Marchand” skit from a few years ago, but the fact they’re still churning out stuff like “Motley Krug” is a good sign. It’s what they do best.

And the duo poking fun at Johnny Gomes’ “Just PUSH PLAY, the story is already written” comments was perfect. To their credit, they absolutely nailed the Ultimate Warrior-Haxsaw Johnny Gomes comparison. The dialect is eerily similar.

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Speaking of “Toucher & Rich”, I thought Fred Toucher’s take on Richard Sherman’s column about DeSean Jackson’s release from the Eagles on Peter King’s Monday Morning QB site was not only thoughtful, but poignant.

In the piece, Sherman argued about, well, a few things: 1) That saying DJax is affliated with gang is irresponsible; 2) You don’t turn your back on people you grew up with; 3) Jackson’s teammate — Riley Cooper, earning an extension, a year after his racist remarks at a country concert went viral; 4) The Jim Irsay free pass.

Toucher’s main contention is that you do turn your back on friends at some point, basically, because if you hang out with shit for long enough, you’ll start to smell like it, too. It’s a fair counter; measured and realistic.

I didn’t agree, however, with Toucher’s co-host, John Wallach, when he said Sherman, who is no stranger to media relations, will have to learn to pick his battles. If we’re enabling the nonsense floated out there from time to time in sports media, then I have zero qualms dealing with Sherman going off the rails. Dude’s a top cornerback with a unique perspective to offer on the matter. I don’t have to agree, but I’ll certainly be interested.

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“Everyone is just waiting for their next Wikipedia Edit.”

“I’m much more offended by Gerry Callahan’s gay-bashing.”

Those were my initial thoughts about when reading reaction to Boomer Esiason’s comments regarding Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy’s paternity leave (which fell on opening day):

From CNN:

During a conversation on his radio show with co-host Craig Carton, Esiason, a father of two, said he would never have done what Murphy did.

“Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts,” said Esiason. “I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”

I don’t have children, I’m turning 28 years-old next week, which means I’m really only 23 years-old (Someone, I don’t know who, just decided it was totally acceptable for 20somethings to act like kids even as they broach their 30s. I won’t fight this. Thank you, mystery man.) But I have three sisters; I get the complications around reproduction, and can attest that Boomer is stating stupid words behind a stupid premise.

But you know what? PEOPLE ARE STOOOPID.

Rich people are stoopid. Everyone’s stoopid. Fuck, that ignorance – you know, being stoopid – is just as much a part of ‘Merica as saying ‘Merica!

We live in a world where athletes, not just college athletes, pro athletes, with a kajillion dollars, get Catfished! Yes, by Catfished, I mean keyboard romance gone awry, someone conned by an idiot imposter on an online dating site.

(Moreover, that “Catfish” is actually a television show – yes, a television show – is mind boggling. Knowing Nev Schulman has been out there, fighting to the good fight, trying to illuminate what is, in fact, real love, and what’s not, for over three seasons all because the South have yet to figure out how to do 12 seconds of Internet research through Google Images search, could be the most American thing ever.)

So, we’re all stupid, from time to time anyway. Then, let’s ask ourselves, why are talking heads, most of who are former athletes, the subject of this type of scrutiny? Even Callahan, a fantastic writer, whose views on the radio have become increasingly acerbic and forced, has a right to be stupid. Again, ‘Merica!

To that end, who cares what Boomer Esiason thinks about this topic? Like, really, this is what we’re going to get upset about.  If you’re an ardent listener to his show, that’s one thing; but it’s almost as if the Internet pushes OUTRAGE Button, and all chaos breaks loose.

And Boomer, predictably, issued a subsequent apology, because apologies are part of the news cycle in 2014.

I’m all for calling an idiot out for saying idiotic shit on the radio, but where do you guys stand?

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Memo to Danny Picard: Keep Going

Dig Radio Boston flounders; Danny Picard’s show, “I’m Just Sayin’”, keeps on keepin’ on. If nothing else, Picard hustles. In the past, his show has been simulcast on CSNNE.com, 1510 Boston, among other outlets. But now he’s back to hosting solely on his website and iTunes.

Earlier this week, Picard had an interesting rant about the move away from Dig, other subjects in the media (like the Jerry Remy-NESN story) earning too much attention, and even went on a tangent about his distaste for sharing a co-host during his weekend appearances on WEEI.

As a fellow writer, with much less success and longevity compared to Picard, I can sympathize with his frustration with breaking into sports media. There are very few Xander Bogaerts’ in the media. Youth is quelled by barriers. Hustle and passion are part of success – and, sometimes, the journey to prominence is better than the destination itself – but, at some point, you have to break through.

I still think Picard will. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. This is a town where Mike Adams has had a daily radio show for the better part of a decade.

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As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VIII

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.

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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.

StoJa

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.

Other Options

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

Andy Dursin

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.

Chris Boudreau

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.

bosox3054

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.

Hambot

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.

James Allen

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.

Smack_Libs_Around

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

Jon

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.

Homer Gomez

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?

Ted Sarandis

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.

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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__.

Mediots! Series: Michael Felger As The Professional Propagandist

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.

felger

I have been writing on BSMW sporadically for a few years now. And I’ve always maintained that if ESPN were to put on a special Pardon the Interruption: City vs. City edition, Michael Felger would be my pick to represent Boston. He’s acerbic, witty, and just enough of a dick to make an impression without undermining his point. Thus, it’s hard to say Felger sucks, because he doesn’t suck; he’s actually very good – one could argue the best – at what he does for a living … which is a problem.

Felger is the Don Draper of the Boston sports media, a professional bull shit artist. Fast forward to the 25 second mark, when Draper states, “The timbre of my voice is just as important as the content.” That’s everything you need to know about Michael Felger.

Which is to say there’s really no substance behind anything Felger says anymore. And like Draper, he’s pitching you, selling an idea (usually predicated on faux outrage), which has one sole purpose: To elicit a reaction. These days, he’s inching dangerously close to Skip Bayless. They don’t live in same neighborhood, but they’re certainly in the same zip code.

The problem here is two-fold:

1.) Felger makes it personal. Whether he’s berating other talking heads, beat reporters, or fans, Felger uses tone and cynicism to fuel a point, rather than knowledge or insight. The best example of this was the time he went after Mike Reiss last spring during the Wes Welker contract negotiations. Remember that “just enough of a dick without undermining his point” comment I wrote a few paragraphs ago? Yeah, scratch that. He’s the ombudsman that no one asked for.

Moreover, he’s a hypocrite and a propagandist. I remember covering the Celtics in 2011-12, and seeing a brigade of fans question whether Paul Pierce was faking an injury because Felger insinuated so (what a joke — Pierce was laboring. This really pissed me off, for whatever reason.). He asks for “consistency from Green Teamers about Rajon Rondo.” This is rich coming from Felger, a guy who openly hates the NBA. How can we take anything he says seriously?

Then there’s the agenda stuff. Felger constantly questions the ongoing employment of Claude Julien (comical), extols the Jets for “getting their guy” in the draft (Marc Sanchez! Shonn Greene! Wahhhhooooo!), or talks about the NFL as a quarterback’s league, and then picks Joe Flacco over Tom Brady in the AFC Championship a few years back, based on a “gut feeling.” In the latter example, he was right, of course, but that’s not the point … it’s not consistent.

He wasn’t always this way. Long ago, Felger was a beat reporter, covering the Bruins and Patriots for the Boston Herald. He was curious and a very solid journalist that, by most accounts, was plugged-in and relentless. Today, he’s an entertainer, a professional contrarian, who laughs whenever he’s called out for his ridiculous accusations. Again, the tone here is more important than the content. Fact, not opinion.

Why does he do this? For starters, because honesty and real analysis doesn’t pay for summer houses, as Tom E. Curran oft-quips about Felger. So, Felger plays a heel in the WWE, trying to get a rise out the audience, because YOU like that. Secondly, the dude is stretched out. He’s on television, or radio, or both for roughly 22 hours a day. HOT SPORTS TAKES can overheat a dude, you know?

2.) This is sports, man. Felger knows this. But that doesn’t preclude the sense of urgency he creates by holding everyone accountable (except himself, of course) for decisions made (or not made). Now, I don’t want to hamper too much on his tone, but its importance here is undeniable. With his platform, it’s safe to assume much of what Felger is selling is, you know, true. But that’s hardly the case. “The Cap Is Crap” sounds catchy, but so does “So easy a caveman could do it.” Neither is actually true. But people buy it, because Felger’s greatest strength is his conviction – it makes everything he says seem so authentic, even if it’s really an opinion.

Don’t believe me? An email from a reader put’s it best here:

Hey Ryan,

Enjoyed the columns on BSMW when Bruce is gone. I know you’ve hit on various hosts on the radio in town but as we’re in a “NFL Period” right now, we have to be reminded how the ‘cap is crap’. I’m not sure if you’re still writing columns this week but this is one of the things that drives me nuts:

http://www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/1zis8m/rnfl_i_need_clarification_on_the_cap/

Yeah, internet forum. Yeah, it’s reddit. This is still the influence Felger and Mazz now have, spewing incorrect information about ‘the cap being crap’. I assume you could find more of this on various forums.

Ethan

And this is why Michael Felger sucks. His influence is real, his opinion is not.

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:

1.) Bruce didn’t include this piece earlier this week, but in the Boston Herald, Jessica Heslam had a story on the custody battle over Arianna Remy, the daughter of Jared Remy and the woman he’s accused of killing, Jennifer Martel. A member from the Martel family leaves this scathing quote:

“You’ve got to bring up a baby with love, not with cash. (Jerry Remy’s) not going to be there. He’s going to be away all the time,” said Richard Martel, who said it was tough to watch Remy’s return to TV.

Again, in my mind, Remy shouldn’t be publicly persecuted for his son’s alleged transgressions. That’s obvious, but worth reiterating. Then again, I don’t think he should be calling Red Sox games, as this case develops details will only become increasingly disturbing during the summer – ultimately hurting the telecast.

Here’s more from Heslam:

While the former Red Sox player-turned-broadcaster was unwilling to talk about all the issues that have arisen from the killing, he was willing to talk a little about his return to TV. “It feels good, feels like I’m doing my job, that’s all that’s important right now, among other things, it just feels good to be back at work,” Remy said.

Good for him. NESN should’ve taken the bat out of his hands, though.

2.) Bruce DID hit on this yesterday, but I disagreed with his take on Dan Shaughnessy’s column in Tuesday’s edition of the Boston Globe, which I thought was great. Yes, I said it.

Given that the Sloan Conference took place last weekend, he opens with a tirade about numbers. To his credit, it wasn’t a GET OFF MY LAWN diatribe. This was a measured viewpoint.

Must all the intangibles be sucked from our games until all that is left is spreadsheets and blinking computer screens? Sports trekkies have made significant strides and teams are better for having the information, but it’s still OK to admit that there always will be things in sports that cannot be measured. These are games played by humans. That’s why it’s fun.

Dan thinks sports are fun? Holy plot twist.

Also enjoyed his take on retiring Danny Ainge’s number; his quip about ESPN’s obsession with the NFL (although, LeBron’s 61 point outburst this week saw plenty of air time as well); his callback to the departures of Orlando Cabrera and Pedro Martinez leading to draft picks that eventually became Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Good stuff. But when juxtaposed with his Sunday offering, I get more confused with how I feel about our friend, the CHB. It was so naïve and sensationalistic I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The premise? Professional sports aside, coaches – even those SHAPING THE MINDS OF YOUNG MEN IN COLLEGE – should give every kid an opportunity to earn playing time. The idea that someone like Coach K should have this responsibility is beyond me. Not to go all El Presidente on the BSMW community, but this is part of the Pussification of America.

Some favorite excerpts:

This is for you, coach. You know who you are.

Do not abuse this power just because you can.

That’s the way it works in life. Not everybody gets to be MVP or a Globe All-Scholastic. Just as academic excellence is recognized, athletic excellence should be rewarded. But coaches need to be mindful of team members who aren’t good enough to play regularly. Find a spot, coach. Make those kids feel like part of the team. Do not demoralize them, break their spirit, and cause them to lose their love for the game. Try to work them into the game organically if possible. It’s good for morale and the talent gap might not be as great as you think.

Look, I can’t believe I’m even writing about this. You win, Dan. Alas, here it goes: by the time I was 18, I think I understood the value of, well, value. In any endeavor – a job, team sport, relationship, whatever – the pertinent question is: What do you bring? Life comes down to whether you’re as good – or better – than the guy next to you. Meanwhile, even though he clearly states otherwise, Shank’s column, entitled “Coaches should find a way for everyone to play,” reads like a desperate parent, looking for their college kid to get their ONE SHINNING MOMENT, even if that moment was in the midst of an 87-35 blowout in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

3.) Some thoughts on the news that Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci are set to replace Tim McCarver in the Fox booth:

Tim McCarver’s replacement(s) was always going to be a polarizing decision. That’s a given. And the upshot, the name(s) calling the mid-summer classic and World Series alongside Joe Buck, was always going to leave a contingent of fans feeling disappointed, wanting more, and alienated. Because anything changing in MLB – even the broadcast – is akin to a tectonic plate shifting. It’s agonizing.

I’ll say this: Neither personality is a particularly progressive choice. One would think network executives would adjust to the statistical revolution as more baseball teams embrace the movement to the point it affects their personnel choices. That didn’t happen here.

While Verducci is a great writer, one who’s plugged in, and knows the game, no one is mistaking him for Rob Neyer. For my money, Reynolds is fine. We know what we’re getting. A sound, smooth broadcaster, but one who is most definitely behind the times in terms of the sabermetrics. In his column about Fox’s choices, Will Leitch pointed to the oft-cited “debate” Reynolds had with Brian Kenny about the “value of wins as a statistic”, when Reynolds looked foolish in his analysis, as a cause for concern. I’m not sure if I wholeheartedly agree.

A color person – yes, they can be female (WHAT’S UP, DORIS BURKE?) – is supposed to point out things we, meaning the common fan, cannot see. Ideally, they view the action through a heightened lens of experience and deep understanding of the game. They educate us, make us smarter. That said – and this is something that, as a writer, I’ve always struggled with – in their analysis, they must speak to the common fan, not just the baseball feign that spends Saturday night scouring FanGraphs. Cris Collinsworth is the best at this. (This isn’t debatable.)

The Internet won’t like this, but the combination of Verducci and Reynolds will suffice. Their in-game analysis won’t get the die-hards all hot-and-bothered, but it’ll have universal appeal, and I think Fox made a sound decision here. (Besides, I’m not sure I want someone breaking down a player’s RngR or CPP during Game 2 of the ALCS.)

4.) “Dennis & Callahan” continue to mystify me. But I’ve been writing too much about these guys lately, so I’ll keep this brief: Gerry Callahan on gay parenting sounds like Harold Reynolds on Wins & Losses. Again, not a good look. Then again, I’m listening, so bravo. (I guess?)

5.) Page Six is saying Bob Costas’s eye infection – the first case of pink eye to EVER GO VIRAL (pun intended) – was due to a botched Botox. Why is Costas getting Botox? I’m convinced he perpetually looks 38-years-old.

6.) This columnist and I need to have a beer – or 12 – together. Love his take on the ongoing moralism of sports. Not every game needs to have meaning on par with the Miracle On Ice. Besides: “The Cardinal Way”? Are you kidding me? His other point about the “best fans of baseball” is just as awesome. I mean, good for Cardinal fans for being swell folk, I suppose, but sports are based on winning and losing, I much prefer the brashness of Boston fans.

Plus: An opposing fan saying “good game” with the same sincerity following a big win OR crushing defeat sucks. It removes the passion from the situation, like trying to hash out a fight with a significant other that wants no part of the discussion. You can’t win. (Also, I have a ton of family from St. Louis – they aren’t THAT NICE.)

7.) I’m thoroughly enjoying this side of Robert Kraft. The dude is on the back 9, just living. L-I-V-I-N, man. Anyone who says otherwise is just a H8er. Oh yeah, Bobby – either sign Aqib Talib or make THE trade. You know what I’m talking about THE TRADE — the one that, to this point, lacks any corroboration but is being discussed as if it’s imminent. DON’T BLOW IT. #JesusGiveMeRevis.

8.) Preach, Chaz. PREACH. Charles Barkley went on the “Dan Patrick Show” and wasn’t shy about his distaste for ESPN (transcript via Awful Announcing):

On his frustrations with ESPN…

“I call it the ESPN disease.  All these guys get on TV every day, they’re experts on every sport, it drives me crazy.”

On whether ESPN has ever offered him a job…

“They call me every year, but I would never go there.  Number one they work their guys too hard, but also I think they manufacture stories.  They manufacture controversies.”

Thoughts: “They work their guys too hard” is a euphemism for “They overexpose their guys, thus making them insufferable.” The result of this overexposure aligns with Barkley’s second point, I guess. But still, I don’t believe it’s fair to claim the four-letter network manufactures controversies; it’s a sports network that discusses sports. Consumers caring is what fuels the “controversy machine.”

That aside, yes, there are guys like Bayless who say things like they “wouldn’t be shocked if Derek Jeter was on PEDs.” It’s fair to look at that type of crap with a jaundiced eye, but come on — you’re beyond saving if you buy that garbage as a fan. Be better. The flip side, meanwhile, is Ron Jaworski giving an opinion on Johnny Manziel becoming a thing that gets attention. While that’s hardly Jaws’ intent, it’s a byproduct of the way we consume HOT SPORTS TAKES because of dudes like Screaming A. Smith.

(It’s the Felger problem discussed above, only on steroids.)

9.) Here’s a good Q&A with Katie Nolan, Fox Sports 1 personality/Framingham native/love interest of yours truly, with the The Big Lead.

On why Nolan thinks Internet loathes Rick Reilly:

… Also you have to sympathize with anyone who’s been doing it that long because you have to keep reinventing yourself to stay relevant. There are going to be people who can’t adapt as well as others. In the case of Rick Reilly, he’s trying to figure it out, but once there’s a misstep it’s easier to criticize them. Plus he’s a name people recognize, everybody talks about the people everybody knows because they can relate.

10.) Talking to Glenn Ordway about possibly coming on the podcast next week. Send questions on Twitter to @Hadfield or through email [email protected].