Sports Media Musings: ESPN Lacks Focus In Super Bowl Coverage; NESN Adds Sarah Davis

Today: A game of Three & Out, in which we discuss ESPN’s Super Bowl post game coverage. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

FIRST DOWN: Peyton Manning, Good Guy.

Yes. That happened. For 60 minutes. This game served as a mix tape highlighting each of Peyton Manning‘s worst attributes. It all manifested itself, rather amazingly. Happy feet. Sulking. The Manning Face. The uneven throwing velocity. The Pick Six. Fear not: we aren’t here to pile on and pile on, and then when there’s nothing left to add, because there’s nothing else to do, pile on some more. There are plenty of other places to find that type of Anti-Manning Fetish around the Internet today. But it’s certainly worth noting that the historical ramifications of Peyton Manning’s season shockingly vanished, or at least have to be reconsidered after the 43-8 defeat at the hands of the Seahawks.

So, after that all occurred, when the dust began to settle, we traveled to the Worldwide Leader — for insight, to be told What This All Means.

***

“Steve Young is confused.” That’s the first thing I wrote down in my notebook. And confused, he was.

Now, there’s a delicacy here, a sense of diplomacy and self-restraint that only appears when we want to say something, without actually saying anything. His parsed words managed to retract ideas he, himself, expressed only moments before. His weariness to Go There is because he was talking about Peyton Manning and the “L Word.”

Young’s opinion started out fine: That Manning’s legacy is already profound because he changed the game by eliminating the barrier between coach and player through an ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage. This feat, essentially, streamlined offensive strategy to the efficient standards at which units operate today. “He changed the game,” Young told us.

But Young then continued, stating that when you put yourself in that conversation, you hold yourself up to the ridicule and scrutiny in terms of your shortcomings. Here is where the backtracking began: “Wait,” Young stopped (I’m paraphrasing here). “I’m not saying Manning put himself in the conversation with words, but when you play so well, you do it with actions.”

Again, he was saying something without actually saying anything. Empty words, really. Young’s blurry statement, masked as an underlying critique, was unlike whatever the fuck happened during the Fox live broadcast, which has been ridiculed across the Internet today, when Joe Buck arbitrarily referred to Peyton Manning as “the classy Peyton Manning” in the waning moments of the game. It’s not that Buck is wrong. Dan Wetzel did an excellent job describing how Manning, even in defeat, was gracious. It was just a misplaced qualifier, given the timing.

And so he is: A classy fellow, that Peyton. A nice, affable guy; who most everyone in sports media has an unending affinity towards. But sometimes, nice guys do finish last. And that’s OK.

SECOND DOWN: The Seahawk Way

A respite in Legacy Discourse happens (thank God), but instead of game analysis, we’re treated to dynasty discussion. Hilarity ensues when Chris Berman – who’s notoriously ornery about working environments (see above) – asks for a graphic. Then, asks for it again. And again. He has a point, by God, HE HAS A POINT. (Excuse my cackling, you just know a poor P.A., who’s making .0007% of Berman’s salary, was reamed out after this mishap.)

Later, Tom Jackson tells us that the Seahawks are definitive contenders for the next seven years. Why seven? Because, that’s why. Young, Berman, and Jackson then go on to mock people who called Russell Wilson a “game manager.” Good thing ESPN doesn’t employ such “analysts” who would make such a designation!

Oh.

// The best part of the coverage was Young. Because this blowout means something, right? But of course, it has to! So now we’re throwing out meaningless (and delusional) praise: Pete Carroll, Leader of Men, Promoter of Individuality, and Mental Health Lobbyist.

LET YOUNG MEN BE WHO YOU ARE.

AND YOGA.

THAT’S WHAT WINS SUPER BOWL RINGS.

Am I the only person who thinks this is batshit crazy? I mean, I get it: Last year, Joe Flacco became elite; this year, Pete Carroll became a philosopher. There’s this insatiable need to assign importance by screaming, “It’s all happening! And it’s happening all the time!” And that quickly turns problematic. I’m hardly the first person to write about the media’s propensity to reclassify NFL head coaches as institutional deities, but Young’s rant here is almost surreal.

YOU GO BE YOU!

Are we even talking about football anymore? Whatever. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

BONUS:

(I thought these two traits were mutually exclusive, too!)

THIRD DOWN: Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging

Quick Update: While the search for the next Red Sox reporter continues, NESN announced the addition of Sarah Davis as an on-air talent. Jenny Dell’s replacement is at-large. Somewhere. And when she — or he!! — is identified, expect the Internet to break.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VII

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.

Happppppy Friday, you guys. More importantly, happy Super Bowl weekend. Wes Welker, Pete Carroll, and Peyton Manning. Drink it in — tastes delicious, doesn’t it? So many weird feelings arise when thinking about each of them. Whenever I try to reconcile a rooting interest, it feels like I’m eight years-old all over again, and my best friend will appear out of nowhere to accuse me of having “girl cooties” or something.

This is the world we live in.

Hey, look on the bright side, at least we weren’t subjected to 63 combined hours of Spygate talk this week. (Fuck.)

Before we get to emails, I need to get something off my chest. I was on Twitter last night, and came across Ian Rapoport, former Patriots beat guy at the Boston Herald and current NFL Network reporter. I went down the “Rap Sheet” rabbit hole (because I lead a very desolate life and do such things on a Thursday night), and discovered that Rapoport and his wife made a Twitter account for their infant child, Max.

Is this happening now? Like that’s a thing people do, or are going to do in the future? Rapoport has a storied history of pissing people off on social media, like the time he live-tweeted Myra Kraft’s funeral, so maybe (Read: Dear God, hopefully), this is a case of Rapoport being a weirdo. I comforted myself with that rationalization until I realized Boston Herald radio personality, Jen Royle, has a fucking Twitter account for her bulldog, Truman, which I refuse to link to here based on personal values. (For the record I presume it was Royle who made the account. If it was someone else, I apologize. Also: Whoever it was, you’re a huge tool.)

If this is the (d)evolution of social media, I think it’s time I make the leap. Have to be progressive, you know? Comes down to who (or what) I can use to extend my brand Out There. After thinking long and hard about the situation, you may see a @Hadfield_Stapler account pop up on Twitter for my trusty stapler at work. It’s the logical choice: we’ve had a good run together, it never lets me down, and – best of all — I could really play up some fun sexual innuendos with the account. Just something to think about.

OK. Enough nonsense, on to your emails:

Is this Shaughnessy column real? TROLLING!!!!

-         Joe (via Twitter)

Banner week for Dan. Started things off with the David Ortiz piece, and finished strong, wondering (aloud) why Bill Bellichick hates Wes Welker. Because THEORIES.

Writes Shankeroo:

“Wes, why does Bill hate you?,’’ I asked Wes Welker.

Does anyone else try to imagine Dan asking this question in a Zoolander-esq tone? You really should, it makes reading his column a million times funnier. Trust me. Oh, and you’re welcome.

He caught a Super Bowl-record-tying 11 passes in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. But Belichick didn’t like him.

So now The Hoodie hated Welker after the 18-1 season? Really?

The Patriots franchised Welker and Belichick froze Welker out of the game plan at the start of the 2012 season. The coach was intent on proving that the system was bigger than the player. The Patriots could do without Welker. When Welker finally got a chance to again show us what he could do, he said, “It’s nice to stick it in Bill’s face.’’

“HE’S ON FIRE!” (said in the NBA Jam video game voice). Who doesn’t love the FREEZING WELKER OUT OF THE OFFENSE STORYLINE? Old reliable. Hey Dan, I was at training camp in 2012 – and guess what, Julian Edelman simply usurped Welker in the offseason. I wouldn’t expect you to know this, because you weren’t there.

Then he signed with the Broncos. What an ingrate.

On the word “ingrate,” can we all agree it’s a weird word choice here? You’re dating yourself, Dan. Don’t use it.

But perhaps the worst part of this mess is that Shank actually wrote a pretty solid piece about the media overreaction toward Marshawn Lynch’s silence the same day. SIGH.

Speaking of which, this happened …

A HOT SPORTS TAKE turned #Humblebrag? YES, WE CAN! YES, WE CAN!

You wrote: “Meanwhile, Katie Nolan going after Reilly is pragmatic. It makes you wonder why FS1 doesn’t take advantage of the endless opportunities to land punches on the four-letter network more often.”

This was really a topic on First Take on Monday:

- bsmfan

“Could Charlie Whitehurst lead this Seahawks team to the Super Bowl?? Matt Flynn???”

Sounds like NESN did the right thing. You wrote:

” the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks hampers objectivity, and, furthermore, hurts other female sports reporters who are trying to be taken seriously. NESN’s decision is more than fair to Dell.”

I forget the source but there were quotes from other females around here about the issue. If the quotes you pasted from the SI column don’t convince you, I’m not sure what will.

-         Guest

I’m not saying anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot. But they’re not smart, at least in terms of media relations, anyway. And man, if I see one more person read or write that Jenny Dell isn’t covering the White House or some other outlandish beat as grounds to keeping her on the Red Sox telecast, then I’m going to throw up in my mouth. I cannot stand when people use extreme opinions to back a premise that makes no sense; the exercise doesn’t prove you’re clever, and serves no purpose – well, besides derailing the conversation around the issue.

On the Dr. V-Grantland fiasco: I, too, thought Tim Marchman’s piece [on Deadspin] was very good but agree that it slip into the default anti-Simmons mode a bit (Simmons did appropriately apologize and take ultimate responsibility as editor in chief, so it’s kinda intellectually dishonest to call that “self-obsessed;” would he rather Simmons blame others?)

But I don’t get your T’eo parallel. That Deadspin story refuted the lie, started and perpetuated by T’eo. Meanwhile, Grantland went after the transgender angle in part because it made the story more salacious.

So if Dr. V had committed suicide because of the public shame of being a fraud, Grantland would be the recipient of much less public scorn. But since they followed the transgender angle, they are being blamed, in part, for her taking her own life. That may be unfair, but we have no way of really knowing in the truth. And had T’eo committed suicide after the Deadspin article, it would have been tragic but Deadspin wouldn’t have been blasted in the same manner.

Where’s the tl:dr guy when we need him?

- HighWireNickEsasky

In both cases, we’re dealing with subjects who perpetuated a lie. Let’s start there and make one thing clear: In many circles Dr. V is being made a martyr, and I think that’s kind of absurd. She was a con artist. Of course that doesn’t exculpate Grantland. The fact that Grantland, and the author of the story, Caleb Hannan, were way off-base in their lack of understanding of the ramifications of outing Dr. V to her business partner is mind boggling.

But beyond that mistake, I refuse to kill Grantland, especially after the publication admitted their faults. It’s not as if they were malicious in their reporting, and I’ll be perfectly honest, I would make the same mistakes as a reporter. I think 99.99999% of media outlets would. Keep in mind, the backlash never came until after the transgender community illuminated the problems with the story.

And the Manti T’eo thing is just an example. What if, after A.J. Daulerio paid for and then published photos of his Green Bay Packer that he sent to Jenn Sterger, Brett Favre committed suicide? Or what if his wife took her life? Or one of his kids?

Again, Deadspin espoused the story just like everyone else. They loved it. Then, when they saw an opportunity, they attacked Grantland because that’s what Deadspin does. Fuck, when Grantland launched, Deadspin would post “corrections” blogs for copy editing mistakes. And that’s OK. Little guy takes shots at big guy. I get it. To a lesser extent, it’s what Katie Nolan (justifiably) did to Rick Reilly, and what “Toucher & Rich” regularly do to “Dennis & Callahan,” and what I do here.

I’m even OK with Deadspin being super critical after initially promoting the piece – but, shit, don’t then make this a macro-indictment of Grantland and Bill Simmons. Slow down, breathe, and be honest with yourself as a “media critic.”

Speaking of T’eo …

I hear Jerry Remy’s been schtupping Wally for a year and a half. Can we fire him now?

-         Dave R.

We’ll always remember the Catfish story, because it was glorious and weird and all-encompassing. It was THE sports story of 2014, which seems goofy, but truthfully is kind of a nice change of pace, considering the Penn State scandal was THE story of 2013.

But let’s say T’eo has a great season in 2014-15. His career arc will change because he’s young and has plenty of life left to live. We’ll care less and less about his fake online girlfriend (still feels weird typing). The point is this: when discussing Jerry Remy’s return to the broadcast booth, you have to think in terms of the news cycle we live in nowadays. We have to weigh whether or not this will matter come summertime, because there will always be a bigger, otherworldly story that will capture our attention next. You know it, I know it.

With all that said, the answer is “Yes, the Remy situation will still be on our minds.”

Now, I refuse to call Remy selfish. He wants to call Red Sox games, which makes sense — it’s a pretty sweet gig. I blame NESN here. If the trial had happened already, maybe – just maybe – we could move on, and enjoy baseball games to a soundtrack filled with banter between Don Orsillo and Remy.

That’s not the case, though; the trial is in front of us, not behind us. Remy is a public figure, more recognizable in Boston than Phil Pressey, or Avery Bradley, or Stephen Drew, or Steve Gregory. To me, this all goes back to something I’ve written about in other places before. I’m a big believe in what I call the Bill Clinton Corollary.

The parameters are simple: As far as public figures go, whether it be athletes, actors, musicians, or, to a lesser extent, politicians, I only care about their behavior as it pertains to me. These guys aren’t coming over for Sunday dinner. I’m not catching a movie with them. They aren’t dating my sister. We aren’t friends.

As a broadcaster, Remy is an exception to this rule because his personality is thrust into his role. It matters. In the end, it’s tough to predict a story’s staying power in 2014, but while the legal system untangles the Jared Remy murder trial, we’ll be reminded of the horrific ordeal, and that will hurt the NESN broadcast. NESN should have taken the bat out of the Rem-Dawgs hands.

A few years into F&M’s reign of terror and I’m ready for a new drive time show. I haven’t listened to those clowns in well over a month because of their complete and utter disdain for the Celtics. I’m not asking them to like basketball but it’d be great it they wouldn’t openly defecate all over those who do like the game.

I hope Glen does come back, and he gets paired with someone good so I can try to listen to local sports talk in the afternoons again.

- OpinionNotFact

A few readers seem to be rallying behind the idea of a Glenn Ordway redux at WEEI. Have to say, I cannot support it. Mike Salk is not the answer, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have been asking the question. I know select readers — like LateToDinner — think removing The Big O was ill-conceived, but he was losing the ratings war. It’s like having Ryan Fitzpatrick as your quarterback. Yeah, you may win some games — maybe even make a run to the playoffs — but what are we really doing here? You want to win the whole thing. To matter you have to be the best.

Does Ordway have the backing of a few big sponsors? Sure. But if WEEI figures out a better alternative and that alternative resonates, brings listenership up, and helps dethrone “Felger & Mazz,” I’m pretty sure advertisers will come around to whoever that personality is, too.

Reminds me of “Mad Men” when Don Draper says something like, “Happiness is simply the moment before you want more happiness. You’re hungry even though you just ate.”

***

OK, that’s all I have for this week. Before I let you go, I need to deliver some SHAMELESS Self-Promotion:

I’m a realist. This Super Bowl situation sucks, I totally get it. But as an eternal optimist, I offered up three reasons why football will be better than ever next season in my column for Metro Boston last week. And in the meantime, since we have to endure the wrath of Sunday, I wrote a guide detailing the 10 types of people who attend Super Bowl parties that you’ll want to avoid while watching the game this weekend. Both are light reads, because sports are supposed to be fun, ya know?

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

Report: Jenny Dell Removed From NESN Red Sox Broadcast

Over at Boston.com, Chad Finn is reporting that NESN has removed Jenny Dell from her post as sideline reporter of the Red Sox telecast. Instead, Dell will serve as an anchor for “NESN Sports Today.” While NESN did not directly link the issue, the general consensus Out There is that her public relationship with third baseman Will Middlebrooks led to Dell’s removal from the broadcast.

Writes Finn:

Recently, Dell has been filling in as anchor on “NESN Sports Today,” a perfectly viable role but one that according to another industry source is her penance for . . . well, one thing or the other.

Dell, the popular in-game reporter for the past two years, is dating Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The relationship wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret around the team for some time, but the official acknowledgment of it via a Middlebrooks tweet on New Year’s Eve brought fair questions about the ethics of a reporter dating a player.

Detractors will claim Dell is not exactly covering Syria or the White House (because inaccurate, circular logic requires insane examples to back up an even more insane premise), but this is Journalism 101. As I outlined earlier this week – and which was also noted by Finn — the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks hampers objectivity, and, furthermore, hurts other female sports reporters who are trying to be taken seriously. NESN’s decision is more than fair to Dell.

To review, the following is from Richard Deitsch’s media column over at SI.com:

Appearances of interest conflicts matter, or they should to any editorial entity that cares about disseminating information. Such a relationship — if NESN stays the course — also hurts the efforts of female sports journalists. On this note, here were some answers to my question from women sports journalists in the field:

Boston Globe sports reporter (and former Red Sox beat writer) Amalie Benjamin: “Never. Ever. And more, it hurts the credibility of every female reporter doing it the right way.”

USA Today’s Lindsay Jones: “Never, never, never. Did I mention never?”

SI’s Joan Niesen: “Under no circumstances. None whatsoever. No, no, no.”

Dell would have entered her third season as part of the broadcast team after replacing Heidi Watney at the end of the 2011 MLB season.

*Bruce usually handles news like this. I’ll write at more length about Dell, how it relates to Jerry Remy, and more in tomorrow’s mailbag. To contribute, fire off questions/funny comments to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Katie Nolan vs. Rick Reilly; “Salk & Holley” Go Shankin’; Ordway Downplays WEEI Return

Mailbagin’ it Friday: To contribute, fire off questions/funny comments to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

***

Anna Kendrick is my number one right now. She’s a fun follow on Twitter, and seems like a great hang who’s down to earth. Can’t fight love; it’s just how I feel, man. But Katie Nolan rocked my world Wednesday afternoon. I’m still reeling.

The Framingham native and Fox Sports 1 personality launched a diatribe toward ESPN’s Rick Reilly during a Crowd Goes Wild segment. The spot was in response to Reilly taking a cheap shot at Nolan’s colleague, Regis Philbin, during a SportsCenter segment at Media Day, in which he called Philbin a “little man with makeup” that no one knew.

A few things here:

1. First and foremost, what happened to Reilly?  This guy was once considered one of the greatest sports writers in the game. That’s not an overstatement. Now, he’s a punch line. Other more-accomplished writers have wondered about his fall from grace. Is he just sick of his job? Does he hate it? Or, most damning, is he just a jerk? Truthfully, I always thought the whole thing was overstated. But, man, it’s been a train wreck for him, and part of you wonders if he dished Philbin because, deep down, Regis was the only target (he thought) was a slam dunk.

2. It wasn’t. Reilly going after Philbin is laughable. It was a case of an out of touch guy who lacks any semblance of self-awareness taking a pot shot at a dude who’s on his way out (Regis was never a good fit for FS1, and confirmed he is leaving the network). It’s sad, really: Reilly doesn’t realize his career outlook is closer to Philbin than it is someone like Nolan. An agism joke gone awry.

3. Meanwhile, Nolan going after Reilly is pragmatic. It makes you wonder why FS1 doesn’t take advantage of the endless opportunities to land punches on the four-letter network more often. Who wouldn’t watch a satirical version of First Take? Smaller entities – even ones with gobs and gobs of money – are perceived as underdogs, they win sympathy points, and the general public will support their crusade (You could make a strong case this is how “Toucher & Rich” took down “Dennis & Callahan.” I’d disagree. The 98.5 guys won out on wit, talent, and ingenuity, but I’d also argue that it certainly helped expedite the process.)

4. The suits at ESPN cannot be happy about Rick’s decision. In terms of payoff, his reportedly lavish contract is more on par with the likes of Barry Zito than it is Tom Brady. Guy has never fit in since joining the Bristol campus. So not only is he a sunk cost on the balance sheet, but his screw up led to some visibility for FS1, which like CBS and NBC’s 24/7 sports networks, has mostly been a non-factor since launching. I doubt this incident provides any sustainable momentum for FS1 (I still don’t know what channel the station is on here in Boston), but it was a gratuitous dig that prompted a response which went viral.

5. Back to Nolan for a second: I’ve been sporadically following her stuff since her days at Guyism, because I’m secretly a tool who reads sites like Guyism in my spare time. Judge me. Anyway, this was completely different, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately think: “Could it be? A Miss Media Musings exists????” Just excellent stuff in her rant.

BONUS: All that said, my heart stays with Anna. She gets me. In my head we’d totally be the couple that finishes one another’s sentences. We’re dating. Again, only in my head. But still. It counts. If it doesn’t work out, it’s nice knowing there are other fish in the sea. Anna is “approachable girl hot,” you don’t take “approachable girl hot” for granted. You just don’t:

***

Speaking of easy targets, “Salk & Holley” had a strong segment in which they questioned Dan Shaughnessy’s piece about David Ortiz’s comments regarding his contract extension in an interview with Steve “HOCKEY LOCKOUT IS OVER!” Burton. The duo, who have not been shy about calling out Shank since the Boston Globe columnist turned up the volume of his Troll-Amp to an Iron Maiden-esq 11 during the NFL playoffs, aptly pointed out Shaughnessy’s misrepresentation of Papi’s statements.

Whatever happened to simply honoring your contract? Especially when you are nearing the end of your career?

There’s reaching, then there’s reaching. Ortiz was asked a hypothetical – about the future – he answered it. It’s clear, at this juncture, that Papi complaining is nothing new. Rinse, dry, repeat – all of that. It’s annoying, and definitely selfish, but he’s not rallying a mutiny here, or stating a plan to hold out come Spring Training time. But that didn’t stop Shank from doing what Shank does. Not when there’s faux outrage to be had!

Swell. Way to go, Big Papi. Everybody loves you. But you have no leverage. Please stop talking about a contract extension and honor the deal you signed.

Wait, did Ortiz say he wasn’t planning to honor the deal? I’m confused.

***

I killed Colin McGowan for his off-target, take-down piece about Kirk Minihane, Jenny Dell, and the sanctimony of “conflict of interest in sports journalism” the other day. It’s only fair to applaud him for his column about the media reaction to Marshawn Lynch’s eerie silence during media day. McGowan does well here in a missive that’s well worth your time. A few favorite excepts below:

It’s astounding that some people still don’t know to not use the word “articulate” in reference to a black athlete anymore, but that adjective has been invoked a lot this week. Journalists are, in their own blinkered way, trying to pat Sherman on the head for being good copy and allowing them to write easy Richard Sherman Is Not a Thug articles.

Predictably, he has been widely admonished by the people who had to stand around with tape recorders while he gave brief non-answers. CBS.com’s Gregg Doyel called Lynch’s Tuesday session “embarrassing.” The Daily News‘ Greg Meyers opined that it’s “really not all that hard” to answer simple questions. Strong take dispenser Pete Prisco tweeted that Lynch would be “begging for attention” in five years.

I don’t know about you guys, but I for one was waiting with bated breath for Lynch to tell me about the importance of execution, staying focused, and trusting the game plan. It’s downright disrespectful that he robbed the masses of that insight.

***

My thoughts on the Boston Herald story claiming WEEI wants Glenn Ordway back on its airwaves? News like this engenders the same feeling we get when we hear Eric Mangini or Paul Westphal is a rumored coaching candidate: irritation.

It’s not that Big O is terrible. He’s fine. The rumor just lacks imagination. I feel like I’m talking to a buddy who wants to get back together with his longtime ex-girlfriend. Guys, there’s a reason you broke up with him in the first place. And seriously, that’s the best you can do? A retread? Run it back with the same formula? This isn’t Hollywood.

For what it’s worth, as much as Ordway downplays the report, you know he’s hot and bothered by the prospect of a return.

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

Sports Media Musings: #MediaDay Saves the Super Bowl

Today: In which we avoid the Tweet below, and write about the goofiest day in sports media. Because sports are supposed to be fun, man. We’ll mailbag it later this week. Fire off funny emails and questions to [email protected] or tweets to @Hadfield__.

***

The transcendence of the Super Bowl just wasn’t palpable. Maybe Shankeroo was right: I couldn’t muster up the energy – the will, really – to write and think and care about Seahawks-Broncos, because I’m just a fanboy whose soul was crushed in Denver a few weeks ago.

Nah, that can’t be it. Maybe it was the increasingly smarmy corporate feel of the event. Although, the controversial New York City setting could be a more likely candidate. The incessant discussion around the forecast certainly hasn’t helped. Come to think about it, the nonsense surrounding the Richard Sherman Is A “Thug” Camp versus The Richard Sherman Is A Passionate Guy (WHO WENT TO STANFORD!!) Camp kind of curbed my appetite. And there’s no chance that anything I could put down would, you know, stay down because the “Peyton Manning: FOOTBALL DEITY” characterization is already as nauseating as the pending Super Bowl commercials, and the other commercials that won’t even air.

But one thing changed all this: MEDIA DAY, because I’m pretty sure I love Media Day. Or #MediaDay, as the current parliament refers to it.

#MediaDay is Super Bowl week unplugged; the spectacle in its pure, unabashed form. We hate the circus-like atmosphere, but really we love it, because #MediaDay serves as the saving grace, where thrills and frivolous shit occurs, causing the ACTUAL media to complain about THE DEPRAVITY of a woman in a wedding dress showing up to propose to a player, when, in actuality, the outrage is more likely due to longer lines at the buffet and bruised egos.

Because, like, seriously, the Super Bowl should be about the game, and only the gatekeepers of the fourth estate could deliver us the coverage we need. Forget the hoopla! The show-stoppers! Wouldn’t you rather spend $80 to go hang out in a hotel with Jerry Rice and Peter King?

(Careful, though, this event is only for those of legal drinking age — PK may love his coffeerdness, but don’t think for a second that he’s not a salty dog, waiting to unleash nuggets of knowledge, over some Long Island Ice Teas. And once the ball gets rolling, we could hear a Haiku – or TWO! — to capture the moment, because literary prowess and events sponsored by Citibank go hand-in-hand.)

#MediaDay is the sports world and the mainstream world colliding without pretense. Agendas are clear. And what these sports writers don’t realize is the moments that make #MediaDay awesome is not dissimilar to the manifestation of the same narratives, full of the usual clichés and platitudes, that they push on readers/audiences on a regular basis.

There are things at stake here, everyone. Two examples are as follows:

THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD

An oldie, but a goodie: I’m not talking about Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson, or the macro issue in terms of stylistic MOBILE vs. POCKET PASSER QB play. No, no, no. What I’m talking about is Ines Sainz bequeathing her throne as the scorching hot foreign reporter to the new breed of TV Azteca reporter, Mariana Gonzalez. The torch was passed yesterday.

It was simply Mariana’s time. We were all witnesses.

NEXT MAN UP

What did we hear throughout New England’s run this year? The genius behind Bill Bellichick is his ability to plug in nobodies and not miss a beat. Chris Jones became a commodity by the AFC Championship game. The lesson? When you’re injured and hurt, you don’t make excuses, you coach others up. TEAM BUILDING.

#MediaDay, again, is this trope personified: Enter a guy like DeSean Jackson, who showed up to the event, accompanied by none other than Terio, an Internet folklore, the product of a viral meme, who was more than ready to fulfill his destiny and drain every part of the last 15 seconds left of his five minutes of fame. Because #MediaDay is the best.  

How does this relate to the Patriots and next man up? Well, DJax & Terio teaming up, as a power duo, is perplexing on the surface, but if you’re a NFL wide receiver and your ex-girlfriend recently makes headlines from being caught sitting shotgun with Justin Bieber, as he gets arrested for drag racing in Miami, the only play is to align yourself with the likes of Terio. Can’t let the people know you’re hurt. And the only way to do that is roll with Terio. It’s called tact, guys. #Knowledge.

***

OK. Kidding aside, here’s why I love #MediaDay. For most of us, watching sports is an act of escapism. To that point, by definition, fandom is an irrational endeavor. These elements combined – the urge to get away and the irrationality about the whole thing – makes it pretty obvious as to why sports fans generally hate the Super Bowl.

Put simply: when a sports story goes mainstream, it sucks because people (most of whom aren’t fans or familiar with sports and its appeal) have to weigh in and dissect WHAT IT ALL MEANS. Suddenly, instead of talking about the games or Tom Brady’s deep ball, we’re talking about the dangers of bullying, faux Internet girlfriends and Catfishing, and other Tebowian matters.

This terrible discourse is best summed up by the current subject of “tanking.” Media personalities talk about the art of tanking more than we watch the Celtics play. We moralize about the merits and pros/cons of losing on purpose, and how that’s antithetical to the driving influence behind sports, which is competition. Meanwhile, here’s a metaphoric gun, load it up and shoot me. If you can, I want the bullet in the face, please.

While there is nothing more mainstream than the Super Bowl, #MediaDay manages to turn all the sanctimonious bullshit upside down. It’s ridiculous and stupid and people spend more time talking about the antics then the players and game itself. It’s a reminder of the silly premise behind professional sports: that in the end, we all just want to get away and watch grown men jump and run and hit and throw until someone is crowned champion. In a weird way, I love #MediaDay for the same reason I love sports: it’s a big waste of time full of characters and crazy moments.

Sports Media Musings: Internet Tough Guys

Today: A round-up of media matters, starting with INTERNET TOUGH GUYS.

1. The John Dennis vs. Fred Toucher Twitter fight was a thing that happened.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

Screen shots courtesy of Barstool Sports:

VS.

… The obvious reaction: This episode played out like an argument in the comments section of a YouTube video, and ended the only way these such things can end, with John Dennis deleting his tweets from his timeline. Classic Dino.

… “Toucher & Rich” are born to be shit-stirrers, they play the underground card – WE’RE THE COMMON MAN! – very well, but fact is, their show has been number one in the market for an elongated stretch. It’s just funny because poking fun at the likes of John Dennis, kicking someone who’s purportedly down and below your level, would normally be seen as catty – that is, if it was any other media figure than John Dennis, who comes across as a loathsome dude.

… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – “Dennis & Callahan” won’t win a battle of wits against “Toucher & Rich.” They just aren’t likeable; instead, the Men of Guest Street should focus on their true advantage: an ability to deliver compelling discourse about sports, which is something “Toucher & Rich” struggle with at times.

… “Dennis & Callahan” has been much better in recent months and the ratings back this statement up, but that doesn’t warrant Dennis challenging Toucher to a back alley brawl.

… Reading this over, it’s important to remind oneself that these guys talk about sports for four hours a day. Sports, everyone.

… John Dennis is totally one of those old guys who believe if you delete tweets from your Twitter timeline that it means it never happened. NOTHING TO SEE HERE. Meltdowns on the Internet, and especially on social media, live forever. Nobody forgets.

 2. Kirk Minihane’s screed about how NESN should deal with Will Middlebrooks and Jenny Dell’s relationship made plenty of noise across the Internet.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Minihane is absolutely correct in his premise. This is, cut and dry, a conflict of interest.

… Sports on Earth contributor, Colin McGowan, thinks Minihane was over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top, and this was, perhaps, even self-indulgent.

There are numerous caveats and considerations in the article, but they’re ultimately buried beneath certainty. It’s a Hot Take that knows it’s a Hot Take, but self-awareness doesn’t save it.

Maybe the tone of Minihane’s column was a tad acerbic and provocative, but the piece prompted discussion and felt authentic. Moreover, both those adjectives – acerbic and provocative – is how I’d describe Minihane in general. I’ve always felt the greatest compliment you can give to a writer is an ability to develop a voice similar to how you talk. I’ll chalk that up McGowan’s unfamiliarity with Minihane. And that’s fine. But I think it’s important to note Minihane wasn’t flipping his tone just for this topic and the ensuing clicks and comments.

Where McGowan truly loses me, and, I suspect, most people is here:

There are times, sure, even in a field as frivolous as sports journalism, that seriousness is required and a discussion of The Way Things Should Be can be edifying rather than self-indulgent. A sideline reporter is dating a player. This is decidedly not one of those times.

Yes, Jenny Dell isn’t Jim Gray or Pam Oliver, but lines have to be drawn. That there is any support for continued employment is baffling.

… That’s because there is credibility at stake here – yes, even for a place like NESN – and if Dell stays with NESN, and rumors persist that she could be heading elsewhere, the Internet will increasingly develop a jaundiced eye towards female sports reporters.

… The outcome of that cynical thought-process: Jeff Pearlman’s tone-deaf piece about Erin Andrews. Mind-blowing. Perlman later posted an apology.

… Don’t believe those ramifications? The following is from Richard Deitsch’s media column over at SI.com:

Appearances of interest conflicts matter, or they should to any editorial entity that cares about disseminating information. Such a relationship — if NESN stays the course — also hurts the efforts of female sports journalists. On this note, here were some answers to my question from women sports journalists in the field:

Boston Globe sports reporter (and former Red Sox beat writer) Amalie Benjamin: “Never. Ever. And more, it hurts the credibility of every female reporter doing it the right way.”

USA Today’s Lindsay Jones: “Never, never, never. Did I mention never?”

SI’s Joan Niesen: “Under no circumstances. None whatsoever. No, no, no.”

3. Watching the Internet deliver op-ed after op-ed about Richard Sherman made me dry heave.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… While covering the Celtics, I listened to guys regurgitate “athlete-speak” (“We just have to execute our game plan”) night after night. That, I suppose, is the reason I’d always stick around for Kevin Garnett’s post-game remarks, because he’d talk about real shit, often using crazy analogies that never quite made sense. It was the best. Can’t have it both ways.

… Reasonable people know this was a non-story. This was an athlete, fired-up after making the biggest play of his life, expressing that jubilation, and consequently letting the world watch emotion manifest itself in real-time. Nothing more, nothing less.

… Certain local sports radio hosts have proved themselves to not be “reasonable people.”

… Literally everyone had to have a take on this. A few that stood out: Will Leitch’s take, I felt, was spot on. Rembert Browne provided an interesting counterpoint to the logic behind the narrative: “There is more to Sherman than meets the eye; after all, HE WENT TO STANFORD!”

4. Former Boston Sports Media contributor and current ESPN PR guy, David Scott, teamed up with Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports to write a screenplay which turned into a feature-movie.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Wetzel continues to be one of my favorite columnists in the business. This column after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants is a clinic on great sports writing.

… On a personal level, Scott Shots was a regular read and definitely a precursor to my own work here at BSMW.

5. Lots of fallout from Grantland’s controversial feature, “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Please note: There were ethical breaches and a myriad of other issues about the piece. We won’t dive into the minutia here.

… Initially, the piece was widely accepted as a fantastic feature. It was not until the transgender community pointed out its insensitivity and shortcomings that the Internet gathered their sharpest pitchforks and stormed Grantland demanding blood.

… The reaction prompted Bill Simmons to write a “letter from the editor” response. The letter was candid and sufficient in our eyes; however, Simmons loses me here:

Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland.

Whaaat? Neither the editors, writer, or any of the other 15 other people who read the piece, thought there was an issue there? Really????

… Writing for Deadspin, Tim Marchman has a great breakdown of the failings here; that is, until he can’t help but go all-in on Simmons and Grantland, conflating the story with a larger issue:

The breakdown that took place here could have happened at any shop staffed by reporters and editors who aren’t as sufficiently attuned to trans* issues as they could or should be, which is to say nearly any of them, including this one. This particular breakdown, though, was a fractal of the Grantland problem in general, which is to say the Bill Simmons problem.

… For the record, I love Deadspin. Like most everyone else, I effusively praised the Manti T’eo story in this very space last year. Let’s use that story as an example, though: what if T’eo had committed suicide after Deadspin broke the hoax? Is Deadspin at fault?

Not to mention, this is a freakin’ Gawker site, a publication that once paid for photos of Brett Favre’s little Viking. I think many prestigious publications make the same mistakes that Grantland made here, but the problem is many publications aren’t Grantland, meaning the backlash isn’t as severe.

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

Sports Media Musings: Small Talk For Small Minds

Note: Should have enough of juice for Friday’s mailbag, but if you have something on your mind, don’t be shy. Fire off an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

[Update]: Dan Shaughnessy appeared on an Indianapolis radio station. It was everything you’d expect and more: “I’m begging [the Colts] to come in here and play up to [their] potential; in my view, [the Patriots] are one of the worst 12-4 teams ever assembled,” Shank drolly remarked.

Yup. Sounds like analysis devoid of bias. High fives all around at Morrissey Blv. this afternoon.

….WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

Listen to the spot here.

[End Update]

During the NFL regular season, you never go Full-Troll. Never do it. Everyone knows that. The playoffs, though, are a different animal altogether. To get attention away from the subject (e.g. the games) and onto what’s truly important (PAGE VIEWS! NATIONAL EXPOSURE!! CALCULATED OUTRAGE!!!), the usual suspects collectively put their best Tina Turner wig on and start singing. Yes, singing: “TROLLIN’, TROLLIN’ … TROLLIN’ DOWN THE RIVERRRRR.”

You see, we’re told the Patriots must win, and win CONVINCINGLY, on Saturday night against the hapless Colts. What’s more, style points do, in fact, matter. Opinion says so, because whoever said “you are only as good as what your record says” clearly didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. The media needs it to look good; this way, next week if the Patriots lose, we can denigrate yet another AFC Championship appearance by chalking the “success” up to crappy competition. PASS THE TOMATO SAUCE.

It makes sense, really: the stakes are higher, fans fervent with excitement, and, thus, the #HOTSPORTSTAKEZ are passed around like a bottle of Fireball Whiskey on a Wednesday afternoon bender at Ryan Hadfield’s apartment. That analogy works, kind of, because a) We feel drunk consuming the storylines going into Saturday night’s tilt; b) the media has relieved us of any stress; this won’t be a football game, it will be a party.

So, TAKE A SWIG OF SOME OF THIS AWESOMENESS. Tastes good, doesn’t it? By the way, isn’t it JUST pathetic how Deion Branch is collecting a $23,000 pay check to play for Indy on Saturday? LIKE REALLY DEION: you’re going to throw away something intangible (YOUR LEGACY) to pick up a five-figure payday!  Please. During the snow storm last week, we didn’t feel like leaving our palace, so we used a few g’s as toilet paper. Seemed pragmatic at the time. Opportunity cost, ya know?! Neither here, nor there — back to Branch: Who’s outraged? I’m bothered by this and YOU should be too. Be upset. Deion is stabbing YOU in the heart.

Come on, plenty of bottle left, DRINK UP. Wait, you think we’re crazy? Well, for your information, the definition of crazy is repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting different results. So, yeah, maybe we are a little crazy … like a curly-haired poodle, that is!

Indy Star columnist just RT Shaughnessy’s latest, “Colts won’t be a challenge for the Patriots” to 40K followers. Globe wins internet today.

— Mary Paoletti (@Mary_Paoletti) January 7, 2014

The Boston Globe wins, but we all lose, because it didn’t stop there. The Indy Star columnist wrote an entire rebuttal.

The hangover is subsiding now. We’re starting to ponder: “Hmm. He roots for the story, which, in this case is himself. Maybe we’re still drunk, but we tend to think this form of incestual commentary is – oh, I don’t know – rather self-serving.” Yet, he is the voice of the fan, we’re told.

If true, please pass the Fireball. We need another drink.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__

Sports Media Musings: The Hater’s Guide to the NFL Playoffs, Week 1

For links and the usual happenings, please, do yourself a favor, and make sure to read over Bruce Allen’s post earlier this morning. Because, frankly, even though he has been placed on injured reserve, we plan on booing that trader – oh, you know who we’re talking about – former Patriots offensive lineman, Donald Thomas. While we bleed red, white, and blue, that mercenary only claps his hands together for one color, GREEN. 

Today: The Hater’s Guide to the NFL Playoffs, Week 1; in which we review all the wonderful from Wild Card Weekend.

“A Curse Worth Believing”

… Embrace him, for he is your frenemy, New England.

… In reflection of what we wrote Friday, we want to clarify the proposed conclusion to Tommy Heinsohn’s broadcast career was not just for us, the viewers, but for him, and his enduring legacy. His continued presence – on a full-time basis, anyway – will only worsen the situation.

You want evidence? Enter Mike Ditka. The 74-year-old is living proof that producers can dress someone up and trade in their once-hallmark aviator shades for a trendy set of HIPSTER GLASSES, but that doesn’t mean the guy won’t preview the wrong game and rock a face of general bewilderment as the gaffe is pointed out to them, because, again, the subject at hand was born in fucking 1939.

Shocking, we know, because it’s not like no one at ESPN could have seen this coming. He didn’t recently fall asleep on-set during a live telecast or anything.

“Coach, HEY COACH!” -

Oh that happened, too? Well, then, shit.

Andrew Luck puns are terrible. Most reasonable people understand this. Unfortunately, Twitter, as a platform, is an enabler. Here’s a rule of thumb that all talking heads should consider: If you wouldn’t say the line in front of friends at a bar or house party then, please, do not post the awfulness to Twitter. More often than not, you’ll sound like Rick Reilly. That’s embarrassing. We’re embarrassed for you. There were hundreds of examples to choose from this weekend, but as always, Darren Rovell is a safe resource to represent these sorts of terrible things.

… Also on Twitter: Skip Bayless went all Baylessian. High comedy:

Drew Brees, boy among men. (Except for when he’s winning.)

… Immediately following the Saints victory in Philly, Trent Dilfer said the Saints offense morphed into a “portable” unit on SportsCenter. 48 hours later, we are still amused by that choice of adjective.

… The Most Shannon Sharpe Image of All Things Shannon Sharpe happened Sunday:

SOMEONE CALL AN AMBULANCE, OR THE FASHION POLICE. GET THIS MAN TO KIRK HERBSTREIT PRONTO.

Phil Simms and Mike Mayock. Mike Mayock and Phil Simms.

… Mayock’s involvement in the Chiefs-Colts showdown meant we were reminded of Alex Smith’s 40-yard dash time because, in 2014, combine statistics from 2005 still matter.

… As brutal as the Mike Mayock Experience was, Phil Simms offered plenty of after-the-fact “I’LL TELL YA JIM, THIS IS WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT ALL WEEK” comments, which is as Simmsy as it gets.

… Producers must have got to him, however, because Simms, an infamous wishy-washy color guy whose HOT SPORTS TAKES are as hot as an under-cooked Lean Cuisine meal, went into Sunday’s Chargers-Bengals match-up with one, decided opinion: the world has unfairly crucified Andy Dalton because of two lackluster playoff performances.

“OK, Phillip” we thought to ourselves. This could work. All told, this wasn’t much different than Twitter deciding that nearly a decade of empirical evidence was worthless and Alex Smith had magically morphed into a Brett Favre type, with the poise of Tom Brady, after a strong first half against the Colts only 24 hours earlier.

Do it for people with bad hair, Phil.

Simms embarked on his journey, a man of conviction; presumably, he had “TALKED TO PEOPLE ABOUT IT ALL WEEK, JIM.” So, with a little help from Jim Nantz, we noticed the delight in his voice when Dalton stood in the pocket and delivered his first career playoff touchdown pass to give the Bengals an early lead.

Do it for the (un)believers, Phil.

Together, Dalton and Simms were going to show the Internet what’s what — through guts, determination, untimely interceptions, and a 40-yard bomb on 4th & 3 with a season on the line! Oy. It didn’t end well for either party. So, here we are, through one week of playoff action, and the JOE FLACCO AWARD for Hey, that guy! He GETS IT NOW! is still up in the air. Your move, Cam Newton.

Cris Collinsworth, on the other hand, was insightful and, at times, even prescient during the Saints-Eagles game. On one drive alone, Collinsworth noted that Philly would throw deep if the Saints didn’t provide safety help over the top on DeSean Jackson. On cue, the Saints left their defensive back exposed on an island, which led to a PI call on the very next play. Then, on the same drive, Collinsworth said to watch out for Zach Ertz in the end zone. Like clockwork, Ertz popped open to temporarily give the Igggggles the lead. It’s not that he played, or that he’s witty, or anything like that, we just feel like Collinsworth is smarter than every other color guy and thus better at his job.

… A few hours after the action was over, we ran a search into the Google machine and found a fun Packers blog. They write from a fan’s perspective, and I found the work (somewhat) entertaining. Here is how the blog describes itself in the “About” section:

The Wisconsin media ranges from bland to hilarious in their coverage of the Green Bay Packers. Total Packers doesn’t pull any punches. We are outspoken. We are entertaining. Sometimes, we are crass. But most of all, we are passionate about the Green Bay Packers because we bleed Green and Gold.

Sound familiar? The site’s recap of Green Bay’s loss to the 49ers was OK. Truthfully speaking, I’m sure I could have found a better site, with more in-depth statistics and thoughtful writing, but that’s neither here nor there. The point the likes of Dan Shaughnessy fail to comprehend is that bloggers – yes, even fans of the team – can produce analysis on par with the mainstream media experts.

As previously stated, we, the readers, do not need our embattled scribes to root for the team, so long as the overall mission of coverage is not hindered: ENTERTAINMENT & NEWS. The latter is no longer in Shank’s purview, the former is an ongoing quest for the CHB.

… Lastly, we didn’t have a problem with Leigh Montville’s column in the Boston Globe on Sunday about Aaron Hernandez (still) being THE STORY of Patriots’ season.  What say you, BSMW community?

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VI

Welcome to the 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.

Today: This weather sucks, but great news — Chapter VI is a Shank-free space. Instead, we primarily explore reaction to our Year-End Media Awards among other topics. First, we’d be remiss if we didn’t pass along Chris Kluwe’s piece on Deadspin where he claims he was removed from duty as the Vikings punter because of his activism in gay rights. The story, if true, could be the biggest of 2014. And yes, I realize it’s only January 3rd.  Mike Priefer, the Vikings coach, who Kluwe states said, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows,” immediately denied the accusations.  More reaction here as more details come out.

For now, MAIL TIME.

Ryan, you wrote: “In the middle of a recent broadcast, Mike Gorman had to explain plus-minus (+/-) to Tommy Heinsohn.” And how did Tommy react to the explanation?

-       Homer Greenz

I’m paraphrasing, but he began by dismissively saying, “You know, I’m not a numbers guy.” Alarming on so many levels. First things first, it’s not like the plus-minus statistic is QBR or other, more complex advanced statistics. It’s simple math.  

That’s a different argument for a different day, though, because I’d like to commend the BSMW comment section for candidly talking about the sanctimonious shield that has developed around Tommy Heinsohn and Jerry Remy in recent years.

The former is a simple case of etiquette imposed from societal norms: We’re taught to respect our elders. Heinsohn, for his work as a player, coach, and color guy, certainly deserves that respect. But sports, inside and outside the lines of play, doesn’t stop for anyone. You can rest on your laurels for a quick minute – or in Heinsohn’s case, the better part of a decade – but eventually father time comes ringing, you lose your fastball, people notice, and someone greener is brought in.  

 John Madden held on for too long. Even with those great pipes, Keith Jackson probably could have stayed home those last few Rose Bowls. Heck, locally speaking, once Gil Santos started identifying Deion Branch as Wes Welker, I said time and time again it was time for him and Gino Cappelletti to call it a career. Look, I say this with the utmost respect; sadly, I think Tommy should be done. Honestly, he probably should’ve retired a few years ago.

And believe me, it’s not as if I take pleasure in writing those words. It sucks. I attach a great deal of special moments to the voices of each of those broadcasters, Tommy included. But I didn’t take pleasure in confirming to my niece that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, either. When it’s time, it’s time.

(*DUCKS A LIGHTNING BOLT*)

As far as Remy goes …

One big indictment with Remy is that Don Orsillo sounds so much looser and relaxed when he’s working with Eck. He actually sounds like an entirely different broadcaster — for the better. The problem with Eck is that he’d never do full-time for NESN — he’s got an MLB Network gig and, more over, doesn’t want to work every game in the first place. I think the best way for NESN to go forward — if Remy doesn’t return — is to find a revolving door of analysts much like Michael Kay works with on Yankee YES games. It might be trial-and-error process — and PLEASE NO NICK CAFARDO — but that might be the best way to go.

- Andy Dursin

First, on Don Orsillo: You know how this last offeseason, the narrative was that Tom Brady embraced the challenge of working with younger receivers? Almost as if the depleted arsenal made him better? First off, maybe this is true – but the irrefutable lack of chemistry probably didn’t improve the team’s chances over the course of the first few weeks of the season. Back to the media: I kind of feel like this is how Don Orsillo must have felt sans Remy this summer.

It was palpable that Orsillo, whose omission from my Year End Sports Media Awards was met with much distaste from readers, DID have a different way about him this season.

But while the slight change in tone and demeanor was there, I’m not sure if that was a Remy thing, inasmuch as it was an opportunity to try new things that wouldn’t have seemed natural with Remy because of the whole idea behind the axiom “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Think of it like a relationship: You get into ruts, the same routine, and oftentimes, feel trapped (even if things are going swell).

Now, Jerry Remy: I highly doubt Remy’s job is in jeopardy or anything of that magnitude. Despite everything that has transpired with his family and other color guys stepping up to the plate (SPORTZ PUN!), he’s still Remy, he has the charming droll, and the cache. He’s likable and knowledgeable.

Still, while Remy’s health issues in recent years has provided various respites in our exposure to his work, when personal problems arose this summer, it opened the door for a consistent taste of something new, something fresh, for a longer period of time. It would be inappropriate to suggest that Dennis Eckersley’s now-famous personal lexicon did not bolster the viewing experience. He was great; for my money, better than Remy.

The solution? Baseball is long and requires endurance from everyone involved, including fans – I wonder if NESN would be better served by going the suggested YES route. Again, that’s not an indictment on Remy; variety breeds different takes, fresh viewpoints, and a different perspective. Over the course of an elongated Red Sox season, who doesn’t want that? The downside, of course, is that a rotating cast of analysts detracts from coveted chemistry. Realistically, I see Remy back in the chair as long as he wants it.

What do you guys think?

If you need an update of how big most industry awards are these days: “Peter King 2013 NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year.” Question — do these people even read the columns?

-       bsmfan

Without question, yes. It’s why you see writers constantly trying to match wits on Twitter, all in an effort to one-up one another. The media cares about the story, sure, but they also care about themselves. By the way, Bryan Curtis was robbed. 

Looking forward to u writing more in 14…hope u can balance bruce endless pats stuff n pats PR Dir. position he takes on.

-       Bill

I’m far more cynical about the Patriots than Bruce. That said, if you read most national writers — the good ones, anyway — they’ll wax poetic about the Patriots and what they’ve managed to accomplish, as opposed to complaining. ALL. THE. TIME. Fans and teams of other cities would kill to be in the playoffs, much less have a bye; yet, locally, there’s certainly scattered adulation, but mostly in the tone of LOOK AT THIS TEAM’S SHORTCOMINGS, YET THEY KEEP WINNING. GOOD FOR THEM.

Fuck that attitude. Why does each win have to come with a stupid wink, a disclaimer, like everyone’s waiting to publish their NOTHING GOLD LASTS FOREVER column. It sucks to suck; apparently, it sucks to be good, too.

Most guys are nothing but cheerleaders, Zolak can break down a play and describe it to you. He also does a decent job with the Bellistrator segment on Patriots All Access. He knows the game, but should calm down a bit. Also, though, let’s not forget. This is his first year with Socci. Give them a chance, how long had Gil and Gino been together?

-       The_Other_Side

Lots of Scott Zolak love coming in after I rated him Worst Play-By-Play/Color Guy of 2013.

Two thoughts here:

  1. Zolak was really good as a third man on the field working with Gino and Gil. Speaking from a longterm viewpoint, he knows the game, I have no doubt he’ll improve, and that’s great. I look forward to the righting of the ship.
  2. Secondly, when reviewing that specific award (Worst Play-by-Play Or Color Analyst), I realized that Boston, as a whole, has a solid group of broadcasters. It’s true. Tommy is old and ridiculous and probably deserved to win this designation (*DUCKS*), but I stand by the Zolak choice. Because it’s those moments – you guys know what I’m talking about – where the game is on the line, you can hear the nervousness in the crowd, feel the importance intrinsically through the sound of the broadcast… They don’t come around often, and when they do, you cannot scream arbitrary things over the play-by-play guy while he’s painting the picture.

RELATED: Plenty of great Zolak clips in this video, which made the rounds this week.

 Ryan, if you are not watching Walking Dead, you should be.

Joe

Had a ton of good binge show suggestions: I watched the Walking Dead up through the end of last season. I have it on DVR and have heard this season is a nice rebound from The Governor debacle. The first season was fantastic, but my main problem with the show is that it feels like we’re going around in circles. I like that we see things solely through Rick & The Gang’s perspective – meaning, we only know what they know – but what’s our end game here?

Other candidates given were Orange Is the New Black (I’ve heard it’s much better than Netflix’s other show, House of Cards) and, rather shockingly, The Good Wife (lots of Emmys + the main character is a babe).

Count your blessings…….health, good family, good job, nice place….good friends and lots of family and friends who love you very much! Health, health and more health cannot be valued enough…..count your blessings of which you have many. Whatever you do stay safe. 2014 will bring lots of good things your way. I am convinced of it.

Love Mom

I LOVE YOU, MOM. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Uniformed or Uninformed?

LocalSportStuff

Tough to really nail your punch lines when you misspell critical words. I need an editor.

A few GIF responses:

Enjoyed your piece at BSMW – especially the SPORTZ PUN! – make it a HOTSPORTZPUN and 98.5 will be lusting after you. -Walter

I honestly have no idea who Eric Wilbur is.

-       Oswee Larvey Hald

I fear for Eric Wilbur. In his bio, it says he writes from the unique perspective of a fan and journalist, but, for him, sports seems so unfulfilling. I don’t think he enjoyed this Patriots season. It truly makes me wonder what kind of writer he’ll become when the Patriots morph into this:

FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! … Speaking of Gang Green

The reason why Tebow is so polarizing as a player is that even though he does not have sound fundamentals he has won at each level he has played at. Add in his devout faith and his willingness to discuss it and you have a unique athlete who developed a huge fan base. The fact that Rex Ryan would not put him on the field just inflated the reputation. He won a playoff game in Denver the year before yet he was not good enough to play for a sinking Jet’s team.

-       LateToDinner

TEBOW ALERT: Saved the worst for last, you guys. Let’s get the reaction to the Tim Tebow-ESPN marriage out of the way. The idea behind yesterday’s gratuitous “What We Think About When We Talk About Tim Tebow” section of Sports Media Musings was more about why the media, fans, and people in general are masochists when it comes to everything Tebow than how he came to fruition.

When sports stories crossover to the mainstream backlash typically follows, but it rarely sustains. Not like this, anyway. This a dude who hasn’t had a relevant football moment in two years.

But to your point, I wholeheartedly agree: Tebow’s rise and career arc is polarizing because he is the ultimate Little Engine That Could, which, over the years, has morphed into a negative characterization. He operates in a world where one (presumably) must be 99.9999999% better than anyone else at their craft. Clearly, he isn’t (even though he was, by the most important measure, successful). And in a world filled with analytics and reason and #HOTSPORTSTAKES, none of that makes sense. Which makes Tebow, as a subject, perfect … in the worst way.

Couple that with the second part — that he uses that platform to give shout outs, almost like a DJ on Jammin’ 94.5 would to a club promoter, to his faith – and WOOOLAHHH: we have a perfect cocktail of polarization, in a culture, mind you, that endorses polarization by proxy of behavior and over-the-top attitudes. So yeah, that’s why he’s polarizing.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__

Sports Media Musings: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Note: Should have plenty of juice for tomorrow’s mailbag, but if you have something on your mind, don’t be shy. Fire off an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

Today: Four Downs (SPORTZ PUN!) of Media Musings – and other stuff – for you to rifle through during your annual malaise, otherwise known as the first work day of the New Year.

First & 10 

Our opening topic of discussion is Tim Tebow. As a general service to the BSMW community, we’re giving you an out. If you don’t want to read about him, or his new position at ESPN, please skip the next 500+ words. Cool? Cool.

Tebow signed a multi-year deal to join ESPN as an analyst for the four-letter network’s new SEC Network, set to launch later this year.

Here’s part of Tebow’s released statement:

“When I was 6 years old, I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC.”

There was uproar about these innocuous words, because the Internet exists and faux outrage is a byproduct of that sheer existence. In summation, the snide reaction was two-fold. Part I went something like “TELL ME, HOW DOES WORKING AT A NETWORK IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING A PROFESSIONAL QB????” Before getting into Part II, let me just clarify that there are people (myself included) who work multiple jobs in pursuit of their dreams. This happens, everywhere. Can’t knock the hustle here. Just can’t.

But if you’re in the business of poking holes into a media hire, Part II of the reaction is a much sounder viewpoint – that Tebow has never come across as particularly articulate. On the veneer, this is a fair assessment; well, until we come to terms with ESPN’s history. Look, for every Jalen Rose there is a Ray Lewis, an Emmitt Smith and a Lou freaking Holtz (who’s like 102 years-old). Suffice to say, networks hire names, not talent.

That’s not a knock, either; there’s credibility associated with hiring athletes, even if they have trouble putting together any resemblance of a cogent argument.  For instance, right in our own backyard, Jermaine Wiggins is still a thing that can be consumed on a part-time basis …Which is great! You know, if you’re into self-flagellation.

TEBOWWWW! Watch out for the football!

With all that said, do you want to know what we, here at BSMW, really think about this Tim Tebow situation? No, you don’t. And that’s the point, isn’t it? He is the insatiable itch, the scratch that won’t heal. You’re not upset that you’re reading this part of Sports Media Musings. Nope. You’re upset – or happy? – at me, the writer, for producing it.

Therein lies the Tim Tebow conundrum: he cannot win, but he cannot lose, either. He is a perfect amalgam of ingredients for this fucked up world we live in. He will always be a polemic figure trapped – or aided? – by the irascible way in which people talk about popular culture. His values and skill set and demeanor and, um, looks are all part of the package.

(Here’s the most Tebow story ever: I once wrote a column for Metro Boston about the real-time emotional roller coaster that took place immediately after he signed with the Patriots this offseason. Looking back, that exercise feels silly, but it wasn’t as if I was unaware the idea was silly at the time. I knew it then, I know it now; and the known oversaturation of commentary is what makes Tebow so compelling. Or infuriating. We’re all part of the problem, except for Tebow himself (I think, maybe?). I need a drink.)

Regardless, this leaves the general public with one burning concern: What in God’s name (INTENTIONAL PUN) will be the lead story on SportsCenter in August?

Second & 40

(Because we were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, then we complained, and Ed Hochuli promptly flexed his pecks at us, while issuing a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty).

This is the last time we’ll discuss this issue because I cannot handle any more analysis over something so off-base. Today, though, I can’t help myself. During an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, Dan

See: Slinger of Sports Takes; purveyor of truth.

Shaughnessy talked about his role as an objective/subjective/provocateur of Boston Sports. It was 15 minutes of fun, and for all the reasons you’d expect. Listen to the segment here, in case you missed it.

In no specific order, we offer scattered musings about what you just listened to.

 In a piece for WEEI.com last year, Kirk Minihane killed Shank for his misguided column which echoed similar sentiments about the “Wild, Wild West” … the Internet. (Oh, look – a tumbleweed!) Yet Minihane was eerily quiet here; meanwhile, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan spent the better part of the segment massaging the CHB’s already-inflated ego for being a Gunslinger of Truth. It felt like a sit down between Chris Berman-Brett Favre circa 2005. They just LOVED the piece, soooooo refreshing.

… Shank spoke about his qualms with “fan boy bloggers,” ultimately determining that he could talk to his neighbor if he wanted to hear an “uninformed” opinion and that he wants to be “enlightened” by analysis. That’s rich coming from him, because you know what’s enlightening to the masses? Caustic opinion that changes over the course of a week.

… I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I laughed at the Callum Borchers jab. “You’re not missing much.” (Playing catch up? For background, click here.)

… Shank sly quipping, “I just cannot listen to another 20 year-old telling me he thinks so-and-so sucks” on a sports radio program absolutely killed me. If you don’t see the absurdity of that statement, in that medium, you’re part of the problem. Go away. (Just kidding. Email me. We’ll talk it out.)

… Newsflash to everyone on earth who called this topic “a fresh issue that everyone is talking about!” … This isn’t fucking Inception or the newly released Drake b-sides; there is nothing fresh about this discussion, it’s far from a new issue. You’re dating yourselves if you say otherwise. Stop.

… And for the love of Tim Tebow: NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND THINKS WRITERS HAVE TO BE A FAN OF THE TEAMS THEY COVER. You all sound like Shank’s aforementioned uninformed neighbor. And d-bags, too. Wars over – Buzz Bissinger already fought the good fight, and lost. Rather miserably, I might add. It wasn’t pretty.

… Also: Hey guys, while we all think it’s cute, you don’t have to be so coy about the whole thing. So please, instead of saying “blogs,” it’s OK to just call us out.

Third & 5 (BIG PLAY)

A few links to pass along …

Will Leitch made an interesting point worth considering about the future of the media in his column predicting what the sports universe will look like in 2014:

“More non-athletes will have more prevalent television analyst roles. We’ve all watched Emmitt Smith and other former athletes struggle with both basic diction and any coherent perspective on the games they played. We’re starting to see the answer to that: People like us. ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who might have helped push out Magic freaking Johnson and is now essentially the centerpiece of ESPN’s NBA coverage, is the zenith of this, but you’re seeing the trend everywhere, from Tom Verducci working the booth during playoff games to the Basketball Jones guys with their own show on NBA.tv. (They’re “The Starters” now, a name I’m still not used to.) Viewers are tired of ancient anecdotes from the locker room; expect to see more non-players like Simmons featured, not less.’’

In the biz, that’s called going full circle. As you can glean from my Tebow analysis, I tend to hope he’s right.

***

In his year-end awards, Rich Levine had a funny section that, I think, we can all relate to.

THE TOM BRADY SHOULDER AWARD (Biggest Non-Story)

Runners-Up

Should Boston fans Boo Wes Welker?: Well, should they?

Should Boston fans boo Doc Rivers?: Should they?!

Should Boston fans boo Terry Francona?: For the love of all that’s holy, we need an answer! We need the media to tell us what to feel and how to act. Please! Somebody. Anybody?

And the winner is . . .

Every debate over whether a former player/coach deserves to be booed upon his return to Boston: Across the board. Every one. Please. Please. No more booing debates!

Can that be our collective New Year’s resolution for 2014?

Notice Rich said “us,” meaning – DUN, DUN, DUNNN!!!! – he’s a fan! ONE OF US! Dear God, does CSNNE know about this? BURN HIS HOT, HOT SPORTZ TAKES! EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM! Wait, they’re on the Internet?? Of course they are; after all, that’s where the fans write!

Should there be an execution? Let’s be rational and talk this out first. OK, fine. Rich, for your last meal, we have a steak on the menu – yes, straight from the Gillette Stadium media buffet – how would you like that cooked?

Could Rich Levine be taking a trip to Lake Tahoe soon? We hope not.

FOURTH & 1 (Obviously, going for it) 

It’s great to be back. The site is doing better than ever (1.4 million views last year, what’s up?). And I feel like it’s going to be a great year. Yada, Yada, Yada. Because of all that awesomeness, we’re going to depart today’s musings with randomness that may – or may not – relate to Boston Sports Media. Why? Because I just wrote 1,300+ words about Tim Tebow and Shank. I need to breathe.

… Saw a dude at the gym wearing a Pats hoodie that had the sleeves all cut up like Bill Bellichick’s infamous look. I asked him about it, and he told me he bought it custom made that way. Luckily, I had just listened to the D&C interview.

So I shrugged, smugly told him he was uninformed, and walked away.

… Speaking of the gym, what’s with old guys and their willingness to walk around naked in the locker room? I certainly change in the locker room, but it’s not like I sit there, naked, and play a few rounds of Candy Crush. I ask because the steam room at the local YMCA has a policy requiring members to cover up their genitals with a towel while using the room.

All things considered, this seems like a reasonable request. And yet, the other day an old dude had to be told to cover up when he walked in naked. He stood there – naked, in all his glory, angrily perplexed – and (eventually) departed, but not before checking the listed rules of the locker room. With the scowl he gave the person at the front desk, you would have thought we were questioning his freedom of speech. Moments later, I saw him in the lobby and asked him if he liked sports, he confusingly replied “Yeah, I’m a fan.” OF COURSE, I thought to myself.

So I shrugged, smugly told him he was uninformed, and walked away.

… Is it a weird move to still drink ice coffee in January? Because I definitely still am ordering up an icer from ‘Dunks every morning. I don’t know, maybe I should consult Peter King on this, since he both loves coffee and isn’t a measly fan. He’s mainstream media, he knows things.

… Openly looking for television show recommendations. Preferably a series still running that I can binge watch to catch up on. Make me proud, everyone.

Lastly, here’s a true story: I walked into the office this morning and saw my team by the coffee machine, looking fiercely hungover. I decided to offer up motivation, because I’m totally that guy. “Hey, you guys – come on, fist bumps all around [I fisted, they reluctantly bumped]. Let’s be great – together, as a team – for these next 48 hours before heading into the weekend.” Think it’s a sign I have to stop listening to TED Talks on my morning commute.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__